Tuesday, October 30, 2007

BlogRush's atheist bias?

As BlogRush is moving out of beta (with considerable delay), the program has completed its network clean-up. BlogRush caused a veritable sign-up furore among many parts of the blogosphere but predictably also attracted a lot of cheats, as most free services do.

A small number of atheist blogger have had their accounts inactivated and are feeling pretty peed off about what they see as BlogRush's anti-atheist bias. The assumption here is that the owners of BlogRush are Christian and therefore not inclined to show links to atheist blogs or blog posts. For this alleged bias, precious little evidence is being offered by said atheist bloggers, other than: "we're atheist, we had our account inactivated, ergo..." This is rather jumping to very self-serving conclusions in my opinion.

The criteria that BlogRush has used to select which blogs meet their quality requirements and which ended up in the 10,000 (claim by BlogRush) strong dustbin are most likely to be multiple and probably used in a weighted manner. Remember that although this service is free, John Reese's (owner of BlogRush) goal is ultimately to sell targeted, quality traffic: quality members are an integral part of that strategy.

It's important to note that in this context the term "quality" should not be interpreted in it's more narrow and traditional meaning. "Quality control" at BlogRush (BR) is likely to look at a whole range of aspects in order to decide whether a particular blog has any value to the network or not. Subject matter, quality and style of writing are likely to be only a relatively small part of the overall evaluation of a blog.

I'm guessing, based on past experience with similar programs, what might be the criteria used for acceptance/deletion of a BR account:

1. Poor content: infrequent posting, strong/obscene language, non-English, pornographic etc.

2. Poor placement of the widget: many bloggers decided to "bury" the widget near the bottom of their pages or not even on the homepage. These guys were looking to receive a little traffic without giving anything back. That's one form of cheating.

3. Widget competing with multiple other widgets: this seriously reduces BR clickthrough rates.

4. Widget competing with tens and tens if not hundreds of outbound links: again this seriously reduces BR clickthrough rates.

5. Overly commercial blogs: they stated that they have no problem whatsoever with "money making blogs" but that some of these contain almost no content and only advertising. Such blogs incidentally also get penalised by Google and other SEs.

6. Poor categorisation: choosing the right category is BR's only targeting mechanism.

7. Use of illegitimate methods of earning credits, e.g. by means of false pageviews.

Based mainly on those criteria (I believe) BR editors will decide whether a blog is of interest to them or not. Is it possible that some editors are guided also by personal biases? It is but I doubt very much if there is a systematic bias towards atheists at all.

My main beef with BR is that right now traffic generation is decidedly slow but I kind of more or less expected that, based on past experience with similar traffic exchange programs. I have some 15,000 credits (earned from referrals) waiting for me but no sign of delivery any time soon. But either BR will deliver or they'll perish: people will start eliminating their widgets soon, if the don't deliver on their promises. For that reason alone I believe that BlogRush will deliver on its pledge soon: too much money has been invested and failure isn't really an option. I remain optimistic about the medium term outcome of the BR enterprise.

I had a small blog dedicated to promoting BlogRush and it was actually rejected by BR, probably because of lack of new content! That blog will now soon be deleted altogether.

I've seen the widget sported on some very far left blogs and I've seen one disappear from a Orthodox Jewish and ardent Israel supporter's blog. Although neither are particularly strong forms of evidence, it does not really point in the direction of pro-Christian bias.

I'm convinced that approval rates for blogs that avoid the most obvious pitfalls (non-English, very low content, porn) are very high.

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At 7:52 PM, Blogger Cookie..... said...

Sorry Gert...as a good Christian I just have t'chuckle a mite...

I know all the athiests and seculars will pounce on me...but what the hell, I can take it...

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Permission to chuckle!

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Baconeater said...

I'm wondering why my Atheist Jew blog didn't meet their standards.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Probably a combination of factors. You were just a little unlucky, I guess. They did state on their site that the selection process is subjective and far from perfect...


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