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I was inspired and bored the other day. And that’s never good for anyone.

After seeing Daniel Florien‘s list, and this list of popular church blogs, I had a desire to crunch some numbers.

Disclaimer: Ranking popularity is a way to measure quantity over quality. And when it comes to writing about atheism, there’s a great argument to be made that quality of postings is far more important than how popular your blog is. I would hope the higher ranking blogs combine the best of both worlds. But there are several excellent writers who don’t get nearly as much attention as they should.

I think I included just about all the major atheist blogs in my calculations… if you post frequently and have been around for a while, I think I got you. (I hope I did, at least.)

At the risk of seeming arrogant, I threw my own blog into the mix as well.

The material is up to date as of February 8th, 2009.

Explanation of all the abbreviations — and the methodology — is below the chart.

If I made any mistakes, please let me know. Obviously, the criteria I used is subjective and there are many other ways to measure a blog’s popularity, but these seemed to be decent ways to go about it.

The list will surely need updating with different methods. The one I think throws the data off the most is the Google PageRank, where a difference of one number moved a website to a completely different spot on the list.

Order Name Rank AR GP GRS TA TIL
1 Pharyngula (PZ Myers) 1.4 11525 7 4288 2438 15246
2 Friendly Atheist (Hemant Mehta) 3.8 115700 5 3016 563 4298
3 Cynical-C Blog 4.4 59035 6 530 400 2229
4 About Agnosticism/Atheism (Austin Cline) 5.0 82 6 470 397 1909
5 Skepchick (Rebecca Watson) 5.8 145402 5 2744 337 1947
6 Cectic (Rudis Muiznieks) 9.8 135444 5 2498 113 704
7 Jesus and Mo 10.0 186071 5 1319 181 641
8 New Humanist Blog 10.4 199316 6 435 153 956
9 Skeptico 10.6 251764 5 825 175 807
10 Greta Christina’s Blog 10.8 369258 5 490 186 1630
11 Atheist Revolution (vjack) 11.4 177583 5 259 216 1622
11 Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster 11.4 77562 4 369 1207 3491
13 Daylight Atheism (Ebonmuse) 12.6 294517 5 379 158 1153
14 Unreasonable Faith (Daniel Florien) 15.0 207141 4 659 319 669
15 Atheist Media Blog 16.8 230307 5 281 116 436
16 Deep Thoughts (Mojoey) 18.6 299925 4 182 320 1230
17 Rationally Speaking (Massimo Pigliucci) 19.0 1641976 5 435 121 437
18 Evolved and Rational (Shalini Sehkar) 19.2 538574 5 181 87 604
19 The Meming of Life (Dale McGowan) 19.6 890907 5 356 94 419
20 Atheist Ethicist (Alonzo Fyfe) 20.6 1113580 5 288 78 473
20 Debunking Christianity (John Loftus) 20.6 214440 5 297 N/A 538
22 The Digital Cuttlefish 21.2 1443844 5 191 90 514
23 Unscrewing the Inscrutable (Brent Rasmussen) 23.6 1030042 5 17 110 786
24 Julia Sweeney 24.4 3577056 5 507 67 209
25 Teen Skepchick 24.8 145402 5 170 35 103
26 The Atheist Blogger (Adrian Hayter) 25.0 278736 3 233 135 524
27 Splendid Elles 27.2 1499540 5 137 42 254
28 No More Hornets (The Exterminator) 28.4 3500617 5 96 50 403
28 Possummomma 28.4 4244850 4 387 75 495
30 Oz Atheist’s Weblog 28.6 1664861 5 61 51 293

What do the abbrevations stand for? (Explanations taken from here.)

  • AR = Alexa Rankings (lower number is more popular)
    Alexa’s traffic rankings are based on the usage patterns of Alexa Toolbar users and data collected from other, diverse sources over a rolling 3 month period. A site’s ranking is based on a combined measure of reach and pageviews. Reach is determined by the number of unique Alexa users who visit a site on a given day. Pageviews are the total number of Alexa user URL requests for a site. However, multiple requests for the same URL on the same day by the same user are counted as a single pageview. The site with the highest combination of users and pageviews is ranked #1.
  • GP = Google PageRank (higher number is more popular)
    PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”
  • GRS = Google Reader Subscribers (higher number is more popular)
    The number of Google Reader users that subscribe to each blog.
  • TA = Technorati Authority (higher number is more popular)
    Authority is determined by the number of unique blogs indexed by Technorati that have linked to that blog in the past 180 days.
  • TIL = Technorati InLinks (higher number is more popular)
    The total number of links that a blog has received.

How was the list computed?

  1. Approximately 60 well-known atheist blogs were selected. I don’t think I missed any blog that posts on a regular basis and has done so for quite some time.
  2. Data was collected for each blog from all 5 measured criteria (i.e., Alexa Rank, Google PageRank, Google Reader Subscribers, Technorati Authority, and Technorati InLinks).
  3. For each of the 5 measured criteria, each blog was ranked in comparison to all other blogs being evaluated.
  4. A composite rank for each blog is determined by averaging each blogs ranking from the 5 measured criteria.
  5. The top 30 blogs were published.
  6. In the circumstance of a tie, alphabetical order was used.