Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Thousand and One Freesian Links

by Tom Bozzo

Note: I've replaced the post's original HTML with a JPEG image, in the interest of restoring link ecosystem balance with the next update. The original post contained approximately 700 links to the Jeremy Freeese's Weblog archives, and a few links to others.

Morning Update: Welcome Althouse visitors. For something of an artist's statement, see here.

To offer my two cents to the ecosystem's programmers, exclude multiple cross-links between blogs in determining rank.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Note, rude or otherwise abusive comments are subject to summary deletion.
Yes, it is possible to “game the system” when bloggers collude. The suggestion to “exclude multiple cross-links between blogs in determining rank” shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Ecosystem’s goals: by doing that, only static “permalinks” would ever really count towards a blogger’s rank; more dynamic links to specific posts that a blogger received for particularly good work would be ignored from blogs that had already permalinked.

The Ecosystem has existed in one form or another for well over two years. This stunt is nothing new: it has been done before, and it will be done again. In the end, there is no technical solution to guarantee cheating cannot occur: but what is guaranteed is that there are plenty of people watching the Ecosystem who will let me know if they see someone attempting to game the system. In the end, it is the community itself that assures a fair playing field, not my code.

I put a great deal of effort into the Ecosystem, and attempt to provide as accurate a guage of weblog’s popularity as is possible to the entire blogging community. If you bothered to read The Truth Laid Bear, you would know that there are no “Ecosystem(‘s) programmers” – there is just me. You’d also know that I’m getting married in just a few weeks, and not surprisingly, don’t really have time for this right now.

Bottom line: both Marginal Utility and The Columnist Manifesto are now banned from the Ecosystem. If you are willing to apologize for the inconvenience caused to both myself and those who value the Ecosystem as a resource, I’ll consider removing the suspension sometime down the line, probably after my wedding. Let me know your decision.
My response to N.Z. Bear (also sent via e-mail) follows.

Dear N.Z. Bear:

I would like to apologize for the personal inconvenience our game has caused you. I hope you'll take my withdrawal of the set of links Ann remarked upon in advance of your comment as an indication that I did not intend the ecosystem any harm beyond the point I was making, such as it was. I certainly did not think the ecosystem was a heavily staffed operation, though the credits left a bit of ambiguity as to whether you have any help. You have put together an interesting product. You can be assured that I will not attempt to cause you further difficulty, one way or another.

I don't necessarily agree that you're not better off taking design steps against manipulation of your unique links measure, but the ecosystem is your show to run. I'll observe that Ann recently had a fluctuation in her links that briefly put her in Primate territory from her fairly long-running position near the top of the Large Mammal category; I doubt that represents a true variation in her popularity. The Conservative Cat blogad on the Ecosystem page had also reminded me that we were not unique in trading links for ecosystem status purposes, something I had considered in advance, providing another answer to the question of whether and how this stunt has been tried before.

Best wishes on your upcoming wedding.

Tom Bozzo
I think NZ Bear is overreacting a bit here. You guys were just screwing around and having fun linking to each other. The links expire over time, right?

I think the Ecosystem is a cool way to look at blog rankings, and he's done a hell of a job with the system. But, if a few people artificially inflate their rankings, that doesn't seem to be too big of a problem long term - I imagine this project would have become boring at some point and the blogs would have devolved to their correct state.

You guys were just having fun, not trying to harm the system. A large part of blogging is that it is fun to blog and screw around. Blogging is almost total freedom and conforming to any specific way to go about blogging would remove what makes it so much fun.
Thanks, Bryan. You're correct that the intent wasn't malicious, but nevertheless N.Z. Bear is justified in restraining abuses of his system.

As ecosystem members, some types of posts that otherwise would be harmless fun (and still are mostly harmless fun) do have some external costs that we didn't recognize.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?