This slide came from a presentation by Rashimi Sinha that I stumbled upon and is focused on a different topic, but I pulled out this slide for "Popularity Metrics." It connected with some thinking about metrics for measuring blog success and some comments from Stephen Downes:
Measuring "your blog's outcome" is ridiculous. It's like measuring 'friendship'. measuring 'reflective moments'. As Beth Kanter says, "numbers and data alone are almost meaningless." I don't think they get a lot more meaningful even if you add them to qualitative data.
I'm sure Stephen would say you can't measure popularity either ...
Catherine Carey riffed a bit in the comments about measuring friendship:
In addition to "best friend" other words for 'friends' include:
Fair weather friend
Friend of the family
Love of my life
Someone I know
These 'friends' are not simply gradations of friendship. Though that may be one way to think of measuring. It seems to me that we make judgments about our relationships with people when we call them an acquaintance, a confidant or a dear friend. The relationship differs among the three.
Thus it is with blog outcomes and learning. If my blog is about making friends or putting information out in the world my outcomes differ from a blog that seeks to encourage commerce.
I wanted to circle back to where Stephen and I disagree. I think there is some usefulness in combining numbers with qualitative reflection on how to improve your blog. Whether you want to make money or educate people or just deepened your own learning -- setting some realistic benchmarks or goals, figuring out a way to determine if you reached them, and reflecting on why or why not - can lead to continuous improvements in the quality of your blog writing.
Liz Strauss, from Successful and Outstanding Bloggers dropped a comment in that post and I wanted to highlight it here because she said so much better than I ever could:
I think that paying attention to what's happening using both sides of our brain, using our heads and our hearts, is the way to go.
No, numbers to don't tell us about people or relationships, but they point out patterns and sometimes reveal information that we won't consider or even recognize if we don't use them.
Humans have a natural tendency to count what we care about and to disregard what we don't. Metrics help us -- if we let them -- to keep a balance on what else we might look at to be curious about.
Nothing is ever wrong with being curious. :)
Catherine Carey notes in a comment in this thread: "Outcomes measures should be designed to help you make decisions, choices and judgments."