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Anil on weblogs and the web May 3, 2002 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Although Anil's post is mostly rah-rah for metafilter, he makes some great points about weblogs and the web in general. Maybe this is the people's medium afterall.
posted by mathowie to MetaFilter-Related at 12:15 PM (27 comments total)

True? Wow. That's pretty great. I subscribe to WSJ.com, and I visit about three times a week; I'm on MetaFilter several times a day.
posted by me3dia at 12:59 PM on May 3, 2002


The comparative Alexa rankings are beyond belief. This makes me take Alexa's traffic ranking disclaimers very, very seriously.
posted by mcwetboy at 1:10 PM on May 3, 2002


WSJ readers probably go for what they need to go for, and leave. Us psychos comment, surf, refresh, comment, get snarky, eat pancakes, post kitty comments, and refresh again. Very different behavior on the part of the readers; but a good post nonetheless. Isn't WSJ.com still at least the number one subscription site?

BTW, I like the redesign.
posted by adampsyche at 1:14 PM on May 3, 2002


gotta love facts.
posted by clavdivs at 1:27 PM on May 3, 2002


I know it's all different because of audiences, and because the Journal charges for membership, and because of blah blah blah. But it's still goddamned amazing.

If we ignore everything which renders the comparison invalid, we are left with an interesting comparison. Why does this rumpled fundament buttress so many Web-centric essays?

(at least gimme points for "rumpled fundament buttress"...)
posted by Opus Dark at 2:25 PM on May 3, 2002


What adampsyche said.

Setting too much (or any) store by Alexa's rankings seems flawed.
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:44 PM on May 3, 2002


Still, regardless of whether MeFi gets more or less traffic than WSJ, it still gets a lot of traffic.

There's also a big difference between WSJ and MeFi. The WSJ is a content site. Metafilter, though it does have a lot of its own content, is also a powerful redirector of traffic, like a large nexus. Each of us front-page posters has the power to redirect more traffic to a large site or to bring small, interesting sites to their knees (like, unfortunately, the Lego Church Lady.)

The power of this is multiplied by the fact that a large part of the blogging community takes its cue from Metafilter. Try tracking a link on Blogdex the week after it appears on Metafilter and you'll see what I mean.

Metafilter is a powerful meme-engine unlike the Web has ever seen. That is what I think is interesting.
posted by vacapinta at 3:09 PM on May 3, 2002


However, multiple requests on the same day by the same user for the same URL are counted as a single pageview.

If it weren't for this MeFi would be in the top 10 (right below slashdot)

I agree with mcwetboy, the data is definitely skewed by only counting users of the Alexa toolbar.
posted by jaden at 3:18 PM on May 3, 2002


wondering how long it takes before Alexa-bombing occurs...sign up, surf only hardcore porn and scientology sites, or having that unmentionable of unmentionable links--even without typing the name that picture pops into my head-- linked to Versign/netsol etc...
posted by th3ph17 at 3:50 PM on May 3, 2002


If we ignore everything which renders the comparison invalid, we are left with an interesting comparison. Why does this rumpled fundament buttress so many Web-centric essays?

Um, in this particular case, I'd guess it's due to the fact that I wrote it as a ramble at about 3:30 this morning. The comparison is still valid because we know that, at the very least, MeFi and the WSJ are in the same realm of traffic, despite the incredible divergence in resources poured into each.

Are you actually unable to tease that bit of relevance out of this piece? I understand it's not particularly well-written, but I would assume most people could understand that point.
posted by anildash at 4:48 PM on May 3, 2002


Anyone use the alexa toolbar? Anyone know anyone who uses the alexa toolbar? I'm sure metafilter, and a lot of other sites on that list, are ranked badly because a lot of people, especially the tech-savvy, do not want to be tracked or running spyware.

The rankings should be renamed, "Pagerank by Windows users that use IE with the Alexa searchbar." I doubt the users that make up this demographic are anything close to a random sample.
posted by skallas at 6:05 PM on May 3, 2002


Well, regardless of what metrics are used Metafilter gets a fairly astounding amount of traffic for what amounts to a web bulletin board.

MeFi and the WSJ are in the same realm of traffic, despite the incredible divergence in resources poured into each.

Well, if you're talking monetary resources, anil, then, yes there is a divergence, as obviously WSJ has cash to burn and this operation is run on everyones left over beer money. But put it terms of human resources and things start to even out. WSJ has(I'm guessing) maybe 100 writers and a team of designers doing what they do basically to make a living. MeFi has 13000+ people typing away about whatever excites them at that moment just for the sheer thrill of it. So in that sense we've got the advantage.

Maybe this is the people's medium afterall.

You're damn straight it is, Matt, with all the good and bad that entails. I've seen blogs done by mean people, stupid people and crazy people and while they have novelty value for a quick laugh, it's not enough to interest most people for repeated visits. The key to this site's success is the collection of people we've got here. I don't know how it happened but we've managed to gather a bunch of extremely intelligent people from an unbelievably broad swath of society, many of whom would probably never encounter eachother in real life. Can you imagine say, MidasMulligan and dong_resin ever meeting at a cocktail party? Yet they discourse side by side here, everyday. And the results are always interesting no matter what's being discussed. And that's why this place has the impact it does.

