August 09, 2005

Lotta Linkin Going On.. Or Not

I wanted to summarize some of the very interesting things people have been saying about making a community based algorithm for understanding topic communities in my post Saturday, Link Love Lost.

Elisa Camahort at Worker Bees Blog

In blog search, the point of counting link *sources* (which is what Technorati does to make link rank.. and the top 100 of those end up on the Top 100 list) is about what Technorati calls "authority." This is different than relevancy. It may or may not get a searcher anywhere near relevancy as they search for a term or URL, and relevancy is far harder and more complex than counting link sources that link to a blog.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to talk about every aspect of this, including creating an opaque standard, if that's the best solution.

Eric at CollabuTech:

Is worth something we want to establish, or do we want to let readers retain responsibility for judging what they read?

Shelly at Burningbird:

She's right.. whenever there is a measurement, a power law develops where those at the top sit and the rest bend their behaviors toward them, trying to attain top status they don't have. Link counts mean people change their behavior to get more links. It's not the spammers I fear, but us.

But if we get rid of rankings, and instead see topic based communities with long standing conversation, can we get out of some of that power law dynamic? I'm not sure. Maybe not. Maybe we must simply refuse the metrics all together. I think it's an open question.

Stowe Boyd at Get Real:

These are interesting suggestions.. I'd like to see topic communities, as I proposed in my post, with a conversation weighting.. that would show conversationalness over time. But as Shelly points out, people will behaviorally lean toward any system, no matter what it is. As for ranking people, I have real trouble with that. Even Robert Parker acknowledges that people just look at the wine scores (90+ means they buy the wine without reading the review). I think rating each other would produce crazy results, where just like junior high, we were all so concerned about being popular. For me, the value lies in understanding cohesive communities.

Rachel at License to Roam:

But is it popularity within a niche? Or do we have metrics to show conversation, collaboration, interest? I totally agree with wanting to see topic communities.

I don't see the link count and the corresponding rank as necessarily male, but rather as a legacy media model. However, legacy media measurements are were developed at a time where men completely ran that business. So they naturally reflect that point of view. Now that digital media allow us to measure things easily in many more ways, and we have many more styles of blogging than just those that fit legacy media paradigms, why not figure out better ways to discover interesting communities and discussions?

danah boyd at M2M and Apophenia on the biases of links:

And yet, in all of these systems, a link is a link is a link.. with no distinction for type, or network ties, or styles of linking.. or God forbid, types of links (as in no-vote, + or - in the rel tags -- who knows what a blogger means when they use those tags).

Very interesting stuff. Keeping this in mind as we discuss what we make will be key to gaining something we consciously want to describe ourselves.

Assaf at LabNotes:

One problem with outbound links are that they are extraordinarily susceptible to spam. However, we have to deal with that anyway, so thinking about how we weight outbound links is valuable.

There may be a way to derive who uses whom for filters, but this may be reflected in RSS subscriptions and reading habits. However, there are serious identity, privacy and data ownership issues (users should, in my opinion, own their data) to figure out first before we can think about using this kind of information.

Link decay is a very interesting idea. PubSub does it now, but it's not clear to me yet what the effects are. However, I plan to discuss it with them so that I can understand it better. Bob Wyman explains more in this post.

The Vision Thing with Enough with the Lists:

This is not about making a single list. This is about making a metric that takes several factors into consideration, to find topic groups who consistently talk about something. At least, that's what I first proposed in my eye glazing post (sorry about that). However, that may not be what we end up with, as I believe the community should decide what it wants. If something else is better, let's try it.

Posted by Mary Hodder at August 9, 2005 11:55 AM | TrackBack

Thanks for consolidating so much of the talk going on.

I can appreciate in a vague, gut way that "authority" on a subject and "relevancy" to a subject are different.

But can you articulate that difference...especially when it comes to the technical difference between how Technorati uses links to assess authority (and therefore placement on their list) and how Google uses links to assess relevancy (and therefore placement in keyword search results)?

Thanks again!

Posted by: Elisa Camahort at August 9, 2005 02:00 PM