5.23.2005

Blogging from the Back Bench

We don't like the name. And the cover mockups ("Nick Denton Speaks!" as if he was an otherwise silent Svengali on the order of Thomas Pynchon) bring a new level of cultural cringe to the blog set. But as soon as we saw it, we felt as if we'd known Blogebrity was coming all along. Not the print magazine part, which we'll hope is a joke, because if it's not, it's going to be. The inevitability was that a cheerfully specious buzz ranking of bloggers would, of course, attract links and comments from those bloggers. Grimacing, irritated, outraged, smug, clucking links, but links nonetheless. So just to get it over with, here's our casual notice of list placement followed by pro forma sarcastic remark about someone else on the same level: "We're flattered to make the C-list, though our presence is certain to devalue the relative position of Margaret Cho." There. Let's towel off and move on.

Blogebrity's rankings reminded us of our curiosity about GM's own internal popularity contest. It's a complicated calculus not entirely dependent on site traffic. Gawker, Wonkette, and Defamer get the red-carpet treatment in terms of publicity, but Fleshbot and Gizmodo bring in as much or more traffic and, presumably, cash. It's worth noting that while the other four blogs are still drawing heavy numbers, Wonkette's readership has more or less retreated from the spike gained during the 2004 election cycle. But nominal blogger Ana Marie Cox accrued enough branding visibility/notoriety during Wonkette's salad days to recline regally on a bombproof buzz pillow (at least until her book comes out).

But about GM's second string? Kotaku would seem a slam-dunk, since video games often occupy whatever net reader's free brainspace (or free hand) isn't surfing smut; but that market is so saturated online that eyeballs are hard to draw. We can only assume Jalopnik's gearhead audience is pleased by endless front-grill porn shots; but that audience is significantly smaller than those implacably searching for nipple slips. Screenhead is an excellent resource for time-wasting oddities, and we like that Blogebrity lists it under "Resin, Dong" (why not "Master, Thigh"?); but like Sploid and to a lesser extent Lifehacker, Screenhead lends itself to clicking offsite rather than internal surfing and resulting pageviews. And then there's the ghost ship Gridskipper, still cruising its own personal Bermuda Triangle after claiming the wailing souls of 15 bloggers and counting.

Since GM has yet to actually discontinue a blog, only Nick Denton knows what his threshold is for putting a site permanently out to pasture. Of course, even a less successful GM blog still gets more traffic than many commercial sites -- and the vast majority of other blogs. And given the low fixed costs of operating each GM blog, it may be less a case of worrying about your underperforming Gridskippers as it is spreading the wealth of your overperforming Fleshbots. Denton so far seems inclined to use his cash-cow (and buzz-cow) blogs to help underwrite the whole GM family in the name of synergy. Good news for the B-listers, even if their party invitations only grant access to the VIP room, and not the VIP VIP room.