I Blog, Therefore I Am

It’s in human’s nature to be influenced by our surrounding – news we hear, books/sites we read, art we see, food we eat, friends we hang out with. So it’s not surprising to have people who are aware of this fact and are really good at influencing others. We encounter that pressure everywhere we turn to – just look at those commercials that try so hard to have a big impact on our daily behavior, the news channels that are brainwashing our ability to think for ourselves, the websites that affect our blogging choices.

Then there’s also a power of a targeted flattery. No mortal is prone to a boost of self-esteem, nothing pleases our ego more than others praising something about us, our work. Many of us can get pretty competitive, so any kind of proof, be it a tangible one or not, of our achievements and outstanding qualities will make us beam with pride.

That’s when we start coming up with multifarious awards and ranking systems – Annual Weblog Awards, Blogger’s choice awards, The Best this and the best that, Technorati Top 100… Why not? If an actor can flash with his/her Emmies, Oscars and Golden Globes why shouldn’t bloggers be able to showcase their credentials? However, the hidden truth here is that all those badges play a big role on shaping up people’s opinion about us, and sometimes that opinion is not necessarily the right one.

So how many badges do we need to place on our blogs to be taken seriously, to bring more readers? Why should a high number in blog’s RSS feed count impact a reader’s decision on subscribing to that blog? Why would I need to stick an iReply badge on my blog to promote the awareness that your comments are very welcome and appreciated here, and won’t remain unanswered? Isn’t it obvious enough merely by checking comments section on some previous posts?

Can any of those numerous blog awards be an indication of the worthiness of a particular site?
Best-Designed Weblog of 2007 – The nominees are: Subtraction, Veerle’s Blog, Pearsonified… and the Winner is Gizmodo?! Give me a break. If Gizmodo is the best-designed blog in the blogiverse, then I’m Mrs. Universe.

Why should we care so much about achieving a “high ranking” and “authority” on Technorati, or high page rank on Google? Is it fair to categorize blogs by prestige and numbers?

What do you think about the labeling system that flourishes and dominates the blogiverse? Are you influenced by all those blog badges, awards and numbers? How much influence do you want to have on your readers?

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13 Insightful Bits in response to “Flattering Influence”

  1. When I subscribe to a feed it is because of the content not because of how many subscribers there are already. I have subscribed to feeds with as little as 4 readers.

    As for all the badges and such, I am kind of badge blind along with adsense blind. I like to read about the awards but only for entertainment or information purposes. I have numerous blogs I visit every day but i couldn’t tell you one banner or award on any of them off the top of my head.

    I believe there is a herd mentality that a portion of the internet population will follow the awards and badges of “honor” and be kind of a me too crowd. Thats not the visitor I am after. I want the ones that are interested in the same things I am and have their own ideas and opinions.

    I do feel better when I see a new subscriber or a jump in my technorati rank but I do not use that as a measure for success. I measure my success by the interaction of my readers via comments and emails. I got a note from a reader today about the cards he just got. He was very excited and it made me feel good that he wanted to share the news with me. My badge is sitting in my inbox right now.

  2. Vivien

    Joey, you put it so well – “My badge is sitting in my inbox right now”. That one reader who wanted to share his excitement with you is more precious than all those awards and badges. Congratulations, Joey. You’ve got the right proof of you bringing something positive and worthy to your readers, and you deserve the right to feel proud of having that little badge of honour in your inbox.

  3. Descartes walks into a bar.

    The bartender walks up to him and says, “Would you care for a drink?”

    Descartes replied, “I think not.” and disappears.

    Had to tell it because of the comic up top! Anyway, I don’t think the badges and such matter much. It’s neat to see that your favorite blogger won an award, but I’m like Joey, I subscribe because what the person writes about it interesting to me. I do like the “U Comment, I Follow” badge, though, if only for selfish reasons :D

  4. Do you remember that scene in Forrest Gump, when Forrest just stops running, and all those who were following him asked “And what about us, now”? I have this sensation when looking at some blogs out there which have thousands of subscribers, yet so little to tell.

    As of the labeling system, it doesn’t impress me at all. Nor do all the rankings out there. If I’m not interested, I won’t waste my time reading any blog, may it be the winner of all awards ever invented by humankind. However, the phenomenon is interesting, and I suppose that this need for hierarchy is worth a closer look. What I think is that there are a lot of people who are uncertain about themselves, and they seek the recognition of others, to reinforce their self-respect. I may sound selfish and anti-social, but the only important opinion about myself is my own opinion. This is why I don’t feel the need to put a badge on the good things I do.

  5. No. The nature of the web is to leverage all information with non-synchronous access.
    There is no top or bottom. I have a feeling we’re in for a ride with–ahem–Web 2.1.
    ;)

    And–tag.

    I’m adding you the meme.

  6. Badges and rankings are not the same. I never cared for the badges, neither on my blogs nor the blogs I read. But SE rankings are important, like it or not. If the site doesn’t come out on the first (maybe second) page it will hardly get much traffic from the search engines. Ok, there are other ways to get traffic, but it is hard to claim that SE’s are not importaint in the life of a blog.
    One can say that not everything is in traffic. And I can’t agree more. Once there is an amount of readers to communicate to a blogger can stick to them and live in happy little community. (Numbers what is enough and little are not importaint here) But, if I as a blogger am offering some information and somebody outthere is searching for it, we both want to connect, that is we want the reader to find the site. There are not many ways to do that. When you search for something you use search engine. They are most used wayt to find needed info on the net. And that is why rankings are importaint. Not because there will be one or ten or 5000 hits in site’s tommorow stats, but because what is written will find its readers.

