Yandex.ru, Russian most popular search engine, announced on November 3 that it would close its blog ranking service Yandex Blogs Top (YBT) [RUS] by the end of the month. A spokesman for Yandex.ru said the reason for closure was that the blog rating “had become a specialized media platform.” Bloggers accused the company of giving in to political pressure from the Russian government.
We noticed that service, which had been initially created as a mirror, a reflection of the blogosphere, became an amplifier, a media tool. The effect of a positive feedback took place: many bloggers started to write, comment and include links with a purpose to “bring a post to the top.”
Just about everyone started to use this tool – from the disseminators of the links “please help collect money” to radicals of any kind. As a result, radicals of one kind started to accuse Yandex of helping radicals of another kind and vice versa. Journalists got into the habit of looking through the blog ranking, bringing posts to the top became a paid service and now the authorities perceive the ranking as vox populi.
Transformation of the blog ranking into a specialized media platform doesn't allow us to develop this service as a part of Yandex portal. We don't see any perspective to make it a mass service – and the development of Yandex is mainly focused on mass services. This is why we decided to stop supporting the service and, at the same time, simultaneously provide everyone with the technical ability to create their own ranking of popular blogs, their own version of the answer to the question “what do popular bloggers care about?” Similar rankings already exist on different sites of RuNet. We hope that the usage of data from Yandex Blog Search will create many similar services and will help everyone find a suitable ranking.
Artemiy Lebedev (aka LJ-user tema [RUS]), one of the most influential and controversial personalities of RuNet, is the first who started using Yandex Blog Top RSS on his Web site [RUS]. Lebedev claimed that the ranking was shut down due to the reasons not mentioned in the official statement from Yandex:
Well, to be short, Yandex got completely fed up with complains about the blog ranking which has always been the most crystal clear and honest rating in the world.
This is why rating will continue to exist on the Web site of Artemy Lebedev's Studio…
Because it is written in the studio charter that politicians and priests can f…k themselves, the director of the company will not hesitate to tell any politician or pries to f…k themselves.
First, let f…k themselves […] anyone who is not OK with the fact that the ranking is created by a robot on the basis of objective parameters.
The other version of Yandex Blog Top RSS also appeared on the site Whoyougle [RUS].
Yandex.ru has bigger audience than many cable TV-channels in Russian (20 million visitors in September 2009 [RUS]). Bloggers used the popularity of the site to bring many controversial topics to the attention of the Russian audience by including links and adding comments to the posts. Some believe this led to political pressure resulting in the elimination of the blog ranking.
It became known as early as in October that someone “at the top” wasn't very happy with the free ranking of alternative points of view.
A pleasing picture that we saw in TV newscasts was very different from the things that bloggers, especially politicized ones, were writing about. Now this has been ended…
Roman Ivanov (aka LJ-user kukutz [RUS]), Yandex “chief Lulz officer” (Yandex virtual spokesman), argues [RUS] that the Yandex blog ranking did not attract a large audeince and had only 7 thousand visitors a day. At the same time, the amount Yandex Blog Search monthly visitors in September 2009 was around 2,5 mln visitors in September 2009 [RUS] or 12,5 percent of the total monthly visitors of Yandex.ru. Many RuNet users strongly disagree with this statistics and claim that the blog ranking was much more popular than Yandex officially announced.
Yandex.ru dominates Russian search engine market. According to Vedomosti newspaper [RUS], it is accouned for 54,5 percent of the Russian search traffic. In July 2009, ComScore research [ENG] stated that Yandex is among top 10 world's search engines with 1,5 percent of the world search traffic.