Nearly two years ago I asked here Should I apply to become a biblioblogger? I really wasn’t sure whether Gentle Wisdom, with its eclectic mix of posts, would qualify as a Biblical Studies blog. But existing bibliobloggers put my name forward, and this blog was duly enrolled. It was briefly in the top 50 biblioblogs in early 2010, and made it back into the rankings in April this year.
This month a new biblioblog ranking scheme has been introduced, complete with a new logo (right) and a new live online ranking system allowing real time tracking of biblioblogs and individual posts. This last facility is very clever, but also currently very slow. And at the moment in this system Gentle Wisdom is ranked as #3, behind Joel’s and Scott’s blogs but well ahead of Jim West’s (but that may be because Jim has removed the tracking logo from his blog). Even more gratifying to me is that one of my posts is currently well in the lead for “Top 10 Articles This Month”.
But there is an important issue here. That #1 article of the month is WordPress Twenty Eleven: give us back our sidebar!, which is of course nothing to do with biblical studies. Should such posts be counted in the biblioblog rankings? There are two problems I see with any attempts to exclude them.
One is, who is going to decide which posts should count as related to biblical studies? Clearly the Biblioblog Library team cannot vet each post. But could bibliobloggers be trusted to decide which of their own posts qualify?
The second is that in fact few of the popular posts on biblioblogs are actually about biblical studies. Currently only a couple of the top ten posts of the month and a couple of the top ten of the day would strictly qualify, although many are not quite as irrelevant as my post about a WordPress problem.
Let’s face it, not many people read biblical studies posts, at least unless there is some scandal within the field. Those of us who, by design or accidentally, find ourselves high up the biblioblogger ratings do so because we post material of broad interest as well as about biblical studies.
Scott and Joel ask what a biblioblogger is, but they don’t really give answers, beyond a mention of the draft official criteria, which if applied strictly would probably disqualify both of their blogs, and Jim West’s – and mine. But I don’t suppose anyone has the stomach to throw out several of the best known blogs – only to be left with a more genuine biblioblogger like James McGrath topping the daily rankings with a post about Doctor Who!
Does this make the whole ranking system meaningless? Well, I think it means that no one should take it too seriously. But it provides good entertainment for some of us, and helps to keep us informed about biblical studies and to find some community. So I think it is worthwhile. And I thank the team which has worked so hard to get the new system up and running.
Meanwhile can I hold on to my #3 slot, or edge ahead of Scott to #2? We will see. I got off to a good start by being one of the first to add the new tracking code, and soon after that publishing what proved to be a very popular post. Others have the chance to jump in and catch me up. It may be an interesting race, in a not too serious sport.