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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Wikio Rankings for April 2010 - and a call to action

Yes, it's time once again to start arguing about what constitutes 'influential', ask each other what algorithms are, show off if you do know what algorithms are, and wonder aloud why anyone is reading Stonch's blog months after he stopped posting - last month's Wikio rankings are in, and they go live tomorrow.

And just look at this table.  It might look a bit familiar.  Now look at it again, paying particular attention to the movers and shakers - or lack of them:



1Pete Brown's Blog (=)
2Pencil & Spoon (=)
3Brew Dog Blog (=)
4Tandleman's Beer Blog (=)
5The Beer Nut (=)
6The Pub Curmudgeon (=)
7Woolpack Dave's beer and stuff blog (=)
8Boak and Bailey's Beer Blog (=)
9The Bitten Bullet (=)
10`It's just the beer talking` ? Jeff Pickthall's Blog (=)
11Called to the bar (=)
12Spittoon (=)
13The Wine Conversation (=)
14Brew Wales (=)
15Zythophile (=)
16Real Ale Reviews (=)
17Beer Reviews (=)
18Jamie goode's wine blog (=)
19Reluctant Scooper (=)
20Travels With Beer (=)

Ranking by Wikio

How weird is that?  Every single one of the top twenty blogs in the same spot it was in last month.

Let's deal with the most obvious and popular suggestion first - it means something has gone wrong inside the big algorithm machine.

Well, I double-checked this with Wikio before I posted and they assure me it's correct.  Certainly unusual, but definitely correct.

If it really is correct, it means that no beer or wine blog is any more or less influential than it was a month ago.

And the problem is, I can sort of believe that.

It might just be me, but the beer blogging world seems to have stagnated of late. Are people getting bored?  Busier?  Is everyone too preoccupied with the election or something?

Because I confess that I've started to find beer blogs a bit... boring.  Obviously mine isn't.  Mine's really interesting.  And if you're reading this wondering if I'm talking about you, then I'm not talking about your blog either, honest - whoever you are.

That last paragraph was tongue in cheek, by the way.

But collectively, our online beer conversation does seem to have settled into a complacent rut.  It's not any one person, but taken as a whole we all seem to be writing about what awesome beers we've had recently, how extreme they are, how rare they are, how hoppy or how aged they are.  Beer blogs have become an online beer geek diary, a hi-tec glorified form of ticking.

I brewed this beer.  I bought this beer.  I drank this beer.  In this pub.

Too many conversations form decaying orbits around brewing technicalities or beer definitions.

Could it be that the lack of action in the rankings reflects a lack of action - or at least a lack of momentum - in the blogs themselves?

This is not me sitting at number one slagging everyone else off.  I include myself in everything I'm saying here.  And I hardly posted in April.  Lots of other people posted less frequently than they normally do.  I have my individual reasons and I'm sure you do too.  But have we run out of interesting stuff to write about beer? We analyse beers so closely, have we done it to death?

I don't think so.

So why don't we try to shake it all up in May?

The lazy way to do this would be to start a fight (*looks uncomfortably at today's earlier post*) but there are other ways too.  Try to wind someone up if you must - try to wind me up if you want, so long as you're constructing an intelligent argument and not simply hurling abuse.  But also think about writing something heretical.  Write something that scares you.  Write something very personal.  Write something you don't think any other beer blogger would or could write.  Turn that last pub visit into more a story with characters and themes and twists and gags.  Write something you're not sure you agree with but just write it anyway, post and be damned - you can always write another post tomorrow saying you've changed your mind.

Think I'm out of order for saying this?  Think I'm being patronising or unfair or superior, or missing the point of what beer bogs are all about?  Think I should have a word with myself before challenging anyone else?  Excellent! Post an argument on your blog explaining why!

Of course, tomorrow Wikio may well reveal that, having checked, there was something wrong in the big machine after all.  If so I apologise for offending anyone.  But I still think we should try and rearrange the beer blogging furniture a little bit.

