E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Missing the Point on the 2000 Bloggers Affair – Is that What Weblogging Is All About?

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Links? Links ? Links? And worrying about it? Perhaps just a bit too much? Is that what weblogging is all about, folks? I am not sure if you have been following the huge uproar of commentary that has been going on every since Tino Buntic launched the 2000 Bloggers initiative. A lot has been written about the whole effect, not to take into account the good amount of link love that has taken place thus far, but perhaps two of the folks, whose comments have been rather insightful and definitely the kick-off to do something about it, were Jemeriah Owyang‘s take in I don’t deserve this Technorati rank (and the other 1,999 of you don’t either) and Zoli Erdos2000 Bloggers Gaming Technorati and Google.

You can read some more about the whole affair if you check out Megite‘s and Techmeme‘s take on it. And also worth while visiting and checking out is Technorati‘s reaction through Ian Kallen‘s weblog post on Breaking the Chains. WOW! Isn’t that enough buzz already about the whole thing? Isn’t that creating many more links and conversation on the topic than the 2000 bloggers initiative on itself? I think I will leave that to you to make the final judgement.

So why am I writing this weblog post you may be wondering, right? Well, I am actually one of those 2000 bloggers who, a couple of weeks back, decided to submit his own weblog as an experiment and see how it would help me increase my discovery of different weblogs that may be of interest to me and which do not necessarily have got to do with the Top 100 or A-List webloggers. After all, a good chunk of the best stuff on the blogosphere is on lesser known weblogs. We all know that. I knew right away as well that people would start linking to it (Come on, we all knew that, didn’t we?! That is what people do in weblogs. They link to each other whenever the opportunity arises) and therefore Technorati would be affected by it at some point.

I was, too! I had several dozens of folks linking to me, perhaps only as an indication of being part of the whole initiative, but not the entire 2000 bloggers. In fact, I am 100% positive that will never happen. People enjoyed the novelty, tried it out for a bit and then moved on. Like we are doing now. However, some folks did comment on it and that is when the uproar came up with plenty of people no longer sure it was actually going to be a good thing after all. Errr, what happened? Why all the fuss now and not right at the very beginning when people started jumping into it? Well, probably because we all thought it was a great idea (Still is!) and even to the point where plenty of us thought about the social networking aspect of gaining more visibility with other lesser known weblogs and perhaps discover the odd one you would want to check out and subscribe to them further. And from there onwards start building up your own relationship(s).

I actually found about 5 of those weblogs that I subscribed to them thanks to this initiative. I am sure I would not have been able to meet up in any other way, so just for that I am glad I am part of such initiative. Even if it has been shut down eventually. To me it has actually succeeded in bringing down to me more visibility on some other weblogs that I may want to visit, or not. And continue building up from there. At least, I am given the choice. Try now to get noticed by the most popular weblogs. That is also another good exercise, I tell you. But is it really worth it? Yes, that is the whole point I am trying to get to with this particular weblog post. Yes, plenty of webloggers get started with their weblogs because they want to be popular, they want to stand out, they want everyone to be noticed and everything. In short, they want links. For them 2000 bloggers has actually been a menace from the very beginning, specially if they were not part of it because they might not have seen it coming.

However, for the rest of us, at least, that is how I see it, it was just a fun exercise to increase our awareness from other weblogs out there that I may want to check out and potentially subscribe to. Yes, that social networking thing kicking in once again. Because after all, I am not too fussed about links. I don’t want to be a popular weblog because everyone is linking to me. On the contrary, I want to be a popular weblog, if ever, because people find that my content is compelling enough to be shared across the blogosphere. They have enjoyed reading whatever article and then decide that it is worth while sharing it with their friends and their own readers. Again, all this not because of the link itself, but because of my content. Myself. That is what weblogging is all about. People engaging in conversations.

And like with any conversation, weblogging is a long time investment. It is something you work your way through during the course of many months, or many years because you know that it will pay off big time for you to keep it going. To enrich the way you view things and, much more importantly, the way others interact with you. Link love is just circumstantial and something that, unfortunately, we all have to live with. And perhaps 2000 Bloggers just managed, and succeeded!, to shake the ground once again and remind us why we all wanted to create our own weblog in the first place. Food for some thought, I guess, as to where you would want to take your weblogging, don’t you think? Would you rather have it as a long-term investment (5 to 10 years) or just go with the link love month by month till you get bored or you move into the next thing? Your choice. You decide.

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  1. I completely agree with you. I did it for fun and to find new blogs which I have. I don’t care about my ranking. I have built up my blogroll and regular readers by finding blogs I like and linking to them. Thanks for this post. I’m happy to see other people think like I do.

  2. Luis-

    I have some observations relevant to this which I would be interested in getting your reaction to.

    I think that those of us who are interested in social media and social networking tend to be, well, let’s just say that we tend to be a bit more “social” and more comfortable with technology than many other folks. We’re willing to go the extra mile to understand what’s involved in linking to others and in getting others to link to us. We gravitate towards online groups where people like us tend to hang out. Because of how we use the web and the tools available to us, we have evolved relatively sophisticated personal strategies for keeping up with what’s going on in the various groups and communities that interest us.

