UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Blogging And Learning From One’s Peers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 31 May 2007

One of the aims of this blog was to explore best practices for setting up and sustaining blogs within the educational and cultural heritage sectors and to share experiences across these sectors.

Of course I myself learn from observing successful blogs published by others, especially my peers with whom I have shared interests and audiences.

As this blog has now been live for six months I though it would be useful to compare the status of the blog, based on data provided by Technorati, with the eFoundations blog, provided (initially) by my former colleagues Andy Powell and Pete Johnson, who now work for the Eduserv Foundation; Scott Wilson, a well-established educational who works the JISC-CETIS service and, to make comparisons with a blog provided by a commercial company, the Panlibus blog, which is written by staff at the UK-based library vendor, Talis, with regular contributions from Paul Miller, another former colleague who used to work at UKOLN.

And, in addition to the Technorati rankings, I also thought it might be useful to summarise the data provided by another service – the How Much is Your Blog Worth? Web site (which I’ve mentioned in a previous post).

At the time of writing (22nd May 2007) the Technorati rankings and estimated value to the blogs (final column) were as follows:

Blog Authority Rank Date Created Check Estimated Value
UK Web Focus blog 81 57,542 1 Nov 2006 Check $46,856
eFoundations blog 78 59,754 11 Sep 2006 Check $44,034
Scott Wilson’s blog 64 59,754 17 Jan 2005 Check $44,034
Panlibus blog 91 50,089 16 Aug 2004 Check $56,454

The Blotter application (described previously) is being used to display rolling graph of the current data taken from Technorati (although it should be noted that, (a) probably due to changes to the data provided on the Technorati Web site, this display is not as rich as it was originally and (b) the data for the UK Web Focus blog gives a better indication of the medium term trends as this blog was registered with Blotter before the others):

UK Web Focus blog (and current Technorati statistics):

Scott Wilson’s blog (and current Technorati statistics):

eFoundations blog: (and current Technorati statistics):

Panlibus blog, Talis (and current Technorati statistics):

The initial conclusion that one can make from this data is that in order to have a high-ranking blog, you should set it up before your peers (your competitors?) and you should post to it regularly.

However the factors which influence the sustainability of such ratings are not readily apparent. Should one seek to post frequently (daily perhaps) or will less frequent postings (which can allow more time to be spend in preparing the post) be a better alternative? Will the ratings drop if postings cease for a period (e.g. holidays)? And what factors can help in enhancing the rating of a blog?

I hope this data will help to inform these issues – and I also hope that the blogs I’ve mentioned all succeed in maintaining and enhancing their current ratings and that any best practices we discover from analysing this data will be useful to others within the educational and cultural heritage sectors.

8 Responses to “Blogging And Learning From One’s Peers”

  1. Technorati is a bit of weak proxy for blog popularity. It’s only measuring success in terms of links to your blog that it can find on the public web. Plus Technorati may think a blog that can be reached through two or more different URLs is two different blogs. A blog may have a wide readership, without necessarily being heavily publically linked. A fuller picture is provided by your web stats and your feed stats, combined with searches for citations (e.g. a search on “uk web focus blog”). Another interesting question is whether your visitors are coming for your main content, or happen to be hitting some incidental content (e.g. imagine for some reason you have a posting that mentions top hats that becomes highly ranked in Google – you may get a lot of traffic, but it’s not really your target audience).

    I do a yearly report with various charts, last year’s is at

    meta: 2 years of Science Library Pad

  2. Hi Richard
    Thanks for your comments. I would agree that Technorati provides a flawed metric for the success of a blog. However it does provide some useful statistics – and the data is easy to obtain.
    I would agree that Web and feed statistics can also be useful. However in my case (using a blog hosted by a third party) I don’t have direct access to the log files. I’ve added a Sitemeter icon – although, again, it provides only limited statistics as I can’t run JavaScript on this blog.
    I still think there’s a need to publish such data )and discuss the implications and the limitations) as there is an increasing need for public sector organisations to demonstrate the impact of their work – and this will increasingly include provides of blog services, I suspect.
    Future work in this are is likely to include examing the qualitative indications of impact.
    Brian

  3. “explore best practices for setting up and sustaining blogs within the educational and cultural heritage sectors”

    Is popularity and/or hit counting a measure of good practice? Asked another way: what’s the objective of the blog, and did it reach that objective?

    I’m just asking because I too am wanting to draw some conclusions about my own “research-in-practice” blog. It’s 8 months old, and by now I should know something. But what? What are my questions?

    I won’t use Technorati because it never did update one of my 4 research blogs (though the others worked fine with the same configuration). Well, maybe that’s information too.

    Better to know who’s reading and why, maybe? I really don’t know. :)

  4. […] Blogging And Learning From One’s Peers […]

  5. Hi Wendell
    In case you didn’t notice, I’ve tried to address your point in a follow-up post.
    Brian

  6. Interesting that you refer to other bloggers as ‘your competitors?’. It hadn’t occurred to me that blogging was such a sport! :-)

    Like most analysis of this kind, trends within a single blog are interesting and *probably* useful (provided there aren’t underlying changes in the way data is gathered of course) while comparisons between blogs are much harder to make?

    Having said that, it is (of course) useful to be able to quote figures and stats internally upwards within an organisation or to funders in order to justify time spent doing something (cynical remark: is that the only real use for these kinds of stats?) and to be able to say “my blog is more popular than your blog”? Though in my case, your blog is more popular than my blog, so I’ll shut-up about it! :-)

  7. Hi Andy
    What I said was “your peers (your competitors?)”, by which I meant that in some circumstances you may regard others as competitors – this isn’t my personal view.
    I would very much agree with you that the trends are useful, but, in general, comparisons are likely to be fundamentally flawed. Having said that, as you say, there does seem to be a growing tendency in the public sector to provide economic indicators of impact (“Value for money” reports). So this could potentially be imposed on the educational and cultural heritage sectors. In which case, we need to be better informed about the options, limitations, etc.
    However over the next few months I want to explore the qualitative indicators of impact.

  8. An article on the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in this week’s Informatiopn World Review (IWR) made me think some more about the notion of competitive blogging in the HE sector.

    The RAE has always been very competitive – to the extent of applying Chelsea’s tactic of buying in the top performers from the competition (top researchers and research teams are sometimes headhunted in order to capitlaise on their publishing record, experise and contacts.

    Since there is a well-eastblished competitve aspect in this area, I would expect this to continue in the future. As as approaches such as semantic blogging gain in popularity, I can foresee the cosy notion of bloggers working together and sharing expertise breaking down in these sectors.

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