Are we too obsessed with rankings?

This feels like a bit of a strange post for me to make, but I want to make it anyway, and don't take it the wrong way…

I've recently started following SQLBatman's blog and I was astounded that he had to post a follow-up to his list of SQL blogger rankings (disclaimer: including ours – thanks!) because he'd been getting emails from people who obviously weren't as high in his list as they thought they should be, even though they were *his* rankings of their blogs. It struck me that with the amazingly connected society we live in now, and the ubiquitousness of things like blogs, Facebook (to which we're unfortunately addicted), and Twitter (which we're sternly resisting so far) – maybe we're becoming a little too focused on how popular our blogs are or how many people are following our Twitter feeds?

I used to be like that. When I first started blogging about 3 years ago on the Storage Engine blog at Microsoft, and then when I left and switched to this one a year later, I was pretty obsessed with how many people were reading the blog posts. Was I posting interesting info? Could I get away with jokes? Would my opinions offend someone? Was anyone linking to me? Why aren't I in XYZ's blog-roll?

Then I realized that, to be honest, the obsessing was taking the fun out of blogging and now I don't pay that much attention to the stats and just post stuff I think is interesting. I wanted to do this blog post to give a piece of advice to new bloggers and those who thought they should be higher up in, or just in, SQLBatman's (or anyone else's) rankings: don't get wrapped up in the numbers and rankings, and don't complain when someone doesn't rank your blog as highly as you think they should, or list it in their blog-roll. It's very easy to get bitter when a post doesn't get the numbers you think, or no-one links to it, and then start thinking along the lines of "why am I spending all this time doing this when no-one's watching?"

People are watching – there are thousands of 'lurkers' our there who you'll never see and never hear from, but they're watching and learning from what you post. Just focus on the content and if it's good you'll be discovered and/or ranked higher. Don't think about what to post that will make your ranking higher, think about what to post that's unique, interesting. and useful to people in the community. You can't really control what people think of what you post. I'm sure some people won't like this post, but I'm going to post it anyway.

From Field of Dreams 2: "If you build it, they will come".

9 thoughts on “Are we too obsessed with rankings?

  1. Hear Hear. I’m on his list as well, and I was pleasantly surprised – not because I was on a list, but because I’m glad someone is reading. And I don’t look at my rankings, followers, or anything else – I just hope someone get’s something out of what I’ve written.

  2. Right on. There’s always going to be competitive people who are driven to be number one, but they work too hard for the wrong reasons. If someone’s in it for the community, you can just tell.

  3. I’m quite surprised I’m on his list at all, let alone that high. I mostly write blog posts so that I have something to refer people to when they ask certain questions on the forums

  4. Thank you Paul, very good to hear this from In Recovery`, and thanks again for your speaking tips, they have helped greatly. It is a competitive world, and recently, since I was new to the online community ( although up for over a year now ) I felt compelled to put my hands well and truly in the fire after speaking with Brad McGehee and Scott Stauffer in December 08 – but another reason was for quick recognition, since I’ve been tinkering with SQL Server for ten years now and being a minority in this province, felt I had something to prove – way of reaching out.

    I had many, many good ideas in my head for the ‘high exposure’ SSC blog, after being invited, so once in, I ran…and ran hard (as if I was still a forward in Rugby) to see what would happen if I sprinted for a while – and it was sure rewarding to get up to top three bloggers temporarily (and front page articles six times) on their listing, which, as you mentioned, is cool, but should not be the goal. Thankfully the sprinting paid off, and the MVP Lead for Canada gave a nomination for July this year, thus I shall slow down to a consistent pace and stay in line with your advice – quality, not quantity, and out of desire and not necessity.

    Good to know there is a balance somewhere as you have clearly pointed out, and I believe it is a learning process any blogger must go through. You say now that you do not care so much about the numbers, but mind you, that is because you are well and truly established already…but don’t forget, for those of us still not at your level, we cannot skip this initial step.

    It is good, as you say, to think about whom you could possibly offend before clicking Publish, but honestly, one shouldn’t be too afraid of that, you want to provoke a little reaction, no? After all, the beauty of posting, is that you can go back and FIX a mistake or offending phrase (or simply tweak the post), as I have had to do several times already – which I accept as par for the course.

    BTW – Are you coming to SQLteach in Vancouver? – I’ll be trying to explain how to dig into a transaction log file. It would be great to meet, enjoyed your talk back in December here in Montreal 

  5. Thanks for the comments Hugo, and hope you make MVP this year. Nope, we don’t do SQLteach – it usually doesn’t work out for us. You must have me confused with someone else – I wasn’t in Montreal in Dec.


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