February 23, 2005

Is tracking links dead?

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Duncan Riley> One of my favourite pastimes when I first set up The Blog Herald was seeing who was linking to what I was writing. There was something uniquely satisfying about visiting Technorati or Daypop and checking the links, a not to dissimilar buzz to that checking how many visitors your blog has had. It’s something I still enjoy doing from time to time, although not with the zeal I once had for it.

That was the good old days, when there were a lot less blogs and the duopoly of link trackers, Technorati (general) and Daypop (News) did a really good job.

Fast forward to 2005, and I ponder: is tracking links dead?

Daypop is still there but only tracking about 60,000 blogs, which whilst useful in terms of knowing what the bigger sites are talking about, doesn’t provide much in the way of link tracking.

Technorati, which I recently wrote was broken, despite the great service and response from the team there in rectifying it at the time, seems to be broken again, with no sites having had new incoming links for 24 hours (tested at the time of writing on Movabletype.org, TypePad.com, Fark.com, Scripting.com, Ensight.org and blogherald.com) and the counter which indicates the number of sites and links into blogs has pretty much been broken for months, with only intermittent updates, itself disappointing as this count is used by Technorati to track the top 100 blogs.

New kid on the block Pubsub, that surprised many by passing Technorati on the number of blogs tracked, although not providing as thorough a service as Technorati, was still providing a useful service. Guess what: it’s broken. A message on the site reads: “LinkRanks is temporarily unavailable. We’ve had to roll back our data to Wednesday, February 9. Please bear with us as we get things sorted out.” Their “Pubsub Matching Engine” is also down.

Feedster is often quoted as the third in the current crop of link readers. Personally, whilst I like and am happy to provide support to the Feedster team and product, link tracking is not their speciality, and the results given suffer from their lack of tracking as many blogs as the others, and a search engine that is often inaccurate in its findings.

So where to now? Is tracking links dead? I really hope not, for those that will come after us will miss an enjoyable aspect to the blogosphere that really deserves better attention to detail and quality control than it is currently receiving. We can only hope that Technorati and PubSub get their acts together, and shortly.

Update: deprived of links I just visited Daypop for a link check, the Blogstats feature was down with a 500 server error!

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Blogger Blogs hosting spyware

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Reports emerging that Internet users using Internet Explorer are being infected by Spyware hosted on Google’s Blogger blogging service.

In particular, a number of bloggers have stumbled across these sites after clicking on the “Next Blog” button located at the top right hand corner of Blogspot blogs.

Mallory & Tsibouris Co warns on the MT Law Blog that it “does not endorse the use of the “Next Blog” icon at the upper right hand corner of this blog.” due to the risk of infection and links to a post from Jan 24 where they first experienced the issue.

The infected site loads the Search Miracle/Elite Bar virus, which according to Tenebril, adds a search toolbar to Internet Explorer which redirects searches through www.searchmiracle.com page and creates popup advertisements. In terms of Browser degradation the EliteBar automatically disables the Google toolbar, attempting to trick users into using the EliteBar toolbar instead. EliteBar can cause Internet Explorer to run slowly. In terms of privacy, EliteBar collects information about your web-surfing habits and sends that information back to www.searchmiracle.com. EliteBar admits in its EULA that this information may include personally-identifiable information.

The risk is only to users of Internet Explorer. Firefox users are able to visit the sites without problem.

In the mean time though, until Google is able to assure users that Blogspot sites are not hosting spyware or viruses, we recommend readers do not click on the “Next Blog” button on blogspot sites if they are utilising Internet Explorer.

Extra: those wishing to practice safe internet can download Firefox here.

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Kottke turns Pro: don’t try this at home

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All the blogosphere is a buzz today with the news that long time blogger Jason Kottke has thrown in his day job to pursue blogging as a full time career for 1 year.

In a post to his blog, Kottke writes that he will be funding his endeavours by a one-time “fund drive” lasting 3 weeks, where readers make contributions, with the enticement of going into the draw for gifts as an incentive for readers to give.

Admittedly he writes: “I have absolutely no idea if this will work”.

The use of micropayments is a risky business strategy that has been criticised in the past and simply may not work in the long term, although we note that Kottke has already had quite a few payments, arguably more as a result of the novelty of what he is proposing as opposed to any reasonable business plan. As Nick W notes at ThreadWatch: “it’s not a dreadful idea in itself, but if that’s his only idea for income generation on his website then he could well be up shit creek before too long…”. Kottke does not have any advertising on his site and apparently wishes to pursue other means of obtaining revenue and will not be considering advertising in the near future.

Good luck to him though, but boys and girls: don’t try this at home :-)

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Breaking News: The Blogosphere is everywhere

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10 points for funny headline from the Tallahasse Democrat with the following from their webpage:



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New attack in the war on blogging: “New McCarthyism”

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Duncan Riley> Ted Rall, a columnist with UExpress, a syndication service of Andrews McMeel Universal, claimed to be “the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world” has joined the war on blogging with a new attack on the blogosphere in a piece titled “But who watches the watchdogs” with a sub-heading of “Bloggers and the New McCarthyism”.

In the article, he wraps himself in left-wing rhetoric in an attack on right wing bloggers.