After these last two posts, the only thing I need to do now for my next post is meet my own challenge in a way that's not slagging anyone off.  I will do this, I promise. In the interests of balance, I'm going to write a really positive post related in some way to the awesome achievements CAMRA as a body have made over the last 39 years.  Just as soon as I can think of an original and interesting way to do that...

UPDATE HALF AN HOUR LATER...
Just heard there may indeed be a problem with the algorithm monster!  I'll publish updates on this as they come through, and a revised table if necessary, but whatever the outcome I still think my challenge stands. ;-)

24 comments:

Rabidbarfly said...

it's a fix!

Tandleman said...

It's a reasonable challenge, but look Pete, I don't want to affect my ratings.

Seriously, when I last posted something mildly controversial, I was given a hard time and for the sake of peace decided just to apologise, so goodness knows where this might lead.

I am of course prepared to give it a go.

Rob said...

I can understand why some would think my blog is boring Pete but the likes of Dredgie are always knocking out quality beer writing even if it becomes repetative. But often big posts come from reflections of big news in the beer industry. If nothing much is going on, then controvesial debates seem to fade out.

Rob said...

I can understand why some would think my blog is boring Pete but the likes of Dredgie are always knocking out quality beer writing even if it becomes repetitive. But often big posts come from reflections of big news in the beer industry. If nothing much is going on, then controversial debates seem to fade out.

The Beer Nut said...

Concluding a post about the beer blogs becoming boring with a promise to keep us posted on developments with the Wikio ranking software? Hmmm, I think I see where the problem might be...

Cooking Lager said...

Beer blogging stagnating? Not me. My blog is just as crap as it always was.

Curmudgeon said...

The election does seem to have led to a reduction in the amount of neoPro shite in the media, which might have had an effect in some cases - although Tyson unearthed this classic earlier today.

No doubt normal service will be resumed after May 6th.

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

It was too much of a coincidence to be true!

But regards your challenge, during the last few weeks I've written blogs from the deepest corners of my heart, musings from late night sessions, things I hadn't formulated a full opinion on. I wrote about gigs, lower league football, lager advertising, marathons, visits to new cities, the end of the solar system...

Maybe I should go back to the same-old-same-old reviews...perhaps these self-indulgent posts are just a bit boring to the rest of the world!

Sid Boggle said...

I see I'm 78 in a field of 78. Woo-hoo! You can't beat perfect ignorance!

I suppose the problem with so many blogs is finding a voice, or within a given event, an angle. Add to that, everybody seems to be in everybody else's pocket in terms of who's reading what, and it starts to look like a big circle-jerk.

Maybe the blogosphere needs more Stonch-type reflection (tho' personally I couldn't stand him) and self-realisation that sometimes, you've said enough.

Anyway, ratings only matter if you're keen to lever them into something else.

Alan said...

Why not a generic and utterly unfounded cross-Atlantic war of words over beer writing quality. Why don't I call your writing pure shit and you call me a dipsomaniac covering up a disorder with a typing mania.

Who goes first?

Rob said...

It might be just me but It sounds like Pete wants us all to artificially generate drama in kind of reality TV like fashion to gain attention. Never mind the X Factor, meet the Blog factor.

James said...

I haven't read many beer blogs but the ones I have read so far seem to revert to type, especially when describing how different beers taste. Saying things like 'hoppy finish' or 'big hop aroma' or 'malty undertones' seem to me to be a bit basic - it's like describing a Kit Kat as tasting chocolatey.

I'm not suggesting beer bloggers go all Oz Clarke (in the latest BEER magazine he describes a beer as tasting like old quinces and stewed peaches) but more inspiring language about how different beers actually taste would be very welcome.

Pete Brown said...

Wahey! This is more like it. I repeat that I don't just equate interest with having a big barney, and I must stress, that what I wrote WAS NOT A CRITICISM OF ANY INDIVIDUAL BLOGGER.

Tandleman - I think you're describing a cause of our current malaise - we shouldn't be scared of saying anything controversial, but we should say it - and respond to it - in a spirit of reasoned debate rather than hysteria, so that anyone raising anything querulous can expect disagreement but not outrage.

