Not Saussure

December 11, 2006

Blogpower

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 1:55 pm

Considering the the 2006 Weblog Awards over in nourishing obscurity, the always interesting and thoughtful James Higham contemplates their inherent flaws:

the whole thing is a total w—k. Worthy candidates like Norm, Samizdata, Jon Swift and one or two others aside, this poll is flawed for these reasons:

1] top blogs are left off both in terms of content and in terms of traffic;
2] it’s completely swamped by the Americans, who have five times the population. And what about tiny New Zealand or Australia?

I mean, seriously, who’s going to compete with Malkin, a most overrated blogger or with Instapundit? As I say, it’s a w—k.

Which brings me to miniscule traffic. It annoys the hell out of me to see some big names promoting themselves shamelessly [not those on my blogroll], getting major traffic and they’re truly neither quality nor well laid out. Of course, they say people visit for the expertise, to read the pearls of wisdom but this seems a very MSM thing to say. Why are they emulating the MSM? Is that what they’re trying to get into?

I’d go a bit further, in fact, and say that the way the voting’s going in some of the categories suggests that there’s a bit of organised campaigning going on in the US at least; there’s no other rational way of explaining, to my mind, the fact that the vile Little Green Footballs is streets ahead in the Best Blog category, fighting it out with the dreary Daily Kos (see also Harry Hutton for further and better particulars). Next up is the Huffington Post, which is often quite readable but isn’t, at least to my mind, any more a blog, in the way that are Unspeak, JonnyB or The Spicy Cauldron, to name but three of the excellent UK finalists, than are the other two . It’s a news digest, primarily American, with a vaguely ‘liberal’ bias. Quite good for what it is, but not a blog.

The whole thing seems to have turned into a ratings war between American ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ (scare quotes because neither side looks much like traditional liberalism or conservatism as I — or, I think, most other Brits — understand the terms), with other blogs being carried along on the coat-tails of their ideological stablemates, rather as the local council elections tend to be affected by how well the PM and Leader of the Opposition are doing in Westminster. There’s no other way that I can understand the fact that the bonkers Michelle Malkin is ahead of Boing Boing in the voting for best blog — neither are blogs as I understand the term, but Boing Boing is certainly the more interesting and readable of the two, surely? And how else to explain the fact that Chris Muir, of all people, is leading in the Comics section? (Note, This is my blog and I will point links wherever I choose, particularly if I think the target’s more interesting than the blog I’m discussing).

Anyway, Mr Higham has excellent suggestions for some ways the smaller blogs — or, as I prefer to think of us, the ones with a more select and discerning readership — can co-operate to increase our traffic, not for its own sake — gratifying though certainly is to think that folks are reading you, I certainly do this primarily for my own amusement, and I assume that’s what the writers of the other blogs I like are doing, too — but to share and direct others to articles and discussions we find interesting. If you click on the logo at the top of this story, you will learn all about it.

The logo, by the way, is supposed to be in my sidebar, but it seems to be coming and going; I think it’s combination of WordPress.com and Firefox playing up, since my ‘Voluntary Code Free Zone’ button seems to have vanished, though Opera and IE can see still see it. If you can’t see it, be assured it’s there in spirit and I hope to get it back as soon as possible.

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12 Comments »

  1. …There’s no other way that I can understand the fact that the bonkers Michelle Malkin is ahead of Boing Boing in the voting for best blog – neither are blogs as I understand the term, but Boing Boing is certainly the more interesting and readable of the two, surely?…

    Precisely. Got it in one. Why aren’t you in those awards? Where’s Chris Dillow? Where’s Vox Day [an American]? You may not agree with my choices here but the general idea stands.

    I’ve copied this:

    … can co-operate to increase our traffic, not for its own sake — gratifying though certainly is to think that folks are reading you, I certainly do this primarily for my own amusement, and I assume that’s what the writers of the other blogs I like are doing, too — but to share and direct others to articles and discussions we find interesting…

    and am going back now to insert it as an update.

    Comment by jameshigham — December 11, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

  2. It’s the Same Every Year

    The thing is, whatever the justice of the polls, it’s actually exactly the same every year.(No, I’m not a finalist. Wasn’t even nominated. Why do you ask?)

