What makes people read this stuff?
Last week the BlogCatalog widget disappeared from my blogs. I use it (and the MyBlogLog one) to see who visits my blog, so I can pay a return visit to them.They are both social blogrolling sites, which let you connect to blogs and bloggers that you find interesting. Apart from the usual spammers who misuse the system, they provide a good way of marking interesting blogs for return visits.
The BlogCatalog one is back now (apparently they were changing servers), but I thought I’d check the statistics to see how many visitors it brought to my blog. The answer is quite illuminating:
Referrers for 90 days ending 2010-09-29 (Summarized)
2010-07-01 to Today
It seems that the thing that brings most visitors to this blog is links from other blogs.
Some of those are annoying spam links like “student loan consilidation [sic]”, which have nothing that interests me. And one of them that is quite high up is another of my own blogs — that’s because when I write there about something I’ve written about here before, I often link to it rather than repeating stuff I’ve already said. So that doesn’t really count.
But most of the other blogs that link write about things that interest me.
And apart from those, the thing that brings readers is Stumble Upon.
I find that interesting, because what I post there automatically gets passed on to Twitter and from there to Facebook, yet very few people seem to come from those places. Or perhaps they do, but are shown as coming from Stumble Upon, because SU provides the link shortener, which works automatically, though that should not apply to the Twitter daily paper, which provides a daily digest of the best of Twitter, and is the way I follow Twitter most of the time. The daily paper has direct full links, rather than the shortened ones.
About 4-5 years ago I used to use Technorati a lot. If I was about to write something on my blog, I’d check that subject on Technorati yo see what others had written on it, and if necessary link to them. But, as is common on the Internet, the people at Technorati never heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You could log in and see everything on one page — like the top tags and the top subjects. But I think they got greedy, and decided that if they made things hard to find, people would spend a lot of time looking for them, and the more pages they looked at, the more Technorati’s ad revenue would be. So by making the site more difficult to navigate, and hiding things, they hoped that visitors might have thirty page-views where previously they had only had three. But if others are anything like me, they don’t go there at all any more. I used to visit every day, but now I only visit when I’m writing things like this and want to check to see if it’s still as bad I remember it. And it is. I search for stuff I know is out there in the blogosphere, and Technorati doesn’t find it. But Google does.
So I see that things like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog are mainly useful for me to find other blogs, but other people don’t seem to use them much to find mine. And social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook, are pretty much overrated. And though BlogCatalog wasn’t broke, they are busy trying to fix it right now, and lots of things that used to work no longer do so. I fear they are going the Technorati route, making the site harder to navigate, hiding stuff that you used to be able to see at a glance. It looks ominous. And what those sites lack most is a way of getting rid of unwanted “friends”. Not blocking them, but just saying, in effect, “I don’t know you, and you obviously don’t want to know me, so don’t ‘add’ me to your friends.” Friends are those who read my blogs and make intelligent comments — that indicates that we share common interests. And that’s what blogging is all about, to me, at any rate — sharing thoughts and ideas and experiences with people who have similar interests.