Was it something we said?

Our ranting has become notably less authoritative recently. (Odd, as I feel at least as authoritative as I have ever been. i.e. not at all.) And consistently less visible.

Maybe somebody has an explanation. The whole blogternet can’t have (slightly) broken, can it?

  • A week or so ago, I tried to post a comment on a student post on Pharyngula – to be told repeatedly, in the face of the evidence – that I needed to have a name and an email address. Checked. Yes they were definitely there. I copied and pasted. I rewrote them several times.

    The helpful message (I paraphrase here, and use leaden sarcasm while I’m doing it) said I was probably being blocked as spam, but that I could try enabling javascript or cookies or allowing/ deleting the science-blog cookies. Tried them all. My comment stayed unposted. It wasn’t a great loss to twenty-first century thought, to be honest. Still…

  • This blog has been leaking Technorati “authority” like an authority-leaking sieve. Over the past month, we’ve been dropping a few links a day, according to Technorati.

    One day, it was something like 40 down today from the previous day. I’m pretty certain I would have noticed three months ago, if the blog had suddenly accumulated 40 links in one day, . So how could we lose them all in one day?

    Oddly, firestats and feedburner show that blog hits are much higher than they were when we had twice the “authority”, three months ago.

  • We’ve been intermittently vanishing from the Atheist blogroll over the past few weeks. This now seems to have become a permanent affliction. I hovered over the blog’s name on an Atheist blogroll site that has a static list. It said the the last post was on Friday at 12:38. Well, no. There have been a good few posts since then.
  • When the blog has appeared on the blog roll, over the past few weeks, it has taken at least an hour to appear. If the posts are queued somewhere for an hour, where is that please? Because it doesn’t seem apply to other posts that just appear after they are posted.

    When we’ve looked at the time stamps of blogs that appear long before ours, we find they’ve been written later. And magically appeared without falling into some warp dimension on the way. Maybe it’s crossing the Atlantic then? No, that doesn’t work either. There are UK-based blogs that pop up seemingly almost as soon as they are posted.

    We were even testing an ongoing hypothesis that the blogroll would only display this blog name when there were another more recent three blogs to put ahead of it. We never managed to falsify this.

    However, being ungrateful at being consistently fourth started to seem a bit churlish when we vanished completely.

  • TW has tried pinging the blogroll, in various ways, without any effect. Pinging Technorati seems to have an effect, in that Technorati will usually list a post within a few minutes of a ping. Or even respond to the auto-ping function and find the blog posts, all by itself.

As a side-effect, an increasing proportion of visitors are coming directly from search engines. There is a fair amount of entertainment value in working out how some of these searches would have led to here, unless every other blog in the known world had already been taken straight to heaven in the Rapture.

Anyone with any ideas about what’s going on?

You’ll thank me later

I am following the lead of Migrations blog and pasting the Atheist Blogroll.

Number 21 of 50 Signs you’re a blogaholic reminds me that, for a true blogaholic:

# You care more about what Technorati says about your authority than what your children do.

Given that Technorati treats the Atheist Blogroll as having no effect on ranking anymore – possibly because it usually appears in a sidebar or it uses a script or both – I decided to give everyone on Mojoey’s Atheist Blogroll a link (as Migrations did) and up everyone’s authority a tad:

Continue reading

When Technology Goes Bad

Comically, it seems Technorati has died a death again this weekend. This is becoming a regular occurrence now (read through some of the posts here about it) and, given the nature of the industry in which Technocrappy wants to compete I really did think they would try harder. It seems they don’t.

Still, I am as fickle as the next person and more than happy to bask in the temporary brilliance of their current mistake. It seems that, today, this blog is ranked Number 1 in the world. If you don’t believe me, have a look at this screenshot:

Technorati Screenshot - Taken 04 Aug 07

As you can see, this is recent and we are, indeed number 1 in the world :-) Sadly, I am not convinced this will last for long… (Check out the ranking yourself and see if has reverted to our normal, low, position) [tags]Technorati, Page Rank, Technorati Rank, Technorati Monster, Technology, Bad Technology, Web Service, Web 2.0, Social Web, Blogs, Blog Aggregators[/tags]

Scientific Vigilante

In the course of commenting on each post I read, I have come across a problem very early on. I don’t have, and don’t want, a blogger account which makes it impossible for me to comment on some blogs hosted by blogspot / blogger (see how many times you can engineer the word blog into a sentence…). To work around this, I am going to have to make my comments here instead.