But that's just my 2 cents.




posted by jonmc at 6:48 PM on May 3, 2002


Here's the WSJ's actual Alexa traffic ranking (2,541). wsj.com auto-redirects to that address.
posted by disarray at 6:51 PM on May 3, 2002


*gives Opus Dark points*
posted by y2karl at 11:06 PM on May 3, 2002


Yet they discourse side by side here, everyday.

Not quite true of late, jonmc.
posted by y2karl at 11:08 PM on May 3, 2002


"Maybe this is the people's medium afterall". It is for me. MetaFilter was the first weblog I ever heard of, about eighteen months ago. Any other blogs I've visited have been a direct result of links from here and members blogs. This place is the Hub of the Universe because it provides diverse links, unlike the links usually provided on one-dimensional sites. It's truer than ever: "Come for the links, stay for the conversation"...and the coffee ain't half bad either.
posted by Mack Twain at 11:28 PM on May 3, 2002


*logs in at this ungodly hour just to give Opus Dark much-deserved points*
posted by moss at 2:17 AM on May 4, 2002


Newsflash, 1996 : The Worldwide Web is the world's great equalizer! Now tiny companies can compete with major firms on an equal footing! On the web, no one knows how small your company is! You can sell your widgets as effectively as Megawidget Corp!

The other thing I'm reading into Anil's message is that the WSJ dropped a wad of dough at some web developers' feet, and the result was as effective as something one guy dreamed up in his bedroom. Is it that Metafilter is so great, or is it that the WSJ got completely and royally rooked?
posted by crunchland at 6:22 AM on May 4, 2002


Try tracking a link on Blogdex the week after it appears on Metafilter and you'll see what I mean.

Try tracking a link on Blogdex the two weeks before it appears on MetaFilter and you'll get a real eye-opener. In my experience, MetaFilter is trails Fark on posting the wacky links, behind BoingBoing on items of general interest, behind Slashdot on tech news and a few hours behind Kuro5hin on slightly more intellectual issues. However, that, of course, does not negate Metafilter's role as an popularizer, but sometimes I think it's inevitable, not surprising or noteworthy, that most of the links show up here.

By now the traveling route of memes on the Internet is a hard-wired path.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:38 AM on May 4, 2002


I like Anil Dash, but this is a total bunch of horsepoop.

First of all, Metafilter is read more than WSJ.com?

Does it matter? No, not really.

If you think the public at large is paying any attention to weblogs, you're very much mistaken. I'm constantly amazed with the self justification of the weblogging "community" that they are doing some sort of great service to the public.

Read the top hit webloggers and you'll find the same forty links. So much for individuality.

Egos, as usual, run amok. I weblog because I enjoy it and I feel the need to express myself. Our influence is nil compared to the mainstream news media. It's the "weblogs will change the world" bullshit that causes the bile to rise in my throat.
posted by mark13 at 11:18 AM on May 4, 2002


Any suggestions for other sites that offer a little more diversity than the standard Fark / Wacky Links / Blogdex / Daypop top 40, on the order of Plep ?
posted by sheauga at 7:40 PM on May 4, 2002


*gives Opus Dark points, takes jonmc's 2 cents, steals a sip of Mack Twain's coffee, offers mark13 some Tums for the bile rising in his throat*
posted by iconomy at 8:36 PM on May 4, 2002


Eh, I was just talking out my ass, guys. That's why I just threw it up on my site. I do write things that are well-reasoned and significant, but this wasn't meant to stand up to that kind of criticism.

I agree the self-importance of weblogs is blown way out of proportion, and that no average person has heard of them.

I also know that the personal web will be the biggest area of growth and will be the format that defines and influences the future of the web, and that's probably the bigger point I was trying to make.

It sucks that I did a lousy job of making an important point.
posted by anildash at 9:00 PM on May 4, 2002


Heh. I suck even more for not reading critically, and then linking your suckage, without thinking much about it, thus venturing into the deep, murky swamps of MetaSuck!

('MeSuh' - picture Jar-Jar, being annoying...)

That said, "I also know that the personal web will be the biggest area of growth and will be the format that defines and influences the future of the web" is absolutely right, methinks, weblog ego-bloat or not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:32 PM on May 4, 2002


Anil: Nothing can stand up to the level of scrutiny given here.

sheauga: Try the left side bar at Wood's Lot (which includes Plep) and, of course, the blog itself.
posted by vacapinta at 1:01 AM on May 5, 2002


I also know that the personal web will be the biggest area of growth and will be the format that defines and influences the future of the web[...]

As opposed to an im-personal Web, I'd probably agree. Past that, we'd have to start defining and refining. Anyway, Anil, I hope you're not feeling too ambushed, here. Lord knows if I ran a blog/journal, I'd spend a lot of sweaty time worrying that I might wake up some morning to find a funnel web of linked nitpickers surrounding my latest jot, feeding up a frenzy...egads...the horror...

(Sweet murmurs to those who gave me pointless word-play points.)
posted by Opus Dark at 1:22 AM on May 5, 2002


Interesting links there, Vacapinta. Thanks.
posted by justlooking at 1:39 PM on May 5, 2002


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