Perhaps inevitably, the attempts by people like “NZ Bear” to rank weblogs by popularity have spurred some to try to ‘game’ the system and get to the top of the list. This practice has spurred some discussion by Clay Shirky (an A-list blogger) and others. As Shirky points out if you get into ‘A List’ rankings you will probably get more curious readers and your ranking may perpetuate itself.
For what it’s worth I think that if you are going to try to rank weblogs it makes more sense in many ways to try to rank them against their peers. For example, I don’t care what this weblog’s overall popularity is, but I would be interested (and gratified if a little surprised) to find it was one of the more popular weblogs about, say, issues of the digital divide and the academic study of the Internet. It looks like attempts at measuring weblog sub-“ecosystems” are “already under consideration”:http://www.truthlaidbear.com/archives/2003/11/27/let_a_thousand_ecosystems_bloom.php#001231.
But even then all the ways to measure ‘fame’ through online computerised techniques are to some extent flawed because they can only measure what can be quantified (pageviews and links) and not “offline” significance. For example not many journalists have weblogs so far – but if a journalist writes about my weblog in print or even just reads it that’s pretty significant. Even if it’s widely known that this happened, though, it wouldn’t be tracked in any weblog ranking system I can envision.