The state of the Scottish blogosphere

I forgot / didn’t have the time to mention it at the time, but a couple of weeks back Scottish Roundup turned one year old.

But it wasn’t the only one — Tartan Hero, Scots and Independent, North to Leith and Granite City were all celebrating last week — mere days after I was bemoaning the lack of SNP blogs. That’ll teach me!

Is it a coincidence that so many great blogs started just after I began Scottish Roundup? Of course not! Unfortunately for me ego, it seems as though an SNP press officer was more influential than me. Pah!

A few weeks ago Grant Thoms drew up a list of the best Scottish political blogs out there. Inevitably, eyebrows were raised.

On the back of that, Holyrood Watcher said:

As far as I can determine, his league table was not based on objective criteria (but it was none the worse for that). I have been musing on how to introduce an element of rationality into the assessment.

Holyrood Watcher’s approach was to use Bloglines subscriptions to try and figure out which blogs were the most read. It’s quite a common method, although not without its faults — as I pointed out in my comment at Holyrood Chronicles.

Another popular method of ranking blogs is to look at Technorati Authority. Unfortunately, Technorati is more unreliable than the Red Bull Formula 1 car. Some of the stats it generates are clearly wrong. I have come across blogs that have an authority of 0, but still have dozens of ‘reactions’.

In case you’re not au fait with Technorati’s terminology, here is how it works. Authority measures how many different blogs have linked to your blog over the past 180 days. Reactions count the number of links in total that go to your blog.

I have actually gone and done it. I thought it would make a quick and easy post, but I spent hours trawling through Technorati to work out how the Scottish blogs line up. I have not even begun to form a comprehensive list. I have looked at around 60 or 70 different blogs. Of course, most of them are the ones that I am most familiar with. They are not all about politics, but they are all Scottish.

But whenever I thought I was finished, I caught sight of an obvious one that I had missed out. So no doubt I have still missed out quite a lot. If you think I’ve missed something out, leave a comment.

There are all sorts of reasons why you should take this with a pinch of salt. For one thing, there are the technical issues that I have already alluded to. Technorati is perennially broken. I could not get any information whatsoever on three major blogs — Mr Eugenides, A Place to Stand and Blether with Brian. (I think it is safe to assume that under normal circumstances at least two of these blogs would be right at the top.) I am certain that there are several other errors. I simply cannot believe some of these results.

Also, the recent link-fest in the wake of the Alisher Usmanov affair has inflated a lot of people’s authority. I reckon mine went up by 50 or 60! This extra authority will disappear almost completely once 180 days have passed.

Also, it is worth remembering that this method only measures links, and is no reflection of how many people are reading the blog. But there are a number of interesting things that come out from this. Think about the ratio of reactions to authority score. If the ratio is quite high, that means that the blog generates a high amount of conversation on a small number of blogs. This suggests to me that these are really good blogs that, for whatever reason, haven’t got the wider attention they deserve.

As with Holyrood Watcher, I am not a big fan of lists like this. As he says, blogging is not a competition. But I was intrigued to see the lie of the land, as far as Technorati is concerned at least. It is a bit of fun. But it’s nothing more than that — a bit of fun.

The first number is authority. The number in brackets is the number of reactions.

  1. Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe — 253 (671)
  2. doctorvee — 157 (534)
  3. Freedom and Whisky — 147 (452)
  4. Musings of a Reactionary Snob — 141 (483)
  5. rhetorically speaking.. — 131 (309)
  6. A Big Stick and a Small Carrot — 127 (699)
  7. Scots and Independent — 126 (306)*
  8. Mike Power’s Website – Not A Blog — 115 (1,199)
  9. Clairwil — 114 (331)
  10. 1820 — 114 (302)
  11. J Arthur MacNumpty — 108 (302)
  12. Bill’s Comment Page — 105 (201)
  13. The Select Society — 100 (266)
  14. Amused Cynicism — 90 (138)
  15. Love and Garbage — 89 (171)
  16. Tartan Hero – 83 (289)
  17. Scottish Blogs — 81 (245)
  18. Shuggy’s Blog — 79 (391)
  19. Backword — 77 (211)
  20. Informationally Overloaded — 71 (286)
  21. Silversprite — 71 (146)
  22. Michael Greenwell — 59 (124)
  23. Rolled-up Trousers — 58 (861)
  24. Colcam.Image — 53 (137)
  25. Havering On — 50 (217)
  26. Scottish Roundup — 50 (139)
  27. Bloodbus — 47 (127)
  28. The Scottish Patient — 43 (129)
  29. Councillor Terry Kelly — 40 (476)
  30. Islay Blog — 39 (91)
  31. Right for Scotland — 36 (257)
  32. Ridiculous Politics — 34 (116)
  33. Naked Blog — 32 (251)
  34. North to Leith — 25 (96)
  35. Scottish Tory Boy — 25 (40)
  36. Terry Watch — 24 (92)
  37. SNP Tactical Voting — 24 (90)
  38. Granite City — 23 (76)
  39. North East Scotland Nationalists — 23 (50)
  40. Indygal — 22 (48)
  41. Edinburgh Sucks! — 20 (49)
  42. Ian Hamilton QC — 19 (42)
  43. — 17 (81)
  44. Surreptitious Evil — 16 (62)
  45. Kezia Dugdale’s Soap Box — 16 (50)
  46. Councillor Andrew Burns’ Really Bad Blog — 15 (63)
  47. Whoopdedoo — 14 (66)
  48. Scottish Futures — 14 (36)
  49. Adam Smith Was A Socialist — 14 (24)
  50. Holyrood Chronicles — 13 (132)

