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Monday, March 05, 2007

Tracking the Russia Blogosphere

La Russophobe has undertaken a study of the English-language Russia blogosphere which offers the following insights which may be of interest to readers and bloggers alike (click here to visit a cool interactive map of the blogosphere, pictured above). Naturally, if we have omitted any blog which deserves inclusion, we'd love to know. One that's missing for sure is the Russia page of the mighty Global Voices megablog (top 300 blogs in the world), but it appears that this page doesn't have an independent identity in the tracking world.

First, we offer a listing of blogs in English that focus primarily on analyzing Russian politics, ranked by the number of other recognized blogs that have linked to them, as measured by -- a measure of influence in the blogosophere (basically, this is a list of all such blogs ranked in the top 100,000 by Technorati, with the top Russia blogs in the top 30,000 range of all blogs of any kind in the world).

Next, we offer a listing of the same blogs reorganized by the total number of links each has received from the group of blogs that link to them. This measures how interested each of those linking blogs are in the blog, and changes the rankings signficantly.

Then, we offer a listing of the same type of blogs ranked by traffic (visitation and page views), as measured by -- a measure of popularity among readers (basically, this is a list of all such blogs ranked in the top 5 million by Alexa, with the top Russia blogs in the top 500,000 range of all blogs in the world). Each blog name is hyperlinked to the Technorati or Alexa data page where the relevant statistics about that blog can be found. This changes the rankings significantly a second time. Note that Alexa's data is really only an educated guess, but it appears to be the best guess available.

Finally, we translate the Technorati data into a cash value for each blog, the amount for which it could theoretically be sold on the open market. Based on this data, one could say that the market capitalization of the Russia blogs (how much they would theoretically sell for combined) is in excess of half a million dollars. To know how impressive that is, you'd have to collect the same data for the same number of top blogs about other countries an compare the valuation. We invite someone to undertake this task.

The data shows that it's obviously necessary to review both links and traffic in order to assess a blog's significance; Vilhelm Konnander, for instance, ranks highly in links but is off the scale in terms of traffic. Conversely, Russian Spy has a very large amount of traffic but relatively little concrete interest in the blogsophere to show for it. The results also show that there is no independent English-language Russia politics blog which can compete with La Russophobe in terms of a combination of consistent traffic and links from other blogs. That is why we call ourselves the #1 independent English-language Russia politics blog in the world! The only blog which can compete with La Russophobe when comparing linking blogs and traffic is Russia Blog (now "the Real Russia Project"), and that entity is funded by a large institution (one dedicated, it should be noted, to banning the teaching of evolution and replacing it with the teaching of "intelligent design") and which likely engages in commercial traffic generation techniques. It's publishers are paid a salary to create and promote it (for this reason, it can easily be argued that it doesn't even belong in this study). Nonetheless, Russia Blog has received only about 300 total links from blogs whilst LR has received over 1,500 links from blogs, and the two have basically the same number of linking blogs even though Russia Blog has existed much longer than LR so Russia Blog has had much more time to generate them. LR currently has over 60,000 Google hits, while "Real Russia Project" has less than 600 (granted, LR has existed longer than RRP, but "Yuri Mamchur" has been the boss of Russia Blog from day 1 and has currently less than 13,000 Google hits. In other words, Russia Blog's traffic is completely empty, basically a bait-and-switch charade -- a classic Russophile illusion (and in that way, quite fitting). LR has the most published visitation after the much older Siberian Light (Russia Blog has no public counter and, apart from a freak Internet event, LR's regular daily traffic exceeds SL's as well) and the most links from blogs of any blog listed below. In short, if LR were funded the way Russia Blog is, her traffic data would grind Russia Blog into the dust.

