In defense of 2000 bloggers
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 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?
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.
- 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.