Distributed Influence and the TechMeme Leaderboard

In a post on Thursday, WebProNews’ Jason Lee Miller takes on the TechMeme weighting algorithm based on the rankings on the sites leaderboard.

In the post, Jason wonders whether No. 1 ranked TechCrunch is really as credible a news source as CNET (No. 2) , The New York Times (No. 3), or Reuters (No. 12). Never mind that the venerable The Wall Street Journal ranks No. 17.

Certainly, there are plenty of questions to be asked about TechMeme’s rankings. Reasonable people can debate whether a showing on TechMeme endorses the credibility, popularity, or legitimacy of any blog. But with due respect, I think Jason misses the point so obvious when reviewing the leaderboards’ Top 100 sources. Jason writes that:

[The TechMeme leaderboard] shows TechCrunch as the go-to blog for all things tech or, assumedly, tech-business related.

There’s no questioning TechCrunch’s popularity, but with just a 7% presence among the many links TechMeme mines and promotes, it can hardly claim total world domination. Nor can any of the other blogs that make the leaderboard’s Top 100.

The leaderboard, in fact, is a perfect illustration of the Long Tail. Referrals from TechMeme are highly distributed, just as blog readership is. The blog-reading public hasn’t landed on one or two sites as a sole source of news, information, and opinion about the tech market. Instead, these numbers suggest that the tech-interested public reads lots of blogs in order to get, one would assume, a diverse and complete read on the industry. Whatever you think about TechMeme’s algorithm, fact is that the site is discovering links from sources that’d the average reader wouldn’t have time to investigate on his own.

It is oddly paradoxical for any social media site to claim victory over any other. That would be, after all, an anathema to the very idea of linked social media as a conversation borne out in links and referrals. More people may go to the top ranked blogs more frequently than they do to other social media sources, but the fact is they are going to a wide range of sources for news and opinion.

6 Comments »

  1. Solacetech said

    Just like going to many blogs to get a rounded view of the news, checking more than one leader-board gives a well rounded view of the most frequented blog…

  2. […] Distributed Influence and the TechMeme Leaderboard :: Guidewire – some interesting thoughts about Techmeme. As a side note if you aren’t subscribed to Guidewire I suggest that you fix that right now – this is a blog with consistently well written posts. […]

  3. The Techmeme leaderboard is a self-fulfilling prophecy. How often do you see TechCrunch listed as “discussion” instead of the lead? And if you watch Techmeme over a day, you’ll see stories that had leads relegated to discussion links if one of the leaderboard folks pipes in later. Why is that? TechCrunch is usually the last blog that I read in my feeds, mainly because I tend to read alphabetically (terrible habit, I know), but I also get the chance to settle down by reading discussion OF TC first.

  4. Hi Chris. I’m happy you thought my thought-piece on TechMeme was worth a mention. Thank you for participating in the greater conversation.

    Gabe Rivera (who, at least, appears to be Gabe Rivera–you never can be sure in comments, can you?) had an opinion similar to yours. He phrased it as, basically, “TechMeme is 93% TechCrunch Free,” which is certainly true, and then went on to opine that since TechCrunch was the #1 blog on Technorati’s Top 100, maybe he should weight the blog *more* heavily.

    Looks like I struck a nerve. That’s okay. It’s my job to do so as a conversation leader.

    It’s important to remember that statistics are often up to interpretation, as is most of the human experience. When you compare TechCrunch’s 7% to USA Today’s 0.18%, you could also rearrange the number to mean TechMeme is 99.82% USA Today free, ranked 98, just above Steve Rubel’s MicroPersuasion.

    And that’s Gabe’s preogative to weight the sources as he feels is just. It’s his site. (It’s hard to ignore sometimes, though, reports that he and Arrington are pretty tight.)

    All that aside, the point I was trying to make was not that TechMeme is 93% TechCrunch free, which is similar to your point, but (mostly) that TechCrunch’s regurgitative posts–where TechCrunch bloggers report what the subject of the blog post has already posted on his own blog–should not receive billing over those original sources.

    It’s like crediting Thomas Edison for what a French guy did first.

    That doesn’t take away TechCrunch’s right to report what’s going on, but it should be something on the mind of a man running a (currently) very important news/blog aggregation site.

    Cheers, and thanks for reading.

    Jason Lee Miller, WebProNews.com

  5. Gabe said

    Hey Chris…yeah, there’s a lot of room in the remaining 93%.

    One note: Jason’s comment assumes, incorrectly, that TechCrunch is weighted above everybody else, when external factors like inbound links account for the difference. Links have put TC at #1 in Technorati’s Top 100 as well.

  6. […] Distributed Influence and the TechMeme Leaderboard :: Guidewire – some interesting thoughts about Techmeme. As a side note if you aren’t subscribed to Guidewire I suggest that you fix that right now – this is a blog with consistently well written posts. […]

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