Chris Masse emails with a good point,
Cowen’s blogonomics talk: that if you’re going to measure blog popularity,
there are many ways of doing so. Aaron
Schiff uses Technorati rankings; Brian
Gongol uses public traffic logs; Alexa uses a downloadable toolbar. But
there’s another interesting metric: feed subscribers. That number isn’t the
easiest thing to pin down, but Google Reader makes public the number of subscribers
to any given feed, and, by that metric, Marginal Revolution is insanely popular.
There’s a good reason for this. As Cowen mentions in his talk, and as Masse
also notes, Marginal Revolution is extremely popular among smart, techy non-economists
who work at places like Google. Many of the biggest blogs still have a technology
focus: geeks tend to be early adopters of new technologies and media. And Marginal
Revolution seems to own the "economics for geeks" crowd.
In any event, there’s no doubt that Marginal Revolution and Freakonomics are,
by far, the most popular economics blogs. If you look at their Google Reader
subscriber numbers, Marginal Revolution has 72,378 subscribers, while Freakonomics
has a few different feeds with 78,462 subscribers in total.
Then there’s the second tier. Greg Mankiw has 1,715 Google Reader subscribers;
Brad DeLong has 1,895; Krugman has 1,708; Mark Thoma has 1,309; EconoLog has
1,612. (All these can be considered equal for our purposes: I don’t think the
differences here are significant.)
The third tier would be bloggers like Dani Rodrik (636 Google Reader subscribers),
Nouriel Roubini (524), and Michael Shedlock, or Mish (474).
To put these in perspective, the New York Times’s massive DealBook blog has
2,105 Google Reader subscribers; Barry Ritholtz has 867.
And commenter Tim Worstall has 174, but they’re clearly the right 174, since
he says in the comments that he has managed "to create a freelance career
off the back of" his blog. As Cowen also notes, blogs are often important
at once remove: not because they reach a lot of people directly, but because
they reach journalists and editors at big media outlets.
Update: Talboito, in the comments, notes that MR
(presumably Freakonomics too) is pre-bundled for people coming to Google Reader
for the first time, and that anybody subscribing to the "thinkers"
bundle automatically subscribes to Marginal Revolution. This explains a lot,