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John T. Unger

Authorati: A New Blog Rating System

John T. Unger November 29, 2006

Authorati is a new service which allows readers to rate blogs or individual posts in terms of authority and authorship. Authority is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being "A little authority" and 5 being "Lot of authority." Authorship is rated from 1 to 10, 1 being "Poor" and 10 being "Outstanding."

I found Authorati via a quick link from Steve Rubel this morning and was intrigued enough to go set up an account. As advertised, it really does take "less than a minute" to set up the account itself. If you'd like to see what it looks like, click the little button below and let me know how you rate TypePad Hacks:

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I like the idea of the service on a few levels. It could be a great source of feedback for bloggers to learn which posts are most useful or interesting to their readers (in addition to comments and stats). It reminds me a bit of MajikWidget's blog post rating widget but has the advantage of being able to rate the whole blog or individual posts. Better yet, Authorati is supposed to get integrated into FeedBurner's FeedFlare which would mean that you don't have to add it individually to each post. Being able to set up the service to automatically show up in post footers makes it a more attractive and useful service,

Having tried it out, here are a few ideas, concerns and questions:

  1. The badge code provided by Authorati was flawed, and when I added it to my TypeList, it prevented the blog from loading posts until I removed it and cleaned up the code. I think the issue was that the auto-generated code for the link was overlapping the style information… but I eventually got tired of fussing with it and just coded my own badge. If you want to put an Authorati badge on your blog, I recommend either writing it yourself or viewing source to see how I did it in my sidebar.

    This was pretty annoying really, and if I hadn't been so curious about what was broken I probably would have bailed on the service right there. It's a big mistake to make "out of the gate."

  2. Maybe this is picky on my part, but I would expect to see a link to a company blog displayed prominently on Authorati's homepage… If you're going to provide a service for bloggers, it makes sense to have a blog where you can keep them up to date on developments. There are a few pronouncements on their site about what's coming in the next version, but I kind of expect web 2.0 companies to talk about what's happening with what's happening.
  3. In a similar vein, there's no mention anywhere on their site of who is actually behind the company. The TOS lists Agate llc, and I suppose I could look that up, but I would think that a service which provides reputation-based services would have a prominent and public face for the company.
  4. At the bottom of the page that provides info on linking to your Authorati page there's a link to FeedBurner's flare catalog which suggests (well, actually says) that you can add Authorati to your blog using FeedFlare. Um… not so much. We're apparently not there yet. It would be a lot better to provide the link as a coming attraction. I checked the flare catalog three times over to make sure I had not missed the Authorati flare unit and was pretty annoyed when I realized I'd wasted my time.
  5. Authorati bills itself as "a portable ratings system" but there's no real description of what "portable" means in this context anywhere on their site… Are they planning to integrate it with other online reputation systems like OpenID? Do they plan to expand to other reputation based ratings? I have no idea. It certainly sounds cool and sexy, but when I don't know what it means, it ends up sounding like an empty buzzword.

So at this point, you're wondering why I've even brought the service to your attention, eh? Well, because I think it has a great deal of potential. And because I'm hoping that the folks at Agate llc will stop by to answer some of the questions above.

Update: See the comments below by Murali Narasimhan, creator of Authorati… He's addresses the issues above and has started a blog for Authorati. I've traded a few emails back and forth with Murali, and he's a great guy. I think Authorati will turn out to be pretty cool as it develops, especially since he seems to be so open to hearing from his users about what they want.

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Murali Narasimhan says:

Hi John,

Thanks for your detailed review of Authorati. I am sorry you had trouble with some of the features of Authorati. The site is still alpha but I will certainly smooth out some of the things that frustrated you. I will also add a "(coming soon)" tag to the FeedFlare feature. The man behind Authorati is myself. I run an IT consulting firm (Agate llc) in the DC Metro area and I am the sole developer of this website. I launched it just a few weeks ago and the last couple of days, the site has been receiving a number of hits. With all this interest shown for the website, it is certainly a good idea to start an Authorati blog and keep the users abreast of new features on the website. By "portable" , I meant that readers can rate you from your blog via the link to your AuthoratiPage and also you can display your current ratings on your blog by means of another specialized link (a "coming soon" feature). I am very encouraged by your thoughts about the website and I hope you will bear with the inital pains and continue to support Authorati.

Murali Narasimhan

john t unger says:

Hi Murali,

Thanks for responding so quickly!

I realize that most of the things I critiqued were the result of Authorati's alpha state and the overwhelming nature of early days in a new venture. It's not like I don't have flaws of my own! ;-)

It sounds like we're really on the same page in long-term… I like to point out the things that can be better because usually, that results in things getting better.

I look forward to reading the blog when it happens, and I'll definitely point out updates here as well if you keep me posted.

christopher carfi says:

is it "autho-rati" (rhymes with technorati?)
or is it "authority" with a stylish "i" instead of "y"

...or is it "author-i-tie," as in


john t unger says:

Heh. Good question Chris! I wondered the same thing… I just naturally assumed it was "autho-rati" because of the context. It actually took me a few minutes to realize it could be "authority." Then I wished *I'd* thought of it!

Maybe Murali can straighten us out on that?

By the way, he and I have exchanged a couple emails and he's a really nice guy!

Murali Narasimhan says:

I started out with the word authority and gave it a twist to also reflect that the site is about (blog) authors and authority. Hence it sort of rhymes with authority but I pronounce the word like how technorati is pronounced.

Murali Narasimhan says:

John- The Authorati blog is now live at http://authoraticom.blogspot.com/

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