Are bloggers authors or editors?

By on August 26, 2005

I’ve been thinking a bit about blogging lately, and here’s a little experiment I did this morning.

I went out to Technorati, and looked at its list of the most popular blogs. Then I visited each blog and looked at the most recent ten posts, and tried to determine what content was actually originated at that blog, and what content was just linked from somewhere else. So I counted each entry that was a link (perhaps with commentary) to another article somewhere else. If you linked to something that wasn’t in a feed of some kind (news, another blog), or if you only linked as an example or footnote to your own article, you got half credit.

So, in other words, 0% means that all of your content was original and could be found nowhere else. 100% meant that everything on your site was just a link to something else.

Here’s what I found:

BoingBoing 85%
DailyKos 80%
Fark 100%
Gizmodo 90%
Engadget 100%
Instapundit 100%
PostSecret 0%
Talking Points Memo 15%
Davenetics 70%

That’s pretty interesting. Seven out of the nine blogs I surveyed consist primarily of content from somewhere else. And keep in mind, these are the most popular blogs.

This suggests to me that blogging is less about being a writer, and more about being an editor. People visit these blogs to get news they could get elsewhere, but filtered through the visions of the editors of these blogs.

One of the things I can take away from this as a software developer is that most blogging packages are geared towards authoring, but most of their users are using them for editing. We’ll have more on that in the future.

So is it the editing that makes these blogs great? Or is it something else? Why do you read your favorite blogs?



  1. I believe these provide more of an aggregator function than an editorial one. I visit Fark, Kottke, Boing Boing and Engadget because I know they will have done all the hard work for me. I read Jeff Jarvis, Dan Gillmor, et al because of the editorials they provide to some of their posts. A great deal of the authorship on the web still comes from press releases and mainstream news outlets. Oh yeah, and Deane’s ramblings on the minutia of coding in the language du jour probably count as authoring too.

  2. Well… I can’t speak for the others, but Engadget isn’t actually 100%. There is usually at least one feature per day (e.g. The Clicker). It’s just that the churn is so high that a sample of 10 wouldn’t always get it.

  3. Part of the reason those are more popular is because they have so much content.

    And it’s a lot easier to fill a blog with links to other places than to fill it with unique content. But if you can keep people coming back for links away you can spread your original content out more, making it better.

  4. Well, most of the blogs I go to are aggregators: Slashdot, Engadget, Lifehacker.

    I come here because it is a place where I’ll find more or less unique content, be it news I haven’t seen elsewhere, interesting links, or just the random ramblings and studies of an author here (I use author and not editor because I believe that this site is at the least equal in author-ship as it is editor-ship). This site fulfills my geekhood in a way that Slashdot just can’t because of its nature.

  5. I did a technorati search on some of these blogs and I’m surprised at the number of automated (spam) websites that link to them. I wonder how relevant the Technorati information really is. They should really figure out a way of getting rid of these spam sites. They are just a bunch of link farms.

    Searching about one of the “top” blogs I found these spam sites in the first result page.

    And there are tons of these.

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