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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tracking the Blogosphere: An Update Introducing the LR Index

Having taken it upon ourselves to adopt the claim that we are the "#1 independent English-language Russian politics blog in the world, it is of course incumbent upon us to document that claim with careful research. One month ago, we published the results of a major study doing just that. Herein, we continue that effort.

As readers interested in such things may know, some time ago La Russophobe noted the claim of Russia Blog that it was be the most trafficked Russian politics blog in the world, with thousands of visitors every day, several times more than any other Russia blog (and indeed perhaps more than all the rest put together). So it was perhaps surprising to some to learn, when La Russophobe published her landmark study one month ago, that Russia Blog had virtually the same number of Technorati-recognized linking blogs as La Russophobe. In other words, despite all that traffic, the blogsophere in its wisdom simply heaved a giant sigh at the buffoons from the Discovery Institute. Here is that ranking, updated for the latest information (as of April 2, one month from our last data collection, with the prior data following in parenthesis and ties broken by referring to total number of links from blogs):

Top 16 Russia Blogs Blogs Ranked by Technorati Links

Russia Blog 139 (115)

La Russophobe 122 (107)

Sean’s Russia Blog 84 (74)

Edward Lucas 83 (71)

Siberian Light 76 (58)

Robert Amsterdam 75 (59)

Very Russian Tochka 75 (66)

Vilhelm Konnander 69 (58)

Lex Libertas 66 (64)

Russian Blog 59 (70)

Russian Spy 53 (52)

A Step at a Time 44 (47)

White Sun of the Desert 43 (45)

Accidental Russophile 37 (38)

Copydude 35 (35)

Scraps of Moscow 35 (28)

Now, let’s refine this data a bit. If we do, Russia Blog’s traffic information rings even more hollow.

While the Technorati index measures total present total influence in the blogosphere, it ignores link-generating power (and the potential for future influence it implies) because it doesn't take any account of a blog's age. In other words, it’s to some extent misleading to compare the number of links collected by a one-year-old blog to those collected by a two-year-old blog, since the latter has had much more time to collect links than the former.

Therefore, LR has adjusted the Technorati-based ranking she previously reported to account for blog age. Here’s the ranking for link-generating power based on updated link numbers shown above through the end of March . In parenthesis are the blog’s total links and its age in months; the number to the left of the parenthesis is the quotient of those two numbers, the link-age index by which the blogs are re-ranked, with ties again broken by referring to total links from linking blogs.

Top 16 Russia Blogs Blogs Ranked by

Technorati Links Factored by Age

Robert Amsterdam 10.7 (75/7)

Very Russian Tochka 10.7 (75/7)

La Russophobe 10.2 (122/12)

Russian Spy 8.8 (53/6)

Russia Blog 5.8 (139/24)

Vilhelm Konnander 4.9 (69/14)

Sean’s Russia Blog 4.7 (84/18)

Edward Lucas 4.0 (84/21)

Copydude 3.2 (35/11)

Accidental Russophile 2.3 (38/16)

Russian Blog 2.2 (59/27)

White Sun of the Desert 2.2 (43/19)

Siberian Light 1.9 (76/40)

Lex Libertas 1.4 (66/46)

A Step at a Time 1.3 (44/34)

Scraps of Moscow 1.2 (35/30)

As you can see, using this analysis, Russia Blog drops out of first place and falls to fifth. Given the fact that the vast majority of links received by Very Russian Tochka are freak occurrences having nothing to do with Russian politics, one must be very impressed by the performance of La Russophobe’s favorite blog (apart from LR of course), the one operated by Mikhail Khodorokovsky’s lawyer Robert Amsterdam – it is the true #1 in this category right now, not only because his links are far more genuine but because he has significantly more links from his linking blogs than VRT from its group. Way to go, Robert! It should be noted that some blogs, like Siberian Light and Accidental Russophile, may be argued to suffer a bit under this analysis from being moribund for a while; on the other hand, Siberian Light benefits from being the recipient of a freak traffic upsurge and the links that went with it, so it is probably a wash in that blog's case.

