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Archive for December 28th, 2005

Typepad Glitches

I have been informed that people are unable to comment and/or track back to my posts. I have attempted to fix this on my preferences to no avail; there is still no comment link on my posts. I have informed Typepad of this, as well as my ever growing frustration with their service, so hopefully it will be resolved shortly.
Update: Fixed!
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TTLB Ups and Downs

Note: If the inner workings of blog rankings do not interest you, skip this post. I address this subject because I am a competitive guy by nature and cannot pretend that progressing in something that is essentially meaningless is, well, meaningless.
I have blogged before about the shortcomings of the TTLB ecosystem ranking system that is on my sidebar. It is something that the guy does for free, so I think it is poor form to whine too loudly about how he goes about the thing. That said, it does frustrate me a bit when the rules keep changing. I never knew what the formula was for ranking exactly, but the most recent change seemed to shift the emphasis to incoming links, or other blogs that link to you. That makes sense; if others recommend you, it means something. In theory at least, over time, that would even out any discrepancies in traffic and readership.
Naturally, people over time figure out how to "play the system" with low ranked blogs artificially raising their status by conspiring with others to exchange a ton of links. Consequently, you have people with lower readership than mine with absurdly high ranks via all types of link whoring and alliance joining. That is inevitable; there is no way to prevent it, because if you did, the same people would figure out how to exploit the new rules. It is that simple. You just learn to separate the pretenders from the contenders, as it were. The only real way to prevent people from exploiting the rules of the game is to eliminate the rules. But then you’d have no game.
Still, it is NZ Bear’s prerogative to tweak the thing. It’s his and he owns it. He revised the system this month, blog rankings got reshuffled, some people got annoyed, and others liked it. Earlier this month, I went from something like a 1700 ranking all the way to number 882 yesterday. I didn’t see it as a fluke. On December 7th, I got an email from a really popular blog  (REALLY popular. Top 20.) telling me he liked my material and asking if we could exchange links. I was happy to. I like acknowledgment. Strangely, this blog never appeared on my referring information on my TTLB information page. Today, my ranking and link score both plummeted. I am now back to 1648. I found this curious, and read this on the TTLB site:
Excessive links from a single blog in general: Should a link from a blog with 2,000 links to other blogs be worth exactly the same as a link from a blog with only 200 outbound links? A link is a recommendation; it says, "Go look over here, and you’ll find something interesting." So should a recommendation from someone who says everything is interesting be considered as valuable as one from someone who seems to choose their recommendations with more care? I say "no". And so there is now a cutoff point for total number of outbound links a blog can have, after which, each additional link causes the "weighting" of a link from that blog to decrease slightly. As I know this is a controversial measure, I’ve made the limit very conservative: by my estimates, less than 5% of all blogs will be affected by this limit. So unless you link to more blogs than 95% of the blogosphere, you don’t have to worry about this change.
Consequently, all of the bigger blogs that link to my site have disappeared from my detail page today. Again, I appreciate NZ Bear’s sincere attempts to make his metric an accurate measurement. But I think he’s wrong here, and here’s why. If I get linked to by a top 20 or 30 blog that happens to exceed the rather arbitrary number NZ has chosen, that should count a hell of a lot more than a link from a small blog with a modest blogroll that ran into me googling the blue guys. It’s just logical. So I think that NZ has thrown out the baby with the bathwater to a degree. If you do a good job and get noticed and linked to by a bigger site, that is a coup, not something that should be discounted. Are there tiny blogs with big blogrolls? Sure, but no system will be perfect, ever. Moreover, a counterproductive outcome is that some of my very favorite sites, A Stitch in Haste, Dave Friedman’s Soul of Wit, and the Blue State Conservatives, have withdrawn from the ecosystem entirely.
Frankly I could give a rat’s rear if I am ranked 880 or 1650. It really doesn’t matter, and is certainly not my reason for writing. I have no ambition to be "discovered" so I can quit my day job. It’s just cheaper than calling 1-900-TOPURGE. This is my mental recreation. It’s more like a friendly poker game. Last week, my 4 of a kind beat your full house. This week, your full house beat my 4 of a kind. I just don’t know what to expect. Believe me, it is just as gratifying to be on KipEsquire’s Elite 11 as it is to improve from 1650 to 1575, or 950 to 880 for that matter. I say let’s just decide what the rules are once and for all so it can be fun again. Isn’t that the point?

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