Many have been writing about Weblogs and power laws in recent days.
There’s a problem though. The articles all seem to be built on an unsupported assumption: that linking to someone is a reliable and meaningful indicator of the reading habits of the link-from weblog. No such correlation has been shown to exist.
I don’t find any support for this assumption. There are two kinds of links on weblogs: links intrinsic to the text of the site, and links in lists of “favourite sites”. When weblogs first really got going, making a links list on your own site was one of the only ways available to help yourself remember to go to the sites you preferred, so it may once have been an indicator of something. In 2003, however, there are many alternative methods that can be employed to get to the sites one wants to read. I use BlogTracker myself, but there are at least a half-dozen other ways of linking to often-read sites. My own links list (over there on the right) is partially driven by my desire to read certain sites, but links also get there because I’m polite, or because I want to reciprocate for someone who would consider my reciprocation (or lack thereof) significant, or old friends who nevertheless I don’t read often, etc.
Regarding intrinsic links, I think that there are so many different reasons why someone would link to another site – and these motivations change over time – that no causality should be inferred. Overall, though, what I would like to know is this: of heavily-trafficked sites, what proportion of their traffic comes from links from other weblogs? And, if that proportion is low, what do numbers of incoming links have to do with anything?