May 02 2008

Apparently I’m involved in a Feud

Published by at 10:13 pm under Top Australian Blogs

Apparently I’m involved in a “gentlemanly feud” with Lee Hopkins (see here or here or here – yeah I’m confused too) over my/the/a Top 100 Aussie Blog list.

Lee has been a vocal opponent (see here and here) of the top 100 list, because he believes that subscriber numbers should factor into the equation , and that bloggers should disclose their subscriber numbers, and more recently their visitor statistics.

I have previously discussed the difficulty in determining the rankings and lamented that we don’t live in a perfect world – which would encompass full access to every blog’s (standardised) back end stats, subscriber counts, blog earnings, emails of gratitude, number of posts and average comments per post. Nor do I have the time to check how many back links each blog has on Google, Yahoo, Nine MSN etc (though I’m sure with the right API this could be automated).

I suppose Google PageRank could also be factored in and the age of the domain. Then we could look at how many pages have been bookmarked or submitted on, reddit, Digg, stumbleupon, furl, sphinn etc, etc…

I made this comment on Lee’s blog:

It comes down to a) how does one define a “top” blog, and b) how does one quantify that?

Certainly the presence of a large subscriber base indicates the reach and popularity of a blog. But then so do citations (eg Technorati rank or authority – but this is also problematic), and traffic. Some blogs might cater to an audience that hasn’t yet embraced RSS technology, and yet the readers will visit the site daily.

I know of a blog that has upwards of a hundred comments each post, and yet fails to “qualify” for the top list. I don’t know what the subscriber numbers are, but surely that’s a signal of a popular blog? But that kind of information is very difficult to easily quantify (and put in a formula).

Other blogs are informational/instructional in nature and consequently have a lot of search engine traffic, but perhaps less subscribers and less “community”.

The aim of the list was to determine what is popular with Australians, which is why it is weighted by the Australian Alexa rank – so that Aussies can find blogs that are popular with other Aussies. e.g. An “Australian” blog in a foreign language might be very popular overseas, which thousands of subscribers, but would have little value to your average Australian.

Certainly your idea of a “top” blog and mine would more than likely differ. We have different interests, so it stands to reason. I’m not into cooking, cars or gardening, but that’s not to say that others aren’t and that they’re less popular or less worthy of being on a top list.

At present subscriber counts are not factored into the formula at all. They have no weighting. I include them merely as an indicator. I have considered getting the reader numbers from Google (as an indication of total subscriber count), but the discrepancies between blogs are just too great.

I’ll take on board what you say about having two lists, one for bloggers who provide rss counts (which is roughly around 30%) and another for those who don’t. I’ll be interested in any feedback from your community.

It takes me the best part of a day each fortnight to run through the calculations and compile the list. For that time sort of time commitment, I do want the list to have as much credibility and value as possible.

Lee’s response included this:

I guess what irks me is that the list is proclaimed as the Top 100, not *a* top 100.

I know it is NOT you proclaiming it so, but any reasonable person would make that assumptive leap.

I don’t know what the answer is, either. It’s a bugger! :-)

Frankly, I wasn’t going to address what has already been addressed before, but I guess as this is a “feud” some sort of response is needed – as per this Facebook conversation (edit: conversation now linked to and image removed):

Note: For “the record” Lee’s “” is ranked at 76, which is a good thing I guess, because if not the rankings would have “inaccurate and therefore non-reliable and untrustworthy”, as opposed to just “flawed, deeply flawed”.

So, I guess in a roundabout way Lee is issuing a challenge to bloggers to publish their website stats, and their subscriber numbers, as he did his:

BCR Stats Stats 2008



Make of that what you will.

And to Lee, with the utmost (gentlemanly) respect, feel free to propose a viable formula for ranking blogs – one that isn’t so deeply flawed.

28 responses so far

28 Responses to “Apparently I’m involved in a Feud”

  1. Lee Hopkinson 02 May 2008 at 10:35 pm

    G’day Meg,

    The reason I said ‘gentlemanly’ is that it is a good-natured, rather than vindictive, spiteful and wholly inappropriate feud. It is a passionate discussion about a subject that we BOTH want to see the best outcome from.

    As you rightly noted, I have long had a ‘complaint’ about the method of ranking of your Top 100. It is, I still note, not ‘A Top 100 Australian Blog Index ‘, or ‘One of Many Top 100 Australian Blog Indexes’, but ‘Top 100 Australian Blog Index’ (and probably justifiably so, since as far as I know you were the first to do this), which gives it an air of authority and credibility.

