Judging blogs: Where do you start?
So the last couple of weeks has seen a rapid transformation of the science blogosphere *cough* Pepsigate *cough* But it’s also been a time when I’ve been thinking a lot about judging blogs. A friend of mine – a library scientist – asked me about what some good criteria are for assessing blogs so they can be used as resources, alongside journal articles and books, by savvy librarians.
My response at the time wasn’t very…. well it sucked.
Prominent and active (without being vitriolic) comment section. No 4chan action, but rather what looks to be legitimate discussion.
Lots of linking. Links are the equivalent of referencing, and it shows the blogger being willing to acknowledge and source the work of others. May not be an indicator of high quality information, but speaks to the writers integrity.
The difference between blogs and other forms of media is there is no brand attached to them. It’s entirely up to the integrity and reputation of the individual author, rather than having New York Times plastered all over the top of the page.
But it got me thinking, if a librarian, or anyone else, wanted to separate high quality blogs from the poorer ones, what would be some good indicators that a specific site is worth at least looking into a little more closely? The obvious answer is ‘look at the blog posts, and try to assess their quality on a case-by-case basis.’ But this only works if you are at least familiar with the subject matter, and are able to tell the legitimate bloggers from the crazies.
Then there is the issue of splogs, any other types of blog content poachers. Even if they seem to have consistent work and high quality content, you need to be able to sort those out.
So help me, oh Bloggerati, what are some initial indicators that a blog is worth paying more attention to, assuming its content is outside of your sphere and you can’t simply read every post and then decide (both for efficiency, and for lack of expertise.)
Some good features I think are:
- Active comment section, with participation from the blogger
- Consistent posting (without being an impossible rate, ie: not 15 massive posts a day)
- Presence of links or other forms of referencing/sourcing, and clear attribution on photos or other borrowed material
- Not saturated with advertising, and lacking that stupid widget that makes random blogs seem to drive traffic to others (you know the one)
- Author name? I’m torn on this one. But an email address or some way to contact them I think would be important.
It’s not easy coming up with these, and this list comes nowhere near serving as a useable initial set of filters for someone who might want to go sorting through every blog to decide which should be ranked highly and distributed to people looking for information.
These criteria won’t tell you if a blog is good or bad, but I think they might at least give you a place to start. What are some other important blog features that you can think of…?