Time for a good demolition job

This list of The Top 100 Liberal Arts Professor Blogs has been getting linked around.

I’m not sure why. It is a pile of stinking poo.

1. Basic errors. It lists ‘Another Damned Medievalist’ as an ‘English’ blog. I think ADM will be surprised to discover that she’s been relocated to the English department when she gets back from her London research trip. She would probably also want to point out that her blog is in fact called Blogenspiel (ADM is her handle).

2. A number of the blogs listed are inactive. Miriam Jones’s original scribblingwoman blog has been defunct for some time; Miriam now has a newer blog elsewhere. The English Eclectic hasn’t been updated since December 2007 (and was never very prolific, that I can recall; and, although it was quite a nice little blog, there are more than 100 blogs that are better). These are just ones I know about. The most recent post at a blog is at the very top of the front page, for god’s sake; it takes a split second to discover that no one’s been at home for months.

3. Crappy conceptualisation. 30 of the blogs are under the heading ‘English’. That appears to mean ‘in an English department’ (except when they’re not: see 1 above). This is in contrast to otherwise mostly specific discipline headings such as ‘sociology’, ‘history’, ‘philosophy’, etc. ‘English’ is not terribly helpful or meaningful, given the breadth of interests you can find in English departments. They also seem to have failed to grasp the concept of a group blog populated by members of different disciplines: Crooked Timber is listed under Philosophy. Which isn’t entirely wrong but doesn’t do CT’s range of interests any justice.

4. ‘Professor’ blogs? Some of the best ‘liberal arts’ blogs I know are not written by academic staff, but by postgrad students. There is something just not right about a list of academic blogs that (by definition) excludes blogs like Acephalous and Airminded. (I won’t pick on the UScentricness of the terminology since the site is primarily aimed at that market. Non-US readers should be aware, though, that ‘Liberal Arts’ has a particular meaning, which isn’t the same as ‘Arts’; and ‘professor’ in US universities refers to any member of faculty, not just the most senior people.)

5. I don’t want to get too much into inevitably subjective judgments about the quality of the blogs listed and what should be in and what should be out, but it is being presented as a serious ‘reviews and ratings’ site, not just personal opinions, so I will say: anyone who thinks those 10 history blogs are the top 10 in the blogosphere, even if you only include ‘professors’, is an ignoramus.*

6. And a final thing: the list in fact contains 101 entries, not 100. (There are two blogs listed under 73.) So they can’t count or correctly format an ordered list either.

I’m not fond of lists like this at the best of times, but I think this has to be the most incompetently conceived, sloppily executed, downright utterly worthless effort I have seen in four years of blogging. Now will people stop linking to it as though it might be a useful resource, please?**

***

*I’ve just realised that could be ambiguous. I don’t mean that all of the 10 are unworthy of being in such a list. A few definitely should be in anybody’s top 10. Several, however, are simply not in that sort of league.

**And before you say anything, I’ve added rel=nofollow to the link at the top. They ain’t gettin’ no pagerank from me.

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12 Responses to Time for a good demolition job

  1. trebolín says:

    One (1) non-Anglophone would have been a sweet little token of liberal intent.

  2. trebolín says:

    (One fears they have not sussed Herr Prof. Dr. Boethius P. von Korncrake)

  3. Tim Lacy says:

    I saw that Tenured Radical referred to the Top 100 blog the other day. Anyway, like you I saw that several entries were inactive. Plus, historians are short-shrifted. Blah. – TL

  4. John says:

    The Philosophy blogs aren’t well-chosen, either. And if the list is going to include the social sciences (Econ, Soc, Poli Sci), why not include Anthropology?

  5. Pingback: The Chutry Experiment » Top 100

  6. Janice says:

    I was kinda chagrined to end up on that list. Probably because I’d recently hosted the Carnivalesque — definitely there are lots more important and useful blogs out there that were missed.

  7. Mike Arnzen says:

    Like Dennis Jerz, I was hit with an e-mail alert of my presence on the list too. Immediately knew something was awry when the URL had a date structure of Oct 2005. I noticed the site was hosted by BizNiche and that it is a feeder to reviews of “online degree” programs like University of Phoenix. Not inherently bad, and some of the links ARE good ones, but the situation of the list is misleading, sketchy…or at least, highly problematic!

  8. Sharon says:

    Holy crap, I didn’t even notice that. Duh. Well, it excuses the inactive links, if not the other problems. Curious that it’s just got picked up now…

  9. Sharon says:

    (And yet, I’ve just realised, even if it was originally posted back in 2005, it must have had *some* updating quite recently, since it lists Janice’s new site rather than her old one. So no excuse after all.)

  10. The point about ‘professor blogs’ is well-taken; it has resulted in an entire discipline (Classics/Ancient History) being ignored entirely as there aren’t really ANY Classics/Ancient History blogs written by profs — maybe some of the grad students who do the majority of blogging in this area have jobs now, but it is bizarre that such a major discipline — and one that feeds into practically every one of the others listed, gets no mention at all.

  11. sepoy says:

    The company is owned by the same business interest that owns other gems like criminaljusticedegreesguide.com, accrediteddldegrees.com, creditcardlowdown.com etc.

    The business model is fairly simple: scrap info out of publicly available govt. databases or other compendiums, slap a search mechanism on top, wait for people to link/notice and your page rank to climb up, sell or go Ad driven.

    This list of bloggers was most certainly created by an enterprising software house in Banglore.

  12. Kris says:

    I like your style!

    I had a look at the list myself and wondered if I was being too harsh thinking that it looked randomly generated.

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