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.

Blog Networks

Basic Conditions

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 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, 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,
  • 9 Rules,
  • Corante,
  • Fodder Network,
  • MetroBlogging,
  • Podcast Network,
  • Prt.Sc (Portugal),
  • SBNation,
  • ShinyMedia,
  • Web2.0 Workgroup,
  • Weblogs Inc,
  • Weblogs SL (Spain),
  • TC Magazines Network (Germany),

(*) 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.

13 thoughts on “What is a blog network?

  1. Nice post πŸ™‚

    A couple of things:

    – i don’t see a difference between ShinyMedia and b5media.

    – a small and outdated version of the definition of “blog network” can be seen at wikipedia under “Weblog_network”

    – I don’t think the “nuclear aggregation of content” should be a must-have to be considered a blog network.

    I’d write more but I gotta run, so I’ll come back later.

  2. @TG
    Correct me if i’m wrong:
    Shiney media creates/pays the blog authors to become part of their network. I didn’t want to call it a “Paid Network”, but i guess that better reflects it.

    b5media invites bloggers and distributes ad profits afterwards.

    The nuclear aggregation is a public sign that blog network owners do care about the content of the blogs and are glad to promote them in some central location. If not, it seems that the blog network owner is more interested in making money out of their members. I’m more concerned with the community aspects of it, or else any collection of blog links could be considered a blog network.

    I could even broaden my criteria to suppress that, but then i had to include other networks such PayPerPost. And you have to admit it’s not that hard to build a rss aggregator or a widget, as a means to promote the network content.

    I see you belong to Bloggynetwork, and based on my criteria of nuclear aggregation that rules you out, so you could always set up a feed aggregator on BloggyNetwork homepage to get right in πŸ™‚

    But let’s wait and see what other readers think about it.

    Thanks for your fast (but great) feedback.

  3. OlÑ Armando πŸ™‚

    Shiny Media invites bloggers to their network –

    And so does b5media –

    Both networks pay their writers but in different ways. b5media is younger and splits revenue, shiny is older and probably has a monthly payment system, or a “pay per post” system.

    I’ll be back to talk about the “nuclear aggregation of content”, no time right now…

    PS – on the commercial network example you got the link to Bloggy Network wrong, but thanks for the attention πŸ™‚

  4. Um, we’re older than Shiny. And we don’t split revenue, we pay our authors πŸ˜‰

    Realistically, b5media isn’t a neat little grouping, mainly because we’ve had as much success as we’ve had.

    We do local blogs. We do highly focused blogs. We do affiliated blogs (third party properties that we sell ads on, inside and outside the network). We are commercial.

    So we kinda fall into all of your categories πŸ˜‰

    Feel free to shoot me an email for clarification. Obviously the point of your post wasn’t b5, I just wanted to make sure you had your facts straight!

  5. A very good article, Armando. You should submit it to Wikipedia.

    There is one thing I want to correct you regarding Instablogs. Instablogs do offer a social platform in terms of MyBlog which can be used as a normal blog, but one of the major features of MyBlog is that you can import your existing feeds there and can get a bit of exposure of your current posts on any of your existing blogs by participating in Instablogs Community.

    Secondly we donÂ’t impose domains or platform on our members. Few of our external blogs run on WordPress too. Though we recommend using our own custom script, but we just recommend it and itÂ’s not a compulsion.

  6. You have written a nice overview on blog networks.

    I have yet to see a blog network produce original content over time other than:

    1. Gawker media
    2. Weblogsinc: some of whose blogs are more like magazines.

    I have covered Blog networks including how to run them on the Mediavidea blog.

  7. Damn, I’ve always thought that Shiny was older than b5, and I remember seeing job applications for b5 in which the revenue was split, but maybe that was a long time ago or I’m just making a big confusion.

    I also didn’t know all the different kind of blogs you create, thanks for the clarification Jeremy.

  8. Do you think that i should add as criteria that there is reciprocal linking between the network and their members?

    Does it qualify better than my principle of nuclear aggregation of content?

  9. Pramit, that’s a pretty big generalization that totally ignores the unique contribution of a huge number of networks (especially when all WIN brings to the table is Engadget and Joystiq that realy matter):

    – PopSugar, just raised a second round, great social nework integration, huge audience
    – ShinyMedia, totally captured the UK market in tech and fahion, amazing brands.
    – Instablogs, decent community, incredibly popular with its userbase
    – 9rules, ditto
    – b5media, on which I won’t comment, but which deserves to be on any list if for no other reason than that we do 30M+ pages/month for more than 3M uniques

    To say that WIN and Gawker are the epitomy of blog networks is to demean the huge work of a half-dozen teams that have been innovative, produced gobs of fantastic content AND have dedicated and loyal audiences.

    TG: No worries on the confusion. We were revshare for over a year, so you weren’t off your rocker πŸ™‚

  10. I don’t see Popsugar as a blog network, but rather as a publishing/author network.

    Instablogs still doesn’t qualify (or else blogger should also be included).

    If we don’t narrow criteria to bloggers that are invited to join, after establishing a blog with great content, the distance from social networks is short.

    Or else I’d be better categorizing networks in general.

  11. Armando: PopSugar is a network of blogs. The publishing/authoring happens on blogs. There’s a vast social networking component to it, but that’s becoming fairly standard in the blog network world.

    Instablogs is also a network of blogs. Yes, “members” can contribute, but it’s still a network of blogs. That they’ve opened up the platform only shows their innovation and, again, shouldn’t disqualify them (unless they want to be disqualified, of course).

    Your definition of “bloggers that are invited to join, after establishing a blog” doesn’t fit with the b5 model, WIN, Gawker, PopSugar or ShinyMedia. All either start their own properties or hire writers who’ve never blogged before.

    The definition of a blog network should be simple: a network of blogs written by multiple authors sharing resources and focussed on publishing content on those blogs.

    Blogs. Authors. Content.

    This would qualify just about everyone but 9rules style networks (where the focus has shifted to Notes) and Federated Media (where the focus is the ads).

    End of the day, though, it should really be about what users care about, which should be great content, great interaction, great features. And that should be evidenced by traffic growth, blogger satisfaction and overall industry visibility.

    But, that’s just my opinion, and I’m admittedly biased πŸ˜‰

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