My Take on A/Z Listers

monkey_nerd.gifThis blog has been fortunate enough to be included in the “Z-list” meme that is running through the blogosphere right now. After doing a little research into it, I came to a few conclusions.

First, if you don’t know what A-listers or Z-listers are, then here is a brief description. “A-listers” are essentially the “top bloggers” (in terms of traffic, inbound links, etc.) These are the “loudest” voices in the blogosphere, and subsequently, the ones that garner most of the attention from others.

Conversely, the blogs at the “bottom of the pile” are called “Z-listers.” At the bottom you have a lot of really crappy blogs – but also some blogs that are well-written and contain valuable content, but are overlooked (or dwarfed) by the A-listers. Mack Collier at Viral Garden wanted to do something to give these other blogs some love, so he launched a chain of events to get these blogs noticed. From Mack:

Create a new post on your blog, but CUT AND PASTE the list I have below, and then ADD any blogs you feel aren’t getting their due…It can be 1 blog, or a hundred (or none if you simply want to re-post the same list), but the idea is, find those great blogs that, for whatever reason, you feel aren’t getting their due, link-wise.

Then after you leave your post, the next blogger will do the same thing, cut and paste YOUR list, and add THEIR blogs to the list, then repost it. Add the same instructions in your post that the next blogger should cut and paste YOUR list, and add any blogs they feel should be on it to THEIR list. The list will get increasingly long, and all the blogs will get a sort of reverse ‘pyramid-effect of link-love.”

This is a PAINFULLY easy way to bring extra links and exposure to those blogs that deserve it. I would institute and honor rule that you don’t include your own blog. The end result is that many great blogs will get a tone of extra exposure, we’ll all find some great new blogs to add to our reading list, and you’ll get much good karma points for helping out your fellow bloggers! And who knows, some of that link-love might even come back to you!

The concept is simple – by cutting/pasting the list, and adding blogs of your own to the list, and then posting this list on your own blog as a post, you will generate fresh inbound links to those blogs.

I was placed on this list, and thought it was cute, but didn’t really think much about it. Then I noticed that my (completely useless, IMHO) Technorati “ranking” jumped up from about 55,000 to around 32,000. From reading other bits around the blogosphere, I can see where this is helping some other blogs jump up in the rankings.

Of course, as Technorati bases its rankings off of “fresh” inbound links, most of these Z-listers will most likely start drifting back down in the rankings as the meme runs its course. But all of this got me thinking about the “A-listers”, and why there is even a need to track them.

If you aren’t familiar with Technorati’s rankings, the only real benefit is to make your blog show up higher if someone is searching for a specific keyword, tag, etc. (it increases the “authority” of your blog). Well, and of course, it also satisfies the egos of bloggers. Since most people use Google still for, well, finding just about everything, this is a moot point – but I digress.

Personally, I could give a **** where I show up in the rankings. I blog because it is a fun outlet for me, not because I want to stand up on a podium with a megaphone and scream “hey everyone, look at me! I’m a highly ranked blogger who couldn’t get a date in a women’s prison with a fistful of pardons! I am a blogger, hear me roar!”

And yes, I do believe many A-listers fall into that bucket. I also believe that blogging has unfortunately given some people a “voice” that probably shouldn’t have had one in the first place – freedom of speech notwithstanding. As an entrepreneurial spirit, I have always “challenged authority”, “bucked” the status quo, and I’ve probably crossed more lines in my life than most people have crossed “t’s”. I hate “the man” as much as the next Joe … but …

I don’t know which is sadder – the fact that we (as a society) have placed a bunch of people who are (quite frankly) placing very little in the way of thought leadership into the blogosphere onto something called an “A-list” or the fact that people have to resort to doing things like gaming Technorati via a Z-list meme in order to get people to read their ramblings.

It is fun, I admit, to see my blog jump higher in the rankings – however, when the Z-list meme has run its course, and the fresh links stop coming, all of these blogs that are seeing an increased ranking are going to start sliding back down the list. Then, it will be back to business as usual. Of course, this assumes that Technorati doesn’t do something to prevent it (it would be very easy to do – just ignore any RSS feed entries that have more than “n” number of outbound links). For that matter, they could easily drift into the mode of penalizing your ranking if you are suspected of gaming the system (ala Google).

So far, even though I’ve jumped up pretty substantially in the rankings, I haven’t seen much in the way of increased traffic.

EDIT/UPDATE: I should also add that with all of these “generic” inbound links, it makes the task of seeing who is providing “real” backlinks more difficult, as I have to wade through the Z-list links to find someone who is actually commenting on something I wrote.

The Z-list meme will only be a successful experiment, I suppose, if it results in some new recurring readers for these blogs – not just a bunch of anonmyous links that are not going to have a long-term effect on rankings. We’ll see.

I do appreciate being put on the list, though – thanks to whoever it was out there that thought my ramblings here might be of value to others!



  1. Hey…is that monkey, architect Philip Johnson?

  2. Hi Scott,
    Interesting post and thoughts. Agree with you. This ranking booster is probably not going to last for Z-Listers. Nevertheless, if people actually discover new blogs (like I’m discovering yours now), there might be some positive effects remaining after the Z-List. : )

  3. Mark – rofl :)

    Mindblob – thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you have discovered my ramblings, and I hope you find some of them to be of value!


  4. Scott,
    This post is a great example of thought leadership. Thank you for writing it. I’ll be sharing it with folks who don’t understand what went wrong with the good intentions of the list.

    You’ve gained a fan.

  5. Liz, thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment. You’re too kind – glad you enjoyed the post!


  6. elementaryhistoryteacher · December 31, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    While I didn’t find your blog through the z-list I find the whole concept interesting.

    I actually found your blog through a search for Georgia bloggers. I am putting together a Georgia blogging carnival that will publish for the first time on January 5th. I’d love to have you participate.

    You can find out more information at the website Georgia On My Mind at

    I also have a blog at

    Happy New Year!

  7. As one starting to fool with blogging, I’m actually quite fascinated in the rankings, because they are the “industry’s” way of judging connectedness. And after all, what is blogging about if it’s not sharing views and news. So there is a point out there, although it’s sometimes hard to find. Question: if not technorati, a) why is technorati flyiong, and b) how do you find, let alone plug into the “right” blog network for you? Doubly so since the mesh is still a mess.

  8. As an update … my ranking made it up to around 14,000 and started to drift back down. Now a second “wave” of z-listing has ensued, and my current blog ranking is around 11,000 on Technorati. Again,fun, but I’m still not convinced of the long-term benefit.


  9. The idea is fine in theory. The problem in many blogging applications use the ‘no-follow’ attribute, which means that although indexing robots like GoogleBot will see them, it will not count them as a backlink. The best thing to do is find a couple of really good blogs that are relevant to your site/blog and backlink.

  10. In fact, I have just checked the source of the blog and it has the no-follow attribute.

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