Ethical dilemmas in blog-traffic

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed some odd jumps in my blog traffic, and two referral sites with massive numbers attached, Alpha Inventions and Condron.us. Naturally, I was curious what exactly these were; after visiting the sites, I saw that they were “blog surfing” websites; that is, websites that essentially channel surf through blogs  to give viewers a snapshot of any blogs they’ve picked up.

And while I’ve found the concept interesting, I find myself wondering about the ethical implications:

Are these sites a way to genuinely generate readership?

Do they artificially inflate the views on our blogs so we can feel better about ourselves?

How many folks have stumbled onto a blog they like through sites like AI and Condron?

I’m curious what you think; let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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  • http://www.TanyaDennisBooks.com tanyasue

    The whole blog traffic issue in general is an ethical mine field for me. I watch my stats and notice which posts garner high traffic, which receive more comments and which get very little of either. Do I tailor my blog then after what people seem to want? Are these patterns or just flukes? The frustrating bit for me is that the post that receive the most feedback, the most hits are nothing posts to me. In other words, they’re the post where I vomit a bunch of random thoughts or talk about nonsensical things like preschool jokes or kid quotes. I’d really rather have people interested in the spiritual posts I write or the deeper questions I pose, but … I don’t know.

    To answer your question, I haven’t earned any readers through either of these services. Most of my readers (who stick around consistently) learn about me through networks. Either they know someone who reads my blog or I comment on another site they read; we belong to the same webring, that type of thing. Very few people find me through blog surfing websites. Those that do only stick around for a post or two.

    • http://bloggingtheologically.com Aaron

      I totally get where you’re coming from – it’s extremely tempting to write basically whatever I think people might want to hear, as opposed to what is actually coming from my own convictions. I wonder if that’s really the trick: Just write who you are?

  • adarnay

    What happened to you happened to me too–a sudden spike that, incidentally, the last post I had up truly did not deserve. The oddity of this situation is that, because of it, one comes across sites that ARE interesting. Word Press has republished a large number of comments, yours among them, and I picked a couple from the list because they seemed to be by people (on the surface, anyway) who saw things my way.

    The truth is that Alpha Inventions is an enterprise and seeking a large following for purposes of its own. You and I (I assume) wish to attract serious readers. The promoter benefits others unwittingly. As an old saying has it, “The channel doesn’t drink.” But it can, of course, bring the water… Appreciate your sharing your thoughts.

    • http://bloggingtheologically.com Aaron

      Hey there, glad you posted last night. There are definitely some intriguing blogs that can be found through Alpha Inventions and Condron.us, including some blogs I’ve actually quite enjoyed. One of the things I’ve found whenever I’ve taken a look at the site itself is when a good site comes along, it challenges me to do better with my content, and whenever a… not so good one shows up, it challenges me even more to improve.

      I guess that’s the trick to gaining serious readers long-term though, isn’t it?

      Hope you have a great night.

      • stupidandhungry

        This is really interesting! I too have seen a spike in traffice due to Alphainventions in the past couple of days. At first I was thrilled as I assumed it meant oodles of people were reading what I had to say. Now I feel kind of duped, and a little empty inside … Do you know whether an Alphainventions user actually has to click on a blog for it to register as a click? Or do they simply have to be logged on when that blog appears onscreen?

  • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron

    Great question; I honestly have no idea. That’s been one of the questions I can’t really find an answer to.