I see an increasing number of research efforts going on to get people’s heads around the blogosphere and how to figure out what's relevant and what's not. 4-5 years back it was quite easy to do so, because there were so few of “us bloggers” and you could read pretty much all blogs that mattered in your area of interest withion an hour of your day, but now all of that has grown so much out of proportion that noise and signal blur into a “wodge of stuff” that’s hard to get through or judge. So now people start resorting to bots and lots of statistics to do analysis and my intuition tells me that while that may yield interesting data, a bot can’t really capture the signal amplitude. With that I mean relevance and authority.
I think I’m observing several types of blogs that deserve different attention and weight. Interestingly enough, that isn’t necessarily captured by discoverable metadata such as inbound links or trackbacks or pingbacks. The types I can come up with are the following and it’d be great if you could give me your opinion on whether that resonates with you and whether you have good examples for the individual types. I am giving some examples realizing that some blogs have N+1 of these characteristics. The crosscutting concern here are comments. I am not sure how to think about those yet. Also, this list is not at all scientific; it’s just a (my) perspective.
“The Authority”The blog has been around forever and the author has built up so much credibility and following that “everyone interested” is subscribed to the feed. Since that’s so, people are at most giving “Look at that” links and there is no widespread debate because the blog entries are undisputably good and accurate data; most people just consume the feed.
“The Troublemaker”The blog has been around for a while and the author has build up enough credibility for people to care. The author intentionally takes extreme positions to spark debate and that works and people are linking and voicing opinion. Lots of people are lurking, lots of links if the position is particularly outrageous.
“The Collaborator”The blog has been around for a while and the author has build up enough credibility for people to care. The author has a reputation to be interested in broad collaboration, raises interesting challenges and ask broad questions that spark constructive debate.
“The Linkblogger”The blog has been around for a while and the author has built a reputation for being a good observer for what’s going on in blogland. Lots of people are relying on the editorial skill to cut through the noise and are mostly consuming. Inbound links becoming rare over time, because the blog eventually becomes a utility.
“The Magazine”The blog has been around for a while and the author has built a reputation for being good at figuring out what’s going on in the industry and is essentially a news outlet. Lots of incoming links due to novelty factor.
“The Blip in the Noise”The blog is sitting on one of the big blog properties (such as weblog.asp.net) and shows up on people’s radar mostly through the consolidated feed. Inbound links may flare up on an interesting post, but otherwise the main blog is just a lonely place. If there are enough blips, people may end up subscribing to the actual blog feed.
“The Googleable Answer” This is the blog who is #1 to #5 with the answer to something that thousands are having a problem with. Google for 0x800123123 or some HRESULT and you find this person. The author is proud of this post because (s)he "is the answer", not support.microsoft.com. (look for "dllhost.exe.config" ...)
“The Shooting Star”The blog is relatively new or has been ignored but the author has done an astonishing stunt that ended up on Slashdot or digg (etc). Tons of links. Server tanks. People subscribe and lurk for a while and if the author can follow through the blog will end up on somewhere in one of the categories above or otherwise on the category below.
“I want to blog”The blog has no general relevance whatsoever. Nobody is particularly interested. Sadly, that's the majority.
Another observation that I have is that the blog volume doesn’t directly correlate to relevance. Someone can be silent for 3 months and have huge amplitude and some blogs on people who post every day may not matter at all in the big picture.
(Thanks to Scott Hanselman for the "Googleable Answer" contribution)