In his reaction to Dave Sifry's latest blogosphere (god, I hate that word) stats, Greg Linden says:

The important question is not how many weblogs there are, but how many useful and interesting weblogs there are. Many weblogs are spam, fake, or inactive. Readers don't care about these. Readers want useful news content. So, how many useful weblogs are there?

And then...

In fact, the number is probably even lower. Since the 1M number Jim reports is the number of weblogs in Bloglines that have at least one subscription, the number of weblogs that are interesting enough to attract several subscribers is likely much lower, perhaps as low as 100k.

Now this is the part of the post where I'm supposed to invoke The Long Tail and explain that this is all Just Fine.

But the reality is that I don't care. I don't care how many blogs there are and neither do most people. What matters is finding stuff you like and being able to subscribe to, right?

Who is working on solving that problem?

This is the part of the post where I'm supposed to explain that My Yahoo! solves all your content discovery needs, right? Well it doesn't. Near as I can tell, nobody's cracked that nut yet.

The burden today is on the readers and the publishers. Publisher add a growing collection of "Add to..." or "Subscribe on..." buttons to their pages, and readers try all sorts of stuff to find Good Content.

This feels like the 90s all over again, doesn't it?

We need interestingness for blogs and blog posts. Maybe Six Apart should do that for the blogs hosted on their site. (Yeah, I know... they're lacking a lot of the community stuff that makes Flickr's interestingness work.)

Posted by jzawodn at August 15, 2005 02:41 PM

Reader Comments
# Andrew Ducker said:

I find people through other people - recommendation is the only way to go.

Of course, of the 331 blogs I read, 230 are livejournals belonging to my friends (and the odd other interesting person), 30 are LJ communities, and 60-odd are RSS feeds from blogs elsewhere on the net (including, of course, this blog).

I'm (mostly) not looking for the latest news-blogger - I'm looking for interesting people that make me think. Which is why I have you on my 'friends list' (along with Joel Spolsky, Neil Gaiman, Simon Bisson, Greg Costikyan and numerous others).

So when he says "Readers want useful news content" - he's talking, bluntly, out of his ass.

on August 15, 2005 03:41 PM
# dan isaacs said:

I thought we already had that. We call it "Jeremy Zawodny's Linkblog".

on August 15, 2005 03:41 PM
# Greg Linden said:

Hi, Jeremy. I take it you don't think Findory helps people find what they like and subscribe to it?

That's what we're trying to do. If it doesn't work for you, can you tell me why not? I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts.

on August 15, 2005 03:42 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


It's hard to say. Findory appears to want me to start from scratch. The home page instructs me to start by reading a story.

But I have hundreds of subscriptions sitting here in OPML files on my computer. Why can't I start with those?

on August 15, 2005 04:06 PM
# Mike said:

There are interesting blogs hosted at Six Apart? ;P

on August 15, 2005 06:54 PM
# Greg Linden said:

Good point, Jeremy. For people with a lot of subscriptions, it would be nice to make it easy to switch over. We'll be adding OPML import/export to Findory soon.

In the meantime, it only takes reading a few articles to get started on Findory. Give it a try. It might help you discover some interesting new weblogs.

on August 15, 2005 08:53 PM
# Cairo Otaibi said:

I have been rather pleasantly surprised as to what the blog clusty (clustering engine) comes up with.

on August 16, 2005 02:14 AM
# Branedy said:

This is like 'Without reliable data, I'm just another A__H___ with an opinion'

There is only opinion here, and not enough data to determine the 'Best' Blogs. A community is formed upon ones OWN Opinion and belief system. Not upon some 'hit' rate numbers.

Beauty (and Blog value) is in the eye of the beholder.

on August 16, 2005 02:58 AM
# Brad Robertson said:

Check out the long tail post on pulling a signal from the noise.

on August 16, 2005 06:21 AM
# Bill Smith said:

Hi Jeremy

great post

Does the Nooked directory not solve this issue - it makes it simple to find feeds (through a taxonomy), group feeds (through tagging) and decent OPML support

Steve Rubel points to this issue in relation to IE7 -

My guess is that Yahoo or Microsoft will acquire Nooked quite soon


on August 16, 2005 09:41 AM
# Jake Kaldenbaugh said:

