FELLOW BLOGGERS: Just a reminder that Matt Dabbs and I are compiling data on progressive Church of Christ blogs for March 2010. Send your data either to me (jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net) or to Matt and we’ll announce the totals. See below for details announced back on February 20.
Matt Dabbs and I have been discussing the best way to rank Church of Christ blogs. Alexa and Google are useful tools but have serious weaknesses and produce wildly inconsistent results. Technorati seems to have stopped ranking blogs altogether.
As a result, ranking blogs using these services produces some peculiar results. For example, despite its low Alexa score, Edward Fudge is certainly among the most influential websites, because most of Edward’s readers read by email subscription. And GraceConversation hasn’t been active for many months, and yet ranks higher than a number of websites that have much more activity.
We’ve concluded that, with some modifications, the number of Page Views is the best objective measure of the influence of a blog. However, only the host of a blog knows his own Page View count, and so we need your help to gather information to generate a better ranking.The Page View count generally won’t include email subscribers. This is particularly true for sites that don’t run blogging software, such as Al Maxey’s “Reflections” and Edward Fudge’s “GracEmails.” A similar problem arises regarding RSS feeds. WordPress, for example, doesn’t include RSS readers in its Page View statistics.
We have concluded that the most fair and accurate way to measure the readership of each blog is to total Page Views, RSS via Google reader subscriptions, and an estimate of the total email views per month. And so, even though it’s certainly not perfect, a description of how those will be handled is outlined below. Here’s the plan —
- Participation is limited to theological websites with a focus on the Churches of Christ.
- We’ll likely only report the top 25.
- At the end of March, those willing to participate should send us three things: their Page View total for March 2010 and total number of email subscribers for March 2010, and number of posts or emails (for Maxey and Fudge) for the month. (Either matthewdabbs(at)hotmail(dot)com or jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net.)
- Page Views: For WordPress users, this is as easy as going to the Stats page, clicking the “Months” tab above the graph, and reporting the number for “Views per Month” by hovering the cursor over the graph’s data point for March. This will not include those who read via RSS readers.
- Those of you who use Blogger or another service likely won’t have a comparable built in statistics function. You’ll need to add SiteMeter’s free service to your blog before March 1. (Or you may want to move your blog to WordPress.)
- Once you sign up, SiteMeter will provide a widget to insert on your site and will begin sending you periodic emails with your Page Views. At the end of March, you can either compile the information from the emails or log into SiteMeter, get the report from there, and forward it to one of us. (While not essential, we encourage you to select the option to make your statistics public.)
- Matt has run comparisons, and SiteMeter produces results that are very close to WordPress’s Page View calculation.
- RSS: We’ll add to that number the approximate number of views via RSS feed by taking the Google Reader figure for the last day of March times the number of posts for March. Although some readers will use another RSS reader, Google Reader likely has a 90%+ market share among blog readers and not all RSS subscribers actually read what they subscribe to, so the Google Reader total should be a fair approximation of Page Views via RSS.
- Email subscriptions: For those who distribute materials via traditional email — not using blogging software or Feedburner — if you’ll give those figures to one of us, we’ll add the number of email subscribers times the number of posts in March times 67%. The 67% is just a guess but is designed to take into account our observation that readers via RSS feed are more likely to actually read postings that subscribers via email.
This will give as exact a result for Page Views in March as we can come up with. We’ll compare the results to Google, Alexa, Altavista, and any other service we can think of, and so hopefully find a service that produces about the same results without this much trouble.
If we don’t find a good substitute, we’ll likely ask for updated data and publish new results every three months. We’ll also post the raw data so you can check our work and see what readership you have to attract to make the top 25.
In summary, during the first week of April, please send us the following data regarding your site for the entire month of March:
- The total posts you put up during March
- The total Page Views for March according to either the WordPress Stats page or SiteMeter. (Specify which one you used.)
- The number of subscribers you have by email (not counting automated email via WordPress or Feedburner if you report using WordPress Stats) as of March 31. For those using WordPress or Blogger, this will almost always be zero, but may be a very large number for someone like Al Maxey or Edward Fudge.
This content is also posted at Matt’s blog to get the word out to as many Church of Christ bloggers as possible.
PS — If anyone has any thoughts on how to get better results, let us know. We would welcome any suggestions.