Bah, humbug

– Posted in: Blogging Art and Practice

Image of top 100 gardening sites badgeIn my sidebar under “Pecking Order” I used to have a Top 100 Gardening Sites badge. It was an amusing way to keep track of how I stood in relationship to other gardening websites–or so I thought. Recently, a quick check of Garden Rant’s Sitemeter revealed that they had far more visitors than this website, and a much lower rank. I couldn’t figure it out but didn’t have time to investigate, though my faith in that ranking on the badge was broken.

Stu Robinson of Gardening Tips ‘N’ Ideas did the investigating that I didn’t have the time (or know-how) to do. And between what he learned and what various commenters shared, well, it’s more than quirky. How do you explain that Yardiac took the html code for the badge off their site, and their site is still ranked #4 as of Paul’s comment?Pret-ty pe-cu-liar, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve removed that code from my sidebar, just as Stu and Colleen have done. As Stu put it, (tongue-in-cheek)

This is nothing but unabashed vanity and they should be getting it right, dammit! How are we supposed to crow about our position if nobody’s playing by the rules?

Or as Colleen pointed out,

We’re not the “Top 100 Gardening Sites.” We’re the “Top 100 people who bothered to register for this service, add code to our sites, and give free advertising and traffic to Top 100.

Sheesh. When it’s put to me like that, I don’t want it on my website anymore, either. How about you?

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

ilona August 25, 2007, 12:57 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with these things. I find them useful for looking at a number of blogs, blogrolls have become unreliable as they often list the same popular ones ( I’m as guilty/lazy as anyone in that) I like to see if ppl will bother to vote for me, but then there usually is difficulty in having a fair game, I remember early in my website experience someone approached me with the deal that we vote for each other every day… I know that there were groups of webmasters that did that. This cheats the system, and the viewers.

but where do you start looking for sites that cater to your interest? It is often just these sorts of voting sites.

ok- now for one of those opinions that seem to make me so unpopular with many ppl:
Everyone that blogs does so for an audience…other wise we would just have our personal home hard copy journals. Or we would have a private one. We write to share in some way, and that means we all care about readers- although we each have our unique combination of why.
My motivation is personally fed by those who read and comment. I like the interaction of blogging., but I don’t want to be intimidated by it. For the garden blog especially I just want casual enjoyment of the medium 😉

Ron August 23, 2007, 4:21 pm

I would questing the “Top 100” part of it, but any time you have a list of quality resources I do not think it is all bad. At least you did not buy your way onto it!

Molly August 14, 2007, 12:20 pm

I’m pretty good at ignoring clutter on a page unless it makes pages slow to load. I visit your site for the quality of your writing, not because someone has decided that your site is one of the “top 100”, or that you are a “thinking blogger”. I don’t really notice the badges.

Gotta Garden August 12, 2007, 8:44 pm

This explains some things…and for that, among other reasons, I’m glad I stopped by. I had wondered about the Top 100 thingie…so many seem to be commercial selling things ones and it didn’t seem to me that they compared with those that are about the writing. Then, those peculiar things you all have brought to my attention…food for thought.

After this, I shall have to pop over to Stuart’s to get more info…but, I’m thinking the 100 badge may not be for me. Funny, what Stuart described I have always called Gardening In and Gardening Out and have meant to write about it for ages!

Anyway, since I have always considered my garden a retreat from stress, what’s up with my wanting that and even caring about what my number is??! Doesn’t make sense, really.

I don’t know that I’d use the amount of comments either…if only because I read many more blogs than I comment on. I simply don’t have the time (I’m a slow writer!) to comment on them all…surely, I’m not alone in that.

It’s all just been a new world to me…one I mostly like…and better than the garden magazines which no longer seem fresh and particularly interesting to me. I’d much rather bop around the the garden blog world and see what’s up.

I actually came over to see Kate’s comment about her garden mishap that won the book!

Annie in Austin August 12, 2007, 2:51 pm

My purpose was to find other gardeners to talk with, so whatever the statistics for my blog – it feels like a success to me.

Kathy – this whole discussion and the one at Stuarts’s has been very enlightening as to why you all cared about the numbers… and I understand that it isn’t really like a vanity plate – even though I like to tease you guys that it is.

I still don’t want a counter – that may be just reverse snobbery.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Oldroses August 11, 2007, 11:51 pm

I just keep reminding myself that I started my blog as a form of garden journal because I am terrible about keeping a paper one. If other people read it and enjoy it, that’s even better. But the basic purpose is a selfish one: a record of my garden.

Kathy Purdy August 11, 2007, 7:58 pm

Yes, it’s the comments that are the most important, as just about everyone has said in their own way. The comments are the human connection. And thank you everyone for the appreciation you’ve expressed here. I hope I continue to earn it.

layanee August 11, 2007, 7:12 am

Gee, I just blog to share the joy of gardening. I read blogs to learn and enjoy others’ gardens. Do I look at stats? Just on my site and they are important but the comments are, by far, the most rewarding part of this shared experience. By posting a comment you show the writer that you have read and valued what has been posted.

Stuart August 11, 2007, 4:07 am

I think this conversation has actually taken a different direction as your readers, and those who have commented on my blog, polarize their views of why they blog.

It appears that there are 2 very different camps; those who blog for themselves and those who blog for others. Neither is right nor wrong, but it seems that whichever camp one falls within assumes that theirs is the right one.

Gardening blogs, like any other genre, will always have these two very different poles. Lets get over it and enjoy each others offerings without feeling that we need to distinguish between some moral high-ground.