    My ‘beef’ has always been that the ‘Top 100’ is a mix far more complex and nuanced than your cunning calculations suggest (and that are based on an obscure–in 2008– and bizarre statistical model — Alexa– which you openly admit is flawed).

    I would not presume to suggest a ‘better way’ of doing things (I don’t bother ranking things like that anyway, after all a highly-influential and relevant audience of 10 to me outweighs a dull-arsed, apathetic audience of 10,000 any day).

    But to add to my call for greater transparency, which is what my blog post was all about, I add my technorati ranking and my Technorati subscriber numbers (at time of this comment):

    Subscribers: 1219 (I don’t know how to make them as big and bold as your post)
    Technorati blog authority ranking: 162
    Technorati blog ranking: 52.728

    Perhaps together we might offer a ‘clarion call’ to others on your list so that you can create a listing more reflective of the nuances of the blogosphere.


  2. Lee Hopkinson 02 May 2008 at 10:49 pm

    I’m also curious as to the ethics of taking something that was behind a ‘walled garden’, in this instance Facebook, and reposting it outside.

    The Facebook terms and conditions would certainly be against it, but I wonder if anyone else has an ethical issue with it.

    For the record, I am not sure what my ethical stance on this is… were I to be in Meg’s shoes, would I have done the same thing? I honestly have no idea and thus encourage a debate about this… I may even blog about this on my own blog

  3. Gregon 02 May 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Oh how dramatic!

    Now i am not overly technically minded when it comes to this (or most other subjects) but as i understand it, regardless of which of the systems used there are always going to be flaws whether it be:

    – the reliance on alexa as it is inherantly prone to problems in some areas (blogspot blogs in particular i believe). Both the top 100 and blogjuice rely on alexa for a big chunk of their ranks which can produce the weird and the wonderful that only alexa can do.
    – blog juice relies only on bloglines subscribers so if you have an alternative priority whether it be an alternative feedreader or via email like i do with one of my blogs, then you are not going to rank as well. If instead of bloglines feedburner was used then its still going to have issues with people not having accounts, not being able to redirect the default feed to feedreader etc.
    – At present the ranking on Discovering Australia relies on people finding the ranking and commenting to be added so its not picking up a lot of blogs which is also likely to create inconsistencies compared to other ranks

    At the end of the day any ranking system is going to have its flaws. What however it needs is consistancy in its methodology in how the ranking is calculated of which both do have so its more semantics of whether its “a top”or “the top”and which you use is a matter of personal preference. Perhaps in time someone will sit down and like with other standards determine how a top rankings system should be calculated. Until then we are stuck doing it the fairest way anyone can determine and then stick to that method as changing methods only creates inconsistency and flawed historical data.

    So in short, both methods work and do produce similar rankings as does with my blog which doesn’t use alexa at all in its rankings. All are fair

    Oh and for the record:
    subscribers: 45
    technorati blog authority: 244
    technorati blog ranking: 26864

    Greg’s last blog post..Sunset over the Tasman Bridge

  4. Snoskredon 02 May 2008 at 11:58 pm

    You’re more than welcome to start your own top 100, Lee.

    Of course it is a given that any real top 100 would have your blog at number one. The rest of us are mere amateurs in comparison to you.

    Meg, I speak for all of us on the top 100 list when I say that you should immediately fix the error of your ways and catapult Lee’s blog to the number one spot. Because he is clearly a blogging GOD. And your ego can be seen from the international space station – oh hang on, that might be the sun shining out of your…..

    Oh sorry, did I type that out loud? Oops.

    Snoskred’s last blog post..I Survived!

  5. Neeravon 03 May 2008 at 12:23 am

    Everyone needs to relax, no measurement system will be perfect:

    * Technorati,, reddit, Digg, stumbleupon, furl, sphinn etc are all massively skewed towards sites that are popular with geeks and IT industry people

    * has patchy data for Australia, is even worse

    * Knowledgeable people in the SEO industry know that PageRank is meaningless and the search engines purposely report inaccurate backlink counts

    * RSS is still not understood or used by the majority of “normal people” outside the IT/web industry so those subscriber numbers are misleading at best

    * Meg used awstats as her traffic example and Lee used some other system. I know that looking at my own stats, different systems show wildly varying numbers for the same site … so how can anyone possibly accurately compare across hundred+ sites?

    PS I don’t see anyone else volunteering to compile and publish rankings data for Aussie sites on a regular basis

    On that note, goodnight all

    Neerav’s last blog post..Hello America by JG Ballard (Book Review) – Post Apocalyptic Vision of the Future

  6. […] have since, in response to her post, added my Technorati ranking and Technorati ‘Authority’ number (see my comments on her […]

  7. Lee Hopkinson 03 May 2008 at 1:33 am

    So then my question, Neerav, is this:

    Why bother trying to rank stuff in the first place? Surely it is an exercise in futility?


    most recent post on this is:

  8. Lighteningon 03 May 2008 at 8:39 am

    Why does Alexa have a ranking system even though it has its flaws? Or Technorati or Google? Because people are interested in this kind of stuff.