A technorati search works great for me. No, I'm not pumping technorati, I'm just telling you that it's a pretty good solution for me. The problem with many analytical approaches is that they try and guess my preferences based upon past behavior. I like to find information sources that extend and improve my current understanding, necessarily a process that takes me from my historical patterns and information sets into new directions.
Searching for what I am curious about/need to know does the trick just fine...

on August 17, 2005 10:42 AM
# Dave McClure said:

>>we need *interestingness* for blogs

couldn't agree more:

(fyi, we're doing this for jobs on

on August 18, 2005 03:24 AM
# said:

RadioUserland has a list of the top 100 blogs that they host (just by how many hits they got that month or day), and I started Groklaw there, so I tended to pay attention back then, and I found the list helpful up to a point. At least it told me what others found consistently interesting, and while porn blogs tended to top the list and that isn't an interest of mine, I did discover a number of other blogs I'd never heard of before and came to enjoy, like Ernie the Attorney.

But what doesn't exist perfectly is what really matches what the Internet enables, which is specialized interests, blogs on subjects nobody much cares about but you and a few other people on planet earth. Because the Internet makes it possible to ignore popularity and still be deeply valued by a niche audience, important contributions can happen, despite not being about porn or whatever is in the top of the top 100 most popular subjects. So a fine-grained topical index that wasn't thirty million lines long would be nice.

Right now, for example, I'm trying to collect a list of legal blogs. That is the easy part. Others have done it already. But I want a subset. I want all those that touch on legal topics of interest to the Free Software and Open Source community, specifically about what is humorously called in the law "intellectual property". Then I have to further drill down, and figure out which ones are really of value to *my* readers, which is a subjective evaluation, so I actually have to read them all. I haven't found that list already done, so I am trying to create it, but that is the kind of sub-grouping I'd like to see. But once I do it, all my work shouldn't go to waste. Surely there is a way for search engines to collect all that hard work *and* coordinate it into a huge list in the sky somewhere, wherever cyberspace is.

Yahoo does a good job as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. Nobody does, but I keep thinking that eventually it will happen, because people like me, who can't find what they want, will make millions of these little lists and then one of you brainiacs will figure out a way collect it all so that it isn't a matter of hours and hours of looking by isolated individuals surfing manfully away over and over. Google is good enough too, but they don't finish the job either, and you still have to do your own collecting from their collection of resourcese, but it seems stupid for thousands of us to all be making these lists without finding each others' lists. In other words, after I do my list, it should be swallowed up by search engines in some way and compiled into a larger list somehow of everybody's lists.

I guess by now you realize I am not a programmer, and so if this can't be done, just laugh away, by all means. But logically, it seems not only that it should be possible... well, not only possible but it seems like someone must have done it by now and I just don't know where to find it. If so, let me know please.

on August 29, 2005 04:55 AM
# Nollind Whachell said:

As stated above, I usually find interesting stuff through other people or sites (i.e. six degrees of separation thingie) so why not start with that and start overlapping additional search features from there? I mean why not just take Google (and maybe plop Technorati alongside of it), add on the ability to upload/insert your favorite sites to it, and then do searches from there with the ability to vary the cluster depth from your favorite site. A search depth of 0 would mean searching only your favorite sites, 1 would be searching your favorites sites plus any sites hyperlinked off of it, 2 would add links off those sites and so on.

Or you could approach it a slightly different way, where it's not the cluster "hyperlink" depth level that varies but the "relationship" depth (kind of like Linkedin). So depth 0 would be just your favorite sites, depth 1 would add on their favorite sites as well and so on creating a larger and larger "favorite site" relationship cluster.

Also wouldn't the lower the cluster depth (i.e. 0) the greater the chance for finding something interesting while the higher the number (i.e. 4) the less chance you'd find something interesting (or at least the more time looking because more hits would come back).

on September 2, 2005 05:24 PM
# Chris Messina said:

Shameless plug:

You might be interested in what we're doing with Flock, given your desire to find and subscribe to content that is interesting and relevant to you. We're not doing any thing fancy like Personal Bee, Clusty or Findory, but our combination of Web2.0-based social tools that tap into your established connections might just make it possible for you collect more valuable content from the people you trust while enabling you to turn around and then spread the same throughout your network.

We are also baking in tools that help and make it easy for you contribute to the conversation flows -- hopefully enriching and deepening dialogues in general, reenforcing the value of participation over time.

We'll see -- it's definitely a formidable problem -- and one that we're very eager to be working on!

on September 22, 2005 02:56 AM
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