Rob - no one is calling your blog boring. You raise a really interesting point regarding posting versus the news we're supplied. Don't think I agree with you, but that disagreement is by no means a dismissal, and our opposing views would make an interesting thread. As for your later post - I couldn't disagree more. I'm arguing for the opposite of an artificially spun world. To use your X-Factor opening as an excuse to get into my music analogy, you're saying that I'm saying we should get into hype and misery backgrounds to make up for an absence of content. Not at all. I'm saying we should create content that would make the ears of reality TV judges bleed. We should write stuff that is interesting for the ideas the truth, the vitality of it - not stuff that proves to be a consensus of style and substance with mild variations.

Beer Nut - touche, sir! Now that's what I'm talking about! I take your point firmly and squarely on the chin.

Mark - I haven;t had a chance to read everything you've written. But if I had, and if I'd singled you out for praise in the middle of a generic rant, you probably wouldn't have liked it. I'm going to go to your blog as soon as I have fifteen minutes to give it a proper read.

Alan - what a splendid idea! I'm in the middle of one war of words at the moment. I don't need to go transatlantic. But can I book you in for next week? You start - pretend to be 100% serious, and don't forget my tendency to write ten thousand words on a point after it's been made. And I'll probably respond with some lame South Park-influenced gag about Canadians. But your daily hits prove you're doing something none of us have yet figured out how to do on this side of the pond.

Pete Brown said...

STONO - I think that in post-pub confusion I've accidentally deleted the comment you left on this post - which troubles me because it was possibly the most interesting comment anyone has made. Any chance you can re-post it?

Thomas said...

I have a beer blog but mine's on that database and I only have three followers. I have met two of them but not the other. I have no idea how far blogging can go. Maybe on a ship for some faraway pint....

BeerReviewsAndy said...

there was a bit of fighting earlier in the month between a couple of the lady bloggers, maybe it's time for round 2?

Everyone does seem really busy at the moment but posts are still being posted.

I've been trying to write some non review stuff of late but its finding time and inspiration, ill have a nother go though!

Knut Albert said...

For once I have an advantage in my Norwegian perspective!

Tyson said...

Controversial, but perhaps beer bloggers should ignore the Wikio rankings and just concentrate on what they are writing?

Tandleman said...

Tyson - What'd be the point of that? (-;

Reluctant Scooper said...

There's been lady blogger fighting? Is there a video available? Was jelly involved?

Perhaps there ought to be a May moratorium on beer and pub reviews. Easy stuff to write about because it's what most beer bloggers do, week in, week out. Just so happens that they can be as boring as shit.

I'll hold my hand up to that; I still churn that kind of cack out even though I don't need to tell my audience how good a particular beer/pub is - all five of them know it anyway. And three of them wrote about it last week.

Why don't we just switch off the PC screen, go out and do something less boring instead?

As for Wikio, I asked them to remove my site from their circle-jerking hyperlink-daisychaining clusterfuck bonanza but so far, so bupkis.

Cooking Lager said...

Lady beer bloggers in a jelly fight? Link please?

Dan said...

I appreciate what Brown's getting at. It is very dull to read thesaurus-exhausting taste descriptions and cellar boasts.

In a way, beer bloggers can be too faithful to their topic. Sure, the liquid is captivating in itself. But it becomes truly interesting when considered as point of gravity for all manner of activity.

The moon is pretty. But the moths, wolves and luminous landscapes it engenders are prettier.

Mind you, hardly anyone reads my blog. Maybe I need more IPA reviews...

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

Blogging about blogging sometimes gets more people talking than blogging about beer! Ironic!

Anonymous said...

I don't blog myself but read some of the ones listed in that Top 20. The reason I read them is to find out what beers on in which pubs, or what shops are selling the bottled beers I like.

Most of the blogs I find interesting, including yours, Pete. Others, I no longer read due to the irritating over-use of the words "Awesome! Piney, resinous hops" which seem to appear in every other post, or the repetitive 'I invited a few friends over so I could do some blind tasting in front of them and show off' scenarios.

Bloggers keep on blogging. I know which ones I'll continue to read.