There are many services that claim to be “blog search”, but that’s the wrong way to think about it. There are a (very) few occasions when I want to go and search for “what’s new on X”, and there are lots of ways to do that (the new Sphere is looking good in that space). But what I want to do 24/7, as long as the computer is turned on, is what I call Web Tracking: being told right away when there’s something new on the Web that I care about. I subscribe to a lot of Web Tracking services; herewith a snapshot of my impressions.
What I Track · I track names: my own, and those of some companies, some products and some technologies. I track links: to ongoing, and to a couple of other sites out there. Let’s call what I’m looking for “references”.
What I Want · I want to know, as soon as possible, when a reference occurs: when one of those names are mentioned or addresses are linked to; and I don’t want to miss any. I only want to hear about each reference once. I’d like each reference to be accompanied by some sort of authoritativeness indicator, i.e. how many links the referring source has. I’d like the references to exclude those from spamblogs and scamblogs.
The Competitors · Here are the services I use right now, in alphabetical order. I don’t use Yahoo or Feedster, no particular reason except in each case, last time I tried them they were really broken; will doubtless try them again in future. Right now, none of my feeds have authoritativeness information.
What you’re reading here is no more than anecdotal evidence. Since Web Tracking is important stuff, someone needs to set up a regular quality review service that reports on these metrics across the whole competitive space. This is just to give a feel for how things stand in late 2005.
Google · Acceptable inclusiveness, some dupe detection but choked with spam & scam.
IceRocket · Reasonably wide-ranging. Zero dupe detection; whenever I see something on IceRocket, I know I’ll be seeing it over and over again for days. Good spam/scam detection.
PubSub · Almost unusable, because both dupe and spam/scam detection are pretty well absent.
Technorati · [I may have a conflict of interest here.] Good inclusiveness. Best dupe detection of the lot. Spam/Scam a little better than Google, but could be better.