A scientific approach to blog ranking

If you had to pick just 100 blogs that would provide you with all the content you need to stay informed on everything that interests you, which 100 would you pick?

And by which criteria would you determine that 100?

Some clever researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University in the USA have done the work for you with the publication of a ranked listing of 100 blogs.

This is not just any old list – it’s been arrived at through a complex scientific analysis involving outbreak detection, submodularity, node selections and sensor placements among many other things.

If that and the image above – taken from a presentation the researchers prepared – don’t give you a sense of the complexity of the research, how the abstract in the published research paper (PDF) begins ought to:

Given a water distribution network, where should we place sensors to quickly detect contaminants? Or, which blogs should we read to avoid missing important stories?

The 10-page paper, entitled “Cost-effective Outbreak Detection in Networks,” is a detailed reporting of what the research aimed to achieve, the methodologies employed and the findings that resulted.

Here’s the researchers’ rationale:

[…] Our goal is to select a small set of blogs which “catch” as many cascades (stories) as possible. A naive, intuitive solution would be to select the big, well-known blogs. However, these usually have a large number of posts, and are time-consuming to read. We show, that, perhaps counterintuitively, a more cost-effective solution can be obtained, by reading smaller, but higher quality, blogs, which our algorithm can find.

A very long tail approach.

I should mention at this point that my blog is in this list, at number 84. Actually, as far as I can tell (I haven’t checked every single blog), only one other UK blogger is in this US-focused list: Hugh MacLeod, at number 76.

So two Brits cut the mustard of blog indispensability :)

Here’s the complete list:

  1. http://instapundit.com
  2. http://donsurber.blogspot.com
  3. http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com
  4. http://www.watcherofweasels.com
  5. http://michellemalkin.com
  6. http://blogometer.nationaljournal.com
  7. http://themodulator.org
  8. http://www.bloggersblog.com
  9. http://www.boingboing.net
  10. http://atrios.blogspot.com
  11. http://lawhawk.blogspot.com
  12. http://www.gothamist.com
  13. http://mparent7777.livejournal.com
  14. http://wheelgun.blogspot.com
  15. http://gevkaffeegal.typepad.com/the_alliance
  16. http://www.anglican.tk
  17. http://www.micropersuasion.com
  18. http://pajamasmedia.com
  19. http://blogher.org
  20. http://mypetjawa.mu.nu
  21. http://reddit.com
  22. http://soccerdad.baltiblogs.com
  23. http://www.thenoseonyourface.com/the_nose_on_your_face
  24. http://ahistoricality.blogspot.com
  25. http://theanchoressonline.com
  26. http://americablog.blogspot.com
  27. http://www.sfist.com
  28. http://tbogg.blogspot.com
  29. http://www.horsepigcow.com
  30. http://whyhomeschool.blogspot.com
  31. http://daoureport.salon.com
  32. http://sisu.typepad.com/sisu
  33. http://www.metafilter.com
  34. http://www.megite.com
  35. http://www.laist.com
  36. http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt
  37. http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com
  38. http://blog.guykawasaki.com
  39. http://tryinotocomeundone.blogstream.com
  40. http://bluestarchronicles.blogspot.com
  41. http://googleblog.blogspot.com
  42. http://theglitteringeye.com
  43. http://asterisco.paradigma.pt
  44. http://www.readwriteweb.com
  45. http://digbysblog.blogspot.com
  46. http://www.conservativecat.com
  47. http://www.phillyist.com
  48. http://www.socialcustomer.com
  49. http://business2.blogs.com/business2blog
  50. http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com
  51. http://www.crooksandliars.com
  52. http://www.rightwingnews.com
  53. http://www.10000birds.com
  54. http://radar.oreilly.com
  55. http://cowboyblob.blogspot.com
  56. http://www.business-opportunities.biz
  57. http://www.dcist.com
  58. http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users
  59. http://www.legitgov.org
  60. http://www.whataboutclients.com
  61. http://www.roughtype.com
  62. http://www.tuaw.com
  63. http://aude91.canalblog.com
  64. http://thelondonfog.blogspot.com
  65. http://www.bostonist.com
  66. http://www.seattlest.com
  67. http://www.austinist.com
  68. http://indianwriting.blogspot.com
  69. http://powerlineblog.com
  70. http://firedoglake.blogspot.com
  71. http://elisson1.blogspot.com
  72. http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu
  73. http://ragnell.blogspot.com
  74. http://pulverblog.pulver.com
  75. http://mry.blogs.com/les_instants_emery
  76. http://www.gapingvoid.com
  77. http://catymology.blogspot.com
  78. http://hughhewitt.com
  79. http://www.lifehacker.com
  80. http://www.jordoncooper.com
  81. http://www.econbrowser.com
  82. http://socialitelife.com
  83. http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com
  84. http://nevillehobson.com
  85. http://www.waxy.org/links
  86. http://aliferestarted.blogspot.com
  87. http://volokh.com
  88. http://library.coloradocollege.edu/steve
  89. http://drsanity.blogspot.com
  90. http://www.mudvillegazette.com
  91. http://www.saysuncle.com
  92. http://www.privacydigest.com
  93. http://www.londonist.com
  94. http://www.shanghaiist.com
  95. http://markshea.blogspot.com
  96. http://www.singleservecoffee.com
  97. http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog
  98. http://www.scienceblogs.com
  99. http://www.basicthinking.de/blog
  100. http://scobleizer.wordpress.com

Make of it what you will!

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Jed

    The analysis seems impressive, and certainly past my graduate days! But the relevance of a blog is closely related to what I want to see… This list seems USA biased to me.

  2. Jessie Landis

    If anyone thinks this is important, the first glaring error is that No.58 hasn’t published anything since April.

  3. Armin

    This is not just any old list

    Actually, it is. The data is from 2006. Which in the high speed “blogosphere” I consider to be ancient.

  4. Aloysius

    I was as surprised as anyone to find my blog at #77. I think it’s related to the fact that, during 2006, Catymology hosted a number of carnivals. I’m circulating the paper to some mathematically adept humans that I know, hoping they can explain this.

  5. neville

    Well, I did write my post with my tongue a bit in my cheek. Maybe not far enough.

    Some of the links in the list don’t work. Some blogs surprise me for being there, but I’m not the scientist.

    As I said in my last sentence, make of it what you will. Which you’re all doing :)

  6. Chris Edwards

    So, Neville, when you say your post was tongue-in-cheek, could you expand?

    Did you think the CMU analysis was lacking in some way? Because that’s the only way I can read it as being tongue-in-cheek that these scientists weren’t as ‘clever’ as they made out. I wonder if you could share your insight.

  7. neville

    Chris, the post is simply reporting on a different research method of ranking some blogs, compared to how you tend to see rankings.

    I take little interest in blog rankings as a rule but this one caught my attention and my blog was in it. I’m certainly not crowing over being included in this list (I read your post); if I were, the post would have entirely been about that.

  8. Armin

    My view on most blog rankings is quite simple: I think they’re trying to compare and rank things you can’t really compare and rank.

    Most of them depend on number of links in Technorati or the number of visitors or similar metrics. But that’s assuming all blogs have the same audience and topics and are therefore comparable, which obviously they are not.

    It’s a bit like taking a high powered sports car, a pickup truck for a farmer and a family/people carrier and trying to rank them to decide which is the best car. Entirely impossible, as that depends on the purpose of what the car is needed for, therefore the best car or a ranking as such can’t exist.

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