Are You a Five Star Blog?

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For blog owners, producing world class content often isn’t good enough. You need to convince the millions of web users out there that your blog is worthy of their valuable time. There are already systems in place that compare the popularity of blogs, but these are largely based on backlinks. Blogorator is a system that rates your blog in a slightly different way. They ordered this ReviewMe review to get some much needed publicity and feedback.

One Star, Five Stars, and Everything in Between

I use the 5-star system on my blog when I do movie reviews and John uses the post rating plug-in so that you can give a certain number of stars to individual posts. Essentially, the Blogorater blog rating widget works much the same way. You place a small widget on your website (it looks sort of like the MyBlogLog recent readers widget) and visitors to your blog can click on the number of stars they think your site is worth.

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The interface is fundamentally identical to the post rating plug-in, except that it takes registered votes as well as anonymous ones. In the widget, you’ll see the average rating, the number of votes, and the avatars of the five most recent raters. Anonymous voters get a paper bag guy.

What’s In a Name?

According to the header image on their site, Blogorator is the amalgamation of two terms: Blog, meaning a “website that contains an online personal journal,” and Orator, meaning “speaker, one who makes a public speech.”

My initial impression of the name was they were trying to merge the terms “blogosphere” with “rater”, because the system is designed to rate blogs. Instead, by using “orator”, they seem to placing more emphasis on the public expression of opinion. I guess both strategies make sense, but in my head, I still read it as blog-o-rater rather than blog orator. This slight ambiguity may have been intentional.

Top Blog Publicity

As I mentioned above, the Blogorator blog rating widget is distinctly different than what you find on Alexa or Technorati, which are based on traffic and incoming links, respectively. In this way, a Blogorator rating is more reflective of a blog’s quality rather than its popularity.

This brings me to a major issue with this blog rating system. When you go to the Top Blogs page, it lists the blogs that have the highest ratings. At the time that I wrote this review, the number one blog had a rating of five stars, but it only had one vote (probably the blog owner).

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This problem is similar to the one at ReviewMe some time back where the most expensive blog was placed at the top. A one-star blog that was charging $1,000,000 for a review was showing up above John Chow dot Com, a five-star blog that charges much less than a cool million. Blogorator seriously needs to prevent this sort of abuse. The easiest solution would be to require at least X number of votes before a blog can appear on the top blog page.

Pros and Cons

Blogorator is still quite new, so they’re still ironing out the kinks. For example, they recently added in a few extra features that weren’t available originally, like displaying the avatars of users who most recently rated your blog, allowing comments, and showing the RSS feeds of registered blogs.

Going through the registration process was a piece of cake — all you need to do is provide a username, email address and password — but when I attempted to login to the user area, I got an Apache Tomcat/4.1.31 Error report as displayed below. Hopefully this glitch is being worked on and will be fixed soon. This error is why I used a screencap of the widget above rather than placing a live John Chow dot Com widget.

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I appreciate that Blogorator is not based purely on backlinks and outright popularity, meaning that even the little guy can get some positive press. The rating system appears to be easy to use for the reader, because registration is not necessary and their input is immediately reflected in a blog’s overall rating.

As they expand further and the blog list gets longer, I can see Blogorator becoming a decent online community as well, serving as a complementary service to things like MyBlogLog and Twitter (both of which are featured on the Blogorator sidebar).

A Gold Star For You

In elementary school, you may have been rewarded with a gold star for doing well on a test or completing a certain assignment. The blogging world isn’t all that different. Using the Blogorator blog rating widget, you can be rewarded with up to five stars for a job well done. It’s just another way to boast how great you are, accompanying your #1 Technorati ranking and all those other numbers you’re chasing.

Keep up with the latest developments by reading the Blogorator team blog.

UPDATE: I just received an email from the Blogorator people stating:

you have recently signed up a my website Blogorator.com. Unfortunately we experienced a nasty error, that might have made it impossible for you to log in to your account. I would like to apologize for this problem and I’m happy to announce that Blogorator.com is now fully back and working. If you like you can now add blogs to get your rating widget.