If you take a look at the Popular Post widget that I have on the sidebar, you would notice that even though I have received 23 comments on the Why Men Are More Perfect Than Women and 13 comments on A Quick Question and Jab We Met respectively, yet those posts are not being featured on the Popular Posts list. It is because in reality, the most number of comments is not a guarantee that post is the most popular post. Although more often than not, we use a Most Commented widget for a Popular Post widget. So how do I calculate the popularity/rank of a post? I use PostRank.
PostRank is a scoring system developed by AideRSS, a startup company located in Waterloo, Canada, to rank any kind of online content, be it blog posts, RSS feed items, articles, or news stories. PostRank is based on social engagement, which refers to how interesting or relevant the readers have found a post to be. Examples of engagement include writing a blog post in response to someone else, bookmarking an article, leaving a comment on a blog, or clicking a link to read a news item.
PostRank measures engagement by analyzing the types and frequency of a reader's interaction with online content. An item's PostRank score represents how interesting and relevant people have found it to be. PostRank scoring is based on analysis of the "5 Cs" of engagement: creating, critiquing, chatting, collecting, and clicking. By collecting interaction metrics in these categories the overall engagement score is calculated and the PostRank value is determined.
The PostRank data service can be used in many different ways. For example you can filter existing feeds to reduce the quantity of items a feed reader is presented. PostRank helps you engage with information that interests you. Read what matters and learn as much or as little as you want about topics, from every little bit to just the latest news.
The PostRank widget can be configured in two ways. First, the feed-based PostRank helps you understand an individual feed. It allows you to filter and rank news items, against their own historical levels of social engagement. This means that a 10 for one source will represent a different level of engagement than a 10 from another source. And the second one is the thematic PostRank, which provides further customization of the RSS user experience, enabling comparative ranking of online content from different feed sources based on user input. PostRank calculations are not normalized against a feed history but are compared to each other. This allows for ranking of news items from different sources within a topic area or channel.
So in a way you would be able to target your niche readers and present them exactly what they want to read. Not only that, PostRank would also help in increasing your CTR.
Registering with PostRank is pretty easy, you can use your OpenID, Google id, Yahoo! id, or create a PostRank id using your email. Then all you need to do is create a widget by setting up your feed and then put it up on your blog. The PostRank widget is fully customizable and is compatible with most of the major blog platforms. PostRank also has a Get Satisfaction page and a Twitter account, thus getting assistance is not tough or time consuming. So go ahead, register your account with PostRank from here, but before that, don't forget to subscribe to The Chronicles of R so that you can be notified when it is updated.
Update (31st March, 2009):
Many of you have found that the rank of certain posts differ on the PostRank website and the PostRank widget, Melanie Baker from PostRank has explained that for us. If you look at the comments section you will find her detailed explanation. Thanks Melanie.