Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Top 100 Science Blogs

John Wilkins takes note of the fact that his blog Evolving Thoughts is #20 on the Wikio list of top 100 science blogs [Wilko on Wikio]. Wilkins thinks this is a bit strange for a philosophy blog.

I thought I'd check to see if Sandwalk is listed. Here's the blog ranking for science blogs. Sandwalk didn't make the top 100.

How are these listings generated? Here's what wikio says,
The position of a blog in Wikio's classification depends on the number and value of the links that point towards them. These links are dynamic, meaning that it is a question of backlinks or of posted links inside the items themselves.

The blog lists (blogrolls) are not taken into account and the period of validity of the links themselves is limited to the past 120 days, in order to be as most representative of the current influence of the blogs as possible, knowing that the Top blogs are all updated all the first ones of the month.
I don't really understand this method of ranking blogs. Can someone explain it to me?

While scanning the list, I began to notice something a bit strange. It turns out that 35 of the top 50 science blogs are part of the SEED consortium (ScienceBlogsTM). The #3 blog is Pharyngula and this seems reasonable but the #7 science blog is Dispatches from the Culture Wars and this is not reasonable. Ed Brayton's blog may be interesting but it ain't a science blog.

Looking further down the list I see that Framing Science comes in at #39. Oops, there's something seriously wrong here.

I checked out Sandwalk again and discovered that it isn't a science blog. It's listed under the "General" category. That's strange. What about Bad Astronomy Blog? It didn't make the list of top 100 science blogs either. Let's see how that blog is categorized—yep, it's also under "General."

Hmm ... what about other blogs that don't make the list under the "Sciences" category? The Panda's Thumb and Genomicron aren't science blogs either. They're "General" blogs.

This is ridiculous. I tried to let wikio know that Sandwalk was in the wrong category but it turned out to be impossible to register as a science blog. Can someone from ScienceBlogsTM let me know how they did it?


  1. Please don't take that nonsense personally, Larry (the methodology is wacky even aside from the classification snafu). More and more people are finding this blog and discovering that it's one of the very best science blogs around.

  2. Thanks Steve. What I'm concerned about is the bigger issue of how is the data being manipulated.

    I know that the "popularity" contests that are run from time to time are completely useless in terms of providing information about good science blogs. What I don't know is whether there are any other methods that work.

  3. I am very old-fashioned and Luddite about that question- my answer is no. I make such judgments of quality for myself, without the "help" of pollsters or link-counters. Thus, I believe that the best way to find a good new blog is a recommendation from another blogger whose judgment I respect. I found your blog via Pharyngula. (And of course I was pre-sold the moment I knew it existed, being very familiar with your distinguished contributions to t.o back in Usenet prehistory when nobody had heard of blogs.)

  4. I think the method is a variant on a branch of methodology known as "pulling it out of your ass".

  5. Hi all you Sciencebloggers: Please copy and paste the following links from my (more or less science) blog to your science blogs:

    Larry Moran from Sandwalk is puzzled if not pissed off: Sandwalk is not listed in Wikio's Science Blogs listing. I guess Larry is doesn't care if Sandwalk doesn't appear in the top 100 of in Wikio's Science Blog ranking. But I do understand that he finds it absurd that Sandwalk listed under the "General" category. Didn't wikio notice Sandwalk's content, e.g.
    Sandwalk on gene definition, Sandwalk on the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology, Sandwalk on The Evolution of Gene Families, Sandwalk on "What is Evolution?", Sandwalk on The Three Domain Hypothesis (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6), Sandwalk on Mammalian Gene Families: Humans and Chimps Differ by 6%, etc.

    If this is not enough to qualify Sandwalk as a Science blog you may follow the links in Sandwalk's tag cloud to Technorati. You will find
    Sandwalk on Biochemistry (94 posts), Sandwalk on Evoluntionary Biology (67 posts), Sandwalk on Biology (92 posts), Sandwalk on Genome (13 posts), Sandwalk on Genes (36 posts).
    If you don't want to click all these links just follow
    Sandwalk's tag for SCIENCE posts.

    And then please leave me allone with all this web2 BS of ranking web sites. One really has to read blogs before categorizing them.

  6. This is more or less a scam, I'd say, from people trying to start a Technorati clone. Here's what I got from their robot just now:

    Submission cannot be treated because your RSS feed is untraceable.

    Best not to feed the trolls.

  7. Sandwalk is one of the very best science blogs around.

    Thanks, Larry , for all the work you put in it

  8. Thanks for all the work you put in Sandwalk :it has becoma of the very best

  9. You rock. I love Sandwalk. I want Sandwalk all over my walls. I've been practicing my framing skills: if you want science, go Sandwalk! I'm sorry that they didn't rank Sandwalk at the top next to PZ Myers, even though it didn't hurt your feelings. Sandwalk is an awesome place to go if you want to be informed of the difference between adaptationalists and pluralists. A lot of people don't know that this distinction exists. Sandwalk wants you to understand.

  10. Larry Moran, do you mind if I post like that? If I just go to your science blog and say "adaptationists are kinda losers."

    I just realized that's how you
    spell it.

  11. I disagree with you, and disagree with you often. But you say things I disagree with such style that I forgive you for not being an ignorant adaptionalist (he says, tongue throughly in cheek).

    The ranking system seems like a whole lot of bull, and about as through and reputable as a push poll. Yes, data's being manipulated, but these sorts of things often are.

  12. I still don't understand how this ranking works. If I link to Pharyngula does that increase it's rating?

  13. Trust me, we did nothing to get ourselves listed. I think they wanted to generate publicity for their silly list, so they took the highest-profile science blogs they could come up with using a scientific survey of the people hanging around the water cooler, then sent those bloggers emails saying they're on their list, and hoped we'd publicize the list for them.

  14. Well, Prof Moran, I consider myself in good company in also being classified under the "General" category (with you kicking my butt at #1116 to my #2301). I'm even hosted at ScienceBlogs, so the rankings are kind of wacky.

    Frankly, I think your blog is one of the most enriching and enlightening science blogs out there - I thoroughly enjoy your feature on linking chemical structures to the discoveries of Nobel laureates. So, I hope that Sandwalk gets classified appropriately in the next Wikio ranking.