Finally, and perhaps most important, our study clearly shows that Russia is not a major topic in the blogosphere, meaning that all bloggers should view all blogs as being welcome. Interestingly, LR has blogrolled all the blogs listed below, but not all of them have blogrolled her (even though she's obviously the most potent force in the Russia blogosphere today). There are less than 1,200 blogs in the world that Technorati has tagged to Russia (and a goodly number of these blogs are in Russian and can't be read by other speakers -- the number one Russian-lanaguge blog is Anton Nossik, editor of the Moscow News and a major organizing force in the Russian Internet). By contrast, there are more than twice that many blogs tagged to tiny England, roughly 2,500 tagged to Germany, nearly 5,000 tagged to France, and 7,000 tagged to Japan (Canada and China also have over 7,000 blogs each). The U.S. has more blogs than all of those countries combined. There is no more emphatic evidence of the extent to which Russia has alienated the entire world than these basic facts, which clearly show the world wants little to do with Russia. That's fitting of course, since every day Russians show they want little to do with the world -- well, until they start starving, that is. Of course, it's also clear proof of the ridiculous lie that the Internet is significant in Russia; the vast majority of Russians, earning an average of $2.50 per hour, simply can't afford to access it, and free access is simply unavailable.

All of the following data was accurate to the best of our knowledge on March 2nd. We apologize for any errors or outdated information and will be happy to update/correct if notified. Be sure to read the explanatory notes under each item before drawing any final conclusions about the results.

Top 16 Russia Blogs Ranked by Linking Blogs (Technorati)

Russia Blog 115

La Russophobe 107

Sean’s Russia Blog 74

Edward Lucas 71

Russian Blog 70

Very Russian Tochka 66

Lex Libertas 64

Robert Amsterdam 59

Siberian Light 58

Vilhelm Konnander 58

Russian Spy 52

A Step at a Time 47

White Sun of the Desert 45

Accidental Russophile 38

Copydude 35

Scraps of Moscow 28


[1] Two photoblogs, which do not engage in political commentary, have been omitted from this listing, but they are very significant and bear mention: They are English Russia (2,502 linking blogs) and Moscow in my Eyes (118 linking blogs). They are excluded not merely because they do not engage in political commentary, but because English Russia generates links and traffic by means of spam and because Moscow in my Eyes has not posted since September 2006.

[2] Edward Lucas, Vilhelm Konnander and David Mcduff (A Day at a Time) do not confine themselves to the topic of Russia in any systematic way, but Russia dominates their discussion. We feel it is more than appropriate to include them in this group.

[3] Accidental Russophile is moribund. Very Russian Tochka has not posted since February 4th. Scraps of Moscow and Siberian Light have just emerged from long periods of dormancy. Russian Blog posts only occasionally. Thus, the group of actively posting English-language Russia politics blogs is extremely small, and active bloggers ought to do all they can to encourage new entries.

[4] The tie between Vilhelm Konnander and Siberian Light has been broken by looking at total links from blogs, where VK has 128 while SL has 233

[5] The links collected by Russian Blog and Very Russian Tochka are misleading. Unlike the others, the vast majority of links collected by these two blogs are due to a single frivolous post having nothing to do with political analysis. In the case of Russian Blog, it was post about how to drink vodka without getting drunk. In the case of Very Russian Tochka, it was a post about how to tell a painting was made by an insane person (a question which turned out to be a scam).

[6] It's questionable whether Russian Spy belongs on this list. LR has it designated on her blogroll as a web resource rather than a blog, given its newspaper format and advertising for mail-order brides similar to that of the eXile. We consider it to have been included for informational purposes only.

Top 16 Russia Blogs Ranked by Links from Blogs (Technorati)

La Russophobe 1,507

Russia Blog 302

Russian Spy 301

Edward Lucas 248

Siberian Light 229

Sean’s Russia Blog 213

Robert Amsterdam 187

White Sun of the Desert 181

A Step at a Time 175

Copydude 173

Very Russian Tochka 130

Vilhelm Konnander 130

Russian Blog 122

Lex Libertas 103

Accidental Russophile 94

Scraps of Moscow 94


[1] There is a tie between Very Russian Tochka and Vilhelm Konnander which has been broken by referring to each blog's total number of linking blogs, where VRT leads. However, since as noted above VRT's links are largely unrelated to Russia and due to a single freakish post, Vilhelm's number of links are a that much more impressive because they are wholly genuine. The Accidental Russophile vs. Scraps of Moscow tie was broken the same way.

