Yesterday, I received an email from M. Pamela Bumsted with a link to a story titled Women Bloggers: How Many and Why Aren’t There Enough? posted by Lorelle on WordPress.
The story resurrects the on-again, off-again debate in the blogosphere about the lack of women bloggers in the top 100 blogs lists.
It is speculated that blog rankings are top-heavy with men because it was mostly men who created blogging software and they were the early adopters. Also, men spend a lot more time networking at conferences than women do. And, men are more likely to toot their own horns.
All that undoubtedly contributes to the near stranglehold men appear to have on that coveted A-list, but there is another reason that almost makes the discussion moot: the tools we have for ranking blog traffic are so inaccurate as to be useless.
Technorati, the top arbiter of blog popularity, ranks blogs by counting incoming links. But I can’t be the only blogger who has dozens of regular readers who don’t keep blogs and therefore don’t link to Time Goes By. None of those readers are counted by Technorati in calculating TGB's ranking. There is something peculiar about a measurement system that gives full value to readers who blog and zero to those who don't blog - a parochial point of view completely out of whack with the professed principles of blogging.
But, until someone invents a better ranking system, we are stuck (like Rumsfeld and his Army) with the one we've got - if you choose to take it seriously, which I don't. It's hard to get my knickers in too much of a twist over what inaccurate measurement tools can't possibly prove or not prove.
For these reasons and others, I believe there are more A-list women bloggers than we know, but that won't become evident until the measurement tools improve. Meanwhile, Blogher is raising the profile of women bloggers who are, if the research is accurate, the majority in the blogosphere and they are helping too, to increase the visibility of women at tech and blog conferences.
Although I enjoy many kinds of blogs, I care mostly about elderblogs and what blogging adds to the lives of elders. None are A-listers, but in this little subcategory of blogging, by a most unscientific measurement, gender distribution appears equal: a quick perusal of the ElderBloggers blogroll on TGB shows about a 50/50 split between men and women. I didn’t plan it that way and I can't draw much of a conclusion from the fact because ElderBlogs are listed as interesting or useful sites come into my view regardless of gender.
Women are well represented here and they appear, from anecdotal memory, to be the majority of commenters on TGB. Perhaps that reflects nothing more than the larger percentage of women among the elder population and if younger women who complain of not making the blogging A-lists would just be patient for a few years, you'll eventually have the upper hand by numbers alone. (Kidding! Just kidding!)
With all this, however, is a question that hasn’t been asked: do you care if your blog isn’t in the top 100? Does it matter?
Most of us are not without ego and would like to have hundreds of thousands of readers. Most of us are also realistic. Unless we are willing to give over the majority of our waking hours to our blogs, do the homework, research and reporting necessary to add new information to the conversation, and regularly pursue mentions in mainstream media and on widely-read blogs to draw new readers (highly time-consuming activities), our readership will remain small.
Is that so bad? Humans being what we are, people will not stop finding ways to compare themselves and figure out who's the current top dog. But there are other pleasures in blogging. For elderbloggers - my personal concern - there are the non-competitive values of new social networks, cognitive maintenance and improvement, and ease of communication of all kinds.
And here's something else worth pondering: no one needs to be number one to make a difference. A small example: I dislike the term "seniors," which has become pejorative with overuse, and prefer "elders" even though it's hardly been used for decades except in history books about Native Americans.
When I was interviewed for a New York Times story about older bloggers, I made it a point to use the terms elder and elderbloggers and I discussed the language issue with the Times writer. As a result, the story was titled, "Elderbloggers Stake Their Claim."
That's real and positive social change instigated by a woman blogger nowhere near the A-list. So perhaps we're all asking the wrong question.