    Naturally, personal relationships are an important element of this that we intertwine with our online relationships. Because of the importance we place on our online relationships for both personal and professional development, we may also tend to assign relatively more trust and confidence in the information we obtain from our online networks than we do, say, to information we obtain from a formal web search of Google or one of the other search engines.

    As we know, the information we obtain from our online communities is not only direct information (such as an answer to a direct question) but also information about what our trusted colleagues think is important to track (hence the sharing of, say, del.icio.us tags). So if someone comes with an easy-to-join “shake and bake” network of individuals we want to know or emulate, we’ll join, not only because of the importance of linking but because of the likelihood we’ll find a few more interesting sources of information – as well as a few more people we’d like to get to know better.

    Maybe what we’re seeing with phenomena such as “2000 Bloggers” is nothing more complex than what is expressed in sayings “birds of a feather stick together” and “how to make friends and influence people.”

    What I find interesting (and which I’ve blogged about in posts like this: http://www.ddmcd.com/engagement.html) is that such “communities” can form, morph, and decay so rapidly. What we’re then left with is a bunch of links – and maybe some new friends. Which is not such a bad thing, after all, even though all of this can happen without ever having a face to face meeting!

    – Dennis

  3. Good comments Luis. FWIW, I’m in the 2000 too, and while I didn’t send in my photo/blog, like you, I don’t see the issue.

    The link counts will drop off Technorati in a few months, and we’ll all go back to the blogging our thoughts. I’m sure Google, Technorati, etc., can account for link spikes like this, and will continue to value those making a long term contribution.

  4. I love the 2000 bloggers idea! And I publically support Tino and what he did.

    So why can’t he just have a webpage that has all the photos and faces, and we just link to it?

    Why do we have to embed our photos in it and each blogger blog it?

  5. Luis, You and I both stated that for most participants this was “just a fun excercise”. I agree with you, “a good chunk of the best stuff on the blogosphere is on lesser known weblogs” – but I would rather discover them based on contextual search then on their mug-shots.
    You seem to believe that this was all about the social discovery, and people would link to whatever they found interesting. Well, sorry, I don’t see that selective discovery, when the code got published, anyone who copy/pasted it into their blogs automatically linked to 2000 other blogs without ever looking at those blogs. It became a link-generating machine.

    But here’s the best part: Technorati did not shut down the 2000 Bloggers initiative. All they did was to exclude it from their index. You and anyone who likes it can still repost the collage and click to blogs individually. The “discovery” process is intact – the question is how many bloggers would continue, now that the secondary (?) incentive is gone.

    We know that Tino, the guy who launched it lost interest – but that should not come as a surprise, is you read this interview, his motives become crystal clear: links and increased traffic to his business site. But that’s only him, you and hundreds of others can continue the social discovery process and even manually link to sites you find and like …

  6. Thanks a lot, folks, for dropping by and for adding further into the conversation. Lots of great stuff in there ! Appreciated the input.

    Deviousdiva, thanks a bunch for the candid and honest feedback. "I have built up my blogroll and regular readers by finding blogs I like and linking to them". I agree with you 100% on that one ! It is not the local and temporary link love that will eventually get you there. It is actually working your way in a committed way towards sharing your knowledge and information with those people who you bump into out there in the blogosphere and for that to happen we need initiatives like this one where you can eventually bump into weblogs that would be worth while the fight and the sharing with them. I am glad to hear as well I am not the only one who thinks that way, too!

    Dennis, what a fantastic set of comments ! Thanks much for sharing them over here. They are worth while becoming a single weblog post on their own ! I think that you have described pretty well how social networking should be perceived all along as a powerful method to build up meaningful and lasting relationships that we would be able to work our way through in order to come up with the best. With the stuff that still remain there for a longer period. The long term investment that I mentioned above.

    It is interesting to see how you have also viewed this particular initiative of the 2000 bloggers in pretty much the same way / fashion I have; as an innovative way to gain some traction into forming those relationships put together together at random for those folks who may be looking for lesser known minds and their thoughts in order to enrich their own. Yes, indeed, those links will eventually fade out and disappear but some of the relationships that have come through because of it will remain and, to me, that is also what matters. The social computing experiment more than just the link love. That is just something temporary that we should ignore and move on. Focus more on the long lasting effect of weblogging, the one where we connect with others and build up those relationships with further.

    Steve, I think you have hit the nail on the head with this particular comment: "The link counts will drop off Technorati in a few months, and we’ll all go back to the blogging our thoughts […] and will continue to value those making a long term contribution". Yes, this is not the first time or initiative that has had a similar effect. I mean, how many times have we seen much more popular initiatives than this one (Technorati being one of them already!) making its way into the blogosphere and nobody complaining about it? I guess that people thought it was just going to be ignored big time, but I supposed that 2000 bloggers linking back and forth without the powers that be involved in the whole effort was thought of as threatening. When in reality what matters is that webloggers work their way through sharing what they know with others engaging in lasting conversations that would help enrich what they, and us, already have. That, to me, is what really matters. No doubt.