Data gathered on Sunday 14th October evening.

*Scots and Independent recently changed URL. I calculated its ranking by aggregating the scores of the two URLs.

As I said, there are a lot of surprises in there. And it is radically different to the top 20 that Holyrood Watcher posted last week. It goes to show that there is no relationship between the number of readers and the number of links. And neither of these are a measure of importance anyway. No-one in their right mind would objectively rank Holyrood Chronicles as low as 50th.

At least Holyrood Chronicles is the ninth most-read. As they say, there’s only one thing worse than not being talked about, and that’s being talked about (I got that the right way round, right?).

Something else interesting about this list? As far as I am aware, there are no Lib Dem members on it (although there are a number of Lib Dem voters there I reckon). The highest, that I can make out, is Anything Caron can do… in 55th. Actually, Caron herself would be higher, but still misses out (just) on the top 50. Should really have checked that before I published this post.


  1. It does seem that there’s no empirical or flawless method of rating blogs, at least not yet, because of the various ways people access them and why they do. So it’s comparing apples with oranges. As has been said, no-one blogs for popularity’s sake alone, even if you can finesse content in hindsight, so I don’t know what this sudden fascination is.

    And I’m not bitter for not appearing in any of these lists. Oh no.

  2. Interesting stuff.

    Me? I just got to wondering when the meta-lists, the list-of-lists, will start appearing. Of course, if you want to get paradoxical, you could start a list of blogs that aren’t yet featured in a blog-list (Yay for Graeme!?). But do you then put them in the list-of-lists? And then…

    OK, maybe not.

  3. It is strange. My old blog got far far less hits than my new one but is still ranked much higher than the new one on a lot of these things.

    And thanks because I didn’t know a lot of the above blogs so I have some serious surfing to do.

  4. My own ranking is way too high. I happened to post early on the Usmanov case and received lots of links from people that almost certainly have never looked at any of my irregular posts on TV or scottish politics. I shouldn’t be above Tartan Hero, Kevin Williamson, or the great Ian Hamilton blog for example (of those below my listing that I read regularly). pre-Usmanov my usual technorati authority was around 15 and I suspect my readership around 3 people (although being on livejournal readership stats are difficult to come by). Generally people don’t link to my political postings.

    For info I’m a former Lib Dem activist (membership resigned for work-related reasons some time ago) and am a Lib Dem voter.


  5. Story of my life; always just outside the top 20…

    My ranking is undeservedly high, as it’s a blog with some very diverse / unrelated categories – Living in the Outer Hebrides, pictures of beaches, Digital Library conferences, Video Games, going to baseball matches in the USA. Really is several smaller themes rolled into one uber-blog. Other blogs below me in the rankings that stick to one subject rather than dart all over the place are more deserving.

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone, and welcome if you’re new to this blog!

    John, I guess this ties in with the debate about whether it’s better for a blog to have a strong focus or to be more eclectic. I can never make my mind up on that. My own blog lacks focus, which I have sometimes felt ashamed of. But it’s good to get your mind of politics, or indeed whatever your subject happens to be. Those blogs are more fun I reckon.

    Whatever, eclectic blogs definitely bring in the links. My politics posts get links from politics blogs, my F1 posts get links from F1 blogs and so on. So the Technorati rankings are definitely skewed towards people who are a jack of all trades, to the detriment of the masters who focus on their own speciality.

  7. The other strange thing about Technorati is that it generates different scores for the same blog.

    I’m looking at one site that links to me – Islamophobia Watch – and it is stated to have an authority of 127 and from the same post, but in a different entry, 78. The former is from its main URL, the other with the addition of a /islamophobia-watch

    Which begs the question – is it’s true score diluted by having two separate entries?

    For some reason my Technorati reactions also include links from my own blog. Sometimes it lists the authority for that as 1. It also has different authorities based on, and my host’s url which is

    So my ranking above also depends on which one you looked at. My main URL actually has an authority of 88.

    So yep, a very inexact science, if a science at all!