On the plus side, this has the added advantage of giving the recipient blog a technorati backlink if they are interested in that sort of thing.

Anyway, the Biologists Helping Bookstores blog is hilarious. It is a shame I never came across it before. Basically, this person goes round bookstores and re-categorises the woo-books into more appropriate places, mainly moving non-science back into religion where it belongs.

My favourite post though is La Jolla Bookstar, 7/20/2007 one. Not only did it generate the comment which inspired the title for this post, but it includes the blog author moving Behe’s book to the New Age section:

Six copies of Behe’s new non-science book are relocated to their rightful place next to Everyday Magic, The Love Spell, and Grimoire for the Green Witch (what is “grimoire” anyway?).

Perfect! It is accompanied by photos as well… What more could you ask for? Although I have never done this myself, it seems lots of people have – well done to them all.

[tags]Blog, Comment Week, Biology, Behe, Evolution, Non-Science, New Age,grimoire, technorati, religion, science, society[/tags]

Rant about spam

It seems a hostage to fortune to say I don’t really care about spam coming to my inbox to advertise shares or pharmaceuticals or just spill out gibberish concrete poetry. One sort of spam that makes me really angry is the “System Admin” stuff that says it’s been returned from email address x@blah.com because there was an undeliverable message from my email account.

It is impossible to know which of these are spoofed from start to finish. Most, I am told. However, some could be legitimate in the sense of actually recording an attempted spam going somehere – in which case my email account has been used to spam other people. Which is obviously much worse than just getting spam yourself because it destroys your credibility.

A man I know had an AOL account that banned him three times because his address was being used as a spam source. He was mortified and out of his depth on each occasion – he had chosen AOL as his service provider, for a start, so, almost by definition, he knew virtually nothing about the Internet.

(On another occasion, this rant will expand into the area of spam comments and how it means that we have to use Akismet, which occasionally deletes real ones as it goes into a destroying frenzy, losing good comments. as well as making us look churlish.

Not that this blog can claim to be innocent of general churlishness, but the comment-deleting churlishness isn’t our fault. The ongoing looney debate shows us bending over backwards – to the point of tying ourselves in infinite knots – to avoid being churlish to soemone who is a looney fundamentalist, by his own admission.)

More Technobabble

The Register reports on Technorati’s problems resulting from its redesign. It knocked itself out of operation (surely not unprecedented for Technorati. I thought it let its imaginary Monster out to ravage it every weekend)

The Register argues that Technorati has more or less given up on indexing blogs and concentrated on images.

So what was always a lousy blog search tool is now little more than a lousy image search tool – this is not going to worry Yahoo! or Google

I hope not. For all my whining about it, Technorati is pretty useful.

Technorati links mystery

Technorati gives this blog a level of authority that could be considered pretty generous,given the unauthoritative nature of most of our posts. However, for the uninitiated, in Technoratispeak, “authority” refers to how popular you blog is, determined by how many other blogs link to it, not by how authoritative your content is (mercifully…).

But, links to us from the Atheist Blogroll that I can actually see on my screen – and that send visitors to us, according to FireStats – haven’t been listed for months.

I’ve tried researching the reasons for this, unsure whether the fault lies with our code (that would hardly be a first), our recent attempts to restyle the site (not an unmitigated success, yet), Technorati or the Atheist blogroll’s code.

I am none the wiser. This appears in Technorati’s explanation for why links may not get picked up.

If the link was in a blogroll, you may want to check to see if the hyperlink to your blog is located in the blog source of the blogroll. Blogroll links that are generated via a tool or script are not seen. The blogroll must reside in the blog home page as well. If the blogroll is in a subsection or directory of the site, it is not seen or picked up

On an experimental basis, I visited the most recent posters (at the top of the blogroll list on the left.)

onegoodmove.org doesn’t actually show the blogroll, nor have a link to Technorati that I could have used to check if it picks up the link from us.

