It’s a nice notion – that there’s no A-list – but of course there is. And everyone who isn’t on the A-list knows it. There’s even a widget out there to tell you what list you’re on!
Some A-listers may say, “there’s no A-list” to avoid coming off as elitist, and the sentiment is appreciated, but even they recognize an A-list exists.
Every domain of expertise and industry has its authorities. Whether they came to that authority through experience, education, luck, time or a combination thereof doesn’t dissuade from the fact that authorities exist. And then there’s everyone else. The value of their authority is dictated in part by how they got to that position of authority (which is especially true in blogging where bloggers that have been around the longest may have more authority than they really deserve), but we’re not hear to judge value (at least not right now.)
Mack Collier started the Z-list meme as a way of providing some additional recognition for lesser known blogs (specific to marketing.) He asked people to copy and paste the list and add any others they wanted. It was a nice idea; people offer up as much link love as they can to others in an effort to give those bloggers more attention (and traffic, recognition, buzz, etc.)
And it worked. This blog was hovering around 16,000 in its Technorati Ranking before someone put it on the Z-list. It’s now around 8,500 on Technorati. That’s not only because of the Z-list, but that was a huge part of the jump.
Woohoo! 8,500 is right up there! OK, it’s not Top 100, and it’s important to note that my traffic hasn’t gone up noticeably. I do know certain people came to Instigator Blog because of the Z-list (which is great) but I’m not seeing big enough traffic increases to mention them.
The Z-list was doomed to fail.
It was a nice, open idea, but as much as we say the blogosphere is full of nice people (and it is), it’s also full of people that want ever-increase amounts of attention for their own blogs. So people started adding their own blogs to the list. And then the A-Listers got involved. Seth Godin posted the Z-list on his blog (which did result in a good chunk of traffic) and he also created a Squidoo Lens with voting.
Instigator Blog has -6 votes. Well that sucks!
On the Squidoo Lens additional blogs were put on the Z-list, including a number of A-list blogs. The voting suddenly takes a friendly list of Z-list blogs that do deserve more attention to a list of ranked blogs with several A-listers coming up on top.
Seth Godin did respond to what happened with the Z-list by adding a moderator and creating more rules around the voting. A good move on his part. An appreciated move.
Memes are tricky things. Make them too easy and they can certainly become popular, but they may also get buggered like the Z-list. Make them too complicated and they won’t catch on (people want easy!) I’m a big fan of memes and group projects (like the group writing projects I’ve run) because they can be interesting, entertaining and run at the heart of what makes blogging so important: communication and community.
But we also see where memes can go wrong, ideas can be twisted just a bit to take out the original purpose and meaning. Seth put it very nicely when he wrote, “The web is a daily experiment, and this one, like most, was interesting.”