Vancouver Blogs: The Vancouver Sun knows the internets


Maybe I shouldn’t be sarcastic with the title, maybe they do know the internet. I mean they at least know the fundamental fact that the best way to get traffic is to mention people by name. It’s the same thing we used to do in the student press, a front page picture of a rock band would only get picked up by fans of that band but a front page picture of a bunch of students would get picked up by the students, their friends and anyone who wanted to sleep with any of the students pictured.

It was circulation gold.

So when NowPublic, the people who don’t seem to understand Creative Commons licenses so spam you four times a week on Flickr asking to use your photos, the Vancouver Sun must have thought “Hey NowPublic is already repurposing all of our content as large block quotes and calling it ‘Citizen Journalism’ we might as well get involved in a link baiting scheme with them.”

And thus was born the link baiting list of Vancouver Top 20 most influential bloggers. A list that’s been run in other cities, and finally makes it up to Vancouver. Now the one thing that they’ve improved over previous cities is that NowPublic at least now gives outgoing links to the winners’ blogs whereas before the links just redirected to other pages on NowPublic and the bloggers were asked to sign in and edit their own NowPublic profile and thus by simply having a NowPublic account were counted as NowPublic contributors. In the Vancouver list they actually figured out the internet enough to realize that if you’re writing about someone you should probably link to them.

Which you might note is not what I’m doing, but that’s only because it’s tacky to link to link bait.

Now of course this is the internet, and egos are involved so the list instantly set off, well how would I say it, complaining about rank [mg], noting that the list misspelled their name [bh] which I think if you’re going to make a big fuss about honouring people you’d better at the very least spell their name right and of course celebrating [rr].

That’s not to say that the people on this list don’t deserve recognition. Unlike LA’s list there’s no total tools on the Vancouver blog scene, and everyone on this list that I’ve ever met and dealt with has always proven to be very kind and giving of their time. Two of them Rebecca Bollwitt [m604] and Travis Smith [hs] were founding bloggers here at Metroblogging Vancouver and both Darren Barefoot [db] and Alfred Hermida [rr] have been kind enough to speak with me for interviews in my freelance work.

The problem with the list is that it’s just a call for incoming links. As Sean Bonner, Metroblogging co-founder and member of LA’s list pointed out [mbla]:

There’s no question that a good number of people on that list have notable online presence but that’s very different than being influential. Having a few thousand people follow you on twitter because occasionally you say something amusing, or having a bunch of people listing you as a contact on flickr because you post interesting photos does not make you influential. These folks all do things online a lot, but does that mean they know what they are talking about? I’m on that list and that’s a total sham. Anyone who reads what I have to say knows I’m full of shit most of the time, so I’m certainly not influential. I’m not knocking anyone else on the list, they all have their own audience for sure, but if you look there’s not a lot of overlap in which audiences those are which might suggest NowPublic was trying to cast a wide net as it’s pretty safe to assume most of these folks might mention this “award” and link back to NowPublic, which again is obviously the point in the first place.

Now of course it’s easier for Bonner to point out the flaws with the list than it is me because the easy criticism is that I’m simply jealous that I didn’t make the list. Right, because I wanted NowPublic to give my name and contact information to their marketing company like they did in previous cities [sb] for future spamming. Though one has to ask where Sean Orr is on the list, since love him or hate him people read Sean Orr and the Morning Brew [br].

Me? Heck five people read my website and as much ballot stuffing as my mother would have done apparently influencing her is not a big deal. Metroblogging Vancouver isn’t me, isn’t mine and isn’t something that I should get credit for because it’s a team effort. No one person runs this site, or writes its content so to have been put on any sort of list for my work here would have been missing the point entirely. That NowPublic boils Rebecca’s blogging accomplishments down to sometimes being a blogger here, with no mention of her own blog apart from the outgoing link, is a clear sign that a lot of thought went into the list.

But of course that’s the way these lists are. I’ve made enough of them with and without editorial groups helping to know that it’s all just a bunch of hooey. It’s a bunch of people sitting in a room throwing names out, all for their own reasons. At least The Georgia Straight‘s Best of List was voted on by readers [gs] and thus the public. (Disclaimer: I freelance for The Georgia Straight).

Again this is not to insult anyone on this list. As far as I’ve ever experienced they’re all incredibly nice people, and influence far more than just their mothers.

2 Comments so far

  1. Rebecca (van_rebecca) on September 29th, 2008 @ 8:43 am

    Yeah, I’m not sure where that bio came from :-P

  2. Jeffery Simpson (van_jeffery) on September 29th, 2008 @ 9:34 am

    The wording seemed very similar to one that you were using awhile ago. I don’t know what your about page has on it, but I think it shows that they really didn’t look to hard at who they were promoting. That’s not to say you don’t deserve to be on the list, but your role at Metroblogging is certainly not as important in your success online as your own site, your podcasts, the blogathon and so forth.

    I mean we’d love to take all the credit, but that wouldn’t be right.

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