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30 May, 2005

BlogExplosion fizzled out

In adding that Individual-I button to the main page of the blog, I took the opportunity to remove a redundant one.  I no longer offer a permanent link to BlogExplosion (BE), the glorified link exchange scheme.

Understandably, one only gains a benefit if one browses other members' sites (for every two other sites one visits, one person is directed to one's own site). That's fine in principle, but there are far too many evangelical christians and frothing right-wing bigots at BE (I don't want to seem biased: I genuinely feel other religions are less frequently represented (and aren't evangelical) and that there are fewer left-wing extremists in the network). I have no interest in paying them any attention, and don't wish to send them extra traffic.
Apart from those offensive sites, many more are just poorly conceived, designed and/or written; simply not worth visiting.

As I said when I first joined, I don't actually need the contribution to traffic volume, as I'm already doing quite nicely, thanks. As it happens, average daily traffic has doubled since November, though I haven't browsed via BE since February. I joined to discover new, quality sites. I found a few, but they're a minority, which I can just as easily read outside BE.

So far as I can tell, BE's moment has passed anyway. Usage is declining (remember the way banner display ratios dropped as membership increased? That trend reversed a couple of months ago), and promotions are becoming more desperate (yet less enticing). This rat isn't going to wait for the ship to sink.
Actually, that's an overstatement. I'm not unsubscribing, just no longer visiting, nor recommending that others sign up.
It amounts to the same thing, though.


Hey, this is by far the most kick ass blog template I've seen yet. Great job.

Posted by Pikkel Weezel at May 30, 2005 02:21 PM

I never used BlogExplosion so I might be totally wrong here, but as I understand it you ended up visiting random blogs when using it. That's all well and good but surely it would be better visiting blogs about subjects that you prefer; technology and British politics, for example. That way, you might actually decide to subscribe to the blog and become a regular reader.

Posted by Neil T. at May 30, 2005 03:23 PM

I think Blog Explosion has peaked, but it's not dead yet. (I think it's possible to game their Blog Rocket to get more hits than you surf random blogs)

What I'd like to see is a Blog Explosion like thingy which, instead of serving up completely random blogs, does some sort of bayersian analysis comparing the text of your own blog with the ones it serves up; then you'd be more likely to see blogs covering subjects you're actually interested in, and could filter out all the angry rightwing blowhards and vapid teenage diaries.

Actually, something that works in exactly the same way as a Bayersian spam filter would do the trick. All it would have to do would be to ask you to rate each blog as "good" or "bad", and it can filter blogs in the same way as a spam filter filters your email.

Posted by Tim Hall at May 30, 2005 05:38 PM

Neil: yes, that would be far better, but there's an administrative problem: all qualifying sites have to be shown to other members, and sites can't be shown until they qualify (by the owner visiting other sites). This means that if a user chose to see minority-interest categories, there mightn't be enough qualifying sites available, or too small a pool, so the user would see the same sites again and again, using up the other sites owners' allocations with 'redundant' clicks.
I'm sure there could be a middle-ground, but I suspect the categories would have to be defined rather loosely.

Sites are actually categorised already, and it's possible to opt out of one (only one) class so what's it to be? No more religion, but a hail of right-wing bile, or vice versa?

Personally, I'd favour an opt-in system which operates whilst there are sufficient qualifying, appropriately-categorised sites available (which one hasn't already been shown within the current week), which hands over to a wider pool of random sites when the chosen categories are expended. That latter stage could have opt-outs from specific categories.
I suspect this system would be a nightmare to implement, though!

In general, I think I can say BE succeeded in showing me sites I liked and to which I subscribed but I subscribed via RSS, and no longer need BE.
It is possible to 'blogmark' (ugh) sites within the BE interface, but there's no benefit in doing so.

Tim: you're right; I don't think BE is about to shut down imminently, but I do think its declining, not only in the number of active members but, more importantly, in the quality of active members. Let's face it, the really successful, interesting blogs don't need link exchange schemes, whereas it's a useful boost for those new to blogging. Good luck to them, but I'm afraid I don't want to read 'em!
I haven't studied the 'Blog Rocket' promotion, but from a quick glance it, and the usual monthly lottery & competitions, strike me as a bit gimmicky and as I said, maybe a sign of desperation.

Posted by NRT at May 30, 2005 08:10 PM

I can't really say how much intent there is behind the idea of finding new blogs to read – I think I found one over the whole course of my BE-flirtation that interested me. The real intent always seemed to be to pull people towards your own site.

I did find it amusing though, for the brief while that I played with it (I subscribed via you BTW – you can thank me later) that the predominately right-wing ranty-brigade might have their ego-scraping interrupted by a blatant transvestite weblog :)

The whole thing though, makes me feel quite icky – the idea of forcing people through their own need for ego-affirming and traffic, to pat you on the back and visit you blog...

I think it ends up breeding its own particular community, And I'm quite glad to see it wane a bit.

And if I don't ever see another blog with the words "musings" or "rantings" in its title tag, then it'll be far too soon

Posted by Siobhan Curran at May 30, 2005 09:49 PM
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