Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Thoughts On The Ecosystem

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I happened to notice a significant change in the Ecosystem instituted by N. Z. Bear. Taking full advantage of the opportunity to sneak in a little blogging time between feedings at my parent’s house, I saw that I had dropped from Large Mammal to Marauding Marsupial. My initial reaction was shock and from accounts I have read, I was not alone

Since I have been blogging sporadically due to some previously discussed and, I might add, embarrassing computer problems, I can’t say the drop was totally unexpected. The rate of the drop, however, was incredible. I had been hovering in the 200-300 range and now found myself between 900-1000. This was quite a shock, to say the least.

After I regained consciousness and picked my jaw up from the floor, I started to look at the situation a bit more realistically. I thought back to the words of N Z Bear when he stated the rankings should not be taken too seriously. Blogging should be fun, but I’ve been guilty of taking my blog and myself way too seriously for far too long.

When I woke up and started looking at the situation through the prism of logic instead of ego, some things became clear to me:

• I never was a Large Mammal and probably am not a Marauding Marsupial now. I simply have not been around long enough, nor been consistent enough to justify the ranking I had attained.
• Links are not the same as readers and return visitors.
• Some links in reality are more valuable than others. If someone on their own decides to give you a link or send a trackback, I think it is much more rewarding than providing one yourself by linking an open post. In my personal experience, the feeling I get is much more euphoric when the attention is unsolicited
• There have only been a few occasions when I’ve gotten more than 200 hits in a day, yet my links were boosting me into the Top 200. Sure, I enjoyed the high ranking on a personal level, but was I really a go-to source for anything? I doubt it.

Please don’t get me wrong here: I love open posts and will continue to participate in them. I think it’s great that bloggers open their sites to others in order to help them become noticed. I realize they get a return link out of it that helps them, but they are willing to take the time and effort to set it up, so I think they deserve at least that much.
They don’t have to do it, and many don’t even need to do it, yet they do it anyway and for that they have my admiration and respect. I’ve always said that many of my closest friends are those I’ve never met and they reside in the blogosphere. The Open post is merely one of many reasons I feel this to be true.

If you stop and think about it, we all want readers and most of us would trade regular readers for links any day of the week. If that’s the case, then nothing has changed about Open Posts except for a few additional links in the Ecosystem. The Open Post over time should still help in a bloggers effort to build a readership and when the readership goes up, the ecosystem problem will take care of itself.

Another thing I realized was that except for a couple of words in a javascript link in my sidebar, nothing had really changed at all. All of my posts were the same as they had always been; my writing style was the same, my thought process was the same, and I was still the same person with the same core beliefs and opinions as I was the day before. I am no more or no less talented, influential, cited, linked or mentioned than I have ever been.

My ecosystem ranking, as it turned out, was driving my ego, not my writing. It didn’t make me a better writer; it made me obsessed with climbing an imaginary ladder to nowhere. I had it completely backwards! Writing should be the obsession that leads to higher rankings, not the other way around.

I believe with these changes, the Ecosystem will probably be a better gauge of the blogosphere than it was before. Sure, it probably won’t have the same effect on the ego as it once had for many of us, but I’m not sure that’s really a bad thing.

I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can begin to understand that the changes are intended not to do us harm, but to make us better. If a rise in the Ecosystem is due more to the judgment of our peers than to our ability to send multiple trackbacks, I think in the end the trip will be more rewarding.

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