While we are at it, we may as well update the Alexa traffic data from last month as well:

Top 12 Russia Blogs Blogs Ranked by Traffic (Alexa)

Siberian Light 182,688 (was #2) +1

Russia Blog 456,842 (was #3) +1

La Russophobe 995,009 (was #5) +2

White Sun of the Desert 1,702,866 (was #7) +3

Russian Spy 1,909,149 (was #4) -1

Very Russian Tochka 2,001,312 (was #1) -5

Robert Amsterdam 2,446,880 (was #8) +1

Edward Lucas 2,694,546 (was #10) +2

Russian Blog 2,839,468 (was #9) +/-0

Lex Libertas 3,026,394 (was #6) -3

Copydude 4,406,855 (was #12) +1

Sean’s Russia Blog 5,050,738 (was #11) -1

As previously noted, the traffic figures for two blogs are warped by freak occurrences. Both Siberian Light and Very Russian Tochka experienced a brief period when their blog’s received a giant amount of traffic which was not sustained over time. Alexa data covers a period of three months, so the freak occurrence for VRT has now been cleansed from their system, resulting in that blog’s precipitous fall in the ranking. SL’s freak occurrence will not clear the system until the end of next month, hence it now occupies the #1 spot. By May, traffic figures will be comparable for all blogs assuming no further freak occurrences (and remembering that Alexa’s data is far from perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got). As previously noted, four of the top 16 Technorati blogs do not have cognizable Alexa traffic.

We now have three different lists rank-ordering the 16 English-language Russia politics blogs that are in the Technorati top 125,000 of all blogs in the world. We can combine these three lists and get a cumulative score for each blog, ranking them on that basis. We can assign 16 points to the #1 blog on each list, 15 to the #2, and so on down to the bottom, then we can add up the three point scores for each blog and thus compare them in the broadest way possible (the highest possible score would be 48). If we do, here's the result, what we will call the "LR Blog Index" (the scores shown in parenthesis are for total Technorati links, Technorati links per month of existence and Alexa traffic, in that order).

LR Blog Index for April 5, 2007

Russia Blog 44 (16+13+15)

La Russophobe 43 (15+14+14)


Very Russian Tochka 37 (11+15+11)

Robert Amsterdam 36 (10+16+10)

Siberian Light 33 (12+5+16)

Edward Lucas 32 (13+10+9)

Russian Spy 31 (6+13+12)

Sean's Russia Blog 30 (14+11+5)


White Sun of the Desert 23 (4+6+13)

Russian Blog 22 (7+7+8)

Vilhelm Konnander 21 (9+12+0)


Lex Libertas 19 (8+4+7)

Copydude 17 (2+9+6)

Accidental Russophile 11 (3+8+0)


A Step at a Time 8 (5+3+0)

Scraps of Moscow 3 (1+2+0)

It should be noted that the rankings for Siberian Light, Russian Spy and Very Russian Tochka are open to debate. It can be argued that the scores for SL and VRT are too generous. Although, as noted above, VRT's freak traffic has cleared the Alexa system, a huge number of its links are due to that freak event (they have nothing to do with Russian politics), and its large number of such links combined with its young age skews the results. SL's freak event has not cleared the Alexa system, skewing its score for traffic.

Comments on how our methodology might be improved are greatly appreciated, as are notices of errors in our calculations; apologies in advance for any inadvertent errors in crunching the numbers, which we will immediately correct upon notice.

Conclusions? Two. (1) La Russophobe and Russia Blog virtually tied on the LR Index even though Russia Blog is much older and supported by a huge wealthy organization and put out by a paid publisher. This indicates that the traffic passing through Russia Blog is largely empty and illusory, totally failing to generate the kind of profile in the blogosphere that it logically should. (2) More importantly, LR is head and shoulders above every other independent English-language Russian politics blog in the world on the LR Index, and hence solidly entitled to her claim of being #1 among them.