Supringsingly he claims that “the fact is that the political blogs are dominated by the hard right”.
Interesting, tell that to Kos, AmericaBlog and Mydd, and the many other bloggers in the left of the blogosphere. But in Rall’s world, they don’t exist.

He goes on: “The blogger wolf pack merely serves to further ossify a dangerously out of whack ideological imbalance. Moreover, conservative blogs mirror their mainstream counterparts by applying a far angrier and more violent tone than that of their liberal foes.”

But wait, there is more outrageous mistruths:
“Death threats against liberal pundits are commonplace among, and essentially unique to, the right-wing blogs”, a statement made without evidence and we presume only because Rall reads only right-wing blogs and very few from the left.

And he finishes with an overall attack on bloggers:
“Bloggers are ordinary people, many of them uneducated and with nothing interesting to say. They’re sitting in their rec rooms, regurgitating and spinning what real journalists have dug up through hard work. They don’t have sources, they don’t report, and no one holds them accountable when they make mistakes or flat out lie. Yeah, there’s a new sheriff in town. Unfortunately he’s drunk, he’s mean, and he works for the bad guys.”

Charming stuff, and I’d hope that the left of the blogosphere attack him for his anti-blogging rhetoric as well. He completely ignores the Jeff Gannon affair and the power and influence of a strong band of left wing bloggers in an attempt to make his attacks on blogs an issue of left vs right.

It is truly a shame that he seeks to wrap his blog hating in the flag of the US Left. One of the wonderful things about the blogosphere is its ability to give a free voice to differing opinions, its ability to articulate that most noble of principles: free speech. For as many blogs that are somewhere to the right of politics, there are most likely as many to the left, although scientifically we will never know because let’s face it: there are far, far to many to count based on ideology.

The blogosphere is a broad church that is worthy of defending, independent of personal ideological views. Ted Rall is simply another journalist, who threatened by the massive growth in alternatives to his writing, lashes out uncontrollably at that which he is unable to defeat nor control. He talks of blacklists, well today I’ve got him in mine, another member of the dying old media club.

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February 22, 2005

Blogs covering Paris Hilton phone hack details

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In what can only be described as bizarre, blonde-bimbo heiress Paris Hilton has had her phone hacked in one of the hottest stories circling the globe in the last 48 hours, and as always, blogs are leading the coverage.

Gawker has a list of the text messages
Defamer has more
“Captain Cum” has the pics (definately not safe for work), what is this bizarre obsession with nudity???
Kelly Ann Collins has the list of phone numbers

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Oakland Mayor joins blogosphere

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Oakland, California Mayor Jerry Brown has joined the blogosphere this week, with the first post slamning critics of Oakland’s 10pm curfew for criminals on parole.

“These zealots can’t accept the fact that strategic police work is saving lives in our city,” Brown wrote in the post.

He has also taken the opportunity to blast “Gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who aptly committed suicide this week, with a post that describes him as an outlaw journalist who took “muckraking to an outer edge”.

The blog is hosted on SixApart’s TypePad service.

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Ask Jeeves exec has unhealthy obsession with Bloglines, drove purchase

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Senior Vice President of Ask Jeeves, Jim Lanzone, is a 20-times-a-day visitor of Bloglines who checks Bloglines for updates on news, blogs, and his fantasy football team, according to a report in San Francisco Business Times.

The report quotes Lanzone has saying: “I began seeing how an integration (with Jeeves) would make sense. Being a fan of the service, I reached out to Mark Fletcher [Bloglines CEO] and set up lunch”

The first meeting is said to be negotiated in September in San Carlos’ A Tavola restaurant, and a subsequent meeting was held in November at a Berkeley noodle shop over seared ahi tuna.

We say that as much as we love Bloglines, 20 times a day is an unhealthy obsession.

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Gannon considering suing left wing bloggers

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Jeff Gannon, the White House correspondent forced from his job by left wing blogs is considering suing left wing bloggers for a “political assassination” that drove him from his job, according to a Newsweek Article to go to print on Feb 28.

Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, singled out Media Matters, a quasi blog that focuses on the political affiliations of the US media.

The report states that it remains unclear how Gannon got routine White House press access for nearly two years; he acknowledged he first began getting clearance to White House press briefings in early 2003 as a representative of GOPUSA, a group headed by Texas GOP activist Bobby Eberle, months before Eberle even created Talon News. Gannon said he had no access to White House aides outside the press room, nor did he try to interview any. When President Bush called on him at a press conference last month, during which he asked a question with false info about Sen. Harry Reid, “nobody was more surprised than myself,” said Gannon.

We would also expect that if he was to sue bloggers that John Aravosis of AmericaBlog would also be high up the list, having broken the story of Gannon’s alleged links to gay military porn.

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Global blogger action day called

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The Committee to Protect Bloggers is asking bloggers to dedicate their sites today to the “Free Mojtaba and Arash Day”, two bloggers currently in prison in Iran.

The Committee is asking bloggers to place ‘Free Mojtaba and Arash Day’ banners on their blogs and to consider other actions, including writing to local Iranian embassies.

The BBC reports
that the Committee to Protect Bloggers was started by US blogger Curt Hopkins and counts fired flight attendant blogger Ellen Simonetti as a deputy director.

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