Creative Destruction

October 11, 2006

Alas, an Eruption

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues,Link Farms — Daran @ 7:03 pm

At the beginning of September, I was idly browsing at Alas, when I came across the following buried at the bottom of one of the pages:

Alas, a blog runs on WordPress blogging and review software.

I was curious. I knew about the blogging, but what’s this “review software”? I clicked. Imagine my surprise at encountering a whole section of the site I never knew even existed. “Amped Reviews”, it said, “Honest Reviews of Movies Retailers, Products, and Websites”. “Don’t believe the hype”, it exhorted.

So Barry has a second string to his bow, I thought, and to start with it looked pretty innocuous. The first section is “Movies”, featuring reviews of “Grandma’s Boy” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Scrolling down there are reviews for an Ipod, Faraday Flashlight, Fleshlight, A PPC 7600…

Fleshlight? That took me by surprise. Somehow I didn’t think Barry would be into sex toys, but why not? It’s not obviously something he would necessarily disapprove of.

…MILF lessons, MILF next door, Bangbros??? For those of you who don’t know it, Bangbros are a porn outfit that cater for a distinctly misogynistic segment of the market.

I wasn’t sure where Barry stood on the anti-porn/sex-positive feminism front, but I’ve never gotten any sense of his being pro-porn in any way. (He’s since clarified.) I really couldn’t imagine him approving of this. What was going on? Had the site been hacked? Did he have an evil twin? Whatever the explanation, it was clear that I had a major scoop here. Ampersand is a big name in the feminist blogosphere, so I did what any blogger would do. I immediately posted a humiliating exposé without bothering to find out any facts emailed him to find out what was going on:

It’s not my intention to embarrass you, but in the tradition of blogger-as-journalist, I feel duty bound to blog about this. I’d like to give you an opportunity to comment before I do.

I also promised to give him notice before publishing. Since I hadn’t given him that notice, he was under no immediate threat when he posted an explanation on Alas.

As he pointed out in that post ‘a couple of “Alas” readers ha[d] noticed’ – me and at least one other person. So he probably realised that it was only a matter of time before it became public. Better for him to do it at a time of his own choosing. And having done so, I felt there was no need for further coverage by me.

He made a mistake in not allowing comments. A comments thread would have allowed people to let off steam. A comments thread would have kept the post visible for longer, so that certain people who didn’t see it, would have. The inevitable eruption would have happened sooner, and have been over sooner. He’s now remedied that, but only for (pro)feminists. Feminists aren’t the only people who feel they have a stake in Alas. I have feelings about it too. However critical I may be of feminism in general, and Barry in particular, I recognise and value the resource that is Alas, and don’t want to see it damaged.

So what’s the verdict? Did he sell out? Yes, I think he did. His claim that “how that all works isn’t something I have any knowledge of” isn’t tenable He may not know the details, but he knows (because I explained it to him) that links from Alas to the review site improve the latter’s search rankings. In any case, ignorance isn’t really an excuse. The only possible defence to the sell-out charge was that he was conned, that Mr. Douglas, the buyer, exploited a loophole in the contract to violate it in spirit, but Barry himself has rejected that defence:

A couple of readers have speculated that I didn’t know that the new owner would link to porn on his pages. That’s not true; I kept the links off of “Alas,” but I knew that he would be putting links to porn on his own pages.

His current defence – that he doesn’t think porn is that bid a deal, one way or the other – doesn’t wash either. Barry may not care much, (I don’t either. It’s not my Ox being gored here) but a large part of his constituency does, and if he want Alas to be a place where they can come to engage in open debate, then he had a duty to them to keep the space clean for them. Neither do I think selling cartoons to magazines which might accept adverts for porn sites is comparable. There’s no connection between his cartoon sales, and what should be a neutral space for anti-porn feminists.

I hope it’s not too late for him to repair the damage. He’s made a start in his most recent posts.