Top 12 Russia Blogs Blogs Ranked by Traffic (Alexa)

Very Russian Tochka 78,458

Siberian Light 208,084

Russia Blog 541,609

Russian Spy 1,130,755

La Russophobe 1,397,769

Lex Libertas 2,216,958

White Sun of the Desert 2,307,800

Robert Amsterdam 2,480,904

Russian Blog 2,651,110

Edward Lucas 3,288,059

Sean’s Russia Blog 4,234,450

Copydude 4,477,871


[1] The traffic rankings for Very Russian Tochka and Siberian Light are the result of an anomaly. In each case, a single post on the blog was picked up by a global engine that generated a freakishly large amount of traffic during a very limited period of time, skewing the results. In both cases, the posts in question were not original but copied from another blog and then noticed by the engines.

[2] The traffic for Russia Blog is the result of the fact that, unlike any other blog on the list, Russia Blog is institutionally funded and engages in commercial traffic generation. As for Russian Spy, see note [7] above.

[3] Vilhelm Konnander, A Step at a Time, Accidental Russophile and Scraps of Moscow have no data from Alexa. Appparently, Alexa's methodology does not produce meaningful traffic results for these sites. However, Alexa's methodology is not foolproof, see note [4] below.

[4] Alexa computes traffic rankings by analyzing the Web usage of millions of Alexa Toolbar users. The information is sorted, sifted, anonymized, counted, and computed, until, finally, they get the traffic rankings shown in the Alexa service. More information about the process can be found here. Since the data is based on the toolbar, it is only one type of sample and could be skewed if a given blogger tends for some reason to attract readers who don't use the Alexa bar in a represenative way. The best way to judge traffic is by referring to a public counter, but of the 16 major Technorati-listed blogs less than half (only La Russophobe, Siberian Light, Sean’s Russia Blog, Edward Lucas, Accidental Russophile and Russian Blog) maintain public counters. La Russophobe's counter shows by far the highest amount of traffic, but the counters do not cover the same period of time. Alexa warns: "Generally, Traffic Rankings of 100,000+ should be regarded as not reliable because the amount of data we receive is not statistically significant. Conversely, the more traffic a site receives (the closer it gets to the number 1 position), the more reliable its Traffic Ranking becomes." However, Technorati links to Alexa, and it is apparently the only credible universal source of blog traffic data. If anybody knows a better source of traffic ranking information, please clue us in!

Finally, blogger Dane Carleson offers a formula to calculate the financial value of a blog using a link-to-dollar ratio relied upon in the Internet industry and based on Technorati's data. Here are the results for the blogs above, ranked by market value (bloggers are advised that if you run your blog through Dane's converter he will the provide you with HTML code so that you can post a running tally in your blog's sidebar; LR has done so):

Top 16 Russia Blogs Blogs Ranked by Market Value (Carleson)

Russia Blog-$64,357.56
La Russophobe-$60,405.78

Sean's Russia Blog-$43,469.58
Edward Lucas-$40,082.34

Russian Blog-$39,517.80
Very Russian Tochka-$37,259.64
Lex Libertas-$36,130.56
Robert Amsterdam-$33,872.40
Siberian Light-$32,743.32
Vilhelm Konnander-$32,743.32

Russian Spy-$29,920.62
A Step at a Time-$26,533.38
White Sun of the Desert-$25,404.30
Accidental Russophile-$21,452.52

Scraps of Moscow- $15,807.12

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The traffic rankings for Very Russian Tochka and Siberian Light are the result of an anomaly. In each case, a single post on the blog was picked up by a global engine that generated a freakishly large amount of traffic during a very limited period of time, skewing the results. In both cases, the posts in question were not original but copied from another blog and then noticed by the engines."

That sounds rather like the blogging equivalent of "He got an A for his homework but it's all pictures/ his mom helped him".

It made me laugh.