Long Tails: just how we roll

(interested in this kind of thing? Also check out Christina’s forthcoming talk, via Bora)

If we assume that people blogroll sites that they think (a) are good and (b) are relevant to their audience then it seems fair to also assume that by aggregating and analyzing blogrolls from blogs tagged in Blogs (did I mention Blogs already? Did you sign up?) we can come up with some sort of ‘top ten blogs’ in each area.

I wrote some scripts to do the relevant scraping. Here are the results. Note that ranks can be tied – The Loom and Aetiology share fourth place, for example:

Across all subject areas

Blog Rank
Pharyngula 1
The Panda’s Thumb 2
RealClimate 3
The Loom 4
Aetiology 4
A Blog Around The Clock 5
Cosmic Variance 6
Adventures in Ethics and Science 7
Respectful Insolence 8
The Intersection 8

I left out the raw numbers for now (at this stage it’s just an experiment) but can tell you that Pharyngula and The Panda’s Thumb are way ahead of the competition… they’re on twice as many blogrolls as Real Climate (also a very popular choice).

It all looks very Long Tail’ish


… that is to say that there are a very small number of blogs on lots of blogrolls and a very large number of blogs on few blogrolls.

We’re been tracking links between science blogs since Blogs launched but there isn’t enough data to do a proper comparison between blogroll popularity and incoming link popularity yet. I’d be interested to see what kind of correlation there is: do you link more often to the blogs on your blogroll? Are there some blogs that you add because you feel you should? Does much reciprocal blogrolling go on (almost certainly, I’d guess)? Is there a blogrolling equivalent to prominently displaying an unread copy of Ulysses on your bookshelf even though all you read is Stephen King?

(tables for individual subject areas are below the fold)


Blog Rank
Molecule of the Day 1
Useful Chemistry 1
Developing Intelligence 2
The Sceptical Chymist 2
Genomicron 2 2
Stoat 3
petermr’s blog 4
The Culture of Chemistry 4
chem-bla-ics 4

Life Sciences

Blog Rank
Pharyngula 1
The Panda’s Thumb 2
Aetiology 3
A Blog Around The Clock 4
Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted) 5
Eye on DNA 6
The Other 95% 7
Laelaps 7
Gene Expression 8
Not Exactly Rocket Science 8


Blog Rank
Cosmic Variance 1
Bad Astronomy 2
Uncertain Principles 3
Biocurious 3
Good Math, Bad Math 4
Cocktail Party Physics 4
Angry Physics 5
Shtetl-Optimized 5
Backreaction 6
A Photon In The Darkness 7


Blog Rank
business|bytes|genes|molecules 1
Public Rambling 1
What You’re Doing Is Rather Desperate 1 – A bioinformatics weblog 2
The Hyphal Tip 3
Flags and Lollipops – Bioinformatics Blog 3
Omics! Omics! 3
The Seven Stones 3
Suicyte Notes 4
Microarray and bioinformatics 4


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