I can’t finish this without commenting on the behaviour of some of his critics – not the ones expressing their hurt, or making reasoned comment, but the ones engaged in vilification and character assassination. I remember Heart, for example, who seems to be leading the charge against him “making a demand” that Barry create women/feminist only spaces on his blog running on his server using his bandwidth paid for with his money because he had attracted a larger audience than she had, like she had some Goddess-given right to the fruits of his labour written into her double-X chromosomes. Barry gave her a platform; I would have given her the boot. Several others I remember pissing all over him, even while he was giving them the breaks.

He may have stumbled, but he’s better than some of his critics.

Alas, an overview: (Originally courtesy of curiousgyrl, though I’ve added a fair few myself.):

http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/08/alas-a-blog-reviews-hardcore-pornography-websites-did-everybody-but-me-already-know-this/#comment-3416
http://sourduck.blogspot.com/2006/10/alas-porn-site.html
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/08/the-revolution-will-be-commodified-alternatives-to-selling-feminist-websites-and-blogs-to-the-man/
http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/10/ampersand_male_.html
http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/?p=411
http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/?p=412
http://laurelin.wordpress.com/2006/10/10/alas-a-sell-out/
http://viv.id.au/blog/?p=88
http://angryforareason.blogspot.com/2006/10/no-really-im-feminist.html
http://sparklematrix.wordpress.com/2006/10/09/alas-a-blog-sold-out-to-pimp-my-ride/
http://ginmar.livejournal.com/909066.html
http://witchywoo.wordpress.com/2006/10/10/fuckery-and-betrayal/
http://rocr.xepher.net/weblog/archives/001793.html
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/12/pimp-my-domain-for-dummies-not-mysterious/
http://fauxrealtho.com/2006/10/10/um-yeah/
http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2006/10/11/bad-ideas/
http://community.livejournal.com/mf_unicorns/7838.html
http://incurable-hippie.blogspot.com/2006/10/alas-bastard.html
http://community.livejournal.com/mf_unicorns/8004.html
http://www.slanttruth.com/2006/10/11/confused/
http://community.livejournal.com/mf_unicorns/8258.html
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/42929/
http://danaseilhan.livejournal.com/98287.html
http://melancholicfeminista.blogspot.com/2006/10/new-feminist-blogosphere-blowup-porn.html
http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/index.php/2006/10/13/the-fascinating-tale-of-pro-feminist-male-blogger-and-the-porno-sell-out/
http://blog.shrub.com/archives/tekanji/2006-10-13_426
http://www.feminish.net/2006/10/13/another-world-is-possible/
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/13/amp-gate-epilogue/
http://angryandqueer.wordpress.com/2006/10/13/turned-out-to-be-a-unicorn-after-all/
http://castironbalcony.media2.org/?p=268
http://just.shelleypowers.com/diversity/just-walk-away/
http://forfuckssakes.blogspot.com/2006/10/amp-got-hit-by-feminist-police.html
http://www.reappropriate.com/?p=24
http://rocr.xepher.net/weblog/archives/001817.html
http://www.melted-dreams.net/definition/2006/10/12/this-whole-alas-drama-thing/
http://faultline.org/index.php/site/comments/on_blog_policy/
http://pandagon.net/2006/10/11/fuck-ritual-condemnation-but-love-this-post/
http://mindthegapcardiff.blogspot.com/2006/10/alas-fall.html
http://www.rachelstavern.com/?p=224
http://feet2thefire.blogspot.com/2006/10/on-with-ritual-condemnation-i-dont.html
http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2006/10/13/bought-and-sold/
http://just.shelleypowers.com/diversity/this-is-not-a-feminist-weblog/
http://catallarchy.net/blog/archives/2006/10/12/how-not-to-sell-out/
http://www.juliansanchez.com/notes/archives/2006/10/does_the_left_hand_know_what_t.php
http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/site/amptoonscom_ownership_and_site_traffic/
http://www.crescatsententia.org/archives/2006/10/12/#006792
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/14/ampgate-reprise-the-good-the-funny-the-real/
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/14/pimp-my-domain-for-dummies-experts-weigh-in/
http://happyfeminist.typepad.com/happyfeminist/2006/10/i_dont_have_tim.html
http://thurgood.blogspot.com/2006_10_01_thurgood_archive.html#116058827972363318
http://forfuckssakes.blogspot.com/2006/10/radfem-love-for-yours-truly.html
http://forfuckssakes.blogspot.com/2006/10/if-this-is-radfeminism-i-want-no-part.html
http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2006/october#000493
http://irrationalpoint.blogspot.com/2006/10/and-this-will-be-my-only-word-on.html
http://wampum.wabanaki.net/vault/2006/10/003130.html
http://www.thewebcomiclist.com/news/985/more-on-barry-deutsch039s-sale-of-his-url-to-search-engine-optimization-company
http://www.culturekitchen.com/liza/blog/alas_a_blog_and_good_feminist_business_practices
http://comixpedia.com/more_on_barry_deutschs_sale_of_his_url_to_search_engine_optimization_company
http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/10/amp_thinks_i_hu.html
http://redgarterclubwebsite.com/SmackChron_Blog/2006/10/18/intermission-special-the-alas-a-porn-portal-controversy/
http://redgarterclubwebsite.com/SmackChron_Blog/2006/10/18/the-alas-a-porn-portal-controversy-a-bibliography/
http://myamusementpark.blogspot.com/2006/10/its-official-im-not-feminist.html
http://elayneriggs.blogspot.com/2006/10/major-mega-meta-post-as.html
http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2006/10/i-love-smell-of-dissent-on-monday.html
http://angryscientist.wordpress.com/2006/10/23/men-who-claim-feminism-but/
http://wendymcelroy.com/news.php?extend.476
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/25/ampgate-wendy-mcelroy-women-and-male-power/

