My Techmeme Obsession

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post explaining that Techmeme was moving from highlighting the work of individual tech bloggers to the work of professionally produced tech blogs. In that post, I bemoaned the fact that I had been knocked off of the techmeme leaderboard along with most other individual tech bloggers.

Then something changed. Maybe it was me writing more for Techmeme (by reading the top stories and then blogging about them and linking to them). Or maybe Gabe changed the algorithm. But in any case, by this summer, the AVC blog had risen to #20 on the Techmeme leaderboard.

I don’t actually care about being on the leaderboard itself but I care a lot about being part of the conversation at Techmeme. Over 300,000 monthly readers visit techmeme to participate in the conversation according to Compete:

These are 300,000 of the kinds of people I’d like to be in the conversation with every day. So I want the posts I write here at AVC to show up on Techmeme. It’s important to me.

But in the past couple months, something interesting has happened. As I’ve started writing more about politics and stocks and the financial markets, my readership has started growing again. For the past three or four years, this blog has been stuck at about 150,000 monthly readers (blog and feed). Last month, it was closer to 200,000. And this month, it appears to be headed even higher.

Yet, as the audience for this blog grows, the amount of traffic coming from Techmeme has declined. Here is the google analytics traffic sources log from August, which shows how important techmeme was this summer:

August

And here is the data for the past 30 days.

Last_30_days

The biggest drivers are direct and google, but within the services that cater specifically to the tech audience I want to reach and be part of (techmeme, hacker news, twitter, friendfeed), there has been a noticeable move up by hacker news (news.ycombinator.com) and twitter and a noticeable move down by techmeme.

The dropoff from techmeme makes sense because posts I’ve written on this blog have been there a lot less recently. But I think the move up on hacker news and twitter are also worth noting. If the same people who were finding my posts on techmeme can now find them on twitter or hacker news, then I can still participate in the conversation with them.

I think what’s happening is techmeme is catering more and more to the professionally produced tech blogs. Whatever Gabe’s algorithm does, it seems to point mostly to TechCrunch, VentureBeat, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Gizmodo and that ilk. Nothing wrong with that. But as of this morning, the only individual bloggers I see on the leaderboard are Nick Carr, Mark Cuban, and my good friend Tom Evslin.

Hacker News is peer produced, like Digg. But the community there is very startup ecosystem focused and it’s a great source of readership for this blog. There is no leaderboard for Hacker News (that I know of) but I get the sense that the links on hacker news are more varied and less predictable than Techmeme.

And Twitter. Well what can I say about Twitter? Tim O’Reilly recently tweeted that:

Twitter is my main source of news. Never use RSS reader any more
            
         

I’ve never used an RSS reader. I’ve used services like Techmeme and Hacker News to surface interesting posts for me. I still do. I visit each of them about five or six times a day. They are my RSS readers for tech news. Twitter does the same thing for me, but I also get stock news, political news, family/friend news, and some humor too. It’s like reading a custom built newspaper.

But enough about Twitter. This post is about Techmeme. I’ve been obsessed with Techmeme for the past couple years. And I think that obsession is coming to an end. I still plan to visit it as much every day. But I think I’ll stop jonesing for my posts to get picked up there. The conversation is happening all over the place anyway and I don’t think any one service will ever be able to host it all anyway.

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