This morning on Christiane Charette’s show on Radio-Canada, three stars of the Quebec web were invited to compile a list of the most influential Quebec web celebrities.
Like most ideas, this one was stolen from a similar worldwide list created by Forbes magazine, which put celebrity gossipist Perez Hilton at the top (just to give you an idea of what criteria they use).
All three of them posted to their blogs asking readers to make suggestions: Bruno Guglielminetti, Michelle Blanc and Dominic Arpin. Their posts got a bunch of comments (some of them wanting to plug their own blogs), and also prompted other bloggers to offer their own lists:
But there were also a lot of comments, especially from other bloggers, about how such a list goes against the entire spirit of the web.
Martine Pagé has the best writeup about the problems with this process, so much so that I feel kind of silly going over the same points. Her comments were also echoed by other bloggers.
Like her, I’ll admit that I scanned the lists at least subconsciously to see if I was mentioned. (Blanc said it best: “on se rend vite compte que les listes, on s’en fou, mais qu’il faut être dedans.”) More consciously, though, I wanted to see what kind of people made each list, and what kind of criteria were used to select them. Did the lists include:
- Professional journalists (like Patrick Lagacé)?
- People who are active on Twitter/Facebook/etc. but don’t have blogs?
- People who are active bloggers but not on Twitter/Facebook/etc.?
- Executives of web companies who don’t do anything personal online?
They seemed to agree that their lists should be confined to those whose popularity stems mainly from the Internet (so no Lagacé). They also included people like Patrick Boivin and Michel Beaudet of Têtes à claques who don’t blog. Blanc explains her reasoning.
The mutually-agreed-upon top 10 are listed on Charette’s site. Guglielminetti and Blanc also provide their top 25 (Arpin says to look at his blogroll). It’s very easy to see the influence of the three on the list: lots of representation from web video producers (five), and tech/social media/marketing bloggers (three). Renart L’éveillé points out that news/opinion/political bloggers are conspicuously absent from these lists (probably because many of them are professional journalists and were excluded for that reason).
As Pagé points out, the same names tend to come up in these kinds of lists. That’s not because these three experts didn’t do their jobs properly and focused on their friends, it’s because that’s the nature of the Web. Your Web is made up of your Facebook friends, who you follow on Twitter, which blogs you read and which YouTube channels you’re subscribed to. There’s an infinite supply out there, and they’re all of different types, so everyone’s web is going to be different, which makes this list all the more silly (in their defence, the panelists are fully aware of how silly this exercise is).
There’s already an outlet for self-obsessed bloggers who want to rank themselves: It’s called Tout le monde en blogue, and it judges strictly by traffic numbers (participating blogs place counters on their pages, which show their ranking to their readers). It’s stupid, it’s vain, it’s shallow and it’s pointless. But at least it’s objective.
Maybe we should leave the lists to them.
UPDATE: More after-the-fact commentary from Yves Williams, Mario Asselin and (briefly) Patrick Tanguay.
UPDATE (Feb. 11): One of my blog’s loyal readers totally blasts me on his for this post for having suggested that I’m above vanity (which I don’t think I’ve done).