Update 2: OK, I give up. I’ve dumped the classification, and merged the lists. I was getting too much grief. The following is just a record of what I intended, and no longer applies.

Update: A note on the classification

I started this round up, with two things in mind. Firstly, when I oringinally wrote the post, it wasn’t clear to me whether Barry was still in denial about the general fucked-upness of what he’d done. I thought by listing the posts, I could draw his attention to the sheer volume of criticism – not just the jackbooted thugs who started the pile-on, but also the thoughful, sensitive objections from people who were hurt by what he’d done.

Barry was hurting too, and I also wanted him to know that he still had friends. So I separated out what at that time was the only unequivocally supportive post by Shelly.

Since then it’s become clear that the community has started to use the lists as a resource. This has been my most read, most linked-to post ever, by a wide margin. I’m not vain enough to believe that my glorious prose is what is attracting so much attention, but hopefully the visitors at least read my glorious prose, even if that’s not what they came for. So I’m very happy to continue maintaining the lists.

It’s also become clear that the simple division between “critical” and “supportive” is quite inadequate to capture the full range of opinion in all its nuance. Some posts – mostly from outside the community – expressed no discernable view one way or another, so I created a separate “other” section. Other posts were mild, or ambivalent. Still others were both critical and supportive. My criteria for assigning them to one of the two categories is entirely subjective – If I were Barry, would I feel more criticised than supported?

I’ve considered rejigging the classification, but in the end, I don’t see the point. Any new set of categories I could come up with would suffer the same problem. On the other hand, I still think it’s worth keeping the classification because Barry is still feeling battered, even if he’s no longer in denial, and this makes the support he’s getting visible.

Bottom line: Please don’t feel offended if I’ve filed you under ‘critical’ and your post was intended to be ‘supportive’, or vice versa. The division of many of the posts has been on a knifeedge.

34 Comments »

  1. good post, daran.

    Comment by curiousgyrl — October 11, 2006 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  2. I’m reminded of that “worst episode ever” bit from The Simpsons:

    Comic Book Guy: Last night’s Itchy & Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever. Rest assured I was on the internet within minutes registering my disgust throughout the world.
    Bart: Hey, I know it wasn’t great, but what right do you have to complain?
    CBG: As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.
    Bart: What? They’re giving you thousands of hours of entertainment for free. What could they possibly owe you? I mean, if anything, you owe them.
    CBG: Worst episode ever.