LR's leadership is also clearly seen, of course, in the fact that it is only she, over the course of many years that the Russia blogosphere has existed, who makes reports of this kind available.

UPDATE: Commenter Andy has ferreted out the age of Russian Spy as being six months, so the data above has been adjusted accordingly. RS rockets up the LR index to nudge Sean's Russia Blog down into 8th place from 7th, taking the #7 spot for itself. More importantly, RS knocks Russia Blog down from 4th place to 5th on the adjusted Technorati index, making its traffic even more hollow than before. As we've said before, however, it's quite stretchings things to consider RS to be a true blog; if it is, the Moscow Times would have that claim too, and it would defeat all rivals easily. Also interesting to note that under new Kremlin policies reported on Publius Pundit, RS could be required to register as a "newspaper" in Russia and fined or closed if it failed to get government imprimatur.


Krusenstern said...

Manual Trackback:
Die 16 grössten Russland-Blogs der Welt

... Die 16 grössten englischsprachigen Russland-Blogs der Welt kämpfen um die "Number One". Gibt es ein Russland-Blog, welches alle anderen überfliegt? Wir vergleichen das neue Ranking "Tracking the Russia Blogosphere" mit dem deutschsprachigen Krusenstern-Weblog...

Andy said...

Running a check on the age of the domain itself shows that it was created in October 2006.

This would appear to correlate with the Technorati links to Russian Spy also - the oldest ( was (as of 6 April) created 122 days ago.

So, for the purposes of this survey, I'd suggest setting 1st October 2006 as the birth date of Russia Spy.

Andy said...

Sorry - bit of a brainstorm there. The earliest Technorati recorded link to Russian Spy was, of course, the link from Russian Spy itself, recorded 161 days ago - still comfortably within the six months that Russian Spy seems to have been in existence.

La Russophobe said...

ANDY: Thanks for the impressive detective work, you've bumped Russia Blog even further down the adjusted Technorati list! Nice job!

Krusenstern said...

Blog-Statistics are true as the пятилетка (five-year plan) in the former Soviet Union (Smile).

In my Swiss based Russia-Blog I supplemented and optimized the LR-statistics. The result is a new and neutral “Top 20 Ranking of the Russia Blogs” (English and German language).

It would be perfect, if all Russia Blogs would use the same software like for counting the unique (!) visitors.


Andy said...

Surely, mathematically speaking, as Russia Blog's traffic is a constant, it would neither increase, nor decrease in hollowness...

La Russophobe said...

ANDY: You're mistaken twice. First of all Russia Blog's traffic isn't constant, it's ever changing. Alexa data shows this. Second, the term "hollow" assumes that the traffic is large, like a redwood, but that there is nothing inside, it's an illusion. A tree can be continuously eaten away by termites so that each day it becomes a little more hollow. With each new bit of data about Russia blog, the same occurs.

La Russophobe said...


Thanks for the info! I suppose the next step is a worldwide index!

You could be right about the five-year-plan, however let us hope that the consequences of failure in this regard will not be as serious, since surely lives don't depend on them. And bully for us, that we try to be more accurate than they even though less is at stake.

It would be nice if they not only used the same counter but also published the results. Russia blog, for example, doesn't show any counter to the world so the type of software is basically irrelevant. Then again, no matter how reliable the data was, many elitists would reject the significance of traffic (unless of course their preferred blog was the winner). Our goal is neither traffic nor links, but simply information. That's the way in which we desire to make history. We simply enjoy tormenting our critics with these compelling facts.

La Russophobe said...


BTW, we invite you to submit a post on a topic of interest for publication on this blog (in English of course, we have no facility to translate into German). Let us foment international communciation within the Russia blogosphere! And perhaps we will reciprocate if you can translate us into German. I am sure many readers would be interested to know the German perspective on things.