Scoutle — a promising blog tool or…?
If you look down the sidebar you will find a link to Scoutle, a web site which promises more interested readers for your blog.
I discovered Scoutle when I visited the blog of someone who visited my blog, and I paid a return visit through MyBlogLog. From the description it sounded like quite a useful blog tool, so I decided to try it out. It sends out things that sound like web spiders, but are called “scouts”, to look for other blogs similar to yours, which you presumably will find interesting — a sort of automated Technorati, where you don’t have to enter key words to find blog posts that might be interesting, but it rather finds them automatically.
I’m not quite sure how it works but after trying it our for a few days all the blogs that it recommended to me were militant in-your-face atheist ones.
That made me wonder.
Is it really a tool to find similar blogs to yours, or is it just a sneaky tool for born-again atheists to evangelise?
It is said that there are two main theories of history: the conspiracy theory and the cock-up theory. I suppose if I were a conspiracy theorist I could easily come to the conclusion that Scoutle was deliberately designed to promote the militant atheist worldview.
But I prefer the cock-up theory myself. That would mean that Scoutle just doesn’t work as well as it is claimed to work. It is claimed that it can find blogs with similar material and so lead you to blogs that you might find interesting, or bring interested readers to your blog. But it doesn’t seem to work like that.
So why would it be so persistent in recommending proselytising atheist blogs to a Christian blogger like me?
I can think of two possible reasons.
- The algorithm it uses is flawed. Nowhere is it explained how Scoutle determines whether a blog has similar material to yours. Does it look for words in recent posts, or does it just take categories in which you put youor blog?
- There are not enough blogs registered with Scoutle to provide much variety. If the first couple of users in the “Religion and spirituality” section were militant atheists and recommended it to all their friends, that could explain why it is apparently dominated by such blogs. The number of blogs has not yet reached “critical mass” — as far as I can tell, there are fewer than 4000 blogs registered, so it’s got nowhere near the reach of a tool like Technorati.
I suspect the last point may be closest to the truth. The only way to find out is if more bloggers actually join Scoutle. If it’s got a wider selection of blogs in the “Religion and spirituality” section and still recommends the militant atheist ones, then it will be evidence of a conspiracy. But what it needs is a wider selection — so are there any early adopters out there willing to join Scoutle and find out?
If you have a blog that deals with religion, especially from a point of view other than militant atheism, whether you’re a Buddhist, a Baptist or a Jew, join Scoutle and see what happens.