    For what it’s worth, I consider Alas to be the only far-left publication—blog or otherwise—that’s worth reading, and that’s not because of the commenters.

    Also, I think that the idea that this somehow pollutes the space or makes it non-neutral is groundless. The only connections between Alas and the Amped Reviews site are that link and the fact that they happen to share a domain name. To all intents and purposes, they’re different sites.

    In fact, I can’t think of a single (non-symbolic) reason why anyone could complain. Ampersand’s right when he says that the effect will be to help some pornographers take business away from other pornographers, not to increase the total market for pornography.

    Comment by Brandon Berg — October 11, 2006 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

  3. Pimp My Domain for Dummies: Not Mysterious

    Over on Alas, Violet Socks posted John’s explanation, from here, yesterday, about the mechanics of domain name pimping, as follows:

    Trackback by Women's Space/The Margins — October 12, 2006 @ 1:52 am | Reply

  4. Here’s an aspect I don’t think anyone else has brought up: It’s not likely that this in any increases the market for pornography. All Ampersand’s doing is helping some pornographic sites take business away from pornographic web sites. But he’s getting paid for doing so. This deal helps some pornographers, but not as much as it hurts others.

    Rent-seeking via search engine optimization is a negative-sum game for the pornography industry. Total revenues remain the same, but the industry as a whole is out the money they paid to Ampersand.

    Comment by Brandon Berg — October 12, 2006 @ 3:26 am | Reply

  5. Actually several people have made this point. For example.

    Comment by Daran — October 12, 2006 @ 5:06 am | Reply

  6. Several people, including Ampersand himself, have pointed out that there’s no net gain to the pornography industtry. But I haven’t seen anyone else point out that it’s actually a net loss.

    Not that I’ve read all of the responses, of course.

    Comment by Brandon Berg — October 12, 2006 @ 5:17 am | Reply

  7. How Not to Sell Out

    Ampersand, the founder of the left-wing but otherwise excellent Alas (a blog), is catching some heat from some of his fellow travelers for selling his domain to a search-engine optimization company whose clients include some pornographic web sites. Not…

    Trackback by Catallarchy — October 12, 2006 @ 5:34 am | Reply

  8. I’ve been an Alas reader long enough to remember that previous Heart episode you mentioned, and many other criticisms directed to Amp.

    It seems to me that no matter how much some feminists consider Amp “The Man”, a sell-out, not a real feminist etc. Amp remains a committed feminist. It’s quite absurd that some pretend that this proves that he is not committed to feminism.

    I’m not saying that they should all back away, but there’s something disconcerting about the hurry that he is vilified with.

    Comment by Tuomas — October 12, 2006 @ 7:35 am | Reply

  9. It may be disconcerting, but it is hardly surprising given who the larger portion of his readership is. Most of them have a very specific view about pornography and following this past year’s feminist-haven/feminist-only policy, it would logically strike many of his readers as odd and hypocritical that he would be connected to pornography, regardless of how trivial it may be.

    Something similar happened to Glenn Sacks following Amanda Maricott’s and Michael Flood’s appearances on his show. Anytime a person is held as a voice of a group of people, they walk a very fine line. Whenever it appears that they have slipped, people who previously supported them often go right for the throat.

    It is somewhat sad that this is the second time this year Barry has had a large portion of his readership turn on him.

    Comment by toysoldier — October 12, 2006 @ 8:24 am | Reply

  10. …you people are fast with those link updates! Thanks.

    Comment by Reinder — October 12, 2006 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  11. You’re welcome, although it’s just one person with way, way, too much time on his hands.

    Comment by Daran — October 12, 2006 @ 3:23 pm | Reply

  12. I haven’t dedicated a full post, but it’s been in several places in my comments section: support. and particularly: what you said wrt Heart.

    Comment by belledame222 — October 12, 2006 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  13. [...] A good round-up of posts on the issue at Creative Destruction. [...]

    Pingback by Definition - A Feminist Weblog » This whole “Alas” drama thing — October 12, 2006 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

  14. …who now, btw, is taking the line that she never trusted Amp to begin with; but part of the reason she -had- done is that he’d never asked for money (i.e. a Paypal button).

