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Why It's So Hard To Talk About Aggregation

One more data point for the aggregation debate: An aggregation of one of our posts sent us 65 views — but an aggregation of the aggregation sent us 15 times more.

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Yesterday I wrote a quick post on Google VP Vic Gundotra's gun-happy account of a recent scare he had at home. It was goofy fun, mostly, and got a bit of pickup. But looking at the referral stats, I noticed something curious: SFGate, the SF Chronicle's website, was the largest non-social referrer to the story. This was odd, because the Chronicle hadn't written a story about the post.

Here's what happened: BusinessInsider reblogged, or aggregated, my original post. This has sent us about 60 of the story's 10,000 visits so far. Then the Chronicle, which has a syndication deal with BusinessInsider, reposted the story. This version — a word-for-word reposting of an aggregation of my post — has sent through over 1,500 new visitors. Which is nice! Thanks, BI.

If there's a lesson here, which there very well may not be, it's this: Judging aggregation isn't quite as simple as metering direct clickthroughs.

Contact John Herrman at

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