Top Ranked Web Analytics Blogs – Redux

violetThe extraordinary Eric Peterson has posted a very detailed and strong dissent to my recent post ranking Top Analytics Blogs. He adds more wisdom and perspective to the problems with my methodology, he adds to the ones I had already identified in my post.

(Important: If you have not already read my posting and methodology used please read it first, click here. Then before your read any further please read Eric’s perspective: Okay, you're gonna think I'm a jerk for saying this …. I know this sounds cumbersome but I promise you it will be worth it. If you don’t think it was worth it please email me and I will paypal you a small US dollar amount for your efforts. :~) I would have posted excerpts from Eric’s post here but I did not want to insert any bias that excerpts always somehow end up doing.)

I am a novice blogger and I really am feeling my way out in this new space. I would love to get your comments and thoughts and advice for me. Reporting and analysis is really hard and it is all about making choices, and each one of us will make different choices.  My comment on Eric’s post is below (remember to read his post first). What do you think about it? Did I strike the right balance? Did I express my point of view clearly? Would you have reacted differently?

I was even toying with not writing this post (my blog is going to be different, it focuses on learning and sharing). Is this post a distraction? I am really new and want to learn and I will deeply appreciate your perspective.

I'll be the first to comment Eric. I don't like the title of your blog. You are not a jerk. Respectful healthy debate is good and your post is exactly that and if you were "attacking" me, I welcome that. In fact it is an honor to be attacked by such a well respected authority in our field such as yourself.

My post was both a primer in making choices and a quick lesson in reporting and how hard it is to good reporting. You have added to that debate by providing some great flaws of my methodology (in addition to the ones I had pointed to in my blog post) which is great.

I had six tips, which I used for my list:

    1. Global standards and benchmarks are great because people buy into them more easily
    2. Simplicity always wins over complexity, because what people understand better they are more likely to action
    3. Judgment should be applied with a lot of careful consideration because reasonable people might disagree with someone they don't know
    4. In any report context is king, provide the right context
    5. Be aware of hidden agendas, your's and those of others
    6. Be open and up front with your assumptions

Of all of the above, and after digesting your feedback, I would still do exactly what I did and stress #1, #3 and #5.

I think the criteria you are suggested are great, but since no one on earth knows I exist I was going for credibility and my hypothesis was that independence (from my opinions) would earn me the attention of my dear readers. That's it.

Also it was my bet that my criteria would drive quality over time, everyone wants to be loved and on the list. I noticed yesterday that three sites who did not make it to my list because they were not coded right (including yours) would be now on the list because they have fixed Technorati tags, which is fabulous because it means you'll be on my list in July.

It would have been easy for me to create a list where I showed up first, and I would, but that was not the point. : ) I was also aware of all the blogs you list as missing because they are on my blogroll.

Thanks again for the opportunity to engage in respectful healthy debate Eric.

-Avinash.
PS: I will disagree with you on one small point: Marshall (WebMetricsGuru) is very much a relevant web analytics blogger. And he is web analytics. Every single post he makes is somehow connected to numbers and, as I mentioned in one of my posts, he makes it fun by running hitwise numbers on Angelina's baby or teaching about measuring search demand by using the Stanley Cup example. Besides there are no "pure play" web analytics bloggers, we all have our indulgences and we are off topic so much (self included).

Please post your comments and feedback.

Comments

  1. 1

    Avinash, I appreciate your following up on our conversation in your weblog. I for one think the debate is very healthy and love your perspective on the subject! You've already done the entire community a great service (okay, at least the folks that are paying attention to your work) and I have no doubt that someday when there is a single ranked list of "web analytics weblogs" that it will be referred to as "Avinash's list" much the same way that people still occassionally (incorrectly) refer to the Yahoo! group as "Eric's group".

    Also, don't get me wrong. I recognize that my criteria are somewhat impractical, what with the number of qualitative and quantative data sources I am proposing using combined with a complete lack of standards re: how blogs should be measured from a web analytics perspective. Still, I think that sometimes it's okay to set the bar high, it gives us something to work for.

    Sincerely,

    Eric T. Peterson

  2. 2

    Dear Mr. Peterson, :+)

    My response to your comment above is short: I agree with you. Debate is good. I meant every word in my comment in my post sincerely. Stretch goals are good (I have them for members of our team at work!).

    Posting my comments here was my way of asking my readers for advice and help and see if I could have done better with my framing, since I am such a novice. That's it.

  3. 3

    One of the problems I've found in comparing web sites and blogs are a lack of data on the website stats of each site. HitWise comes closest by telling the difference it traffic between, say, Dell.com, HP.com and IBM.com, for example (but the numbers might be off, we can probably apply the same offset to the other sites and come up with a pretty good idea of the real traffic of almost any site or blog).

    But getting RSS stats is more problematic and yet, measuring blog influence might be more worthwhile than ranking the blogs themselves. The single most important metric for a blog is the number of RSS Feed Subscribers the blog has (because the blog is really a feed).

    Finally, measuring the total time spent on your blog over a period of time (if that can be measured properly – I know Sitemeter on my blog is not as accurate as I'd like it to be) might be a second metric.

    I also think we need to start looking at Sphere more, as it's sopposed to be better at semantic analysis (give you a better answer) than Technorati.

    Getting back to Eric's post about the ranking – I don't think anyone, yet, has figured out the "right" way to rank blogs (some of the tools to do this don't exist yet though I can visualize what I think they'd do the tools existed) and blogs are much more noisy than an average website – so what you came up with, I feel, is a decent analysis of blog ranking, given the tools you have to work with.

    I hope, if the future, when people don't like someone's method, or don't agree with it – as happened in this case with your list, that the person who has a problem comment on the method (he or she is having a problem with) and leave the bloggers out of it.

  4. 4
    Sanjay Smith says:

    My feedback is that Eric forgot your reporting tip: "Be aware of hidden agendas, your’s and those of others". While some of his suggestions will improve the overall quality of ranking the tone of his post and his ripping into other people gives the impression that he has a hidden agenda. I disagree with you that his blog post was respectful and healthy debate. The sad thing is any value of Eric's suggestions are lost in his post.

  5. 5
    Ray McGill says:

    Avinash,

    Thank you for your support of Metrics/Analytics. Your article on data quality was exactly what I wanted to express. I referenced your article to the other analysts I work with. Thanks! WebMetricsGuru.com has also been an interesting read.

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