    At least Meg is completely transparent as to how her list is calculated. People can then take from it what they will. I for one find it an interesting way to find other Australian blogs that I may not have known about otherwise.

    But I’m pretty sure we’re NOT playing for sheep stations here (if we are, let me know because we could do with a little more land and it’s getting mighty EXPENSIVE around here!!!! ;).

    Personally, I think ANYONE is welcome to start their own top list with their own formula. After all, isn’t that one of the wonderful things about blogging? The freedom to do things OUR OWN way????

    *shrugs* Dunno. I’ve never HEARD of Lee Hopkins before.

    Lightening’s last blog post..Smiley Saturday – Time For a Smile

  9. Andrew Boydon 03 May 2008 at 9:33 am


    my two cents worth: we create lists because they are good for traffic, and that is the beginning and the end of it. Algorithms are many and all are flawed because they fail to capture the inherent worth of the blog – not financial, not number of eyeballs, none of that business-y stuff, but the genuine intrinsic enjoyability of the conversation that reader and blogger maintain.

    Meg’s top 100 list is great for traffic – I know that I come and visit it a couple of times a month, and there are a lot of other people that do the same :)

    Anyone can start a list – I’ve started several myself, such as the Aussie Bloggers on Entrecard and the Canberra Blogs List – and they have been good for traffic too.

    Lee (and everyone else) – I have a list of Australian blog lists on On Blogging Australia – if you do start a list, please drop me a line, and I will add you to my list of lists :)

    Cheers, Andrew

    Andrew Boyd’s last blog post..B is for Blogging Platform

  10. Kinon 03 May 2008 at 10:22 am

    Lee, re your last comment:

    When I first started blogging, I really struggled to find Australian content. It wasn’t until I clicked on a link to Meg’s top 100 from another blog I discovered ANY Australian blogs other than my friends.

    And I also agree with Lightening, I’d never seen/heard of you before either.

    *shrugs* each to their own. I spose we shouldn’t bother ranking at all, if we can’t be perfect. I mean, obviously ARIA charts are useless now since everyone downloads and they can’t possibly be expected to know from every site how many times a song is downloaded. OH and from which country they’re from. We should just give up on the ARIA charts altogether.

    And really? The Logies? You have to buy a magazine to be eligable to vote (well, not anymore, but anyway). How is that in anyway a reflection of the population? All it is is a reflection on those who purchase the magazine, and yet for years it was the be all and end all of television awards in this country. Scrap them as well I say! (well, if we follow Lee’s line of thinking, because they’re not “THE” awards, just “A” award.


    Kin’s last blog post..Procrastination Post

  11. Burgoon 03 May 2008 at 10:48 am

    Sigh. Some of the responses in this thread make me feel like I’m back at playschool.

    Burgo’s last blog post..Live Music Friday – Bob Schneider at Antone’s, 2002

  12. Snoskredon 03 May 2008 at 11:10 am

    Frankly Lee I think you owe Meg an apology.

    She does not do the list for profit or for her benefit. The people who do benefit are the people who are on it, and the people who find new blogs as a result of it.

    I completely agree with you that Alexa is flawed, I am not a huge fan of it myself, but no ranking system is perfect. But guess what? Having a go at Meg isn’t the best way to get me (or anyone else) on your side.

    Make your own list. You’ll feel better. And it will leave you without so much time on your hands to publicly (or on facebook) have a go at people just doing something good for the Australian Blogging Community. Meg has been a star, promoting the community, starting the Bumpzee list, starting up the Aussie Bloggers blog and forums.

    Maybe you could try doing something good for the blogging community yourself instead of having a whinge?

    Snoskred’s last blog post..I Survived!

  13. Johon 03 May 2008 at 11:36 am

    Meg I think your list is great. It has all the attributes of a healthy competition. People like to be ranked. It serves many purposes to readers and bloggers. It is transparent and open. It’s a game like any other, you can play or not. Keep up the good work.

    Joh’s last blog post..New Moon in Taurus – Monday May 5th 2008

  14. Megon 03 May 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Lee and others

    Your comments deserve a detailed response. Unfortunately I am preparing to host a party for my 5 year old daughter, and don’t have the time at the moment. I will later today.

