Thursday, September 08, 2005

Measuring the Chess Blogosphere

Susan Polgar's post on the top 30 Chess Blogs has generated some conversation and a lot of confusion. Unfortunately, the initial post did not mention that the rankings were simply the first thirty names off the Blogshares Chess Industry list (this has since been changed). As a result, Satish got all excited about being named the 3rd best chess blog by Susan Polgar. Sorry friend, of course we all still like your blog.

Now I don't want to get into a long discussion here about what the Blogshares list measures (you can read my comment to Susan's post and/or read more about Blogshares if you wish). What I will say is that Blogshares measures something derivative of the number of other blogs which link to you. It's not simply a link count (like Technorati) since it assigns more value to a link from a blog with more links and, somewhat strangely, it assigns more value if the linking blog has fewer outbound links. Michael Goeller also points out (in the comments to Susan's post) that you can easily manipulate your Blogshares valuation by creating a large set of interlinking blogs. He mentions Magnifichess as a particularly egregious example of this. Even Satish's valuation is influenced by this effect -- more than 10% of his Blogshares value comes from links from his other blogs (But to be fair to him, 37 of his 39 links are independent and I am certainly not suggesting that he has been trying to manipulate the system).

Links certainly have value and I would argue that cross-linking is critical to the development of virtual communities like the Chess Blogosphere or more specifically, the Knights Errant. And most of you know that I actively promote this cross-linking both on BCC Weblog and across the Chess Blogosphere. To a large extent this explains BCC Weblog's ranking on the Blogshares list. But, please please please, don't confuse these kind of rankings with measures of popularity, readership or quality. BCC Weblog is not the most read chess blog and neither is Susan Polgar's or Satish Talim's. As to the subject of quality, well that's obviously a subjective decision. I have my own favorites and while I'm not going to list them here, you probably know who they are if you've been reading this blog.

What we can do, to some extent, is measure readership in terms of unique visitors to a blog. I've spent a few hours collecting as much data as I could on all the chess blogs I have listed. Before I present it however, I must mention a number of caveats:

  • Most chess blogs don't have publicly available stats. Therefore, these lists only include those that do. If you know your own stats for the periods mentioned below and want me to add them to the list, leave them in a comment to this post or e-mail me.

  • There are all sorts of apples to oranges problems in comparing these numbers, e.g., different counters count differently (on this blog SiteMeter and Extreme Tracking virtually never agree) and September 7th in Australia only partially overlaps with September 7th in New York.

  • Some counters only provide seven days of detail in their free versions. Therefore, I have month of August data for fewer blogs and in some cases I needed to use five days of data to project the full-week number.

  • The Daily Dirt Chess Blog does not have public stats. However, Mig has stated in the past that he receives 5,000 unique visitors a day. I have opted to accept his self-reported number. It is possible that this number reflects visitors to his entire site and not just the blog. However, even if only 20% of those visitors are to the blog (and I suspect the percentage is much higher), he would still have the most widely read chess blog by a wide margin.

  • Some people exclude their own visits to their blogs, others don't. At BCC Weblog, my visits are excluded, but those of other contributors are not.

  • Visits based on a single day should be taken with a grain of salt. Several blogs had unusually "good" days on 9/7 including BCC Weblog, J'adoube and especially Satish Talim (who had more visits on 9/7 than in the entire preceding week).

With all that mind, here is what I came up with:

Unique Visits - Month of August 2005

Daily Dirt Chess Blog - 150,000
The Chess Mind - 7,600
Open Chess Diary - 5,120
BCC Weblog - 2,210
The Closet Grandmaster - 2,010
Temposchlucker - 1,033
Chess News and Events - 884
Dennis M's Chess Site - 725
Shakmaty Bereolos - 609
Satish Talim - 305
Art of Chess - 290
2004 BCC Championship - 150
Chess Game in Colour - 145

Unique Visits - Week of 8/31-9/6/2005

Daily Dirt Chess Blog - 35,000
The Chess Mind - 1,896
Open Chess Diary - 1,538
The Closet Grandmaster - 679
BCC Weblog - 639
Chess News and Events - 354
Temposchlucker - 303
J'adoube - 230
Shakmaty Bereolos - 195
Dennis M's Chess Site - 167
Dread Pirate - 161
Art of Chess - 139
Nezha - 109
Satish Talim - 89
Patzer's Mind - 85
Matagala - 81
El mon de Caissa - 74
Druss - 52
Chess Game in Colour - 32
2004 BCC Championship - 23

Unique Visits - September 7, 2005

Daily Dirt Chess Blog - 5,000
Open Chess Diary - 312
The Chess Mind - 265
BCC Weblog - 167
Satish Talim - 97
J'adoube - 81
The Closet Grandmaster - 81
Temposchlucker - 60
Shakmaty Bereolos - 48
Chess News and Events - 39
Dread Pirate - 30
Art of Chess - 27
Dennis M's Chess Site - 21
Patzer's Mind - 19
Nezha - 18
Druss - 12
El mon de Caissa - 9
Matagala - 9
2004 BCC Championship - 3
Chess Game in Colour - 2

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