Monday, May 10, 2010

Reciprocity in blogging networks

What makes a blog successful? Well, first define success. It can be the number of people reading it, the number of comments on it, or the revenue from advertisements. I do not have benchmarks to compare mine, but I am quite sure my blog does poorly on at least on three of these definitions. Thus, what am I doing wrong?

Alexia Gaudeul and Chiara Peroni may have the answer. They use LiveJournal to study how bloggers, write, comment and interact. The keys to success seems to be for the blogger to comment on other blogs, thus eliciting reciprocal comments. The blogger also needs to reply to comments on his own blog. This sounds like bloggers are only among themselves and form cliques and the one with the most friends wins. Just like in high school. But I think this is all coming from the dataset, which does not record lurkers and other outsiders.

Quite obviously, I am doing everything wrong. I hardly comment on other blogs. I do not continuously follow comments, as I only check them when it is time for another post and rarely follow up. I'll make an effort.


Agent Continuum said...

Yes, you are doing everything wrong but it's not at a huge deal because even if you were to really go out and publicize yourself, your material is not meant for public consumption. You will never be able to attract a layman, college-educated, policy-aware crowd like Marginal Revolution, for example.

In my experience, from a different blog, if you can get either Mankiw, MR or EconLog to link to you, and hopefully discuss your post a little, you can get up to 200-400 extra hits that day and an increase in your RSS subscribers of about one forth of that.

Also, it helps a lot to get into flame wars and feuding with other bloggers. Links are links. This works great for people who write on current events and do a lot op-ed type blogging.

Of course, a good blogger is aware of what rel="nofollow" is and how much power it yield and therefore she uses her blogroll strategically.

It's also a good idea to participate in "memes" and do posts discussing other people's open questions/calls for discussion.

On my current blog I actively try not to publicize myself with these tactics, since you end with a very low content-to-fluff ratio.

Amit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. said...

Well, heck, E.L., I did you a favor by giving you a hard time a while back here over your blatant misrepresentation of that paper by me and Colander and Holt, with the fuss spilling over onto EJMR. That allowed you, or one or another of your sock puppets, to make a whole lot of noise about yourself over there, much of it based on bashing me. Such fun.

Something else that makes a difference that you have failed to address, although I have pointed it out to you rather pointedly, and which also applies to your pal, Agent Continuum, is that you are anonymous. Go look at the top blogs on Gongol. None of them are run by anonymous people. That stuff is juveniles and cowards, which the two of you most egregiously are.

Do you want to explain why you remain anonymous? Do you consider that this makes you either intellectually or morally or professionally superior to others? If so, you are kidding yourself. said...

BTW, E.L., I find it hard to believe that you only check comments when you are ready to post again. Well, maybe you do, but it certainly seems that either you or your sock puppets are spending a lot of time trolling and patrolling on EJMR for any references to you then to make all kinds of creepy crawly comments and play all kinds of bizarre games there. Your credibility really is in the toilet.

Oh, and I do know of people who have good reasons for being anonymous when they blog, but I seriously doubt that you fill the bill on that one. You were challenged some time ago to explain yourself privately to me what you are about. You failed to do do so. The result is nothing public contempt for you by me as a thoroughly dishonorable piece of scum.

Anonymous said...

EL: I subscribe to your blog, read it every time you post something, and appreciate your efforts. It helps me learn about different directions others take in research, and it helps me appreciate how a solid grasp of theory can help understand many apparently unrelated topics. Keep up the good work.

I don't usually comment for several reasons. First, I need time to think about what you say as well as the abstracts of the articles you refer to--occasionally I even skim the papers ;-) That means that by the time I feel like I have something to add to your comments, you've often moved on to something else or the discussion by others has moved in a direction that doesn't relate to what I have to say.

That's my second reason for avoiding commenting on blogs. Threads are not similar enough, for my taste, to actual discussion between people. I suppose that's not only due to the physical disconnect but also to the asynchronous exchange. Also, the fact that multiple people comment in the same thread can make it seem people talk past each other. If you're in a large group setting in the real world, conversation happens at the level of that group. Blog comment threads read, to me, like a bunch of separate bilateral exchanges artificially strung together to simulate a group discussion. Why not just have a real discussion with real people? That's not to say that I don't see the value in blogging, just that I question the value in commenting on blog entries.

Lastly, I personally relate to your desire to stay anonymous even if "you have nothing to hide." People like rossjb are just too unpleasant to deal with online. I expect he knows how to deal politely with strangers face to face, but he seems anything but online. Why encourage him? said...

Because I would be a lot more polite if I was not dealing with an anonymous person who makes false remarks about me and then fails to either retract them or apologize for them. This is despicable, and I have utter contempt for it. That's why.

Oh, and yes, I am a very nice guy in person, generally speaking, although arguably this is partly the manners of an old style southern gentleman, which means that I also have strong sense of honor and principle, which I think E.L. has violated. E.L. can get out of this at any time: send me a private message to me revealing his identity and apologizing. He has my word that I shall honor his anonymity (and will stop giving him such a hard time in public). said...

I am going to add one more comment before blowing this popsicle standa again for awhile. Actually it is serious, and it involves this biz of anonymity and blogging again.

So, there are reasons for being anonymous, but they are a lot fewer than most think. One is you have a job where they absolutely forbid you to blog, period. After that, the reasons get thin fast, unless you are a whistleblowing blogger against an employer, which is not what folks here do. Even if one is an Asst Prof tenure track, it is not that big a deal to avoid going out of one's way not to criticize on one's blog some senior colleague who will have a lot of say on your tenure.

I would note that there have been some who moved up with monikers, but often once they get up there, they go public, e.g. Meagan MacArdle. And there are others who use a moniker, but one can easily find their true identity by some linking or googling. That is what is the case for most of the remaining ones anywhere near the top who still use a moniker aside from their names. So, E.L. could still be E.L., but going to his link would reveal who he is.

There is a real bottom line here. People just do not ultimately take seriously anonymous bloggers. If you are not man enough to stand behind what you print, then why should anyone give a shit? It is just childish holdovers of adolescents playing silly games.

AfricaForEver said...

I agree the daily frequency of posts makes it difficult to comment soon enough. But I suppose a thread can still go on for more than a day. I commented today on some older threads.