Daily archives: May 13, 2011

Rude Blogging Health

On the basis that he and a couple of his Tory mates had jacked it in, Iain Dale has declared political blogging to be dying. For some extraordinary reason, the Guardian has given him both a puff piece for his new online political magazine, peculiarly described as a blog by sixty friends of his, and a comment article about him.

I suspect the Tories who have dropped out, have done so because they found you cannot make as much money out of blogging as they hoped. As the Guardian notes, it is pretty hard to sustain £1,000 a month income. This blog operates on the principle of not trying to make money, though the odd book sale is welcome. Tory blogs like Conservative Home and Labour blogs like Left Foot Forward have full time staff paid for by the party or the party donors. But Tories who want to get rich, found blogging wasn’t the way to do it.

But this site is as popular as ever – and that is very popular. Cision ranked this blog as the 7th most popular blog of all kinds in the UK in 2010.

This is in stark contrast to the wikio blog rankings, which most UK political bloggers use as a reference – and on Wikio this blog does not score highly enough to feature. The reason is that the wikio rankings are based solely on the number of incoming links from other UK political blogs, weighted by the ranking of the blog sending the link.

This means that if all conservative political bloggers continually post links to each other, they can drive each other up the rankings. This they do, quite deliberately. Ditto other parties. Independent bloggers not involved in a mutual group link-fuck have no chance to compete.

Amazingly, the Wikio rankings give no value to the number of readers you have, nor any value to links from abroad, or from anywhere other than other UK based political blogs. In the last week – and by no means unusually – this blog has been linked from the New York Times, El Pais and Huffington Post. That would give me a wikio score of nil. But a blog getting links from the insignificant Tory Bear or Dizzy Thinks would get a big score.

Not only does Cision include foreign links, much more crucially it scores for the number of readers you have. Amazingly, Wikio pays no attention at all to whether anyone reads you in calculating your blog ranking. This blog has more readers than Wikio’s no 1 ranked blog, Liberal Conspiracy, and has a multiple of the readers of most of Wikio’s Top Ten. (I like Liberal Conspiracy and hope they will compete with my success eventually!!) Number of readers is the main reason this blog scores so highly on Cision.

Here is the Cision methodology:

Is it a “top” UK blog? Our point of departure is the assumption that a blog’s influence is represented by the amount of people seeing it and the potential for it to be referenced elsewhere (including in search engine results).

A long list is therefore compiled using an algorithm to reflect two key measures of web popularity, inbound links and traffic measured in monthly unique users (when available). For each blog these elements are weighted to achieve a balance between measurable impact to date (traffic) and likelihood of future impact (links as a proxy for search visibility). The long list is then reduced, with each entry re-evaluated according to additional metrics, notably update frequency, total number of posts and interaction between blogger and reader. However, as blogger/reader interaction evolves, we now also evaluate interaction not only as blog post comments but also as engagement taking place offsite such as on Twitter and Facebook.

We exclude blogs that are directly affiliated to print media publications, such as newspaper and magazine blogs, as the influence of the main media provides the blog with an advantage. We are currently looking to rank blogs that are affiliated with mainstream media, as well as separating commercial and individual blogs

So the answer to Iain is that good blogging is in good health. Tory drivel is in trouble.

View with comments

DIS Tried To Block Dodgy WMD Dossier

It is no surprise that Major General Michael Laurie of the Defence Intelligence Service (DIS) has admitted that the “dodgy dossier” on Iraqi WMD was a deliberate piece of spin for war. The DIS were furious about the dossier at the time it was written, and tried to rein in MI6 and the FCO, and particularly chief lie-writer John Scarlett.

It is five years since I published in Murder in Samarkand this FCO insider account, given to me in 2002 while I was Ambassador in Tashkent:

“You’re wondering why we signed up to it? Well, I can promise you it was awful. The pressure was unbelievable. People were threatened with the end of their careers. I saw analysts in tears. We felt, as a group, absolutely shafted. Actually, we still do. You know, I think that we are all a bit ashamed that nobody had the guts to go public, resign and say that the WMD thing is a myth. But MI6 really hyped it. The DIS tried to block it, but they couldn’t.”

(p. 60 in the US edition – I don’t have the UK edition on me).

It took eight years for DIS to get their revenge and expose Alistair Campbell’s naked lies. Of course, if you read my books you get the truth much quicker!!

View with comments