Saturday, February 26, 2005

Large Mammal For A Day

by Tom Bozzo

With our guerrilla war on the link hierarchy under way*, Oscar and I have already improved to Slithering Reptiles in the TTLB ecosystem (as of Friday evening; this morning's ecosystem update is not yet complete, but it looks like Oscar will advance a step), the question arises: how far can the madness go? And where will it have gone when it's gotten there?

1. Theoretical limits of the linking game

Here are the TTLB ecosystem categories above us, the minimum links required for entry (Friday evening, ceteris paribus), the minimum ecosystem rank, and the marginal blog in each. The top three categories are fixed, and roughly 1,000 blogs fall into each of the next four. In total, there were 20,517 blogs registered with the ecosystem.
We'd need to recruit a modest conspiracy of our own to unseat the Reason Foundation folks at Hit and Run, let alone Vodkapundit or the the estimable Volokhs. (A few determined people with long-running blogs could conceivably mount an assault on Instapundit's top-of-the-heap 5,015 links.)

Large Mammal, though, can probably be achieved without outside help. My blogger profile's posting statistics haven't been updated in ages, but I know that I've written around 325 posts to date, which sets an upper bound on my unique inbound links from a single source. That is more than sufficient for the Large Mammal cutoff. Oscar's average posting frequency isn't quite daily, and his official stats are similarly outdated, but I'd still guess it still would be technically possible for me to make him a Large Mammal on my own.

2. What, are we nuts?

While seeking to recruit co-conspirators on Friday, I noted that the ecosystem needs more liberals and more women. Those obviously are not mutually exclusive categories; please don't write to complain. The list of marginal blogs for the ecosystem categories perhaps this view: exactly one left-of-center blog out of seven — I'm not even going to try to evaluate Moloch Now for possible irony — would occur with 6.25% probability with the center suitably defined. And they all appear to have male proprietors.

Certainly, Oscar and I will at least briefly shift the rank-adjusted balance of the ecosystem slightly leftward as we ascend, though we won't do anything for gender balance.

Now, to Nina's post, she has a good point about the potential trap of feeling obligated to write solely to preserve one's status metrics. Even though we're writing specifically to manipulate our status metrics, at least I can say that the game is still fun. Maybe we'll need to enter into a pact to terminate the game when otherwise routine blogger personality issues become its only driving forces, but I don't think we're there yet.

Beyond that, Nina has a point: it's the actual communication that sometimes emerges from the blogging that really matters. We've already demonstrated the ease of manipulation of the TTLB rankings. It's arguably the case that we'll stay pretty invisible at the theoretical limits of the game — the Large Mammal club is just too large to be exclusive, why some of its members strive to move up — unless it accumulates more participants.

That leaves us with Art for Art's Sake as the driving factor, maybe with an accompanying shot of testosterone. There's nothing wrong with our current exhibition, in the blogiverse equivalent of a back room of the Grace Chosy Gallery. Still, we might reasonably aspire to a spot on Canyon Road or maybe even in NYC, if perhaps not quite a million square feet of saffron fabric in Central Park.


* Oscar calls the effort "Project Bozzo," but my hazy recollection of that phase of the blogger dinner (after dinner and some wine, before karaoke) is that it was his idea, and I was simply the guy who determined that it was feasible. I am inclined for whatever reason to decline the honor and refer to the project generically, at least until we make Playful Primate.

** The head shot of Moloch looks like a Photoshop alteration of the image of Ambassador G'Kar from Babylon 5. Babylon 5 fans might investigate my sense of pattern matching and decide whether to take offense.
How long before a particular TTLB link expires, do you know?
TTLB links "expire" when they move off the front page of a blog. So blogroll links never expire (a point Ann made in one of the recent e-mail exchanges), and links in regular posts expire when they "move" into the blog archives.

A link can be made more persistent in Blogger by increasing the "show X days" or "show X posts" setting (under Settings/Fomatting). I upped mine to show 28 days' worth of posts vs. 14 on the MU home page.

Apparently, you can go up to 999 posts with Blogger, which would be at least a year's worth of activity for the likes of us. The catch is that load times are slower for visitors using dial-up connections -- more of an issue for my occasional photo-blogging than.
Moloch most certainly appears to be a Narn with a wig, if not Ambassaor G'Kar Himself.
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