// Internet Duct Tape

In defense of 2000 bloggers

Posted in Asides, Technology, Technorati by engtech on February 06, 2007

A conversation has been brewing about the 2000 Bloggers project. It has been called a link farm and an attempt to game Technorati. I won’t speak for the intentions of the guy who created it, but I thought it was a pretty cool idea to see a montage of all the various faces of blogging.

That’s one of the things I really like about the WordPress.com user avatars, MyBlogLog and tools like this one that let me see the last 130 avatars of people who visited my blog. A few months ago someone put together the “Public Face of 9 Rules” montage in a response to a debate that was going on in the community. It looked really good.

If all it was is a glorified linkfarm then I don’t think participants would have done things like created banners, want to use the image of 2000 bloggers for the cover of their book, or get mentions from the Official Photobucket blog. I think a lot of the participants were happy to be part of a blog community for the first time.

The only requirements for joining are “1. You must have a photo of yourself somewhere on your blog, and 2. Your blog must have been created prior to January 1st of this year.” There was never anything in it about “You most post a link to all of the blogs so that we can game Technorati.”

Disclosure: I joined the project which means I should be one of the “2000 blogs to delete.”

When does it cross the ethical threshold?

Blogging is filled with memes, quizes, group blogging projects, blogging carnivals, contests, and blogging communities. Heck, even commenting on a discussion like this can get you listed on aggregators like TechMeme. Participating in any of them will increase the number of inbound links. Blogging is in itself a glorified linkfarm.

Why was 2000 Bloggers “bad” when the rest of these things bloggers routinely participate in are “good”? The only difference was the low barrier of entry and the magnitude of the number of participants. It wasn’t a low barrier of entry for Tino — he must have spent several days manually adding photos.

If I created a new widget that worked like MyBlogLog but instead of linking to profile pages it linked directly to blogs, would that be gaming the system? If I turned off rel=NOFOLLOW for comments on my blog and used comment karma to reward the best commenters with automatic links, would that be gaming the system?

Either of those activities would create a low barrier way of gaming search engines by participating in the communities of other blogs — yet they are also great ways of building a community around your blog and adding value to the readers who take the time to visit or comment.

If it is this easy to break Technorati, then Technorati’s algorithms are already broken. Maybe the real problem is that it is too easy[1] to create links in the current era of instant publishing, so the entire concept of a link as a means of determining value is no longer as justified?

[1] Consider how easy it is to use del.icio.us bookmarking to automatically create blog entries.

Avoiding the Situation Altogether

A couple of things Tino could (and still can) do with 2000 bloggers to avoid the crosslinking that people are complaining about.

  • Use a javascript/flash widget instead of text that will be interpreted by search engines
  • Have people link to a central page that then link to the 2000 bloggers
    • This is my favorite solution, as it would allow for better usability like having the page only display 100 random photos at a time.
  • Use rel=NOFOLLOW on the links

I’ll finish with this follow-up quote from Jeremiah Owyang who was one of the first people to speak out about 2000 Bloggers.

I just called Tino in Canada, he’s a good guy. I told him that my post was nothing personal towards him and I think that what he did was a good thing. It’s just that the network went crazy with it.

I encourage him to put the 2000 bloggers page back up, and then bloggers could link to that page, without having to spawn it and replicate it all over the blogosphere. I left several comments on others blogs saying the same thing.

I want to personally promote Tino as an innocent here, I hope that no one thinks ill of him, nor he or his website is penalized by Technorati or Google.

Again, Let me repeat it (esp for those who left somewhat annoyed comments on this post) I like Tino, I think what he did was done innocently and I think what he did was a great example of community. Let’s put this non-issue to bed.

24 Responses

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  1. Webomatica said, on February 06, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    All good points – the line is definitely fuzzy. One could even call “spam” marketing.

    My post was more – why I’m opting out, rather than saying it should end – I’m actually a bit surprised that it got taken down. I didn’t get the sense that Technorati was actually acting on it and blocking the links from the system, just looking into it. But what do I know…

    So do you still want to set up a blog network of blogs with MyBlogLog Cat Avatars? :)

  2. engtech said, on February 06, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    The spam/marketing divide is a hard one. If you visit someone’s blog, see they are writing about something similar that you have also written about and drop a link — is that spamming? I don’t consider it spam if I think the link is good… but what if it’s on the same subject but poorly written?

    I think the real definition of SEO should be “socially engineering others”.

    I think the cat avatar blogging network is still a good one, but maybe we are setting our sights too low? If we include all non-human pet avatars we would hit a much larger community.

    I’ve done some preliminary research into the competition.


  3. Webomatica said, on February 06, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Could also group avatars by subject (all the hard drives, all the blondes, all the guys with shades)… just add one layer of filtering!

    Course how do you tag all those images? I could probably blow through all of them manually in an afternoon…!

    Really no different than the Web 2.0 Logo site that was on TechCrunch the other day :)

  4. Elaine Vigneault said, on February 07, 2007 at 12:15 am

    “If it is this easy to break Technorati, then Technorati’s algorithms are already broken.”

    Yes, exactly my thoughts!
    I’ve posted the montage and some info at http://www.2kbloggers.com and I’ve love to hear your ideas about how to make sure this becomes a true community rather than a plain old link farm.

  5. engtech said, on February 07, 2007 at 12:20 am


    The Web 2.0 Logo site that Webomatty posted right before you would be a good design to copy.

    – Load up like 100 random blogger photos every page load.
    – When you hover over the image it will pop-up the blog name and blog address. A short bio would have been cool, but it’s probably too much work to add now.