  7. (Whooops, I posted the above comment entry far too soon. I just saw that both Jeremiah and Zoli have shared their thoughts. So here we go with some further comments on their insights)

    Jeremiah, RE: "So why can’t he just have a webpage that has all the photos and faces, and we just link to it? Why do we have to embed our photos in it and each blogger blog it?" Well, for a number of reasons, I guess. First one because I bet that having a massive collage of very small pictures with just a single link was probably not going to be very much attractive to those involved and therefore would not have had the same effect.

    Why each blogger blogged about it? Hummm, I don’t think that every blogger part of the initiative actually blogged about it, otherwise it would have shown big time by now!, but I guess that the main reason why some of those folks did that was for that ego sense of being part of something cool. As simple as that. I mean, we have seen it before. Not long ago, there was a popular publication on the subject of The Web Celeb Top 25 most influential marketing blogs out there in the blogosphere. And what did some of them do? Yes, that is right! They blogged about it! And people linked to those as well ! And big time ! So this is a similar type of thing, except that this time around it was a whole bunch more of lesser known bloggers who did it. Big deal? Not really. I least, not to me. See some of the reasoning above. Appreciated the input though, Jeremiah. Thanks for that!

    Zoli, thanks for the insightful comments, too! RE: "[…] but I would rather discover them based on contextual search then on their mug-shots." Yes, me, too, but you and I know that some of the best blogs out there are way far too deep down on the search results scale and before you know it you are actually diverted into something else you bump along the way and never come back. It happens all the time, so every little help that those lesser known blogs can get is probably very welcome, I would say. The challenge for me is not going for the link love, actually. It is actually being able to maintain it over a substantial amount of time.

    That is where the challenge is. Getting occasional links to your blog is a good, and nice, thing, but to me is much more rewarding being able to keep up with those and that is what it will show out of the 2000 bloggers, those who were thinking about the long term and continue to work through earning some more meaningful links and those who were just looking for that link juice. But we have got to start at some point, don’t you think?

    "It became a link-generating machine." Hummm, you think so? If that would have been the case I guess both of our Technorati rankings would be well above the 2000 mark by now; instead mine got increased by a few further links. I don’t think that is was just a link-generation machine. I think there were some folks out there who actively looked through their links and referrals to see where those other folks were coming from. They probably spent some time over there and decided to move on or add them to their blogrolls. I think there is a bit of everything in here, not just link love. At least, I didn’t see it that way. (Gosh, I hope I am not the only one either!)

    "Technorati did not shut down the 2000 Bloggers initiative." Yes, that is true. Technorati just protected itself from it, but Tino shut it down altogether and just left the image, so I don’t think there would have been any follow up just like that. I bet though that if it would open up again there would be some traction still. And you know what? That traction, I am sure, would be coming from those folks who truly wanted to discover other blogs, not the ones who were looking for other incentives. I am sure.

    Yes, primarily that was the main purpose from Tino, build traffic for his Web site, but one of the nice side effects is that it empowered everyone else, specially lesser known weblogs to get a bit more visibility. So Tino’s great idea just become far bigger for him than whatever he anticipated, because otherwise I am sure he would not have killed it just like that. And the best part of it is that webloggers will continue to discover other weblogs through whatever the options available.

    Something tells me that 2000 Bloggers just open up the can of worms. There will be many more coming up, I am sure, and we will just have to wait and see how we will react to them, but so far it has been an enlightening experience. At least, to me and those who are always looking out for some other interesting reads than the usual suspects 😉

    Again, thanks everyone for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts thus far. They have been rather enlightening and helpful. Keep them coming!

  8. I don’t think that the 2000 Bloggers meme was such a big deal. I did introduce a number of new bloggers to my blog. Now it’s up to me to keep them interested by writing good content.

    What I don’t get is this emphasis on the Technorati ranking system in the first place.

  9. Hi Dawud! Thanks a lot for dropping by and for the feedback comments ! Welcome to elsua! I certainly agree with you that it wasn’t really that much of a big deal. However, I guess that plenty of people, higher up on their Technorati rankings, didn’t feel very comfortable with having other lesser known weblogs claim, rather quickly, several hundreds of links from all over the place. This will, obviously, raise the alarm from people who may have worked really hard to raise up their ranking.

    However, the way I see it, and something that I agree with you as well, is that link love is just the beginning. Those links will eventually not be really relevant in the medium / long term without some really good content and being constant your own weblogging efforts, which is, I guess, what most of us are here for, in the first place. Right?

    (Oh, by the way, thanks to the 2000 Bloggers meme I have actually discovered your weblog and have already subscribed to it. So there you have got another good reason for having such initiative! Thanks again for the great content!)

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