The Episcopal Café appears in a ranking of "nearly 100 of the most influential blogs that contribute to an online discussion about religion in the public sphere and the academy." (The proprietor of Spiritual Politics, Mark Silk, wryly notes, "OK, you're asking, how many non-influential such blogs are there? Now now, the number, no doubt, is legion." )
The report by the Social Science Research Council is intended to "spark discussion among religion bloggers that will take their work further, while also inviting new voices from outside existing networks to join in and take part."
To get a quantitative picture of how influence is distributed in the religion blogosphere, the blogs included in this report were ranked according to three public, Web-wide services: Technorati, Alexa, and Compete. Technorati (1), which specializes in blogs, bases its “Authority” metric on how many other blogs link to a given blog in their posts. Alexa (2, 3) and Compete (4), on the other hand, derive their numbers from the subset of web users who use their respective plug-ins in their web browsers, not unlike the “Set Meters” that companies such as Nielsen use for television ratings. In addition, the number of comments on each of the last 10 posts from every blog was averaged (6)....
Metrics such as these are part of the picture but not all of it. Kathy Gill (2004) has argued that more pointed measures need to be used for mapping the blogosphere in addition to Web-wide services like Technorati, Compete, and Alexa. She observes that they fail to capture, among other things, the influence of a site within particular subcultures, as we see from the differences between these raw numbers and the network analysis of the religion blogosphere above. It will be helpful, therefore, to consider the sites cited as trusted sources by the religion bloggers themselves. The IssueCrawler data (6)—from December 13, 2009—shows the sites that are most linked-to by other sites in the religion blogosphere.
[Another] list (7) derives from the survey of bloggers conducted for this report ... [in] which two or more respondents described as among their favorite and most trusted sources for content.
In old-guard organizations like the Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations, blogging has created space for discourse that leans against prevailing trends. At sites like Progressive Revival, Episcopal Cafe, and the Christian Century’s Theolog, mainliners maintain a rich public conversation about the present and future of their communities. They do so, meanwhile, often outside the auspices of traditional ecclesial bodies (whose populations are in a state of decline), possibly pointing toward a shift in the locus of intellectual leadership.