The real truth behind The Truth Laid Bear (TTLB) ecosystem

Ever since Jason Calacanis announced “The Blog 500” Challenge prize, an extensive debate is raging in the blogosphere about the blog popularity police.  Interestingly, N.Z. Bear, who runs TTLB, boasts about the TTLB system in the comments section of  Jason’s post making it seem like TTLB has the perfect solution to the problem. Somewhat coincidentally, about a month back, myself and Sibu started discussing the flaws in the TTLB ecosystem – we have been part of it for a few months now. Our pet peeve has been that TTLB shows zero incoming links for our blog but we actually have counted more than 15 incoming links (Technorati fares slightly better showing 3 incoming links, but that is another matter).  BTW, both TTLB and Technorati did not even respond to our problem reports on the above problem and its more than a few weeks since it was logged. So we decided to review the entire TTLB ecosystem of over 34,000 blogs to see how the other blogs got higher ranks. We evaluated several methods including writing a program to crawl the ecosystem lists and find patterns. Considering the time that would take, we decided to use a quick and dirty manual sampling method. Each of us, Sibu and myself, spent about 1 hour and were able to spot 115 entries (details in the attached MS Excel spreadsheet) which are corrupt for various reasons: 1. Suspended accounts.
2. Link rot (the linked to page does not exist anymore).
3. Parked domains leading to pages showing information on the domain registrar (godaddy, network solutions etc.).
4. Several entries linking to cleverly disguised marketing to peddle everything from Viagra to real estate to adult singles directories.
5. Some real companies like the Kissimmee Valley Authority (Wiggly Worms     #27174 ) and Sloan Petroleum (Slimy Molluscs    #19874) listed as blogs.
6. Sites like, (google’s web-based photo site) and even are listed as blogs !!
7. Bush Cheney campaign blogs which are dead quite obviously. We split our sides when we spotted the entry Slimy Molluscs  #17480 . Its actually a discontinued blog which says “Goodbye Cruel Blogosphere”. Read  Om Malik complaining about Technorati.  He is actually complaining about tagging but his mention of spam blogs and more importantly his mention of lack of traffic coming to him from Technorati caught my attention. Om is one of the top bloggers and if he does not get traffic from Technorati who does? Overall it seems like something is wrong with the blog popularity police. I think Sam Cohen is correct, this whole ranking idea runs counter to the spirit of the blogosphere. Instead of figuring out Jason’s Blog 500  problem, we should instead figure out a way to bubble up the fantastic thoughts published by unknown bloggers. Otherwise, the A-list bloggers will become an extension of the MSM controlling what blog readers read by virtue of their power to bestow incoming links. References:
1. Clay Shirky uses Power Law distributions to explain why inquality of bloggers and consequently an A-list of bloggers is a given. Although it is an old article, it is a must read. 2. At the end of  the above article, Clay links to a Technorati page called “interesting newcomers list“. Its actually a rotten link ! Hopefully David Sifry is working on it! 3. David Sifry has some explanations on spam blogs and fake blogs in his state of the blogosphere series.  4. Michael Williams has written a post on this subject a few months ago. Note:
1. Given that the TTLB ecosystem rankings change everyday the data we collected may not still be accurate, but a similar sampling will yield similar results on any given day.
2. TTLB claims that it only counts incoming links over the past week. Even if that were true, the incoming links data in TTLB for our blog is still incorrect.  PSFK linked to us just a couple of days back.