Is preference really any kind of metric?

From the Content Writing & Copywriting Blog I get a post about the 50 most influential blogs, referencing the NxE’s list of 50 Most Influential Bloggers. Yes, you read that right: the 50 most influential bloggers, full stop (‘period’ if you’re in the US). No specific subject matter here.

The NxE explains itself thus:

There are literally millions of bloggers out there, each of them with their own voice and style, and yet in the blogging world, a handful stand out.

It then goes on to qualify itself: there are others out there who may not have made the list.

So, this is a list of the most influential bloggers, in no particular subject matter, with no listed criteria for entry. It could well be that I could run them through the PowerPR engine and figure out how popular (and possibly influential) they are. But they list no criteria. This presupposes they just chose them because, well, they like them.

It’s the mysterious Todd rating of the Power150 and nothing more.

The three, from my limited experience, that I would nominate, are Scoble, Kawasaki and Rubel. They’re all in there. But that’s the point: from my limited experience among millions of blogs, I would choose them. This gives me no comfort.

I do understand and accept the criticisms levelled at attempts such as the PowerPR to quantify influence. But I do not think an arbitrary list drawn from personal preference among the acknowledged ‘millions of blogs’ offers any insight whatsoever. This is pure linkbait. Problem is, I fall for the the bait – and promote it – by being baited.

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5 thoughts on “Is preference really any kind of metric?

  1. Hi Friendly Ghost

    Thanks for linking to my blog. You’re right, they probably selected the bloggers because they like them, and there’s another thing: even if half of them mention their story on their blogs, it is a big linkbait opportunity for NxE.

  2. I think you’ve met Flemming from Onalytica. He would, I think, argue that there objective metrics for “influence.”

    At the simplest level, one has to define “influence” loosely as “capable of causing a measurable reaction in the wider environment” (v. clumsy, I know – but better, I think than “I like this”).

    If we agree on that point, there are various mathematical tools that can be used to assess influence — from simple regression analysis (simple, that is, to brief in to a maths whizz) to network analysis, and input-output analysis.

    I tend to fall over a bit when it comes to thinking about matrix maths. But I’m pleased to think that I know a few people who don’t.

  3. And now I’m trying to figure out where we disagree here! I’m think I’m totally in agreement with you!

    I have indeed met Flemming and have put forward his approach as a good example of an accountable, scientifically based methodology, and discussed his input/output analysis method (and yes, I go a bit oopsy-la thinking about it myself). Indeed, his results, in differing from anything else publicly available, were an object lesson in how influence and popularity differ.

    The NxE ‘study’, however, is not a study at all. It really does seem to be totally based on *subjective* preference, not *objective*, umm, anything.

    As I say, I do accept criticisms levelled at studies that just use public metrics such as Technorati. Having watched my blog grow in *popularity* but not, I think, *influence*, I understand more and more the difference.

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