Keith Gaddie is publishing unsubstantiated, self-serving and silly articles criticizing the Oklahoma political blogosphere.
Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma, has published two articles recently in the Oklahoma Gazette that purport to give daily pageviews and backlinks to conservative and liberal blogs. The articles can be found here and here. The site he uses for his statistical information, Websiteoutlook, is obviously unreliable, if not completely bogus, and is countered by at least one other similar site, which shows remarkably different numbers than the ones he gives in his articles.
The article on liberal blogs also fails to mention Blue Oklahoma, which by the Websiteoutlook numbers, is the most popular politically liberal blog in the state. The site shows the blog, which I operate, has a daily average of 2,365 pageviews and 153,912 backlinks. This is an overestimation, I know, but why did Gaddie exclude it if he truly believes that Websiteoutlook is reliable or if he knows so much about the Oklahoma political blogosphere?
I emailed Gaddie, pictured right, at his university email address about my concerns after the first article was published, but I never heard back from him. In that email, I asked him if he thought the information he used was reliable, and I mentioned the pageviews and backlinks of Blue Oklahoma. I also discussed my internal counter for Okie Funk. I’m assuming Gaddie checks his university email account. If not, then he’s welcome to contact me privately or publicly if he reads this post.
A pageview is registered whenever someone clicks on a page on a site. Backlinks are simply links that go back to a site. It’s nothing complicated.
Websiteoutlook and similar sites, such as Cubestat, operate anonymously and use vague formulas to determine pageviews and backlinks and money value. Much of what they do is just predictions, which means it’s just an estimate. The numbers can fluctuate wildly. The sites are widely perceived as inaccurate and would never be used seriously by companies and individuals to determine the actual worth of a site or the actual hits it receives. It’s really just a bunch of nonsense, especially when it comes to smaller sites, such as Okie Funk and Blue Oklahoma.
Websiteoutlook, as of March 3, showed Okie Funk, which I operate, with 162 daily pageviews. This is the number Gaddie used in his article. But Cubestat, as of March 3, showed Okie Funk with 3,116 pageviews. That’s a huge difference. My internal counter, which I cannot change and is operated by my host server company, showed Okie Funk averaging 2,406 pageviews a day so far in March. The internal counter is the most accurate, though some of that number would come from robot hits. On the other side, Cubestat showed Blue Oklahoma with 368 pageviews on March 3, much less than Websiteoutlook.
By contrast, Gaddie uses Websiteoutlook, to show the Oklahoma Political News Service, a conservative blog, with 514 daily pageviews. As of March 3, though, Websiteoutlook showed it had only 255 views, a fairly steep drop. Cubestat showed 468 views.
Websiteoutlook also claims Okie Funk has daily ad revenues of $2.72, but I have never sold a single ad on the blog since its inception in May 2004. It’s just silly, nonsensical information.
Gaddie’s overall point in the articles is to disparage the Oklahoma political blogosphere and show how little impact it’s having here. This is arguable, and I’m not trying to argue Okie Funk and Blue Oklahoma are enormously popular or having some big impact. Given the current political climate in this state, I wouldn’t even want to try to make them popular because of the political compromises I would have to make.
But Gaddie’s articles are based on unreliable evidence contradicted elsewhere and presented by people who remain anonymous. Even a high school student couldn’t get away with using Websiteoutlook as a main source in a term paper.
In addition, Gaddie doesn’t account for cross-posting, blogs that automatically roll into Facebook, RSS feeds, and aggregators that publish an entire blog outside the blog’s url. He also doesn’t account for blogs that intentionally target smaller audiences. The articles exhibit a lack of knowledge about blogs in general.
The article about liberal blogs discusses one blog that ceased publishing new material months ago and isn’t really even liberal-leaning. Is it too much to ask that someone writing about blogs actually check out the blogs under discussion?
The articles miss a key point as well. The blogosphere here, and this goes for liberal and conservative blogs, often provides views and information not provided by corporate media outlets. Gaddie, it should be noted, often provides political analysis to corporate media outlets, which makes the articles self-serving as well as inaccurate. Let’s not forget it wasn’t long ago that Gaddie’s articles would go unchallenged outside the format and word-count restrictions of a letter to the editor. Even if hardly anyone reads this post, at least it offers a counterview to one of the state’s Serious and Important political commentators in the mainstream media here.
Gaddie needs to step up and take responsibility for the stats in his two articles, but I’m sure he won’t. If Gaddie thinks Websiteoutlook is reliable, then he should say why. Maybe he knows the owners of the site and can vouch for their credibility, but I doubt it. He should also say why he thinks Cubestat and internal counters are not just as reliable. He should explain why he excluded Blue Oklahoma from his article.
I contacted Websiteoutlook with my concerns about Gaddie’s article. I asked for the owner’s names and mailing address. I explained the wide disparities between their site, Cubestat and my internal counter on Okie Funk. The company never responded to my request.
A slightly different version of this post was first published on Okie Funk.