I was chatting with fellow tech journo DJ Walker-Morgan (or as he’s better known Codepope) who mans the editorial helm at security and open source site The H recently about a feature I was going to write listing the top xyz whatever it was for developers and he replied to me saying I was doing an OLA.
OLA I replied? What’s that? Omnivorous Lugubrious Aardvark perhaps? No he said; I was doing an Obligatory List Article! Ah ha – now we’ve seen a million of these Tweeted in recent times and if you’re like me you’re probably numb to them by now too. Top seven tools for enterprise social media success – yawn! Or maybe you prefer, 99 ways to engage fellow IT workers in your project – whoops, sorry, I feel a bit nauseous, can you pass me a napkin?
So would I do it? Would I fall foul of this route to supposedly lazy journalism? Well, I would, but only if I thought the list was worth reading.
So for sometime now I’ve been tracking and chatting with Rotterdam-based Jurgen Appelo while at the same time keeping a keen eye on his Top 200 Blogs for Developers List, which he compiles in a very practical and developer-centric algorithmically-driven kind of a way.
Does Jurgen skip over some of his favourite sites and simply look at which ones appear to be most active? Not a bit of it. He creates this list by using Google PageRank, Technorati Authority, Alexa Rank, Google links, Twitter Grader Rank, AideRSS PostRank and the Mongolian Stock Exchange. This way, there’s a real content-related truth (we hope) to the validity of the list.
Shouldn’t all web-centric lists be built this way then? Appelo himself told me that, ”I got the idea for this list because I wanted to know myself what the best software development blogs are. But it appeared that this information wasn't readily available. Considering that I love making lists, I jumped at the opportunity of filling that void by making my own list. It turns out that I hit the bull's eye. My lists of Top 100 Blogs are by far the most popular blog posts I've ever published. They draw many, many thousands of visitors.”
Although the current version of this list is dated September 2009, there is an update planned soon. So do I value this list and do I think it’s worthwhile? Well, the fact that I am currently ranked at number #46 does help I suppose, but only in as much as this blog has become quite central to my working life and I don’t just roll out a bunch of half-baked notes now and again I hope.