I've been a long-term holdout on Paul Caron's periodic rankings of law professor blog traffic, for a lot of reasons. But here's the latest--and I think strongest--reason for opting out:
If you look over the stats closely, you'll notice that all of the members of his Law Professor Blogs Network are up between 35% and 350% in traffic over the last year, with most of the blogs increasing between 100% and 200%. At the same time, I have noticed my LPBN pages automatically refreshing when I leave the window open.
So I guess I'll lay out my views straightforwardly -- I don't see any real reason to have auto-refresh other than to boost traffic. I suppose that if I wanted to just open up the blog and let the auto-refresh do my work for me, I could be assured of getting the most recent content. But if I leave the window open to a blog, it's often because I am in the midst of working my way through the past blog posts and want to come back to it -- not to have to figure out where I was. It makes viewing a video over time impossible, as well (as Caron himself notes). And if I'm on the page of a particular post, I suppose I might like the refresh to show any new comments -- but that's a pretty niche desire. What's more likely, perhaps, is that a lengthy comment will get "vaporized" by the refresh rates, as this comment thread indicates. (A great post & comment thread, BTW!)
So is the refresh innovation a real improvement in the blogging experience, or just a way to boost traffic?
Whatever the motivation for the change may have been, I think it makes Paul's rankings meaningless. Because those of us who don't inflict auto-refresh on our readers will be at an inherent disadvantage, the rankings will have no correlation to merit or even readership rates.
Update: The comments section over at the original Prawfsblawg post by Matt Bodie has gotten quite interesting, to say the least.