    I can’t say i’m totally following her reasoning here, i must confess. apparently he should’ve done that to begin with, but also that would’ve been less likely to make Heart trust him, so he -shouldn’t- have done that?

    sorry, the bset i can summon up for this is: don’t let the door hit you. really.

    and the moral being, I think: you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and the more you try, the more likely you are to get sqooshed one way or another, sooner or later.

    so yes, i imagine Amp will take a lesson from this;

    what that lesson is, well, it’s up to him.

    Comment by belledame222 — October 12, 2006 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

  15. Belledame, I’m only linking to posts rather than comments, as there are only so many hours in the day. All the comments are reachable from the posts.

    I had noticed your posts, in particular the “lets eat some puppies” one. Had a good laugh at that. I’m sure Barry appreciated it too.

    Comment by Daran — October 12, 2006 @ 4:21 pm | Reply

  16. Thanks for the link, although I’m not sure I’m 100% supportive of Barry’s choice, I’m just a little disheartened by the malicious “me”-ness of some of Barry’s detractors.

    Belledame — Amp has a donation button on his site (or at least I’m pretty sure he does, as he has one little character on his sidebar yelling “DONATE”; I’ve never clicked it though). Besides, it’s hard to rely on donations to help fund a popular blog; the costs can be so expensive that there would be no way to completely defray the costs through the generousity of others.

    Besides — Barry was also worried about a financial problem in his personal life. It’s hard to solicit donations from your blog to help you pay your rent.

    Comment by Jenn — October 12, 2006 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  17. oh, sure, I wasn’t saying he should’ve done. just, noting the irony of some people feeling “betrayed,” all things considered.

    and Daran, no need to link to the comments, just wanted to note myself in that column here as well.

    Comment by belledame222 — October 12, 2006 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  18. Jenn:

    Thanks for the link, although I’m not sure I’m 100% supportive of Barry’s choice,…

    The classification is not that you were supportive of Barry’s choice but that you were supportive of Barry. As I said above, some posts are both. I’m doing my best here.

    I’m just a little disheartened by the malicious “me”-ness of some of Barry’s detractors.

    Yeah, me too.

    Belledame — Amp has a donation button on his site…

    I misread that as “Amp has a detonation button on his site…”. Yep, and someone pressed it.

    Comment by Daran — October 13, 2006 @ 12:35 am | Reply

  19. [...] Like saying no when it’s easier to say yes. in the words of Twisty Faster [back]see Creative Destruction’s roundup of the Alas, a blog controversy [back]see this thread over at Happy Feminist [back] see zuzu and Jill at Feministe, a discussion inspired by this post from the wisest of Spinster Aunts [back] [...]

    Pingback by feminish » Another world is possible — October 13, 2006 @ 11:26 am | Reply

  20. I’d like to clarify that my post is not critical of Barry, but rather an explanation of why I do not wish to be affiliated in any way with amptoons.com while it is under the ownership of a company whose practices I find to be dubious at best.

    Comment by tekanji — October 13, 2006 @ 8:32 pm | Reply

  21. Yeah, some posts are really hard to classify. Earlbecke has also disaffiliated*, but she was also very supportive in a way you weren’t.

    Unless I rejig the classifications (or abandon them completely) I don’t see where better to put you.

    *I’m aware of the etymological irony in this word.

    Comment by Daran — October 13, 2006 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  22. Well, I could always be stuck under “other”. I know some bloggers really went after Barry himself, and I’m not comfortable being lumped in with that, yanno?

    I tried really hard to keep my own opinions about his decision out of the matter, and concentrate on what I thought was important — the issue of the current situation and how that affected my blog.

    Comment by tekanji — October 13, 2006 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

  23. You’re not being lumped in with that. My own post, if I had to file it, would be ‘critical’, and there are many other sensitive, reasonable post in that category. I could try to split it further in to ‘reasonable’ and ‘unreasonable’ criticism, but that too is a continuum, and there’s gonna be a few borderline posts that would cause me even more grief.