  15. Colin Campbellon 03 May 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I am with Snoskred on this one. Meg has done more to promote Aussie Bloggers than anyone I know. She deserves respect and does not have to justify how she pulls together her Top 100 and what value it has. It is inherently subjective and we just need to live with it. The complexity is mindboggling when you think of all the factors. If you don’t like it start your own and get ready to have many bloggers whinge at you.

    Colin Campbell’s last blog post..The Dog Ate My Homework for Adults

  16. Fat Bastardon 03 May 2008 at 6:08 pm

    So, Facebook is a ‘walled garden” eh? Me thinks someone has been using too much fertilizer in it.
    From what I saw Lee used Facebook to name names and further his own cause. In case you haven’t realised yet Lee, as big as the internet is, there really is no place to hide.
    You published statements on Facebook and then got some sheila to back you up with a half arsed comment. Then, you have the BALLS to complain that YOUR own comments and those of your supporter get published on this blog.
    For F’s Sake Lee, are you for real?
    As far as the top 100 list is concerned, I’ve yet to see anyone take the time to do it better. I strongly suggest you don’t take up the challenge to do one yourself Lee. I foresee someone quoting something from your list and then being accused of violating the sacred confines of some bullshit walled garden that will have serious if not dire consequences for those involved.
    The other thing I find strange is that you have had more responses to your post on this blog than you have on any of the posts on your own blog that I looked at.
    Personally I like Alexa. Sure, it’s not perfect but it does measure everything with the same formula and the sites which should be at the top are at the top and the ones (like yours and mine) which have no business being anywhere to be seen are not.
    I still cant get over ANYONE using walled garden and facebook in the same context. Unf$%&ing believable!

  17. Kelleyon 03 May 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I have absolutely no idea how to respond to this.

    I know that Meg has conceded that there are flaws in Alexa et al, but until someone comes up with a better solution, this top 100 is a wonderful way to showcase many fabulous bloggers.

    There is no way to tell by face value which blogs are more successful or popular. My blog is sitting at 60 (I had to check, as I don’t live and blog by my status on the Top 100) which is wonderful.

    But if you go to my blog and then another in the top 10 and measure success by the number of comments you would think that mine was more successful. I am under no illusions that this is the case. I have more vocal readers that like to have a conversation, that is the sort of blog I have, whereas many of the top blogs have less than 10 comments – if that – but thousands of readers a day.

    Today my feedburner stats say (again off to check) that I have 159 subscribers. Tomorrow it could be zero. Feedburner is funny like that. So that is not a reliable source. Technorati is how many people have linked to my blog. I changed domains, so do we add them? This can be inflated by joining in on carnivals and memes or swapping links with friends. So again not a reliable source. Alexa, the toolbar inflates techy blogs. Also, if you have readers reading the blog in their RSS feed, no clickthru so your blog stats are down.

    So as far as I can see there is no way to ensure a completely fool proof list. Megs is as close as we are going to get.

    And I am thankful for all the work that Meg has put in with this list. I have found many fabulous daily reads thanks to this list.

    Kelley’s last blog post..The 10 Commandments

  18. Megon 03 May 2008 at 6:52 pm


    I think you’re being a little pedantic about the title of the list, and I don’t know that getting stuck on the the title really achieves anything. I present it as “a list”, and have never assumed or proclaimed that it is a definitive or authoritative list. I have always been open about my methodology and called for public input on many occasions.

    I probably do refer to it as “the list” e.g. I have updated “the top 100… blog list”, but that’s because anything else does not seem natural.

    In the past I have acknowledged other’s (Australian) top lists. I wrote about Ratified here:

    and in fact link to it in my “Australian Blog Resources” at the top of my blogroll. I have also mentioned blog juice, and provided Leigh with help setting up her “a” top Aussie women’s blog list.

    I was certainly not the first, I believe Duncan Riley had an Aussie “A List” some time ago, there is the noisiest bloggers at

    and let’s not forget the impetus for my list who was Craig Harper (who I readily acknowledge on my “about the index” page) with his Ultimate Aussie Blogroll, which was based solely on Technorati rankings.

    As to my “cunning calculations”, I wanted to add weight to blogs that are popular with Australians. The only way I know of, without access to ISP data, is via the Australian Alexa rank. I have admitted that it’s not perfect and I do think that it was skewed towards blogs of a tech nature (it remains to be seen whether that has been addressed, but it does appear to be a step in the right direction). I would argue that doesn’t make the whole list “deeply flawed”, but perhaps not as accurate as it could be if one had ALL the required data to compile a completely authoritative list. I don’t know there would be anyone who would argue that Darren Rowse deserves his place at number one. Sure there are many people who haven’t heard of Darren, or don’t read his blog, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deserve to be there.

