Friday, April 11, 2008

Ego-blogging


A tautology, you say? Absolutely. Anyway, there was a bit of a hoo-haa some months back over some blog-ranking organised by the Tory gossip merchant Iain Dale. Why? Well, people were outraged on my behalf, because I was ranked 206 out of 500 UK blogs despite the fact that a lot of the blogs ranked higher had fewer visits and fewer links. Plus, they were shit. I pity the fool who cares about this sort of ranking, based as it is on the votes of a cluster of nominated bloggers. There are better ranking systems based on links, reach and page visits, none of which are entirely accurate - Alexa, TTLB Ecosystem, and Wikio. If it matters, my position is as follows: Alexa says I'm 471,812 in the whole universe of websites; TTLB says I'm 716 in the whole world of blogs; Wikio says I'm 37 among UK blogs. They're all full of shit, of course, although I'm gratified to note that according to Alexa I beat a number of blogs/websites by journalists, columnists and people who get far more media plugs than I do - like Nick Cohen, Johann Hari, Oliver Kampf and Norman Geras. And according to TTLB, I beat Harry's Place too. I totally rule already, and I haven't even overthrown the ruling class yet. (Realistically, I'm a bit pissed off to be still stuck at approx. 2000 readers a day - some of you bastards must be slacking). Believe it or not, however, this one is not about my insurmountable ego.

This is about the discovery that the much-vaunted and hyped Tory bloggers Iain Dale and the mysterious Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes) have been rigging their stats to make themselves look good. They have been taking their page views to make it look like they're getting hundreds of thousands of visitors every month. The fact is, as I know very well, it's easy to make your page views (ie non-unique visits) bigger. In my case, I discovered it accidentally when I stuck sitemeter in the haloscan comments box to see how much traffic flowed in and out and who was linking to particular comments. Page views soared, unique visits stayed the same. They have been citing page view stats from Google Analytics as if they were unique visits. Dale, for example, claims to have 250,000 visitors a month, whereas it's closer to 50,000. The mysterious Mr Staines awards himself 350,000 visitors a month, whereas it's closer to 75,000. It was presumably on the basis of the inflated statistics that Dale claimed to be among the bloggers with a "mass audience" alongside Fawkes. Well, look chaps. According to my sitemeter, which may be more or less accurate, I have sometimes a bit more and sometimes a bit less than 50,000 unique visits per month. I think this is actually a bit less than my Google Stats, and certainly lower than Statcounter. Does that mean I have a "mass audience"? Obviously not. Fox News has a mass audience. Pop Idol has a mass audience. Al-Manar TV has a mass audience. The circle-jerking quora of Britblogs has curious onlookers.