Adam Green on the M-Listers

Since I was vocal in my dislike of Adam Green’s last idea, let me be equally vocal about my interest in his new idea.

He has a theory that bloggers that are not on the so-called A-List tend to cross-link to each other on certain topics, thereby creating link clusters that eventually allow some of those bloggers to accumulate enough flow to move up bloggers hill. He plans on testing that theory to see what it can tell us about linking behavior in the blogosphere.

Read his post, because it is very interesting and has a lot more details, but here’s the part that grabbed my attention:

When a new area of interest develops, such as what we are now seeing with OPML reading lists, a group of mutually linking bloggers emerges. If one of these bloggers is an A-lister, then the majority of the links point to his or her posts on the subject. If, on the other hand, the inter-linkers are all middle ranked bloggers, let’s call them M-listers, they tend to link to each other fairly liberally. As new people become interested in the subject, they find these clusters of posts (memetracking sites do a great job of revealing M-list clusters), and also link to many of the blogs in the cluster, since there is no one recognizable A-lister to link to exclusively. In time the M-lister who is most prolific on this subject, but not necessarily the best writer or scobler, acquires even more links. Eventually this blogger becomes the authority on the subject, and even A-listers take note and deliver links. The resulting accumulation of links are enough to reach A-list status. Thus we have a slow bubbling up from the middle, rather than the overnight success story so often told by analysts.

I think there’s a lot of logic to this argument. In fact, it is the semi-scientific explanation of the “wagon train” approach to blog building that I have been writing about and experiencing with some of my blogosphere friends.

On the whole, I have come around largely to Steve Rubel’s way of thinking– that focusing on traffic is backwards. That you need to focus on content, effort and relationships, and then let the traffic come naturally. But along with doing all of that, there remains the fact that the best way readers will find out about your content and effort is via links, which sometimes come via relationships.

And that’s what intrigues me about Adam’s experiment.

My friend and fellow wagon trainer Mathew Ingram is also interested in Adam’s experiment and makes some good points about the announcement of the experiment being a part of the experiment:

Interestingly enough, of course, Adam linked to Scoble’s post about the redesign of, and that link in turn helped get him onto memeorandum as a sub-link to Scoble’s post. In a convoluted sort of way, Adam’s own discussion of this kind of thing is itself an example of what is being discussed.

As long as there’s no more talk of any advisory boards and whatnot, sign me up.

I’ll play.