Sans God has us on the Blogroll, on the index page and not below the so-called jump (other Technorati forum reasons for not seeing links) When I looked for blogs that link to Sans God, I see: “Why Dont You Blog? by Admin Istrator · 44 days ago ” Well no. It rather looks to me as if we linked to them today and yesterday and the day before and so on. When the 6 months from 44 days ago is up, we will disappear off their list of linked blogs.

God is pretend has a scrolling blogroll. Maybe that’s why our blog – which shot itself in the listing foot by starting with a letter as close as dammit to the end of the alphabet – doesn’t appear to be linked to from here. But, wait, God is pretend has only 3 inbound links and Whydontyou doesnt appear in the three. Maybe that’s because they are using a script.

We get lots of links from visitors to Gratuitous common sense and I can see us quite clearly on their blogroll, on the index page, not below the jump etc. Ahha. Technorati thinks this has links from whydontyou, but dates them as 35 and 50 days ago…..

I am getting bored with this. You get the picture. The only links that keep getting consistently
updated are from Parabiodox (ffs :-D ) and content-scrapers. Any ideas?

People who live in glass houses

It’s 10 years since the first blog, according to the Guardian. In that time, as you all know, the blog has become a major force for mass communication. More and people are setting up blogs.

“We’re seeing about 120,000 new weblogs being created worldwide each day,” said Dave Sifry, the chief executive of the blog monitoring site Technorati. “That’s about 1.4 blogs created every second.”

Ironically, the article finishes by quoting some supposed expert who says that most blogs are boring vehicles for narcissistic individuals.

“The real issue is whether it adds any more to our culture. Most of it is just so transient and ephemeral …. Why do I want to know what some guy sitting on the west coast of America thinks about Iraq? Would you pay to listen to this person?”

This self-proclaimed dotcome millionaire is about to publish a book saying that blogging is killing off the internet. Have to paraphrase here:

“Why do I want to know what some guy who a guardian journalist happens to have the phone number of thinks about blogging? Would you pay to read this person’s book?”

Tags untagging themselves

Blog posts here keep randomly losing their UTW tags today. We’ve got used to wierd weekend errors. We probably cause half of them ourselves. Is this the Technorati monster or something I’m doing? Any ideas, welcome.
While your at it, maybe someone can suggest how TW can get openSUSE to work in 64bit. Make command get error 2, as far as I can determine.

Tagging the untagged

This blog has been going through some traumatic changes to its functionality.

It doesn’t look much different because most of the changes to its appearance were repellent in IE6 and earlier browsers, although they looked great in IE7, so it’s temporarily reverted to a look which it’s had for .. oh, I don’t know… all of about 6 weeks.

The main differences for visitors is that you can find much more by tags, as if the blog was trying to be a mini-Technorati. You can open the Tag Archive page and search on several tags. (These are even presented in a tag cloud.)

The big difference for us is that we can tag things by just clicking on them. Adding tags used to be like pulling teeth. It probably contributed to my blogs being unfeasibly long because I couldn’t bear to have to go through the tagging process again (like a graffiti artist with a sore arm?) So the outcome should be less blog words, more tag words. Or at least, more tag words.

However, we don’t have full tagging liftoff yet.The older posts either don’t have any tags or only have WordPress category tags. By older, I mean “up to January 2007″. So that’s nearly all of them. As the posts here go back over a year, it’s an arduous task to add tags and it’s getting done piecemeal. All the same. it should be possible to find most of what we have for most of the topics.

And by the way, why do people keep typing “none” into the search bit in the header? This is just bizarre. It’s not when people click on the search box without putting anything in, because that brings up a blank page.

Philosophy Tags

Aren’t tags great. Add the combination of technorati’s tag obsession (despite its other wise crazy inconsistencies) with MySpace’s crazy users and their “Religion and Philosophy” category and you can find some wonderful results of a search. One of my favourites is the Philosophy search. It really does produce a wide, wild and wonderful selection of peoples posts. Take this for example, when I did the search a few minutes ago:

Results for Philosophy Tag on Technorati 20 Feb 07While some of the links may seem tame enough, further investigation puts paid to that! It really is funny reading some of the things people seem to believe. The cynic in my partially suspects people are writing this nonsense, not because they believe it, but because they think it is cool or funny or something.

