Looking at liblogs: Yet another in-process comment

In the post announcing the cancellation of the special design-and-typography issue of Cites & Insights, I closed with this bullet and this paragraph:

  • My sense is that nobody much cared about the mini-issue, maybe including me.

I’ll probably have another post about the progress of the “research” a bit later. “A Chunk of the Great Middle” is as descriptive as it will get, since I’m losing blogs during the process for various reasons, one of them a decision rather than a necessity. Right now, I’d guess the final article will include around 180 liblogs, but the total could be anywhere from 150 to 217.

This is the promised post, and a comment about that last bullet.

First, the bullet: I’ve received three emails from people saying they were looking forward to the special issue. Assuming the 1% rule (in this case, at most 1% of those interested in something in a publication will write to the editor[s] about it), that suggests that two or three hundred people might actually download and read the special issue (there wouldn’t be an HTML version, as it would make no sense). That’s enough to consider doing it later on, under the right circumstances…and noting that it’s not a general primer on design and typography, but only a commentary on what I’m doing at C&I, and why. (I wrote about design, typography, and other related issues 15 years ago, in Desktop Publishing for Librarians. Lots of obsolete specifics, but still some worthwhile overall commentary. I don’t urge you to go out and find copies…)

Now, the post itself. And an admission: I actually wrote that followup post earlier, here, and just plain forgot that I’d talked about it. (Pathetic, isn’t it?)

To bring things up to date, however:

  • The candidate pool is down from 252 to 209, with metrics done on 135 blogs. That means I’ve lost 43 of 179 blogs; projected to the remaining candidates, that would result in 190 blogs. Such a projection is sheer nonsense, to be sure.
  • I’m aiming for 200 blogs in the final roundup, give or take five or six. If in fact I do lose more than 14 of the remaining 74, I’ll add some candidates from the initial pool (ones with slightly higher or lower “reach” numbers). Why 200? Why not?
  • Some musings on some of the failed candidates may be part of the article; other reasons for exclusion might not be. In any case, here’s what actually causes blogs to be excluded–and it’s worth noting that these are all blogs with at least 19 Bloglines subscriptions and ones that, at the beginning of July, I could reach in order to initiate or check a subscription.
  • In one case, an apparent blog actually resolved to another blog that’s already on the list.
  • In a small number of cases (one or two, I think), I could not reach the blog in at least three tries over at least two days.
  • I concluded that a few blogs were “official” and thus excluded, although I’ve been pretty liberal in my definition of “official.”
  • One or two blogs had no relationship to libraries or library people that I could figure out, and were excluded for that reason. Here again, I’ve been pretty liberal.
  • Some blogs were defunct or badly stalled, with no posts since February 2006.
  • Some blogs were too new, having started in June 2006 or later.
  • A few blogs (two or three so far, I think) were and are active, but with no posts in March, April, or May 2006. That can happen.
  • The most common problem, unfortunately, and it’s only a problem for this article: Quite a few blogs are set up so that it’s nearly impossible to run the metrics I wanted. For example, some blogs just don’t have organized archives; you’d have to page back through a very large number of pages. (I did that in cases where there weren’t too many pages.) Some blogs have archive pages that only show the first X characters of each post, followed by an ellipse; I’m not willing to expand each and every post in order to come up with word and comment counts. Some blogs–very few–have archive pages that just list the titles of the posts. As a reader, I’d say that all of these hinder any attempt to “catch up” with a new blog, and that includes the fairly common ellipse situation–but that’s a design and practice decision for the blogger, and I’m not about to argue. Oh, and one blog (I think only one) somehow resisted any efforts to highlight the text of more than one post at a time, including the usually-reliable Ctrl-A fallback…

I will attempt to make it very clear that this year’s look is a look at “A Chunk of the Great Middle,” not an exhaustive study. It looks to be about 75% of the candidates, but my methodology for choosing candidates is arguably lousy. It is undeniably the case, though, that I’ll be looking at a couple hundred blogs with enough readers to matter and apparently not enough readers to be “A-listers.” I think that’s the most exciting area of liblogs, and certainly one where I can point out a few interesting blogs that people won’t have seen.

I’m thinking that it might be reasonable to list some of the “excluded for metrics” blogs as a “you might also find these blogs interesting, but I chose to exclude them for reasons you might not care about” list, either in the article or as a post–but I wonder whether bloggers might consider that to be negative publicity, which I’m trying to avoid. Feedback?
There’s still a lot to do between now and the article (including, to be sure, writing other articles in the issue and earning a living). I think it will be worthwhile and fun. A couple of final points:

  • I’d still love to have volunteers to translate a few phrases in languages other than English: French, German, Danish, Spanish, at the very least. (I think I have Swedish covered.) If I don’t have volunteers, I’ll either use Babelfish or InterTran, or just give the original phrase with no attempt to translate.
  • I’d still love to get more May numbers–average daily visits and unique IP addresses for May 2006–from libloggers, whether they’re in the Great Middle or elsewhere. As comments here (if you don’t mind being public) or as email to waltcrawford@gmail.com, by August 7 if at all possible… Your blog will not be named individually; I’m looking for correlations.

That’s it. One of these days I’ll do a “normal” post–but in this blog, that can mean almost anything. (Actually, this afternoon I’ll finish the fourth movie on Disc 11 of the SF Megapack, and you know what that means…)

4 Responses to “Looking at liblogs: Yet another in-process comment”

  1. Angel says:

    Well, if you need help translating from Spanish, I can help. Drop me a line. Best, and keep on blogging.

  2. walt says:

    Wonderful! I know I have one Spanish blog (from Chile), and more might turn up. I’ll send you a list of phrases, probably in a couple of weeks. Thanks!

  3. Carole Leita says:

    SF Megapack?

  4. walt says:

    OK, the proper title is “50 Movie Pack.” See here and elsewhere, “Movies and TV” on the categories list will bring them all up.

    Fifty movies, twelve DVDs, legal, currently around $16 at some suppliers…and they keep me on the treadmill. Some of them are pretty decent. Some aren’t good enough to make fun of. Others are in between.

    And somehow, some strong-copyright writer managed to convince themselves that these sets (almost entirely public domain or material for which there’s no license fee because the producer doesn’t see any likelihood of gain) represent a *triumph* of strong copyright!