Medlogs Milestone – 200 Medical Weblogs!

Today, I added the 200th blog to Medlogs.com.  Here's how blog addition works. 

  • Someone wants a blog added to medlogs.  They click "add a feed" and fill out the little form.
  • The form enters the blog into the database and sends me an e-mail requesting approval.
  • These days, perhaps due to the increasing popularity of the site, we're getting more commercial submissions.  Rarely true spam … but medically related sites or services that want to increase their exposure.  Since Medlogs isn't a web directory .. I don't add these, and I don't e-mail the submitters with an explanation.  Perhaps I should .. but I don't have infinite free time.  So I don't.  I add medical weblogs .. or weblogs that are relevant to medicine.  the "geeks" section includes some technology stuff that is not directly to medicine .. and the "law" section does as well, but I find that these sections are both frequently visited … and are of course potentially relevant medicine.  The "more" section is a bit more complicated.  I invented it for the "mercola" blog (absence of hyperlink is intentional) which is on a physician's website .. but it is not clear that the physician actually does all of the writing .. and the website is devoted to selling his books.  So this is a commercial blog.  But he clearly has a passion and I didn't want to be accused of censoring him (his views are unconventional, and several medlogs readers objected to his inclusion at all) .. so I created a new category and left him in.
  • Once I review the blog and see that it is relevant to medicine & Non-Commercial .. I add the feed and put the last few posts into medlogs.  From there on .. it will flow, and we'll pick up all future feeds.
  • Of course, the RSS or ATOM needs to be working.  I would say that the most common reason that a blog is not included is that I can't find an RSS/ATOM feed.  No feed, no inclusion.  Simple as that.

Here's the "I remember when" part:  Nearly five years ago, I started Docnotes.  Here's the first post.  I think I was writing a similar web-based discussion for a while before that, but my entries are not archived .. so .. lost forever.  The first iteration was with Userland Frontier.  Then I moved to Seth Dillingham's Conversant.  Next it was back to Userland Radio .. and then to MovableType, where the blog remains.  I'm tempted by Ray Camden's BlogCFC.  We'll see.  I like MT .. and it's working pretty well, despite some quirks.  I also have a TypePad account, which is used for other little blog projects.

Here's the question: (you didn't know there was going to be a question .. did you?) .. as Medlogs has grown, I've been finding that the signal:noise ratio is decreasing.  Medical Blogs used to be a good way to find useful information quickly.  They were also a way for us to provide a window into our thinking and our practices .. which I think all of us agreed was good.  There have been several well written articles on medical weblogs .. but I still think the best was in Medicine on the Net .. by Bonnie Darvies.  Unfortunately, it's not free or (!) available on the net .. which of course is silly.  Kinda like Gartner research .. it's good stuff, but you have to pay to get to it.

Oh yeah .. I was asking a question.  How to we keep the usefulness of weblogs high.  Go ahead and click on that one .. it's a link tot he UVA website, and includes an image of the Pyramid of Information Mastery.  Where do weblogs fit on this pyramid?  How can I help to filter this (or how can you help filter this) .. so that weblogs remain (become?) a part of the pyramid. 

One thought that I have had is "hits."  Since we changes the main medlogs pages to include only excerpts of every post (the poll is still open .. but preference for partial feed remains at about 75%) the number of times that readers click the link to go read the full post is sored and displayed on the page.  Presumably, the authors who generate the most hits are of the greatest interest to the readers.  Are these the most useful Blogs?  Should they be "featured" in some way? 

Is the recent "grand rounds" effort a good way of accomplishing this?  Perhaps … hmm .. maybe I link to (or include full text of) the current week's grand rounds on a special page on medlogs .. hmm

Please share your opinion .. either with a post of our own .. or with a comment here.  We didn't address this much at last year's bloggercon (video feed of the medical session is here … moderated by some nerd .. yeh .. me).

If you're going to Bloggercon III this year, I'd suggest that this may be a topic for conversation at the medical weblogs session .. which Enoch will be moderating.

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5 Replies to “Medlogs Milestone – 200 Medical Weblogs!”

  1. “The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans, but the surging numbers of visitors to Mercola.com since I began the site in 1997 – we are now routinely among the top 10 health sites on the Internet – convinces me that you, too, are fed up with their deception. You want practical health solutions without the hype, and that’s what I offer.”