Add this to the volume of creation science videos on YouTube though and I may well be wrong. On a lighter note though, there is one thing which restored my faith in humanity (even in theists as this appears to come from a very Christian blog post – its on MySpace for a start..) (read original)

Joke of the day:

where can you find 50 cent and eminem?

between your sofa cushions

It might just be me having a funny turn today, but I really liked that joke.

Web traffic analysis=nonsense

What is it with search engines? and web-traffic rankers?

This blog has done enough whining about Technorati’s randomness. It’s well overdue to say that it’s probably working far more consistently and reliably than most of the facilities that claim to find Internet resources. (On a note that shows how shamelessly susceptible to flattery we are at whydontyou.org.uk – others please take note – it puts this blog at under 60,000 in the blogosphere which is almost beyond its wildest dreams.)

As an experiment, look up your blog in a few search engines. See if you can find any points in common between them.

Here’s one of my favourites in that I suspect they actually must a randomiser to generate web traffic numbers and links. Pick a blog, look at it in technorati’s blog directory.

Go to the traffic rank bit and click on it. You will find yourself in the realm of Alexa. This will probably show you that the traffic isnt really counted because the blog isn’t in the top 100,000. The daily page views are shown as a percent of people using the whole Internet, i.e., if the site isnt in the top 100,000 sites in the world, you wont get any figures. (If you come in at a newbie 5,195,452 – as this blog does – you may wonder if you are even reading the blog yourself)

100,000 sounds like a lot of sites. However, if you consider, global players (like Google or Microsoft), then big online retailers (like Tescos and Dell), then news sites (CNN, BBC) and national government information sites, you can see it must be pretty difficult to get into the club.

Beneath this blank chart, you will see “Percent of Internet users who visit this site” with a fraction of a percent if it’s anything like this one. (Maybe you’re Microsoft, in which case i guess it will be higher. Will check shortly.)
Then “average number of pages visited” and “3 months average traffic rank” (risibly low) and average page views per visitor (1) (1 :-) Do you suspect that’s hard-coded?)

But the next bit is what creases me up for its randomness. People who visit this site come from (in order of most visits):

United States 40.0% (fair enough, the blog’s in English. Most English-speaking Internet users are in the USA)
France 20.0%
India 20.0%
Costa Rica 10.0%
United Kingdom 10.0%

Whydontyou.org.uk traffic rank in other countries: (These seem to be the same countries to me)
Costa Rica 46,349
India 167,900
France 170,280
United States 658,841
United Kingdom 703,872

Come on…. To what do we owe this unprecedented popularity in Costa Rica? India? France? This is a UK-based blog. Most of the stuff we witter on about, apart from atheism and technology, relates to the UK.

It’s not that I don’t want to believe it. A central American flavour to its posts would make this blog much more interesting. I just think the figures have been made up.

OK, let’s look at the sites that link here, according to Alexa. These are so out of date, that it’s obviously not been updated since the blog was a couple of months old. In fact, until I submitted a more recent image, Alexa had a screen shot of the blog that was well over a year old. (Yes, I know, that’s like saying “We don’t get enough spam here, please deluge us with as much as you can possibly manage”.) Maybe because of their age, the sites listed in some of these links are unrecognisable. In fact none of the blog links would be counted by Technorati, being over a year old, but then, it shows no links that Technorati counts (under 90 days.)

Let’s search for this blog on Google. Here, it’s wierder. There are few points of comparison between different Google results, if you repeat the search over a day or so. Maybe it’s just how Google treats blogs, but the post that comes up first is always the same one from a few months ago. Other posts can only be seen by asking for similar results, excluded the first time for being the same. Well, guess what Google, every post is different. It’s a blog. Lots of the other Google results for the blog are bits of the RSS feed. I’d like to think that lots of people are devouring the RSS feed, but, unfortunately, these tend to be link farms. In fact, lots of obscure references to the blog linkfarm sites turn up on Google, most being complete news to us. Real human-created references to the blog don’t turn up as often as they actually happen.

I could go on to the point where I was boring even myself.

