[This post was updated at 10:24am to reflect info for which I was given permission to post.]
That’s scheme as in design, not as in scam.
We’re not sure yet.
BlogNetNews has something that it’s calling Ohio’s Influence Index and it’s accompanied by something it’s calling Ohio’s Most Influential Political blogs [sic]. I don’t buy these monikers as far as measuring any kind of influence I am interested in knowing about. It’s a ranking, and maybe it’s got some connection to influence. But, based on what I currently know about the system, I don’t see any causal connection between the measurements that BNN compiles in order to produce the ranking and actual influence.
Here’s more information I received, I believe from Dave Mastio, this morning:
Our system is a hybrid of link tracking (like Technorati), traffic monitoring like (compete or Alexa) and user input (like Digg, but users don’t know they’re voting when they’re voting) with a final twist — instead of looking at influence over all time, BNN’s rankings are for seven day periods and then the slate is wiped clean. (As far as the weighting and the exact factors, I can’t say because then people could game the system.)
The result is that small-readership or newish blogs can rise to the top for a week with a few good posts and the largest readership blogs can fall off if they’re not posting much.That’s what has caused the complaints in VA — some folks think they should always be on top because they’ve paid their dues.
and this too:
Tis indeed experimental and will change over time (just like google’s search methodology and ranking have changed tons over the last decade).
And it does depend on how you define influence — I am trying to take any kind of approval/moral evaluation out of it. Abe Lincoln and Adolph Hitler were influential leaders. Our definition also takes the reputational aspect out of it. The Volokh Conspiracy is influential because people judge its writers to be smart, but some weeks VC has no influence cause it doesn’t write about the top stories. Drudge is influential, but not because anybody actually respects or believes what he writes.
For those folks who want to read about the Virginia controversy mentioned by BNN in its email that announced the rankings, here are just four of what I’m sure are many posts about it. I don’t know any of the bloggers or the blogs – I just found the posts via a Google blog search:
If you prefer more obvious and direct attempts to determine how blogs influence our political attitudes, if in fact they do, please fill out this survey that researchers at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville are conducting. Barbara Kaye of UT and Tom Johnson of Texas Tech (more here on his web page) are responsible for the survey and apparently have been examining the influence of blogs, via academic research, for some time now.
For example, here’s an abstract about a study they did in 2000 regarding the Internet’s effect on political attitudes etc.:
This study surveyed politically interested Internet users online during the 2000 presidential election to examine their motives for using Web, bulletin boards/electronic mailing lists and chat forums for political information and to determine whether political attitudes, Internet experience and personal characteristics predict Internet use motivations. The findings indicate that each Internet component satisfies slightly different needs, which can be predicted by some political attitudes and demographics, and Internet experience. Additionally, results from this study are compared to findings from an earlier study of politically interested Web users during the 1996 presidential election.
Googling Kaye and Johnson by name but without quotations turns up several other academic papers they’ve produced about this topic and related topics.
No mention of figuring out influence via any methods that would be analogous to BNN’s method. BNN’s method is more like a meta-method though, using systems already in existence that assign values to blogs according to their criteria, and then BNN somehow aggregates via its own formula those values into a new list.
And yes, full disclosure – WLST is near the bottom this week – and it wasn’t on the list last week. No surprise to me. At it’s best, when I’m not bar mitzvah planning let’s say, I view it like the Paris Review or the New Yorker: it’s not how many read it, but who reads it. And if The Chief Source is even below my ranking? Well, that says it all really – because they do fantastic work.