Technorati authority dropping due to anti-spam initiatives?!

29 10 2008

In the previous post (Technorati rank & authority dropping like the stock market) I mentioned the acute overnight drop of my Technorati Authority from ~46 to 5 and the loss of many backlinks.

Here I suggested that this dropping in authority might be connected to the loss of Google backlinks.

From the Technorati discussion forum it is apparent that many other bloggers are having similar problems: the loss of blog reactions and thus “authority”.

Going through some of those discussion, I found that answers of the administrator gave a clue to the cause of the vanishing pings.

In the discussion string http://support.technorati.com/discussions/topic/4655 the administrator wrote on October 17, 22 and 28 respectively (see Figure):

[Note the different insight over time and the light hearted tone:

” Hello all, we did a bit of spam cleaning over the weekend…” ]

The last response links to a blogpost of Ian Kallen on October 27, entitled: Data cleanups and mishaps, that clearly confirms that the “mishaps” do relate to (finally) cleaning up Technorati spam in a very rigorous way.

Here is the integral text of the Technorati blogpost.

“Technorati has a number of initiatives in the works to improve the data in our search indexes and analytics systems. Web spam sites (splogs) have long been an issue that we’ve been working to address. The days when pings came only from legitimate blogs are long gone. Including all of the spam and duplicates, Technorati receives over 8 million pings per day. Over 90% are recognized and blocked as soon as they’re received. The remainder is allowed into the system and selectively processed – a large portion is determined to be spam later.

Recently, we’ve been focusing on link farms and pornography sites that have been getting into the system. Link farms are networks of sites linking to each other and other sites with the intention of raising search rankings. Sometimes, these sites link to legitimate blogs to “camouflage” these intentions or simply because the content has been stolen from another site. During a recent scrub of the system, a number of legitimate blogs were misidentified as spam. The flags set on those blogs were reversed, so going forward they are being indexed correctly again. However, some of the link and post data scrubbed from our search and analytics systems could not be reverted. We’re working on upgrades to make that data handling better managed but in the meantime, there are some gaps in certain blog’s data which may affect the authority of blogs they linked to. Additionally, some blogs suffered authority drops due to being the beneficiary of camouflaged links from spam sites being removed (wittingly or not); when those spam sites were removed, so was a portion of the authority of the legitimate blogs they linked to.

We have a number of technology initiatives in the works to improve the scaling characteristics and data quality of our systems. More news will be arriving on that in the weeks and months ahead.

Indeed this explains a lot. As I wrote in previous posts ( Blog Spam and Spam Blogs 1 (see here) and 2 (see here)) many splogs have linked to my blog and much of my content has been and is being stolen by such blogs!!

So I’m punished twice and hard for writing about health related issues (the desired niche for spamblogs selling cialis, viagra and those kind of drugs).

Once by blogs stealing my content and ending up high in ranking (see comment of Wowter and Keith Nockels here) and once by Technorati finally cleaning up those spamming blogs in a rigorous way, dragging me along in their slipstream!

Thanks Technorati! For shooting holes in my ranking, not responding to my mail and not adequately helping those who are hit by your rucksichtloss (excellent German term for what has been done, something like recklessly in English) weeding of the spam blogs that you’ve allowed to exist in Technorati for years! (see this critic in Wikipedia mentioned in my previous post).

Technorati, what are you going to do about it?


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Technorati Rank & Authority Dropping Like the Stock Market

28 10 2008

Technorati is a free internet search engine for searching blogs, which has indexed over 100 million blogs and 250 million pieces of tagged social media (Wikipedia). It is a potential important service for bloggers because it keeps track of how many different blogs link to your blog. So, it works similar to the citation score (i.e. H-index) for “real” authors (of peer reviewed scientific papers). The more you are linked by different bloggers, the more “important” your blog is considered.

Technorati introduced a new score, “Authority” for this purpose. The Technorati Authority is the number of blogs (irrespective of importance and including spam blogs) linking to a website in the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority the blog has.

The Technorati Authority is often part of other “objective” blog scoring systems as well. The algorithm for the Healthcare 100 even depends on 3 Technorati scores: Authority, Ranking and Inlinks.

In addition, Technorati can be used to follow the posts of favorite blogs and linking posts.

Regularly I found that Technorati was kind of unstable and lingering behind. Some blogs linking to me were not included, but as long as the deviation is not too large, it is not that worrisome.

However, approximately 10 days ago my rank suddenly fell OVERNIGHT from ~46 to 5!!
Concurrently many linking blog post had gone: there were more than 250, now there were 50.
The old and the new posts have stayed, but those in between vanished.

New post have linked to me afterwards and my authority has “grown to 10”, but I’m sure it should be near 50.

As a consequence I made a free fall in the Top Health care list: from 198 to 351, which is entirely attributable to the drop in Technorati Authority and Ranking (highlighted scores)

Perhaps faulty Google backlinks may have something to do with it. Just before the drop in my Technorati ranking many Google Links disappeared (Google Links are the “Incoming Links” in the WordPress dashboard). And, as off yesterday, there are regularly wrong Google backlinks: links from my favorite blogs, without “Laika” being mentioned in the actual posts. (Note: this appears a different issue, blogged in a separate post)

However, in the past, Google links were quickly restored, whereas wrong or lacking Technorati links were not.

I mailed to Technorati a week ago, but didn’t receive any response yet (except for the receipt of the message).

Am I the only one with this problem? Apparently not. In the Technorati Forum discussions (see here), a lot of items deal with this very subject. See for instance the Topics Rank & Authority Dropped Like the Stock Market (Superb title, thanks! ) and Reactions and authority disappearing

Some ‘tormented’ responders like msager doubt the real value of Technorati, see for instance Why hasn’t the press noticed that Technorati has been broken for almost a year?

Even Wikipedia mentions criticism of Technorati:

(…) In May 2006 Technorati teamed up with the PR agency Edelman. The deal earned a lot of criticism, both on principle and as a result of Edelman’s 2006 fake blog scandals. Edelman and Technorati officially ended the deal in December 2006. That month, Oliver Reichenstein pointed out that the so called “State of the Blogosphere” was more of a PR-tool and money maker for Edelman and Technorati than a reliable source, explaining in particular a) why Technorati/Edelman’s claim that “31% of the blogs are written in Japanese” was “bogus” and b) where the financial profit for the involved parties was in this.
In May 2007, Andrew Orlowski writing for the tech tabloid The Register (…) suggests that Technorati has decided to focus more on returning image thumbnails rather than blog results. He also claims that Technorati never quite worked correctly in the past and that the alleged refocus is “a tacit admission that it’s given up on its original mission”.

Another point of criticism is that there is no quality ranking. Each blog that links to you (no matter if it’s a spam blog and irrespective its (real) authority) increases your Technorati Authority with 1.

Finally there are regular outages: disappearance of favorites, links, slow indexing.

Combined with inadequate response to outages and questions raised by bloggers (its clients), Technorati Authority and Technorati Ranking don’t seem to be the reliable and valuable scores, they could have been.

But what is the alternative?