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Technorati Revisited

© December 2007 Anthony Lawrence

Honestly, I'm a bit conflicted on the value of Technorati.. I know it's Important (with a capital "I") and I make sure I format my home page so that Technorati can understand when I add new posts.. I even display Technorati tags at the bottom of each post and track Technorati stats in my sidebar.. but what is the point of Technorati? That's where I have a little trouble.

Oh, Technorati tells me this:

Technorati is the leading monitor of the world of weblogs. Technorati
is a real-time search engine that is the largest source of fresh
information about the global and local conversations going on all
across the Web. Technorati allows you to find out what people are
saying about you, your company, your products, your competitors,
your politics and, other areas of interest, on the Internet in real

Really? I thought Google was the leading monitor of the Web in general. Oh, sure, Technorati has that "tag" thing, but do I need that? After all, if I want to find web stuff about "Linux" I can just go to Google.. no, wait, Technorati has an answer for that:

Is searching the Live WebTM? different than searching the Wide Web?

    Yes. The Web indexed by most search engines is static and
    inactive. Other search engines will occasionally visit sites
    in search of new content. Technorati is integrated with the
    tools that power the blogosphere and is therefore notified of
    new content as it happens. Technorati lets you know what is
    being said right now, by whom, and how it affects you or your

Which is a bit different than what Google does, and really sounds like a great idea except..

People lie.

Anybody can tag their post "Linux" and many people do.. in fact, a lot of Technorati folk tag each post with a string of stuff that includes everything they have ever written about or (seemingly) might ever write about .. so about all you can really trust when you search Technorati for "Linux" is that the results are posts whose authors WANTED to be include in results for "Linux" - hoestly or otherwise.


By the way, I won't be tagging this post "Linux" - which means it won't show up in a Technorati search for that (although somewhat ironically it might turn up in a Google search).

But there is more to Technorati.. it also keeps track of other bloggers who link to your content. So, in theory at least. if I say my post is about "Linux" and other T-folk agree that it is by linking to it using that tag again, well by gosh, I bet it really is about Linux. Unfortunately, the linkers are generally too lazy (or technically clueless) to manage anything but a bare link, so in practice that doesn't help us.. that's not Technorati's fault - the base idea is good, it's the human implementation that fails.

By the way, Technorati seems to screw this up itself. If you look at https://aplawrence.com/Web/technorati.html, it seems to think my "Top Tags" are "Security" - and nothing else. Sure, I write about security, but I write a lot more about other things.. it's hardly my "top tag".

One thing I absolutely do not understand about Technorati is this "fan" thing. As I write this, I note that this site has two "fans" at Technorati. What does that mean? If I like a blog, I put it in with the rest of my RSS feeds.. and if the author is on Twitter I might follow them there. But "fan" them? Well, OK, I'm happy to if it helps in some way, but I sure don't understand what the purpose is - and if there is some place on Technorati that explains that, I am yet to find it.

The saddest thing about Technorati is that it is sometimes broken. The darnedest glitches will appear - hoary old posts from the dinosaur age will suddenly appear as "fresh links" to your post.. sometimes Technorati will pick up hundreds of my own pages that happen to have a sidebar link pointing to one of their own. That's probably great for my stats, but hardly an honest representation of reality.

And then most have us have experienced Technorati "forgetting" us, or misinterpreting old pages as new.. almost always an email to their tech support gets this fixed very quickly, but after all this time you'd think they would be less prone to such breakage..

But I "like" Technorati. I like the concept more than the execution, but that's life, isn't it? Technorati tries to provide something that Google does not (although Google could - if they'd stop being so damn arrogant and let us help them identify the content of our pages). For trying, even though the process is flawed and imperfect, I applaud them. Well, maybe not applaud, but I'll keep supporting them with my contributions to their tag clouds.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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