Yes, it’s time once again to start arguing about what constitutes ‘influential’, ask each other what algorithms are, show off if you do know what algorithms are, and wonder aloud why anyone is reading Stonch’s blog months after he stopped posting – last month’s Wikio rankings are in, and they go live tomorrow.
And just look at this table. It might look a bit familiar. Now look at it again, paying particular attention to the movers and shakers – or lack of them:
How weird is that? Every single one of the top twenty blogs in the same spot it was in last month.
Let’s deal with the most obvious and popular suggestion first – it means something has gone wrong inside the big algorithm machine.
Well, I double-checked this with Wikio before I posted and they assure me it’s correct. Certainly unusual, but definitely correct.
If it really is correct, it means that no beer or wine blog is any more or less influential than it was a month ago.
And the problem is, I can sort of believe that.
It might just be me, but the beer blogging world seems to have stagnated of late. Are people getting bored? Busier? Is everyone too preoccupied with the election or something?
Because I confess that I’ve started to find beer blogs a bit… boring. Obviously mine isn’t. Mine’s really interesting. And if you’re reading this wondering if I’m talking about you, then I’m not talking about your blog either, honest – whoever you are.
That last paragraph was tongue in cheek, by the way.
But collectively, our online beer conversation does seem to have settled into a complacent rut. It’s not any one person, but taken as a whole we all seem to be writing about what awesome beers we’ve had recently, how extreme they are, how rare they are, how hoppy or how aged they are. Beer blogs have become an online beer geek diary, a hi-tec glorified form of ticking.
I brewed this beer. I bought this beer. I drank this beer. In this pub.
Too many conversations form decaying orbits around brewing technicalities or beer definitions.
Could it be that the lack of action in the rankings reflects a lack of action – or at least a lack of momentum – in the blogs themselves?
This is not me sitting at number one slagging everyone else off. I include myself in everything I’m saying here. And I hardly posted in April. Lots of other people posted less frequently than they normally do. I have my individual reasons and I’m sure you do too. But have we run out of interesting stuff to write about beer? We analyse beers so closely, have we done it to death?
I don’t think so.
So why don’t we try to shake it all up in May?
The lazy way to do this would be to start a fight (*looks uncomfortably at today’s earlier post*) but there are other ways too. Try to wind someone up if you must – try to wind me up if you want, so long as you’re constructing an intelligent argument and not simply hurling abuse. But also think about writing something heretical. Write something that scares you. Write something very personal. Write something you don’t think any other beer blogger would or could write. Turn that last pub visit into more a story with characters and themes and twists and gags. Write something you’re not sure you agree with but just write it anyway, post and be damned – you can always write another post tomorrow saying you’ve changed your mind.
Think I’m out of order for saying this? Think I’m being patronising or unfair or superior, or missing the point of what beer bogs are all about? Think I should have a word with myself before challenging anyone else? Excellent! Post an argument on your blog explaining why!
Of course, tomorrow Wikio may well reveal that, having checked, there was something wrong in the big machine after all. If so I apologise for offending anyone. But I still think we should try and rearrange the beer blogging furniture a little bit.
After these last two posts, the only thing I need to do now for my next post is meet my own challenge in a way that’s not slagging anyone off. I will do this, I promise. In the interests of balance, I’m going to write a really positive post related in some way to the awesome achievements CAMRA as a body have made over the last 39 years. Just as soon as I can think of an original and interesting way to do that…
UPDATE HALF AN HOUR LATER…
Just heard there may indeed be a problem with the algorithm monster! I’ll publish updates on this as they come through, and a revised table if necessary, but whatever the outcome I still think my challenge stands. 😉