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Is There An A-List? The Debate Goes On

Is There An A-List? The Debate Goes On

There is an ongoing debate over at Deep Jive Interests, where our very own Tony Hung has challenged Jason Calacanis‘ claim that “there is no A List,” and that “it’s a myth.”

This issue basically cropped up after Tony criticized those who were vocal against PayPerPost-type schemes for not recognizing the existence of the so-called blue collar bloggers–those of us who don’t have the connections, notoriety, nor capital to launch, run, and earn from a popular blog. Blue collar bloggers, according to Tony, make do with whatever monetization mechanisms are available to them, and pay per post schemes are among the most accessible and easiest way to earn.

Jason’s argument was that the so-called A List doesn’t exist because the people who are supposedly A-listers are no different from the rest of us.

What a joke… a couple of years ago Scoble, Jarvis, and I were the blue collar bloggers! We were hustling trying to get our vocies heard and a couple of years later–after blogging daily/hourly–the supposed “A List” got some traction and attention.

Here is a tip: THEY EARNED IT!!! They busted their butts for years blogging in an intelligent way. They were not given their seats at the table–they took them!

[T]here is no A-List in blogging. Just people who’ve been blogging longer than others and who are smarter or better writers–or all of those things. [Relevant links added -Ed]

But Tony thinks that to deny the presence of social stratification in the blogosphere is arrogant.

I’ve come a long way in blogging, but I’m not blind to the fact that the vast majority of bloggers — even those who bring something new, refreshing, and regular to the table — may find barriers to blogging success in spite of hard work or their talent. I’d like to believe in the democracy of blogging, but the fact is that there are certain advantages that some bloggers have that others don’t. Not having them doesn’t mean you can’t be an A-lister, but I have yet to find one that didn’t have any.

The “A-list” exists, and it exists naturally. Do I think some of them “call it in”? Sure. But some of them also continue to blog just as hard as they do when they first started. But to think that a natural stratification doesn’t exist — or if it does, is easy to penetrate if you “are good and work hard” — is quite frankly, blind and a little arrogant.

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Personally, I tend to agree with Tony. And that’s not because he’s my “boss” here at the Blog Herald. I think that no matter how great an equalizer the Web and the blogosphere have become, the same social stratifications that exist in the real world also exist in social media (especially since it’s social in the first place).

So there are A Listers–the white collar bloggers, the rock stars, those who have stronger influence and wider reach than others. And there are blue collar bloggers, who do the nitty gritty work and try to earn a living even from means considered by some to be not so honorable. This doesn’t mean that the rock stars don’t work as hard (or as smart) as the rest of us do, but somehow they have it easier, as they have their popularity and influence as leverage. And then of course, there are those who don’t really care about getting a dime off the blogosphere, but are there to use it for more personal reasons.

What do you think? Feel free to pitch in.

View Comments (12)
  • I thought the debate in the comments on Tony’s post at DJI pretty enlightening. Personally, I’m off to start a “Lawn Mower Blog” thanks to Scoble.

  • Well, if nothing else, it was an interesting debate for a cold March weekend. ;)

    I don’t begrudge the “a-list” from being the “a-list” — if those bloggers weren’t up there, someone else would be. Again, these bloggers aren’t just “good”, or “successful”, these guys, in the techno-sphere, are guys who actually wield real influence.

    Contrary to some blogger’s opinions, its not *just* about being in san francisco being at the right parties and so on — these guys actually *make* news. They are more connected, they are more influential, and they are just part of what makes the “web2.0” run.

    Jason Calacanis decides to sell Weblogs? Remake Netscape into a social bookmarking / news site? That’s actually news.
    Dave Winer decides to start talking about an open-source ipod Killer? Also news.
    Jeff Jarvis going to yet another huge media conference? Also news.
    Steve Rubel not talking about the Wal-mart fiasco? Big news.
    Robert Scoble criticizing major bloggers for not giving Podtech links (when Podtech is paid by their sponsors to create videos — which lead to links)? News as well.

    Because they are who they are and what they are, its a ludicrous argument that anyone is “envious” of them, or that people who criticize them have some kind of envy who need instruction about creating better blogs.

    I found that the point I was trying to make was that the a-list does exists, and they are more than just “successful bloggers’; moreover, to deny their existence was just silly.

    Phew … now, can we drop the conversation for a few months at least? :)


  • I have to land on the side of Calacanis here. No one is questioning the fact that there are bloggers (call them A-list if you want) that have sway over their HUGE audiences versus the “regular” guys who have smaller audiences. But I believe Jason’s point is that the A-listers weren’t GIVEN anything, and that they struggled with the same $10 monthly Adsense earnings for years.

    The interesting question isn’t about the existence of stratification in the blogosphere — I don’t think anyone is saying Boing-Boing is in the same class as, say, the personal blog I started with 3 readers (me, my mom and my dog). Obviously.

    The interesting question is whether or not being a “blue collar” blogger is enough license to write PayPerPost articles without a clear disclaimer?

    I’m thinking: Yes, but do so at your own peril.

    If small time bloggers want to eck out a higher rate for their blogging hobby by doing PPP, so be it. It’s their blog, and I strongly believe they have a right to put whatever they want on their blog. Personal freedom is a top reason the blogosphere rocks!

    Annoying flash animation will scare away potential readers. And (I believe) not-so-transparent PPPs undermines a blogger’s credibility to the point that they will lose readers.

    Is $50 this month worth the loss of future readers? Hey, it’s your blog… you make the decision, you live with the consequences.


  • Greg,

    Jason *doesn’t* think that an A-list exists *because* he thinks that anyone can *become* the A-list through ‘hard work’ and ‘good blogging’.

    Second of all, I doubt Jason Calacanis ever struggled with meager adsense earnings; he is the chap, after all who sold Weblogs for millions of dollars to AOL.

    Thirdly, I agree — its up to bloggers whether or not they want to do PPP, and that they need to take into account the consequences thereafter. And that’s always been my point. A few months ago, Mr. Calacanis and Jeff Jarvis got into a huge rant about how evil PPP is — the subtext being that *no* blogger in their right mind should do it.

    Well the whole point of my original post that got picked on is that “blue-collar” bloggers might not have the convenience of being able to debate such things, because they’re looking to make money to make ends meet.

    PPP is a phenomena that is more nuanced than what many people make it out to be. Yes, there is disclosure *finally*. But it came on the heels of an FTC official opinion about Word of Mout Marketing. And Posties are not required to mark individual posts as being sponsored — so you never know which posts are sponsored material or not.


  • I have been reading The Blog Herald for a long time, and frankly it was more interesting before you took over. I still check the site out of habit, not because I enjoy reading you. Neither the writing nor the content is particularly interesting.

  • Sorry to hear that Rana.

    And by “before”, do you mean before Splashpress took reins? Or before Blogmedia took over?


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