If you like to have banners, counters and check your stats – then good for you. If you don’t – still, good for you. It makes no difference to me, just keep writing good content…

Robin (Bumblebee) August 10, 2007, 11:29 pm

Hi Kathy,

I don’t ever look at those little merit badges and ratings because I am suspicious of the validity and merit of most of these little widgets that you can find on the web. To me, it’s more important that I find the content compelling, appealing or humorous. Why bother otherwise?

You, Kathy, are one of the most thoughtful bloggers I have stumbled across. And I enjoy the dialogue that you inspire. I don’t give two hoots about what’s in your pile of accolades.

As for me, I often ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”

Do I look at stats? Yes. Was I happy when SumbleUpon discovered me? Sure. But the number that matters the most is not the number of hits, but the number of people who bother to visit time and again–and comment. I feel that I’ve gotten to “know” on some small scale a handful of other gardeners.

Maybe THAT’S why I am sticking with it anyway…

Robin (Bumblebee)

Ellis Hollow August 10, 2007, 7:43 pm

It’s fun to follow web stats. But I tell people at work when they ask for them, they’re only page requests (or whatever). They don’t tell you who you’re reaching. They don’t tell you how much they value your information. They don’t measure how much impact you’re having. Well that’s overstating it a little bit. They are indicative of some things. But drawing too many conclusions from them is dangerous.

Marie August 10, 2007, 6:58 pm

Marie from Norway says hello :o)

Zoey August 10, 2007, 5:55 pm

…”It’s all about people: offering encouragement and help and friendship.”

I think that is how it started, but now there are more hungry stat counters than you might think. Just try to count all the buttons that link to some other blog. The main reason for a blogger to create a link icon is to increase rankings–to their own site.

I’ve been around now for three years and I see a lot of the old bloggers falling for those award icons that someone has created to increase their own rankings. I did a whole post about these awards last week, but it’s still sitting in draft status because I am too afraid to post it!

Kathy, I have always found you to be a wealth of good information. Thank you for staying true.

Don August 10, 2007, 9:24 am

Kathy… you know, I was on there too, rising rapidly as high as about #12, then even as my hits were increasing, my Top 100 rank began to tank, until I was below a small garden blog that hadn’t had a new posting (or comment) for six months. I e-mailed Top 100 asking to be removed, with no response, so just deleted the banner. I may still be on there somewhere. Whatever… you’re still tops with me.

Cynthia August 10, 2007, 8:36 am

Your comment #7 is even better than your original blog for today! You nailed it: “It’s all about people…” I read your blog because I care about YOU since I don’t live in a cold climate! Then your blog pointed me to bloggers closer to my clime! I’m a wanna-be gardener still trying to overcome all of my true and imaginary obstacles! Thank you for your hard work.

Colleen August 10, 2007, 8:25 am

That was perfectly said, Kathy! I know I have to keep reminding myself of the same things: be true to who I am, it’s the content and community that matter, the point is to celebrate gardening.

Kathy Purdy August 10, 2007, 8:11 am

It’s embarrassing to admit that who’s on top matters to me . . . even a little bit. But then I think of all the authors who obsessively check their Amazon rank, and realize most people are interested in how they measure up to others. I have to keep reminding myself that doing my personal best is what is most important. Measuring myself against others is like comparing apples and oranges. Sure, there may be superficial similarities, but we all have a different set of talents and circumstances.

When I first started writing my blog, I wanted to connect with others who were passionate about gardening, and help those frustrated by gardening in a cold climate. Traffic meant someone had actually read something I wrote. More important–and to this day, the most important–is receiving comments and making friends. Some people discount online friendships as being less “real” than face-to-face, but I say we are the natural descendants of old fashioned pen pals, just writing in a new medium.

But when Garden Voices started, suddenly my potential audience was a lot bigger, and a lot pickier. And why wouldn’t they be? There were a lot more blogs to choose from. I was no longer merely a writer, but an editor and a publisher, too, wondering about the most attractive layout, making sure I had pictures to go with my posts, and looking at ad income to support my “publication.”

Blogging software and the garden blog community have both grown over the years, and I’ve grown, too, adapting to the changes. But I don’t ever want to change so much that the focus is on numbers, whether dollars or stats. No! It’s all about people: offering encouragement and help and friendship.

bill August 10, 2007, 8:03 am

I don’t recall noticing the banner.

I know something must be wrong with me. But I just don’t care about any of the rankings of bloggers or the number of “hits” I get. I’ve even considered trying to reduce the number of hits by eliminating google hits.

I do care about the number of my readers and the number of comments though.

Colleen August 10, 2007, 4:49 am

LOL Well, you, Stuart, and the Ranters are all in my personal Top 100, for what that’s worth.

I hadn’t thought of the Top 100 that way until Stuart looked into it all. As with you and the Ranters, I knew that he got more traffic than me, yet I managed to pull ahead of him a few times. And I’ve consistently been a few spots ahead of the Rant, even though they, too, get more traffic than me.

eliz August 9, 2007, 9:39 pm

Oh yeah, I’ve always been suspicious of that thing. We put it on reluctantly and now I’m thinking we should get rid of it. You do this stuff, without really looking into it often, thinking it’s part of playing the game.

Stuart August 9, 2007, 9:18 pm

BTW – I think your post as a summary looks much prettier than my grease ‘n guts version….

Carol August 9, 2007, 9:07 pm

Your tops in my blog-book, no matter what that site says. I removed the code once awhile back, then put it back. I’m removing it FOR GOOD tonight!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Stuart August 9, 2007, 8:54 pm

Yer, that comment from Colleen really hurt. Here I was charging up the rankings and suddenly I’m faced with the truth of my onslaught. How humiliating!

Still, we were in the Top 100 of the people who cared – lol.