    Other is for posts that neither criticise nor support. Shelly is the only feminist there, and if you check that post out, you’ll see that she’s complaining about how the thugs are treating Shelly, not how they’re treating Barry. The other posts in that category are all by outsiders, some having a laugh at y’all, some just considering the wider implications.

    If you want to put on a show of support for Barry, feel free to post one. I’ll file it as I see it. Reindeer has two posts listed, one in each category, and I’ll happily do the same for you. But other than that, I’m in a “can’t please all of the people” position here.

    Comment by Daran — October 14, 2006 @ 5:35 am | Reply

  24. Hey,

    Please could you take my post out of the ‘supportive’ category! Expressing a few concerns about the situation does not constitute support. That post is there to explain why we are de-linking our blog from Alas. If you don’t think it’s strong enough to be called critical, I don’t mind you putting it in the ‘other’ category, but we do not in any way support what Ampersand has done.

    Comment by Winter — October 14, 2006 @ 6:02 am | Reply

  25. Ampgate Reprise: The Good, the Funny, the… Real

    Angry and Queer’s post excerpted below, Turned Out to be a Unicorn After All,  is, I think, really good:
    Because Ampersand was the author of the Male Privilege Checklist, this situation is dripping with irony.
    Feminism will never be a profitable…

    Trackback by Women's Space/The Margins — October 14, 2006 @ 10:52 am | Reply

  26. Daran,

    Reading through some of the posts you link, I noticed that (on Rachel S.’s post) you commented that you intended to write up a post on how the SEO scheme actually works. I’ve been trying to puzzle that out for myself, but still have a number of points of puzzlement, so this is just a note to say: please do write up an explanation!

    Why delinking wouldn’t matter (as you mention in your comment at Rachel’s Tavern)is one of my major questions.

    Whether this scheme is one that google will view as unacceptable, resulting in 0 PR for amptoons.com is another (I assume yes from the maxspeaks.com case, but others have argued no).

    Also, how can the 1 link (1 out of roughly 60 external links that appear on each page) from a PR 6 site really be worth all that much, particularly since heavy intralinking within a site reduces the amount of PR that external links are worth, and the recent comments and archive links would seem to make Alas highly intralinked?

    Your thoughts greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Charles S — October 17, 2006 @ 5:52 am | Reply

  27. [...] [Note: I’m not providing links to any of the detractors or the particularly nastier comments, since it’s my stated policy to avoid giving these….ladies any more of my bandwidth; however, you can reference either the Alas discussion at the thread here, or this blog, which contains links to the various blog rants pro, con, or indifferent.] [...]

    Pingback by The SmackDog Chronicles » Blog Archive » Intermission Special: The “Alas, a Porn Portal” Controversy — October 18, 2006 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  28. And you can now add this overview to your list (from a somwhat bemused, pro-porn, pro-sex feminist, outsider’s view of the whole kerfuffle):

    The SmackDog Chronicles: Intermission Special: The “Alas, a Porn Portal” Controversy

    Personally, I think that Amp got too much grief, since it’s still his blog to do with what he pleases….but I do understand why so many would be so hurt and offended and feel betrayed..and he should have been a bit more open and forthright at the beginning. The attacks from the Radfem Antiporn Caucus, however, are and still remain completely out of line.

    But, that’s only my view.

    Anthony

    Comment by Anthony Kennerson — October 18, 2006 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

  29. Glad to oblige, though I’m afraid you’re a little late to the party, as the number of page views I’m getting has dropped off markedly since the eruption, er, erupted.

    Comment by Daran — October 18, 2006 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  30. Charles,

    It sounds like you already have a basic understanding of how it all works. In particular, you have correctly apprehended that rich internal linking reduces the value of the outgoing links. This is true also for the sites that link to Alas. Most of them are blogs, most blogs have rich internal linkage, and most have an extensive blogroll. So they give only a tiny proportion of their juice to Alas.