  7. I certainly enjoy recieving praise for something I’ve done, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! But I’d choose a positive comment from a new reader over being highlighted on countless showcase sites every time.

    It’s nice to see that my blog is getting visitors, or climbing the Technorati rankings – but I’m not anal about it. I don’t start weeping if my feed subscriber count goes down.

    On the flip side (when I’m the reader) I’d never subscribe to a blog based purely on it having a high feed count, and an iReply badge on a site certainly wouldn’t affect whether I make a comment or not – but I do find it slightly annoying when I take the time to comment on a newly discovered blog, only to be totally ignored by the author!

    I have five badges on my blog… One’s a Technorati fave button – there because I find it unnecessarily complicated to manually add a blog to my own favourites! I then have an iFollow badge, because it’s a movement I believe in myself. The other three badges are there simply because they have to be for the sites related to them to track what I write.

    Oh, and the Best-Designed Weblog of 2007 contest? A joke and a sham. Either that or the judges were all using screen-readers. ;)

  8. Vivien

    Thanks for the joke, Lauren. I’ve decided to place that comic for this post because I wanted to make my readers smile before going into the serious subject matter :-)
    I do support the iFollow movement, I’ll be setting it up on this blog soon, although I did link to most of my commenters sites through my posts, so I’m all for giving some link love :-)

    Yes, Simonne, I do remember that part from Forest Gump. And No, I don’t think you’re anti-social. You’re a confident young woman with a great sense of humour :-)

    Marc, what about Web 3.0 ? :-) And what’s that meme you’re tagging me for?

    Dandelion, I agree with you regarding the importance of good SE ranking. I was talking mainly about the Technorati ranking. And even though my blog’s Google PR is only 3, I’m getting lots of traffic from Google, so I don’t worry about my page rank number much.

    Paul, we all enjoy praise for the good work we’ve done – of course there’s nothing wrong about it. I too have the Technorati Fav icon for the same simple reason of convenience for readers. I also keep Simonne’s badge simply because I’ve received it during my infant blogging days from a total stranger who became one of the most loyal fans of this blog.

  9. I’m happy that you displayed my badge and I thank you for that. This was exactly the idea of my project: to find total strangers, running good blogs which don’t get the deserved attention, and write about them.

  10. Vivien
    I like this post, and I think that this topic is rarely raised for fear of offending other bloggers. Awards…where to start? Well, I believe that most awards, whether they be Oscars, Web Awards, whatever, are of little real value. I’ve never been particularly interested in the opinions of the majority. When it comes to reading, fine art, graphic design…well, just about anything, then it’s what I like that counts. For fear of that sounding a arrogant, let me restate it as “…it’s what I like that counts for ME”. I don’t watch films because they have won Oscars; I don’t read blogs because they have been nominated for the “Best Blog in the Universe” award. I came across this very blog through your comments on another blog. I read it now because I like it–simple really.

    I do think that the recent proliferation in “awards” only aids in diluting the value of all awards. It’s not that I am against awards per se, but most of them carry no weight with me. If people wish to display them, then that’s their choice, their right even, but they will do nothing to persuade me. I make a decision about the worth of something based on my own–personal–criteria.

    For my blogs, the only thing I’m interested in is “comments”. A comment is worth more to me than a thousand subscribers or a score of awards.

    In summary, an Oscar is little more than a lump of well-crafted metal; web awards are little more than pixels. However, awards sometimes showcase work that we might otherwise miss out on it, so they are not innately bad. I must also say that I do differentiate between awards and some of the other web badges. Some of those badges are all about building community–that can never be a bad thing.

    And just one more thing: displaying the RSS Subscriptions. I don’t see anything wrong in this; however people should be aware that it’s very easy to artificially inflate the number of subscribers–very easy.

  11. Vivien

    oh, Simonne, you don’t need to thank me, I thank you for believing in this blog since its early days of existence.

    Johno, thanks for your meticulous answers to my questions.
    So what’s the trick to artificially inflate RSS numbers? :-) just kidding!
    There’s nothing wrong in displaying the RSS numbers, competing for awards or displaying the badges. I was only questioning their worthiness, usefulness and influence.
    I personally love watching Oscars simply due to its entertaining factor, not often I get a chance to see so many celebrities under one roof :-) Sometimes great movies and actors are deservingly recognized there, and other times not, but as you said – it doesn’t influence my movie taste and choices.
    And you’re right about the Web Awards – if anything they allow us to discover some blogs we didn’t know about.
    But in the end it all boils down to “A comment is worth more to me than a thousand subscribers or a score of awards.”

  12. About public RSS numbers…. it never made me subscribe. The fact that thousands are subscribed doesn’t mean that I will love the blog. But I like that on this site…. I spotted it at its early days and it is handfull to know how it grows. Thanks for sharing that.

  13. Vivien

    oh, you’re very welcome, dandelion. I guess sometimes those public RSS numbers on my blog can discourage some readers from subscribing to this blog, but I don’t worry about that, I’m much more interested in another type of readers, like yourself, who are not influenced by those numbers.

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on