Defining Blog Networks

Filed as News on July 3, 2006 10:46 am

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What is a blog network? It’s a question I hear asked often, especially since I’m involved with a network. Blog Herald, too, is involved with a network.

Tyme has a good grip on what a network technically is:

Lots of talk about blog networks. I have a pet peeve. Figured I might as well discuss it. First, what is a blog network? In my opinion, the network has to have ownership or some sort of control of the blogs. Not necessarily 100% control but some controlling interest.

Darren thinks there is a much more organic definition:

Blog Networks come in a range of shapes and sizes and have been designed with different purposes in mind – but in a sense if you strip them all back they are simply clusters of blogs that are in some way linked together under a common name or banner.


So what is 9rules? They claim not to be a network, but is that just a way to avoid a label that causes confusion and chaos among bloggers who are trying to avoid conflicts?

In my opinion, while the business of a blog network is very similar to Tyme’s view – the network owns a stake in the blogs, etc – the reality is that a network is really just a collection of blogs with a common ground. In the case of 9rules, they all group together under the 9rules banner for the sake of community and sharing. That is, by Darren’s definition, a network. However, under Tyme’s definition it is not.

With 9rules, the blogs are owned by the bloggers and monetized by bloggers. I’d love to be proven wrong on this. I really don’t know, but this is what I gather.

This is also not a flame against 9rules. There are inherent problems with blog networks for both the network (the business) and the bloggers. Networks often times don’t have the highest trafficked blogs because so much is done in bulk. Sometimes the topics are far beyond niche and into the realm of distantly interesting. But the flip side of that is that networks have resources in terms of business and human to turn even the most obscure blog into a thriving success if executed upon. The negative side for bloggers is very individually dependant on the network and the terms under which a network blogger writes. Sometimes the pay is lucrative and other times, it takes a lot of individual effort to make a buck. It all depends.

In the case of 9rules, I would define them as a network, even if they avoid the label. They drive traffic, tons of it as I understand, to constituent blogs. They promote each other via community and linking. That to me is a network.

Thoughts?

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  1. By John Evans (SYNTAGMA) posted on July 3, 2006 at 11:42 am
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    As Shakespeare allegedly write, Aaron, “A rose is still a rose by any other name”. We get too caught up with names which are human inventions. A true rose, such as Syntagma Media, goes way beyond the human sphere. :-)

  2. By Cary posted on July 3, 2006 at 11:52 am
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    I’m glad someone is talking about this, as it’s become one of my most annoying pet-peeves –– the idea that a Blog Network is only a Blog Network if there’s money or ownership involved is absurd.

    Sorry guys, the term “Network” isn’t exclusive to commerce. Any group of like-minded, connected people – be they bloggers, artists, patient advocates or anyone else – can be a “Network.”

    Perhaps it’s time to come up with an entirely different term for networks of bloggers who are trying to make money – the world of blogging is much bigger than commerce, and Blog Networks are much bigger than all the Gawkers, b5s and WIN/AOLs combined.

    Ok, coming down off my soapbox now ;)

  3. By Aaron posted on July 3, 2006 at 2:01 pm
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    I would call SM a rose of a network, John.

  4. By Aaron posted on July 3, 2006 at 4:43 pm
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    I mean, I would NOT call SM a rose of a network.

  5. By Duncan posted on July 3, 2006 at 9:51 pm
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    Cary
    there is an alternative: they’re called blog rings :-)

  6. By Darren posted on July 4, 2006 at 12:03 am
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    Just a second – did I miss something…..?

    Last I hear 9rules were calling themselves a blog network….. and from memory there was quite a bit of energetic ‘discussion’ about it.

    Their about page says – ‘The 9rules Network is a community of the best weblogs in the world on a variety of topics.’

    Seems they do see themselves as a network in most of their pages….

    Or have they changed the way they describe themselves.

    To be honest – it doesn’t bother me either way what they’re called. They are one of many ways that the blogosphere is currently organising itself (something that happens in any movement throughout history).

  7. By John Evans (SYNTAGMA) posted on July 4, 2006 at 3:27 am
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    Why is everyone creating “blog networks”? Because WIN showed you could make millions out of them. So, in the sense we’re talking about networks here, they are clusters of blogs, usually under single ownership, whether individual or corporate, whose sole aim is to accumulate value in permalinks and search for sale further down the line.

    Let’s not beat about the bush. We’re talking “real” estate here.

  8. By Matt posted on July 4, 2006 at 9:35 am
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    I don’t get too caught up in the whole Blog Network debate on what is and isn’t a network. I used to – now it doesn’t matter so much to me.

    I do think that advertising networks like Federated Media aren’t blog networks – they’re advertising networks. And thus we’ll be removing them from Blog Network List at some point.

    There are also large communities – like livejournal and others that aren’t blog networks – though some of the owners of those communities have wanted to be a part of Blog Network List – we’ve resisted those movements.

    The reality is that 9rules is fundamentally a community – but it’s also a blog network – the semantics don’t really matter to me. They’ll stay in BNL until someone convinces me that they dont’ belong – and I don’t see that happening :)

    Matt

  9. By Mike Rundle posted on July 4, 2006 at 6:45 pm
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    “The reality is that 9rules is fundamentally a community – but it’s also a blog network – the semantics don’t really matter to me.”

    Matt, you’ve got it exactly right.

    We might use the term “blog network” in our About text just because (right now at least) it’s the easiest way to explain what 9rules is, but that doesn’t mean we own blogs and pay authors like other blog networks do. We work on a very different model, and although we have many blogs that are members of 9rules (just like other networks have many authors that are members/part of their respective networks), the method by which we provide value is very different.

    To break it down to basic terms, our job as a network is to provide a ton of centralized value and interactivity on our own website, so more readers come in and check out our members, which drives traffic outwards to their sites. The more centralized value we provide, the more traffic/recognition goes out to our members, which in-turn makes them happier with their 9rules affiliation. This flow means that 9rules.com has to be “the place to be” in order to get more recognition for our members, so that’s what we concentrate on. It’s a bit different than the typical blog network model (where each individual site is supposed to reroute traffic to the other sites) but this works for us.

  10. By Eric Berlin posted on July 5, 2006 at 1:59 am
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    Interesting discusion. At Blogcritics.org, we consider ourselves an online magazine and online media source of more than 1,400 bloggers.

    I think the fundamental reason why bloggers form and then join some sort of larger group or organization of blogs is because there is some sort of value proposition involved: the larger group gains in value with each added member, and presumably the blogger gets something in return.

  11. By Phil Wolff posted on July 5, 2006 at 12:17 pm
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    Call them ad networks, not blog networks. Lots of people belong to networks of blogs without advertising as the common thread.

  12. By HART (1-800-HART) posted on July 5, 2006 at 11:54 pm
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    I prefer to think myself as a “Network of Blogs” instead of a “Blog Network” … and I’ve given up trying to ask Matt to modify my H-E.N. over at B.N.L. .. You can delete me, or not. It’s my summer and fall project, although nothing much happening now.