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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why we don't have 1,000,000 visits a day

Posted by: Hammer / 9:08 AM

Why doesn't 3WN generate a million hits a day? Gravity:

The power law is dominant because of a quirk of human behavior: When we are asked to decide among a dizzying array of options, we do not act like dispassionate decision-makers, weighing each option on its own merits. Movie producers pick stars who have already been employed by other producers. Investors give money to entrepreneurs who are already loaded with cash. Popularity breeds popularity.

"It’s not about moral failings or any sort of psychological thing. People aren’t lazy -- they just base their decisions on what other people are doing," Shirky says. "It’s just social physics. It’s like gravity, one of those forces."

Power laws are arguably part of the very nature of links. To explain why, Shirky poses a thought experiment: Imagine that 1,000 people were all picking their favorite ten blogs and posting lists of those links. Alice, the first person, would read a few, pick some favorites, and put up a list of links pointing to them. The next person, Bob, is thus incrementally more likely to pick Alice’s favorites and include some of them on his own list. The third person, Carmen, is affected by the choices of the first two, and so on. This repeats until a feedback loop emerges. Those few sites lucky enough to acquire the first linkages grow rapidly off their early success, acquiring more and more visitors in a cascade of popularity. So even if the content among competitors is basically equal, there will still be a tiny few that rise up to form an elite.

Stupid primal forces of nature.

It's a long article, but very interesting. To me. And, probably, to C-list bloggers everywhere:

Yet one can understand why the tiny blogs are so hungry for approval. A single mention from an A-lister can provoke "firehoses of traffic" -- as John Battelle describes it -- that can help pluck a neophyte blog out of obscurity. (This has even happened to me. I run a small science blog -- avowedly C-list, a pure vanity project -- and the times that Boing Boing or Gizmodo have linked to me, my traffic has exploded.) When Gawker linked recently to a posting at Blogebrity, it nearly tripled the smaller site’s traffic, from 1,200 visitors a day to 3,500. Even a link from a smaller, B-list blog can help a struggling newcomer. In his first two years blogging, Trent Vanegas -- the 31-year-old creator of the gossip site Pink Is the New Blog -- barely rated 200 visitors a day. Then in January 2005, a few medium-size New York blogs -- including Ultragrrl and Thighswideshut -- gave him a shout-out, and his traffic doubled. The virtuous cycle began, and today he has 1 million page views a month, VH1 is calling to use him as a commentator, and he’s fielding job offers from E! and Bravo.


I think comments play into it as well. I check out the more popular blogs not just because lots of other people do but because bigger readership also means lots of comments to read as well. Kos and Blog X might have the exact same story but it makes more sense to click on Kos since you get not just the story but several hundred other people's take on the story.

By Blogger Jambo, at 11:46 AM  

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