Ruffled Feathers on the Top 100
I admit it. Until a few weeks ago, Tuesday nights found me repeatedly dialing the toll-free number for American Idol, voting for Sanjaya. A terrible singer, perhaps, but thousands of American TV viewers delighting in keeping him around week after week. And really, there was no harm in it - the more talented singers on the show will no doubt be signed to recording contracts, regardless of who wins or loses.
The Technorati Favorites list works in much the same way. Being listed doesn't make you a successful blogger, and the best bloggers will find success whether they're on the list or not. Still, the recent appearance of a few "Sanjayas" on the Top 100 list seems to be ruffling the feathers of some A-list bloggers.
Maki Making Trouble
Maki at Dosh Dosh started things off earlier this month when he offered to exchange favorites with anyone who was interested. It turned out that many bloggers were interested. A few weeks later, and the Top 100 list has been invaded by a whole slew of new blogs, many of them virtual unknowns.
While the movement that Maki started has been sweeping through the blogosphere for weeks, it only now beginning to draw the ire of some higher profile bloggers who feel they've "earned" their spot on the list.
Won't Someone Please Think of the A List?
First it wasthe list will soon lose credibility."
Now Darren Rowse at Problogger shares his opinion "that the practice of swapping favorites is a little sad," and that bloggers should spend their energy elsewhere.
In these same posts, both Amit and Darren invited readers to favorite their blogs.
Who is really suffering from this practice of reciprocal favoriting? Certainly not the blogs participating - Maki's original post has inspired hundreds of others, all of whom seem quite enthusiastic about this little movement.
Technorati users? The favorites feature was hardly being used prior to this month, as evidenced by ease with which blogs have been breaking into the Top 100. And some blogs have been gaming the list long before Maki came along: check out MySpace Layouts, favorited by 600+ faceless bloggers who count it as their only favorite. This list has been of limited usefulness for some time.
Technorati's owners? It seems like this "scheme" has brought them more attention, links, and page views from the blogosphere than anything else in recent memory. I can't remember ever seeing Technorati mentioned on so many blogs. And if Technorati really wanted to stop the reciprocal favoriting, some official statement of disapproval would stop a lot of it, and a few lines of code could curtail the rest.
The only victims I can really imagine here are the egos of the A-listers who've held those top positions for so long. Many have been displaced, and some of those who remain may feel their prestige is lessened by their new "lower-class" neighbors. But it's only egos at stake here. Those who have fallen off the list are not seeing a decrease in traffic, their PageRank isn't falling, and 99.9% of their readers will never even notice (unless they choose to blog about it).
In fact, most of those affected probably aren't suffering any ego damage. I seriously doubt that Doc Searls or Dave Winer are losing any sleep over their displacement, if they've even noticed they fell off the list.
Is it pointless to expend energy trying to make the Top 100? Of course it is. Every blogger can find better uses for their time. But some happen to be enjoying trading favorites. Why not let them? They don't appear to be violating Technorati's terms of service, and if Technorati feels the need to stop it, they will.
So to every A-list blogger who feels the need use their blog as a platform to decry the horrible practice of trading favorites, I have to ask: Isn't there a better use for your time?
For every blogger who enjoys exchanging favorites check out Favorite Me, the favorite swapping site Problogger mentioned (but didn't link to), and engtech's program that automatically favorites those who've favorited you. And if you've enjoyed this post, please favorite this blog :)
Update:As I was writing this, Maki was apparently writing a thorough analysis of the criticism he's received. It's a long one, but well thought out.