    When we say that amptoons is highly ranked (pagerank 6 as it happens) we mean that the front page (www.amptoons.com) is pagerank 6. Maybe a few other pages, such as http://www.amptoons.com/blog are also pagerank 6. Others may have lower, but still respectable ranks. The vast majority of pages will have rank 0, but there are thousands and thousands of them, all linking to reviews.amptoons.com. In addition, all of them link to the high ranking pages under of Alas, which link to reviews.amptoons.com. Indeed it is they more than the incoming links, which are the cause of the high rank of those pages.

    The bottom line is that it is the thousands of pages on amptoons which give reviews its rank, both by directly linking to reviews, and by linking to many other pages on Alas with link to reviews. The blogroll of an external site will link to one page at Alas, so even if that external site had exactly the same number of pages as Alas, each with exactly the same pagerank, its contribution to reviews would be much smaller. Of course, most blogs have nowhere near as many pages as Alas.

    Comment by Daran — October 18, 2006 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  31. Daran,

    I think you are mistaken on the page ranking of internal pages. Since pages pass on 85% of their PR to the pages they link to, a heavily intermeshed site will have higher rankings for the pages that have the most in-bound links (www.amptoons.com/blog), but will have similar rankings for every other page (or so I get from here.

    I also think you are mistaken about how much Alas would be worth if it did not have in-bound links (a little, but not very much). It would be easy to generate a site that had way more heavily interlinked pages than http://www.amptoons.com/alas (just create a mirror of wikipedia, add ads, and you are done). The hard part is to get the external inbound links to feed in outside PR to get spread around and amplified.

    I’m pretty sure that it is indeed the inbound links (and particularly the blog side bar links) that give Alas its PR value.

    I finally went looking around the reviews.amptoons.com site, and I now understand how it works much better. People had mentioned sites like bangbus.com and 8thstreetlatinas.com as the sort of sites that reviews linked to and, looking up the PR of those sites, they have huge PR. However, looking around reviews, I see it actually links to a bunch of small-time imitators with crappy PR. I can much more easily see how sites with PRs of 1-4 can benefit from this sort of scam.

    Comment by Charles S — October 19, 2006 @ 1:41 am | Reply

  32. Since pages pass on 85% of their PR to the pages they link to,

    Not 85% of their PR (Toolbar PR according to the paper you cite). They pass on 85% of their google juice (Real PR). It’s not clear what the relationship is between google juice and PR, but it’s certainly not linear. Logarithmic as as good a bet as anything.

    but will have similar rankings for every other page (or so I get from here.

    The explanation in your cite is correct (or at least, it accords with my understanding of how PR works), but you’re either not understanding it, or not fully understanding its implications. Almost all pages will gain most of their juice from pages which link to them, but that doesn’t mean that sites gain most of their juice from other sites. The juice available to an entire site is (number of pages in site) + (juice incoming from other sites) – (juice outgoing to other sites). As you know 85% of a page’s juice is transmitted to other pages. If, on average, half of the links on a page are to other pages within the site, then instead of the site losing 85% of its juice to other sites, it looses only 42.5%. On Alas, the ratio of external to internal links is much less than this. There are about 70 permanent external links that appear on every page – mostly “Other Blogs by Alas Contributors”, the Blogroll, and “Real-life friends”. In addition there are a varying number of external links in the list of recent comments, which also appears on every page. But that list of comments also contains a huge number of internal links, which come on top of “Alas-Related Links”, “Pages”, “Archives”, “About the Bloggers”, “Authors”, “Categories” and “Meta”. I haven’t counted, but there must be hundreds of them.

    On the other hand, consider incoming links of a typical page on Alas. It was likely posted several years ago. It’s no longer on the front page, nor is it being actively commented on. It’s incoming links are an archive page, an author page, and one or more category pages. It may have some incoming links from other sites, but the linking pages are also likely to be old, and no longer active.

    Most pages on Alas are like this. They have less than 1 juice, and are individually worthless. But there are thousands of them. But where does all that juice go to? Not offsite, we’ve shown that, but to the few hundred pages which they all link to.

    Here’s another way to look at it. Imagine another site identical to Alas which blogrolls Alas. Tthat site gives Alas one link from each of its pages. Alas gives itself hundreds of links from each page.