None of this would matter if getting seen and indexed correctly wasn’t crucial to getting any visitors. I know that indexing engines and search engines are bomabarded with spammers trying every trick there is to get high on the first results page. The search engines have algorithms that are supposed to penalise sites and blogs that don’t match their definition of legitimate – density of keywords, number of inbound links, and so on. I believe that not only are these not working, they are often acting in exact reverse to their intentions.

Content from blogs get scraped and put into blag sites that exist just to spew out other people’s content. Google then decides the original source site has “duplicate” content and downranks it. How do you stop this without stopping legitimate blogs from commenting on your posts?

Keywords in the metatags don’t match teh keywords in the text? Well, duh, normal human beings aren’t thinking only of page rank. So they put keywords in their metatags then write content, without remembering to keep changing the metatags. Only people obsessed with search engine rankings do that and ,of course, a fair percentage of them aren’t just bloggers or normal website owners.

It’s not just a question of getting visitors. Anyone who wants to bring in revenue from their site or blog by displaying adverts gets judged by these bizarre standards. Some schemes base what they send you on your Alexa rating, which is itself derived from Google’s well-nigh arbitrary page rank . If you’ve ever tried to have GoogleAds on a site, you’ll see how abstract the GoogleAds process is. In fact, visitors who think they’re helping you pay for the site, so click a few times on your ads every time they visit will get you disqualified. Ditto, your rivals……. (It seems as if you get automatically disqualified anyway, at the very point that you might actually receive any revenue.)

I know it must be well nigh impossible to filter the enormous volume of material in the Internet, especially in the face of the number of spammers there are. However, there must be better ways of doing it. I am always amazed when people find things here and comment or email us about them. How do they manage to find it?

So here, is an unaccustomed prop for Technorati (unaccustomed for this blog, anyway, whioch has done its fair share of ranting about it). For all the irritating Technorati monster error messages and totally inconsistent service, Technorato remains the best performing indexing service that I’ve come across yet. The tags are really helpful when they work. You can still find an interesting read on someone’s first post. And Technorati isn’t yet totally under the sway of the giant players. The fabled Web 2.0 stuff really does still have something going for it.

Technorati goes mental again

Trying to use Technorati, I get this bizarre message,

Doh! The Technorati Monster escaped again.

We’re scouring the blogosphere attempting to find it. Back in a flash!

This was after looking at the “Blogs that link here” link to the right of this page and getting only linking blogs that had expired 200 odd days ago. Technorati apparently then decided to give up the unequal struggle to provide a service at all. Monster? Yuk and argh.

Why I am I even bothering to tag this?

New Code Required

It strikes me more and more that is not really “cutting the mustard” with regards to how it aggregates blog posts and how it tries to represent the blogosphere. This is not a bad thing as such – it is more a case that Technorati seem to have bitten off a lot more than they can chew and it certainly is (as previously mentioned) time for a new site to take over.

Once upon a time Yahoo was the dominant search engine on the Internet, then after a while it bogged itself down and people migrated to the sleek newcomer of Google. Can Google do the same with blogs? Personally I hope not, but then I feel that Google is starting to fall behind in the search engine stakes (poor quality search results for example), so they may be better off concentrating on that more than anything else.

As an example of Technorati’s oddness, while I was trying to see if it was ever going to realise new posts had been made here, I was refreshing the page about this blog and I noticed the “posts per day” in the corner. The really odd thing was, each refresh made it alternate between two graphs that bore almost no relation to reality (as well as the most recent posts changing to be either days or hours old). Below you can see the first and second vesions. Do they look the same? (I am aware the scales are different).

Version 1 of the Posts Per DayVersion 2 of the Posts Per Day

For example, how many posts were made on 14 Jan? (hint 2) How many were made on 17 Jan (hint – not 19 yet!)

Will some one PLEASE come up with a site which does it better than Technorati.

More Technorati Oddness

For some reason, despite them being made hours ago now, and numerous pings, Technorati seems to have excluded the previous two posts from it’s index. The world (hubris? Me? never) is seriously crying out for a more workable solution than this and I don’t think Google Blogs is it. If I had my way, Compuskills would get it together and make one that really worked.