The A-List Blogger Myth

Steve Levy has an odd article about the supposed “A-List” bloggers who, untolerably, are all white males,

Viewed one way, the issue seems a bit absurd. These self-generated personal Web sites are supposed to be the ultimate grass-roots phenomenon. The perks of alpha bloggers—voluminous traffic, links from other bigfeet, conference invitations, White House press passes—are, in theory, bequeathed by a market-driven merit system. The idea is that the smartest, the wittiest and the most industrious in finding good stuff will simply rise to the top, by virtue of a self-organizing selection process.

So why, when millions of blogs are written by all sorts of people, does the top rung look so homogeneous? It appears that some clubbiness is involved. Suitt puts it more bluntly: “It’s white people linking to other white people!” (A link from a popular blog is this medium’s equivalent to a Super Bowl ad.) Suitt attributes her own high status in the blogging world to her conscious decision to “promote myself among those on the A list.”

Look, there is simpy no top rung of bloggers. Blogs like Instapundit.Com or Boing! Boing! get a lot of traffic (though I guess Levy hasn’t heard of Boing! Boing! since it also has a woman, Xeni Jardin, posting — guess we have to bump that to B level), but its not hard to push Average Joe’s blog to high traffic levels.

A lot of bloggers mistakenly seem to think that the key to getting a lot of traffic is to have some “A List” blogger link to you, which is why I suspect they have such low traffic. This server gets more traffic than it can really handle at the moment, and I rarely get linked to by this mythical “A List” group of bloggers (and I certainly don’t spend much time trying to change that or worry about it).

There certainly is an “A List” that appears regularly on talk shows, but Levy should ask those networks why they keep picking those folks (some of whom are just as error-prone/biased as the MSM they rail against, so maybe that’s the reason they keep showing up on the MSM).

Beyond that, I think Levy’s entire premise is absurd. I read quite a lot of blogs — in total, I think I know the race/sex of the authors of about 10 percent of them. Many very good blogs don’t even publish their names or a breakdown of their sexual and racial status.

What we have here is Levy and others blindly grabbing onto the trunk of the blogging elephant and wondering why the elephant only has a trunk when it should also have legs and a tail. Duh, look around a bit more and take of those blinders.


Blogging Beyond The Men’s Club. Steven Levey, Newsweek, 2005.