Kinky climate blogs

Following the post Ranking of climate blogs (Dec 2013), I thought I would plot the ranking to see what it looked like. As expected given that the rankings go from a few thousands to the 10s of millions the main sites (left) are out of site “in the noise”:

Ordered list of Alexa ranking of sites.

Ordered list of Alexa ranking of sites.

So, in order to give some detail I plotted the vertical using a log scale to produce the following:

Ordered list of climate sites with vertical being the log of the Alexa ranking.

Ordered list of climate sites with vertical being the log of the Alexa ranking.

This is a surprising graph. as I show below, the main section is almost entirely straight. The main line roughly fits this line:

log(rank) = 5 + position x 2/130

Suggesting that :

rank = 100000 x 10 ^ (position / 65)

But something is odd with this. There are two distinct gradients.

    Ordered list of climate sites with vertical being the log of the Alexa ranking.

Ordered list of climate sites with vertical being the log of the Alexa ranking with change of gradient highlighted. (lines drawn by eye)

There is a pronounced kink in the graph. The following blows this up a bit more:

Ordered list of first 20 climate sites with vertical being the log of the Alexa ranking.

Ordered list of first 20 climate sites with vertical being the log of the Alexa ranking.

Discussion

Obviously there is something profound going on here but what? There are clearly two distinct parts of the graph. One with WattsUpWithThat and Climate depot with Harmless Sky being a bit of a cross-over to the rest of us “beyond the kink”. Or is it WUWT and Climate Depot who are “beyond the kink”?

I don’t know. I’m not even sure one can do mathematics on rankings – perhaps Steve McIntyre would know? All I can do is offer a few suggestions and hope to get a Nobel Prize (it’s been given for less!):

  • Is it that the log-rule breaks down at very high (i.e. first, second) rankings?
  • Is this a manifestation of how many people work on a blog? In other words, is there a fairly natural limit to how much one person can do on a blog, and ranking only really accelerates when a blog has multiple people?
  • Is this a jump in marketing skills? Do WUWT and Climate Audit share something in terms of getting audience which the rest of us don’t know about?

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4 Responses to Kinky climate blogs

  1. Neil craig says:

    If you started that graph at zero the 1st 4 points would be a fast rising curve, rather than straight line.

    Possibly we are seeing that there is a market for views of warming scepticism at a bit over 10,000,000 and however many sites there were they would get around that many hits.

    Although if that were the case the line in the second graph should be tapering off rather than continuing straight. Perhaps many of the climate sites at the end are also dealing with other subjects & getting much of their readership from those subjects.

    • I wondered whether it’s the kind of subject where there’s a pretty even playing field and so if you are any good and spend a lot of time blogging, then you are likely to be ranked about 100,000. Which suggests, that this is pretty much a “glass ceiling” for climate bloggers which only two blogs have managed to break through.

      I suppose – the next big question is how does ranking relate to number of articles or number of words per month.

      • TinyCO2 says:

        It’s not just a matter of posting loads of articles or sites like Junk Science would be much higher. There has to be enough value added to make people want to have their say.

        Anthony Watts’ Surface Stations, Steve McIntyre’s statistical work, Andrew Montford’s book, all those who have been fighting the FOI fight. Those things make people want to share space and time with them. When they reply or at least don’t rebuff those contacts, people think ‘hey, I’m part of this’.

  2. TinyCO2 says:

    The reasons for popularity vary from site to site but there’s nothing stopping a new site from joining the top two other than a limited ‘fan’ base that all sites share. As one site rises, the others tend to decline. The audience also rises and falls with the advent of hot news. Thus Climategate saw WUWT rise much higher but the popularity has fallen from those heady heights because there’s not been much to draw in the general public or the newspapers. Bishop Hill’s two sites probably see it into third place * and is the UK number one site for discussion.

    WUWT and Climate Depot are so much further up the ranking for different reasons but regular posts and charismatic site proprietors are important factors. People like to support sites they feel are making a difference. Those who speak to governments or the media are popular, as are those engaged in successfully demolishing the consensus science.

    WUWT and Climate Depot serve different functions. Climate Depot is more of a news aggregator and the original features are often reports from American politics, sourced through Mr Moranos’ contacts and activities. WUWT produces new articles and also brings up existing news stories to be chewed over. People like adding their own viewpoint. Some sites lack popularity simply because posting is either too hard or not allowed at all.

    Many of the smaller sites are spin offs from WUWT and attract audiences to reflect the varied tastes or interests of the posters. Personally I like to mull over more social issues whereas others prefer the purely technical ones. Moderation has to be gentle but firm. Other sites are contemporary or older than WUWT but haven’t got quite the same qualities.

    To create another high ranking site would probably need some of the smaller sites (or at least their posters) to merge or be a site that brings a new crowd to scepticism (eg if a famous actor started a site).

    PS are you sure Harmless Sky is that high (not meaning to be rude but it doesn’t seem as busy as some of the others)? Are you sure you’re not picking up plus.com which is Plusnet?

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