Technorati’s A-list bloggers toppled by young Asian women

April 22nd, 2006

We need better approaches to ranking blogs. Scott Karp made a very interesting observation in Technorati Top 100 Is Changing Radically:

Have you checked out the Technorati Top 100 (by unique links) lately? It’s starting to change in very interesting ways. First, Dave Winer is gone. That’s right — Scripting News is no longer a top 100 blog. So what knocked him off? Personal blogs by young Asian women, most of them on MSN Spaces:

and goes on to list eight blogs that made the 100 list by recently receiving a large number of links from MSN blogs.

There is some evidence that the linking blogs are not authentic, i.e., splogs. If so, this is a new use for splogs — raising the rank of blogs, both on sites like Technorati and also on conventional Web search engines. To date, most splogs have been used to promote regular Web sites on search engines or to host Google Adsense advertisements. I’d check this theory out with our own splog detection software, which works pretty well, but we currently only do blogs in a handful of European languages.

Hacking Cough has another explanation, however:

In with a bullet at number eight was MÂ¥$T(e(?I(O/’u~§ G,ÃŽ?L,: a blog stuffed full of platitudes and proverbs in Arabic and English that has seemingly warmed the hearts of 8000 blogs. Most of the link-love they gave the 20 posts at the site, as recorded by Technorati, came in the last 48 hours. … It’s not just MÂ¥$T(e(?I(O/’u~§ G,ÃŽ?L, who has stormed into the Technorati A-list. You have Myhurt at Japanese blog-host FC2, who has amassed more than 12′000 links from close to 6700 sites, most of them also hosted at FC2. … It seems that Myhurt has knocked up a nice template that has been used by a lot of FC2 bloggers. And Technorati has picked up those links as real trackbacks in the way that it does not for all those links to SixApart at the bottom of Movable Type blogs.

I’ll be very happy if this is just a technical glitch in the way that Technorati ranks blogs. Even if it is, as blogs continue to rise in importance, we can expect to see more people trying to game the ranking system.

It’s clear to me that as blogging becomes more global we will have to develop a sound approach to analyzing blogs in a good fraction of the world’s major languages. We are also working on alternate approaches to ranking blogs and identifying feeds that matter.

One of the advantages of doing research on spam, in any of its varieties, is that the problem will never be solved. As the Red Queen said, It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.