You probably have already visited some of the blogs at 9rules or Weblogs, Inc but have you ever stopped to think about what makes a blog network ?
Let me answer that … well, I’m getting myself in trouble in trying to define a concept that even Wikipedia hasn’t answered, but at least I’ll give it a try.
First thing first, the network members should write blogs, in the form of a daily journal with original content updated regularly. If we agree on this obvious premise, that immediately excludes networks such as MyBlogLog or social bookmark services such as Digg. Also excluded are multi-author blogs since these are themselves a author network.
My second premise is they should have some sort of quality control, with a human authority determining which blogs are included and assuring premium content, leaving out networks such as Blogger.
Following the same line of thought, but with a more technical focus, the network should not enforce any platform or domain name, leaving out WordPress.com or Instablogs for example. Both power and identity should be distributed across the community, so it makes no sense to require members to adhere to a particular set of tools.
One thing I’m not considering is the quality of blog content as a determining factor, since it’s subjective and biased to each network.
Having focused on the blog side of things I’m moving now into the network aspects. One thing that arises above all aspects is the community building, the conversational network, the bonds that establish between the blog members, way besides link-baiting or SEO concerns. I truly believe that you can only become a blog network if the members are passionate about it, help each other and feel responsible for the future of the network. One example that stands out amongst all them is 9 rules, that has a devoted community, greatly supportive of the network initiatives.
Being a network also means that you are able to aggregate information or have a global overview of content stream, whether through aggregating portals or tools such as widgets or rss feeds, allowing readers to browse the blogs from a nuclear location. That alone leaves a big player such as Gawker out, that I’ll rather classify as a media network.
As Duncan puts it, these are my basic criteria for being considered a blog network:
- network members are individual blog authors
- admission isn’t automated but based of human judgment
- network does not enforce publishing platform
- encourages community building
- nuclear aggregation of content
If a blog network complied with the previous conditions, then it could fit in one (or many) of these classifications:
- Category Network: network members write mostly about a particular topic. Examples include SBNation, a blog network discussing sports;
- Affiliated Network: that shares a common feature between bloggers: Example includes Prt.sc, where all authors are Portuguese;
- Local Network: members write about local subjects, geographically determined. Example includes MetroBlogging;
- Commercial Network:Network generating revenue to their members either through advertising revenues or paying their authors for published content. Examples include b5media.(1)
- For Blog authors: they apply or are invited to become part of a blog network with the perspective of increasing their audience and gain some additional advertising revenue;
- For Blog network owners/promoters: with dimension comes personal visibility and advertising opportunities;
- For Readers: they can find good blogs on a particular topic (by aggregation or hyperlinking between network members), a task increasingly difficult with today’s information overloa;.
One thing i must address here is that a blog network that doesn’t promote their own internal community (blog authors) has few chances of being successful, since no synergies or innovation occurs.
Although some have tried to rank blog networks, there is much work to be done. Weblogs SL from Spain is in the right path by distributing metrics provided by third media parties (Nielsen Netratings), and it would be interesting if there was some way to judge blog network reach and frequency besides Technorati or Alexa.
List of Blog Networks
- 451 Press, http://www.451press.com
- 9 Rules, http://9rules.com
- Corante, http://www.corante.com
- Fodder Network, http://www.foddernetwork.com
- MetroBlogging, http://www.metroblogging.com
- Podcast Network, http://www.thepodcastnetwork.com
- Prt.Sc (Portugal), http://www.prt.sc
- SBNation, http://www.sbnation.com
- ShinyMedia, http://www.shinymedia.com
- Web2.0 Workgroup, http://www.web20workgroup.com
- Weblogs Inc, http://www.weblogsinc.com
- Weblogs SL (Spain), http://www.weblogssl.com
- TC Magazines Network (Germany), http://www.tcmagnet.com/
(*) Note: the list above is incomplete, so feel free to suggest any other networks that meet the criteria.
This is a work in progress and perhaps i’ll even submit it to Wikipedia, so let me know in what you think, and what other issues i should address.
(1) Deleted the Advertising Network (blog networks can exist without advertising, it’s not a common feature), and is now included in the Commercial Network, since by legal reasons no advertising revenue can be collected without a owner or company.