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Mathbloggers — does anyone get it?

February 3, 2008

Does anyone have any clue how Mathbloggers works? Their main page is supposed to be top blog posts from “today”, yet most of them are 2-3 days old by the time they appear there. I can’t seem to figure out what causes a post to appear on one of their “top” pages (daily, weekly, monthly). Some but not all of the posts note another blog that linked to them. Some of my posts have appeared in the past, not necessarily my most popular ones according to my blog stats. (Perhaps the most commented upon?) On the community page, my blog is listed, and it’s rank goes up and down, but I can’t guess why. Other blogs that have appeared on the daily posts page are not listed under community at all. Their own explanations of how it all works are (understandably) deliberately vague, to prevent gaming the system. But I’m curious if anyone has any insights into this.

I do sometimes find something interesting to read that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, so I do appreciate that. The ranking algorithm just seems rather odd, and mathematical content does not seem necessary to have a post be highly ranked.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2008 10:57 pm

    …AND… why does it think my blog was last updated 11 days ago, when I actually added several new posts in the past week?

  2. February 7, 2008 11:18 am

    Perhaps their “top posts” are not the ones published today, but the ones their ranking system says are getting the most traffic? Since many people use feed readers, and we get so busy that we don’t read every day, it makes sense that traffic would favor the slightly stale posts rather than the very freshest. And perhaps the “social rank” is a measure of how many incoming links you have? That may vary based on whether someone writes a post linking to you or puts your page on Digg or whatever.

    I have another beef. I have submitted my blog more than once, and surely it should qualify as a math blog, even if I do wander off into homeschooling or life-in-general topics at times. But they don’t include me on their list. Do I have to link to them before I am qualified? I don’t know.

    At any rate, I keep meaning to go over there and use their list to update my blogroll. Someday, when I have time…

  3. February 7, 2008 11:45 am

    Denise, I’ve tried submitting your blog as well. I’ve also submitted Wild About Math, and I know Sol has submitted it as well. Neither has shown up on the community page, although WAM did have a few posts show up on the “daily” page a while back.

    It seems that comments on a post may weigh more heavily than links to it or traffic, but I’m not sure. I guess that comments from other “math bloggers” count more than comments from “random” people. But it’s very odd.

  4. February 10, 2008 5:40 am

    ” I guess that comments from other “math bloggers” count more than comments from “random” people.”

    well let’s see whether this comment boosts your ranking?… i agree with you that (a) their ranking method is odd and (b) something is terribly wrong lately with their ‘last updated’ program.

    i welcome all rankings so that people can find interesting stuff more easily but i would like to know a bit more of the methods used to arrive at the list.

    also it’s unclear to me when a blog is called ‘hot’ in their list. i also assume it has to do with number of comments, but then sometimes it definitely isnt.

    anyway, let’s just provide the best content we can and see whether they’ll pick it up eventually (as they claim they do).

    (ive posted this comment already, but probably it was held up in your akismet-fileter. ive now tried to get through by using an alternative url for my blog… please delete the version you like)

  5. February 10, 2008 9:53 am

    lieven, thanks for the heads up on the spam filter. It had caught another perfectly good and not spammy-looking post. I’ve de-spammed it to train the filter, but now I’ll go and delete the original (so people will know what I’m talking about in this comment, which they won’t if I delete the duplicate with the akismet mention in it).

    My ranking dropped quite a bit in the past couple of days since I last looked. Perhaps it is a self-perpetuating kind of thing where the blogs that commented on or linked to by the highly-ranked math bloggers end up getting most highly ranked. I know they don’t want the system to be “gamed” which is why they don’t say more about the ranking, but since most of my favorites are near the bottom of the rankings (or are not included at all), I guess I shall continue not putting much stock in them.

  6. February 10, 2008 2:36 pm

    when you try to do the best blogging you can, and if this reflects into an increased ranking (on whathever list), this is an extra stimulus to keep on doing the best you can!
    in part, that was also what kept me going after a few months of blog-silence. but, all the time i had the feeling that mathbloggers’ ranking is not only about quality/periodicity/commenting/etc. but that there is another more subjective component to it.
    as to yours (and others) dropping rankings : i think the most important factor is that they do no seem to pick up any new postings, and that is very high on their ranking-function. so, even if you post frequent and if they do not pick this up you’re bound to drop in their list…. i’ve emailed them to let them know that they have a problem with their data-collection program but i dont know whether anyone ever checks their account…
    until they realize they have a problem there isnt a thing one can do about it. the only thing we can do is to keep on blogging the best we can, just because we like to do this anyhow, and try to care less about stats and rankings and other trivia…. (if we can)

  7. February 11, 2008 9:27 am

    I certainly have no idea how they get their rankings. Today I’m number four and hot and I have no idea why. And, I’m not on the first page. Beats me.

  8. February 11, 2008 11:21 am

    Ah, I thought they didn’t have you at all because you’re not listed as “Wild About Math”. I think “hot” is supposed to mean your ranking just went up a lot. Well, congrats on being #4 today even if we don’t know how it works. 🙂

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