    Let me know if you want me to code it up for you… I would probably do it all in javascript which means no search engines / technorati referrals.

  6. joy said, on February 07, 2007 at 12:57 am

    I didn’t see anything wrong with the 2,000 bloggers idea. It was very neat… now, if I knew that we could get away with submitting a picture of our *pet* instead of our *face* (I’m not too keen on that) I might have joined. Just kidding.

    Anyhow, make the community into all avatars that are of pets, please. ^_^ (insert very cute innocent face here) You can’t say no to the sleeping dog!

  7. engtech said, on February 07, 2007 at 1:26 am

    Anyone want to register 2000pets.com? :D

    Realistically, I guess we could all use http://www.catster.com/ or http://www.dogster.com/

  8. Tino Buntic said, on February 07, 2007 at 1:26 am

    that’s some fine bit of writing Engtech! I’m not gonna do anything with 2000 Bloggers anymore. I actually don’t want the attention. However, if Elaine wants to, she has my blessing. Also, Elaine… I have 2000bloggers.com registered and it’s yours if you want. Just let me know and I’ll transfer it to you.

  9. Webomatica said, on February 07, 2007 at 2:08 am

    Well I can easily come up with a short list of MyBlogLog avatars with dogs or cats by doing a survey of some blogs with These Tools. Maybe I’ll do a future blog post listing some of them to start :)

  10. Elaine Vigneault said, on February 07, 2007 at 2:31 am

    Engtech, yes I could certainly use your help to code something like that. I don’t know javascript…

    My initial idea for the site was to have a group blog (a grog if you will) where any of the 2000 could contribute ala lifehacker style. But I’m open to ideas…

  11. engtech said, on February 07, 2007 at 2:43 am

    @Elaine: a group blog is a good idea… especially if you could leverage the avatars. Maybe start out with just the javascript page to highlight the avatars and then go from there? You could do 2000bloggers.com/us as the avatar page and then see what happens with the site. This may be a fad/blip…

    @Web: I’m seesawing on this. I think focusing on the cat avatar bloggers versus all the other pet avatar bloggers might be the better idea. We don’t live in a homogeneous everyone likes everyone else world, and group/tribes/communities always fare better when there’s a clearly defined enemy.

  12. Webomatica said, on February 07, 2007 at 3:54 am

    Heh… I’ll send you an email shortly.

  13. baredfeetandteeth said, on February 07, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    *deletes //engtech from her blogroll*

    Joking Joking. I think people take their interweb far too seriously.

  14. 2000 Bloggers - » Welcome said, on February 08, 2007 at 8:59 am

    […] in a piece called In Defense of 2000 Bloggers: If all it was is a glorified linkfarm then I don’t think participants would have done things […]

  15. envec69 said, on February 08, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    one could argue that the same problem might appear with mybloglog. in the beginning most users were interesting in discovering new blogs and interacting, but now it looks like people are mass-joining communities to improve their visibility

  16. Doug Karr said, on February 09, 2007 at 4:30 am

    It was a great idea – exposing a lot of blogs to a lot of bloggers. The good blogs would have rose to the top, the bad would have eventually fell off. In a world with 55,000,000 blogs and hundreds more getting on every hour, 2,000 doesn’t amount to a hill of beans!

    I think what you actually spoke to here is the fact that there is a big ‘ol fat gray area in the middle, and no one can determine where the line begins or ends.

    Thanks engtech!

  17. […] Engtech offers some great solutions put on our invidivual blogs? […]

  18. raincoaster said, on February 09, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    I do like your second suggestion: that the link go back to a central page and the bloggers featured on that page be changed randomly. That seems fair.

    Generally, when a first-timer to my blog drops a link I take into account what their intentions appear to be. If they have something to say about my post, I expect them to say it in the comments. To me, “I blogged about this HERE, check it out” as the comment in its entirety reeks of withholding and narcissism, and when I am the one calling someone a withholding narcissist, you KNOW it’s bad.

    I leave the comment stand, but I post what I think of that. It’s pissed off some people…who never came before, and who never came back. I can afford to lose them.

  19. Elaine Vigneault said, on February 12, 2007 at 9:08 am

    FYI, 2000 Bloggers lives on at http://www.2kbloggers.com!!!

  20. engtech said, on February 12, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Wow, the site is looking very nice Elaine.

    That’s a great layout.

  21. Elaine Vigneault said, on February 12, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    Great. I’m glad you like it. It’s a wordpress theme designed for use as a community blog. I just changed the header and a few other things… :)
    We could really use your help. You have some excellent ideas!

  22. A.J. Valliant said, on February 13, 2007 at 1:07 am

    I guess I’m missing the point of having a site with 2000 pictures of people faces on it. It’s slightly more interesting than a sheet of paper with 2000 names on it. I can’t see what purpose it could serve aside from a confusing directory of blogs/link farm.

  23. MyCatBlogLog Public Alpha » Webomatica said, on February 13, 2007 at 8:47 am

    […] way to form a blog network without having the link thing be a problem on Technorati. One solution, suggested by //engtech was to do it in Flash. So I decided to experiment with a silly page featuring MyBlogLog bloggers […]

  24. Elaine Vigneault said, on February 14, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    AJ – When people upload their own photos to things like MyBlogLog, the photo compilation doesn’t have any sort of uniformity other than the photo size. People upload photos of cats, they use cartoons, animated gifs… The 2000 Bloggers Project looks like an art project. It looks like thought went into it – because it did.

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