Ten reasons to ignore David Weidner

By Felix Salmon
February 25, 2010
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Abnormal Returns has a pretty funny takedown of David Weidner and his silly listicle today on the subject of financial blogs. Weidner seems to think that AR is upset at being left out, but in fact this is a cheap and ill-informed article which should mean nothing to those either on it or off it.

In the spirit of Weidner’s article, then, let’s see if we can come up with ten reasons to ignore it:

  1. The headline, “Ten Wall Street Blogs You Need To Bookmark Now”, reads like a parody of Blodget link-bait, especially when you realize that they’ve all been around for a while and that there’s really no rush here. Plus, bookmark? Does anybody still do that?
  2. Weidner is right that blogs are a serious enterprise, but he’s wrong to point to “the recent acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, of Footnoted.org by Morningstar” as particular evidence of that. It’s great that Michelle Leder is now drawing a regular paycheck and getting health insurance, but that’s hardly a ringing ratification of an entire class of blogs. For that, you should look instead to the amount of money being invested in blogs by both large media outlets and smaller VC-backed startups — sums which dwarf the price of Footnoted.
  3. Weidner seems to think that Nouriel Roubini counts as a blogger who has risen to the point of being a must-read on a daily basis. Which is odd, because Nouriel has pretty much stopped blogging these days: in fact, he simply doesn’t write fully-fledged public blog entries any more. He does have something approximating a blog there, but it mostly features round-ups from his staff; Roubini media appearances elsewhere; and excerpts from material available only to his subscribers.
  4. Weidner, whose column appears once a week, reckons that “some blogs stink” on the grounds that “they don’t post frequently enough” — which is exactly wrong. Posting more often gets you more pageviews, yes, but many of the best bloggers out there, such as Steve Waldman, post infrequently and are none the worse for it.
  5. Weidner scorns blogs which “simply aggregate and rip off”. He doesn’t name names here, so I don’t know who he had in mind, but if he’s talking about the likes of Abnormal Returns, he’s massively off base: AR is a key part of the econoblogosphere, and is much more valuable than most of the blogs on Weidner’s list. Aggregation is a very special skill, and it’s not to be scorned.
  6. Weidner is ridiculously credulous when it comes to self-reported stats, talking about Barry Ritholtz’s “more than two million monthly page views”, Business Insider’s “30 million page views a month”, and Naked Capitalism’s “nearly 15.8 million clicks since November 2007″. Whatever those might be. None of those numbers means very much, except to owners of the site in question who try to generate revenue from CPM-based banner ads.
  7. Weidner slams Calculated Risk for having boring headlines, especially “Hotel RevPAR off 5.6 Percent”. Well, he might consider that boring; CR’s readers certainly don’t. That blog entry got 232 comments. Weidner’s piece, so far, has got just six.
  8. What is GoldmanSachs666 doing on the list? Do we really Need to Bookmark that site Now?
  9. “Zero Hedge claims to have four contributors”. Actually, it claims a lot more than that.
  10. The whole blog entry is in slideshow format, a particularly annoying way of maximizing traffic figures at the expense of readability and usability. What’s more, the slideshow is embedded in the post, making it impossible to link to any particular blog write-up.

There, that was pretty easy. Now, let’s go back to Abnormal Returns and see if we can find something useful.

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