    Comment by Daran — October 19, 2006 @ 3:13 am | Reply

  33. I can see how the archived entries would have relatively little value, although I suspect it is way higher than 1. They are each only linked from 3 pages, but those three pages are linked from every page on the site.

    I’m not sure about the comment side bar effect. There seems to be speculation that google’s actual page rank calculation ignores redundant links. I don’t have any idea if it is thought that redundant page links with different anchors would count as redundant or not. If they do, then the comment side bar only gives 1 link to each commented post.

    The frequency with which the “how to sell a wedding dress” post makes it back onto the side bar, when it is simply an archive page, suggests that archived entries still have a lot of google juice.

    While it is true that Alas gives itself hundreds of internal links per page, compared to the single inbound link per page that other blogs give it, it is still the inbound links that give Alas its value. If Alas had no inbound links, the worth of the average page would be 1, and Alas is not set up to magnify and focus that page rank, but is instead arranged to spread it evenly.

    As I pointed out, if it were Alas’s structure (and not the inbound links) that made it valuable, the SEO optimizer would merely need to mirror wikipedia to get something far more massive (and perfectly legitimate).

    I’m just going by eye here. I admit that I may be off from what the actual calculations would show, but I’m not convinced by you going by eye, either.

    Comment by Charles S — October 19, 2006 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

  34. I can see how the archived entries would have relatively little value, although I suspect it is way higher than 1. They are each only linked from 3 pages, but those three pages are linked from every page on the site.

    Not all of them. Most of the summary ‘pages’ are actually multiple pages, of which only the first is linked from every page.

    But even if it were true that there was just one big summary page for each classification, and that page had a high pagerank, it would also have a humungous number of internal links, giving very little juice to each.

    As you point out below, site organisation can’t increase the average page juice above 1. Only an excess of incoming over outgoing juice can do that.

    I’m not sure about the comment side bar effect. There seems to be speculation that google’s actual page rank calculation ignores redundant links. I don’t have any idea if it is thought that redundant page links with different anchors would count as redundant or not. If they do, then the comment side bar only gives 1 link to each commented post.

    I don’t know either. But if not, then the comment sidebar produces as many internal links as there are active stories, and as many external links as there are active commentors with homepages not otherwise linked.

    The frequency with which the “how to sell a wedding dress” post makes it back onto the side bar, when it is simply an archive page, suggests that archived entries still have a lot of google juice.

    That page is the top google return for the search string “sell a wedding dress”. It’s not top for even minor variations on that theme.

    However even though it’s currently off the active comments list, Google hasn’t caught up with this. I’ll keep an eye out, and see if the page ever loses its top slot.

    Bear in mind that pagerank isn’t the only factor which determines which page gets top rank in any search.

    While it is true that Alas gives itself hundreds of internal links per page, compared to the single inbound link per page that other blogs give it, it is still the inbound links that give Alas its value. If Alas had no inbound links, the worth of the average page would be 1, and Alas is not set up to magnify and focus that page rank, but is instead arranged to spread it evenly.

    On the contary, it focusses the juice onto the several hundred pages linked to from every page. You’ve not demonstrated that the average juice across all pages is greater than 1.

    As I pointed out earlier, Alas blogrolls about 70 external sites, many of them very small, giving each of them the same amount of juice. Let’s call that quantity 1 Alas. In order to make that up, it needs to get 70 Alas’s worth of juice from external sites. Show me the 70 sites, as big and impressive as Alas which blogroll Alas.

    As I pointed out, if it were Alas’s structure (and not the inbound links) that made it valuable, the SEO optimizer would merely need to mirror wikipedia to get something far more massive (and perfectly legitimate).

    I don’t know. I’d heard that there are many mirrors of wikipedia, but a search on random text from that site turns up just two – one at answers.com and one at opentopia. I suspect that Google may be downgrading ‘spammy’ copies, or perhaps the spammers copy only parts of it.

    Spammers do scrape the blogosphere. (warning: porn link, but scroll down.)

    Comment by Daran — October 20, 2006 @ 8:04 pm | Reply


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