    Trackback by Tim Worstall — December 11, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

  3. I can’t see the logo.

    Comment by Matt M — December 11, 2006 @ 4:37 pm

  4. It’s there now.

    Comment by Matt M — December 11, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  5. The problems may be to do with FireTune; I’ve downloaded the latest version and used it for the first time to optimise Firefox 2, which is when the logo vanished. I restored the previous configuration and got my logo back (and the Code Free Zone one).

    Comment by notsaussure — December 11, 2006 @ 5:12 pm

  6. Of the British finalists I go to Norm and Harry’s Place quite a bit. I do enjoy Norm: he is a reliably humane commentator. And the discussions on HP can be either very illuminating or just an entertaining scrap.

    But I agree that some excellent blogs, like yours and James’s, are out there and need attention.

    Comment by Tin Drummer — December 11, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

  7. James, you flatter me! But your example of Chris Dillow is wholly apposite; seems to me that most impartial critics would, on being asked, ‘Is Chris Dillow’s a better blog than that of Michelle Malkin?’ have no difficulty choosing the former. Chris, indeed, would probably be justifiably offended by the comparison — which may be why they left him out, I suppose.

    And, my commiserations to Tim Worstall on his not being nominated; I can only assume that everyone — at least here in the UK — misunderstood and thought that it would be waste of time if nominated people like him or Iain Dale or Rachel, since everyone knows how good they are anyway.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 11, 2006 @ 6:41 pm

  8. Thanks for your kind words…

    I hadn’t got a clue that nominations were called for, and neither did anybody else I know (except, clearly, the person who nominated me). I guess it was publicised on American sites?

    I’d have nominated Tim for best Rightwinger, I guess. Please take comfort from that.

    Comment by JonnyB — December 12, 2006 @ 10:45 am

  9. You are right on the political lobbying- Malkin just really repeats the points coming out of the Republican party whereas Chris Dillow is an interesting thinker who can be quite unpredictable- I really like James’s idea- one thing is that I think the image is supposed to link back to a website, at first I just installed the picture but then worked out how to do the hyper link as well.

    Lets make this work!

    Comment by Gracchi — December 12, 2006 @ 6:03 pm

  10. On the subject of the best UK blog award, I’m absolutely delighted to see that JonnyB is now one of the front runners. As he says, wouldn’t it be great

    ‘if all the earnest blogging new meeja paradigm types saw the results and thought: “WTF? The best blog in the UK is some bloke going on about his village life in Norfolk? When there is serious discussion taking place about the ID card situation in the Lebanon? This is a fiasco.”‘

    Besides which, his little social problem might well, as he suggests, become a bit of nuisance if he loses.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 13, 2006 @ 12:01 am

  11. You think the Top Blogs have it bad try being in the Bottom Fifty, where’s our flipping list?

    “And what about tiny New Zealand or Australia?”
    Seriously, what does Canada have to do to get on someone’s list? There’re 33million of us, we’re twice the size of America, we have more oil than Saudi Arabia, the Queen is still on some of our coins and we’ve got free medications. Man-alive, it’s like we’re the George Lazenby of the Commonwealth.

    Comment by feartheseeds — December 13, 2006 @ 2:02 am

  12. This has to be one of the sanest things I’ve seen written about the Awards. You raise some excellent points and flaws, pinning down the primary problem of them being swamped by the US.

    How to police such awards and how to ensure smaller-readership blogs get a fair crack at things are both questions not satisfactorily addressed to date and yes, I agree that some ‘blogs’ seemed not to fit my own sense of what a blog is.

    I’ve been amazed at the pettiness of it all, though, above anything else. The two folks who nominated my site were, as I was, delighted that my site got into the finalist list for Best UK Blog and then horrified at what then ensued in terms of foul play not only in the voting and tactics used but also some of the comment sections on finalist blogs, which were filled with insane abuse. I have been lucky to date because all I had was a persistent lame comment repeatedly posted and immediately removed every time it appeared – some cretin transparently claiming to be a ‘fan’ and to have rigged the votes cast for my site. I’ve now switched off comments on all posts I wrote relating to the awards as I want nothing of the tidal wave of rubbish other finalists have seen coming their way.

    So yeah. Great article. You talk sense.

    Comment by Andy — December 18, 2006 @ 2:52 pm


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