    One wonders why Dr. Mercola would want to be listed on Medlogs with the likes of us “responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans”? Such abject company for a health care person of his caliber. 😉

  2. Jacob, I also wanted to add my thanks to you and David for setting up medlogs. It has certainly added the number of visitors to my site, plus I have found many interesting blogs I never would have known about. Although you say you just added the 200th blog, I really only look at the “Physicians” section so it is more like 51 that are listed, and probably only 10 that seem to be very active. So I still like the current format of non-filtered posts. It might be a different story when you add the 200th physician blog, however.

    I would also agree that you don’t have to link to the “mercola” blog just to be politically correct. You are not censoring him; he’s getting plenty of hits with or without medlogs. I’d be concerned that you may unknowingly be lending his wacky views some semblance of credibility by linking them. Just like on a bulletin board, all posts are there at the pleasure of the boardmaster. It’s your call.

  3. Thank you for bringing up this discussion, Dr. Reider, and for offering to archive Grand Rounds at medlogs.

    The first Grand Rounds generated a lot of interest, and traffic. As the host, I received emails from more than a few medical professionals who are thinking about blogging, or just started.

    I told them all that a good place to begin is medlogs.com! Maybe one of them is your #200.

    I am very grateful for the work you and David Ross have done in making medlogs. I use it frequently and find it very helpful. Thus, I am reluctant to critique it, but am relieved to see you’ve noticed some of the problems it has.

    I do believe the site is somewhat cluttered with random and improperly categorized blogs. One example (of many, and not to single her out for any reason): ‘Synthesis and Output’ is written by a student, and she writes almost exclusively about her personal life. But she’s got prime billing in the Physician’s section, alongside medical-only doc bloggers like Medpundit and Rangel. In fact, many of the bloggers in the Physicans category do not seem to write about medicine at all (I count four today).

    Meanwhile, high-quality medical writing from the likes of Intueri or Vertical Mattress languishes in the Resident / Student section, alongside bloggers who mostly write about their MP3 collections or “acing their neuro exams!!!”

    I would warn, however, against judging the popularity of a site by its hit counter in medlogs. When I see a post I like, I right-click on the blog name (not the post name) and open a new window, which I do not think registers as a hit. I’m not sure if other people do this, but it’s easier for me given that medlogs seems to post a lot of entries from a single blog, sequentially.

    I think a few good rules would automatically select a lot of the things people are looking for in blogs (and increase your signal:noise ratio) —

    1. Are the blogger’s posts more than 50% medicine and health care related? (My guess is most are either 90/10 or 10/90)
    2. Is the blog updated more than once or twice a week?

    I think this quickly brings to the fore the sites that deserve the attention of medically inclined readers, and pushes back the sites that don’t. It’s a more useful categorization to me than “Physicians” vs. “Residents” (which is a little specious, no?) vs. “Nurses” vs. “Health Biz”.

    Finally, in reference to your email — hosting Grand Rounds is not that difficult — a couple of hours on a Monday night, and an email to Instapundit, should do it. The fact that rotating hosting showcases a new medical blog every week, and generates an instalanche, is nice. And having an editor to weed through submissions and offer comments with the links beats an RSS feed, in my book.

    But I’m very happy that you’re considering these issues and looking to upgrade medlogs, which is already an indispensable tool for the medical bloggers!

  4. Jacob, thanks so much for the medlogs site and ALL the hard work you and David have put into it. I agree with Nick that medlogs that have more health/medical coverage should be prioritized, since it is a “medlogs” site. I also agree that # of hits from medlogs shouldn’t be a reason for movin’ a blog up, and my reason is the same (I check out these blogs without clicking on the post to get there). Plus, there can be a lot of confounding there (people clicking on their blogs repeatedly, and other silly things).

    Perhaps it might be productive to re-categorize blogs. I’m making this suggestion without a real solution to think about. Perhaps general subject material may be more appropriate for categorizing. Med students who write about the day to day of their med student life may fall into a different category than med students who say, write more about health policy or reflections on patient care. Same with docs.

    I’m not in favor of prioritizing blogs that post more often, as this doesn’t say anything about quality of the posts.

    An idea might be to create subject categories, and then allow blogs to fit into up to 3 different of those categories if they’d like. That way you’re not pigeon-holing any blogs with any subjects, but people interested in different subjects can see docs and students and law students and nurses alike posting about similar issues.

    On another point, I’m also noticing quite a left-right division in the authors of many of these medlogs. There are definitely a number of very conservative folks posting, and, I think, a fewer number of left-leaning folks. Perhaps this is the natural reflection of med types. Just an observation.

    this is all a big challenge, and despite the challenges that may be present with the site, I think it’s grand. :>

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