I resisted temptation for a while, but have finally launched into a project on blogs with two graduate students in our Media, Technology and Society PhD program, Jason Gallo and Sean Zehnder. We are focusing on political blogs in particular. This raises a whole set of methodological questions. A big one has to do with sampling. We have decided that we would not focus on a random sample of blogs, not only because that is just about impossible to achieve, but more importantly because that is not our focus. We are interested in the most widely read political blogs. (Yes, there remains the question as to what counts as a political blog in the first place, that is just one of the many questions we are grappling with.)
One way of finding prominent political blogs (or prominent blogs of any type) is to look through the links of prominent blogs we already know about. However, since linking is one of the questions we are interested in, it seems problematic to rely only on that method to find blogs relevant for our study. The same concern applies to using Technorati as a method for finding prominent political blogs. Another idea is to run searches on certain political topics and “blog” or “weblog” and see what we find. Of course, in such cases we are left wondering how widely read the particular blogs are, especially if they do not have comments turned on (and in any case, number of comments is a very limited measure of how widely read a blog may be). Other methods we have thought of is to look at directory listings (such as Yahoo!’s) of political blogs for ones we may have missed using the other methods.
So to sum up: What other approaches should we be using to identify political blogs? What methods do people recommend for identifying “top” political blogs?Also, if people know of political blogs that don’t seem to get mentioned here much, please feel free to post away. I realize this method of collecting information mirrors many of the shortcomings mentioned above, but hopefully by using all these approaches, we can get a reasonable sample (or dare I say population) of the most widely read political blogs. Thanks!