    You say you wouldn’t “presume to suggest a ‘better way’ of doing things (I don’t bother ranking things like that anyway…)” – but you have suggested a better way – that subscribers are factored in. Despite the fact that only about a third of the list publish those figures. Not every blogger chooses to display their feed count – from a poll I conducted a while back, many think it’s a bit of an “ego trip”. The same could be said about publishing visitors stats.

    My subscriber number was display “big” because it was an image – I copied it from my screen.

    Technorati: Authority 259 ranking: 24,886

    Can you explain something to me, though. I subscribe to and visit, and take the Alexa and Technorati rank from that, but you quote visitor stats from and There don’t appear to be redirects in place, and all three sites appear to have the same feed. It’s a little confusing. And out of interest, what number do you think your blog SHOULD be ranked at?

    Now, as to the posting of a conversation from Facebook, I think I was more than likely wrong to do that. I saw traffic coming from that link, and clicked through to it. It didn’t occur to me at the time that it was something that not everybody could see (only those few people on Facebook). However I might contend that Facebook is a very public place, if one’s intention is to hold a private conversation, then perhaps it should be conducted via email or internal messaging. You might have noticed that I did blank out the name of the other person involved in the discussion.

    I hold some vague notion, that while that list might not be perfect, it does present a good starting point for those wanting to explore Aussie blogs – a space that I have spent a large (perhaps too large) amount of time trying to promote.

    I have been fortunate to have had sponsorship from for a period of three months (which was unsolicited), and which is coming to an end this month. Apart from that (and enough for a bottle of wine from AdSense), the list has been maintained without any expectation or promise of remuneration. But I gauge there are at least 99 people who probably are appreciative of being included on that list each week. And many more who have discovered blogs from that list.

    So should we scrap that list altogether because it’s not *perfect*. I don’t think so.

  19. Nicole Priceon 03 May 2008 at 7:11 pm

    It is obviously a subject that is very important to both gentlemen in question. Pardon me if i think it a bit of a storm in a teacup :). Anyway i am sure an amicable and equitable solution will soon be arrived at.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Shoes, Shoes, and Then Some More Shoes

  20. Bettinaon 03 May 2008 at 7:27 pm

    I like your list Meg. :)

    I’ve never heard of Lee before either.

    Bettina’s last blog post..How to Wake Children

  21. Lee Hopkinson 03 May 2008 at 11:28 pm

    G’day Meg.

    I’m going to email you privately over this as some of the commentors here seem to have gotten a tad excited and I don’t wish to raise their blood pressure any further.

    Of course, you are able to use the email in any way you see fit.


  22. Therin of Andoron 03 May 2008 at 11:31 pm

    I’m confused. I can think of hundreds of ways someone could create a “Top 100” list, but I don’t see any problem with Meg calling her list “THE Top 100” and not “A Top 100”. On Meg’s blog, the list IS a definite article. Lee is entitled to think of it as an indefinite article on his blog.

    I check out my stats every so often, mainly because they are… fascinating. Maybe if my blog was used for revenue raising, I’d worry what they really meant? Even trying to imagine how open to interpretation my stats are, depending on which stats are given priority over others, that someone could challenge Meg over there being better ways to calculate a “Top 100″…

    I’m confused and bemused.

  23. Gregon 03 May 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Meg, nicely put! I guess at the end of the day no matter how you set up the (or is it A ?) top 100, someone is going to not be happy.

    But us 99 others are happy :-)

    Greg’s last blog post..Anaconda Attack

  24. Snoskredon 04 May 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Oh, that’s a stunning piece of artistry, Lee. Attack her publicly on your blog and Facebook, and when people take exception to your actions you want to contact her privately?

    Love your work!

    Snoskred’s last blog post..Pure Brilliance

  25. Lee Hopkinson 04 May 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Might I suggest you liaise privately with Meg, Snoskred, before you lose all credibility? You know not of what you write…

  26. Megon 05 May 2008 at 8:42 am

    Thanks everyone for your words of support.

    Just to let you know Lee and I are discussing this off post, in a calm, polite and constructive manner :)

  27. Ange Recchciaon 07 May 2008 at 12:49 am

    Hi Meg, I saw what was going on over at Facebook and thought to have a look. Interesting discussion and I for one am one of those grateful bloggers that is happy to be on the list.

    I hope you resolve this matter soon and remain intact!! That goes for both you and Lee 😉

    Happy Days!

    Ange Recchcia’s last blog post..I Love You

  28. […] led to believe a conversation occurred between the bloggers over Facebook, Meg responded with a tetchy post titled, “Apparently I’m involved in a Feud”. On top of continuing the debate on the […]