Techmeme Leaderboard is live
The Techmeme Leaderboard, that much-leaked list of Techmeme's top 100 sources, including blogs, non-blogs, and everything in between, is now up. It ranks sites, every 20 minutes, simply by the amount of headline space they've occupied on Techmeme over the past month.
Why now? I suppose this is long overdue. For two years, I've been urged to publish such a list. Why? Techmeme, in surfacing the latest tech news, also identifies leaders in tech reporting. As a friend who works in PR recently told me "I gauge hot new blogs via Techmeme". Yet I hesitated, perhaps given the potential for misunderstanding. Any ranking invites attacks on the methodology, attacks over "objectivity". I hope to address this now; in short, Techmeme is biased (more below).
A more mundane reason for launching now: I've heard that people were even constructing and circulating unofficial lists. Might as well make the official one.
Methodology: A source's presence is the probability that a random Techmeme headline at a random time over the past month was published by that source. The Leaderboard ranks sources by presence. What is a source? Sidestepping knotty issues of ownership and affiliation, sources are simply identified by the branding a publisher chooses. So blogs are generally distinct sources from their parent site. Thus, Saul Hansell writes for two different sources: Bits (the NYT blog), and the New York Times proper, even though the New York Times Company publishes both. The same goes for CrunchGear and TechCrunch and other blogs contained in blog "networks".
Because presence is additive, anyone can construct their own "supersources" from the table and rank accordingly. So summing presence for ZDNet blogs such as Between the Lines and All About Microsoft along with plain old ZDNet yields a total indicating a ranking much higher than the individual sources.
Is it biased? I wish it were obvious, but there's no such thing as an unbiased automated news site (or search engine for that matter). Automation doesn't remove bias, it merely obscures it. The configurations that make Techmeme a tech news site embody some of that bias. Beyond that, headlines are also skewed by Techmeme's emphasis of business news over areas like video game reviews, developer news, gadget arcana, and green tech. Finally, influencers that communicate mainly in links don't figure prominently on Techmeme. Slashdot is widely read, yet absent from the top 100.
OPML and archives: Obtain Leaderboards from earlier dates by typing the date in the "History" box on the right. Archives begins on September 30, 2007, so there's little to see as of yet. An OPML file is also available, enabling external mashups using the Leaderboard data.
How to use: Since the Techmeme Leaderboard reflects the reality that both blog-driven sites and traditional sites define today's news, use it to discover new sources, recommend sites to others, or illustrate where tech news breaks. I hope you find it useful, and if you have a stake in tech reporting, not too infuriating.