09 October 2011

Classification matrix for PM blogs

Perth Mint is doing some strategic planning sessions at the moment and I was looking for a way to discuss what is going on in the precious metal blogosphere. Nothing like a matrix to oversimplify things (since when does just two dimensions fully describe anything), here is my attempt.

My two dimensions are to what extent does the blog deal in facts or lies including misunderstanding of how things work (the x-axis or What?) and to what extent does the blog attempt to explain and get to the bottom of what is going on compared to just accepting things as they are (the y-axis or Why?).

The resulting categories are:

  • Truth Seekers: these commit to using facts and try and explain, they might not get it right, but the intention is there.
  • Technical Analysis: just focuses on the facts (price) but doesn't care about the fundamentals or why the price is moving as it does.
  • Tabloid Entertainers: doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good story or clicks and doesn't get too deep as that may over tax the brains of its readers.
  • Propaganda Merchants: conscious misinformation and false explanations to push an agenda and/or clicks.

Let me know what you think. Are there some better dimensions I can use? And if you can come up with a word beginning with "T" for Propaganda Merchants box then that would be great as I can call it the Four Ts Matrix, which would be cool.

The fun part is working out where to place all the precious metal bloggers. But lets get the dimensions and categories set first.


  1. Truth according to who?
    Facts based on your findings?
    As long as it lines up with Perth Mint opinion/interest?
    Is Perth Mint not owned by the government?
    Misinformation according to the government then?
    History has learned us a few things about truth and facts and I would like to know why you feel it is necessary to claim a moral high ground.

  2. Troy has some valid questions there; your matrix has no point of reference, which is in itself a difficult thing to establish, what with opinions being subjective and all.

    Your matrix needs a third dimension (pretty easy with modern software), and that dimension is the blogger's motivation/reasons for publishing analysis at all.

  3. Okay, maybe a rational comment is in order. Excellent idea, Bron. I think the matrix is appropriate. Of course you are going to get some wrong and oversimplify, but so what? It might be a useful exercise.

    I think the biggest problem will be that 90% of all blogs are going to fit in the left hand side, and most of those in the upper left side. Most PM blogs are nothing more than cheerleaders for gold and silver with virtually nothing substantial or factual to go on. They are based on pure conjecture and lots of hearsay.

    I know, 90% of blog readers will HATE what I just said. Oh, well. But did it ever occur to most that when the price of gold goes down on the day it may in fact NOT be the evil bullion banks doing the devil's work?

    Again, I like it, Bron. I hope you will publish the list of blogs in their respective categories. You will be the most hated man in the PM blogosphere! ;-)

  4. The top right hand box is "truth seekers" not "truth", implying that blogs may get their interpretaion of facts wrong. I'm more interested in the intent of the blogger (as Blondie points out) rather than whether I agree with them, as you can always talk to a truth seeker but a propaganda merchant will not be interested in openly discussing alternative views.

    It is inherently subjective and I'm not sure there is any way around that. Matrices like these are merely meant as tools to help identify gaps in the marketplace, although oftentimes consultants and managers tend to treat them more objectively than they are.

    On that line of thought, the interesting thing about your comments Troy Ounce is that for our strategic planning purposes we should be classifying the blogging "space" by our customers' subjective view of the blogs and not our own.

    If most people think there are already many truth seeking blogs out there, then there isn't much point trying to cover that category, particularly if you are just going to be perceived as a propaganda merchant.

  5. The fourth category (Top Left) is 'Talk their book'.

    Always have something to sell, often informed, never to be taken without a grain of salt.

  6. I've thought about it a touch more - obviously some sites cover a couple of squares (or more, especially aggregator type sites) or sit on the border between.

    FOFOA is a clear 'truth seeker' type site.

    Armstrong Economics is a site I'd put near the middle.

    Zero Hedge is all over the shop.

    TFMetals is a tabloid / techinical mix.

    King World News is 'Talk the Book', but a very well informed book.

    Here again I prefer Talk the Book to Propaganda Merchants - because Talk the Book is a wider category that allows for, if you will, 'honest salesmen'.

  7. Great idea, and 'Talk their book' is a good category - easily understood.

    Motive is tricky to chart since every post on every blog has a 'motive' (comments too). But still important - and complex enough to deserve its own (sister) quadrant chart and would be an interesting (potentially revealing) correlation.

    My two cents:

    1. Rename x-axis to "Approach", and the two extremes become 'Accept' and 'Question/Interrogate' (since the 'propaganda merchants still do have a lot of questions and theories, but they often don't use heavy facts to reach their conclusions).
    2. Instead of Propaganda Merchants, use 'Transmission Conduits', since this category is exclusively describes lazy repeat posting of other material or ideas (i.e. if facts are researched and checked then this moves the classification into 'truth seekers' category).

    Reason for this suggestion is that blog authors genuinely believe what they are writing is true (Bix Weir for example) so they are not Propaganda Merchants in the classic sense.

    An optional extra for charting: best results would be a scatter graph - different colour for each blog, a point for each post with the size of the circle representing # of words. This can reveal intensity (of motive) and changes of direction over time (useful, but difficult to chart because it means tracking and evaluating a large sample of posts).


  8. I like talk their book. In the spirit of usual corporate management behaviour, I'll take credit for that :)

    Warren, scatter graphs and colours, this is being presented to management so needs to be KISS.

    I saw the matrix as more static, an as-at-now view, but maybe different size circles reflecting how many pageviews each site gets.

    I don't think I'll get time to put sites to it and will use the matrix more as something to talk to.

  9. Do precious metals bloggers really have that much influence on the precious metals market?

    Max Keiser & his SLA don't. King World News? Not likely. Peter Schiff? I don't think so. Jim Willie? Still getting it wrong.

  10. IMO The whole issue could be easily summarized into one question:
    "What is the objective of the blogger?"
    (To highlight himself, to share some ideas, to educate, learn, experiemnt, complain, profit, etc.)
    Something similar as the "What is Our Mission/Vision" each of the bigger company has.
    Only then comes strategy, tools, market adience, aim, approach...
    Which leads us into "How successful (Objective) they are?"

    It seems to me that You have divided the issue just into two (what?, why?) sub-question.
    I personally do not like wide categorizations as it often cuts off information.
    There is of course another more wider approach, depends what You want to achieve yourself and what is the purpose of this post of Yours.

    It also depends very much on professionalism of the blogger and time dedicated to research. Any issue can be handled both ways, sloppy or thorough analysis. Some give it enough time, the objective view and enable reader to participate or weight both sides of the argument/fact and some just see issues in a very narrow straight forward "as I write is the only way, MY way" (right or not).

    To weight bloggers based on the audience, popularity is silly. You rate the audience, not the blogger. Some do not care about this and have just few visits and that is enough for them. What is fate anyway? Clicks sounds like a profit, high amount and low quality of commets are problems so also not a good way to measure, are they educating others or are they trying to educte themselves?, etc...

    One more note: I would vote also for measuring feature called "uniqueness" of the blog as we see a lot of copy-pasting between bloggers.

    So if your statement was that "what is going on in the precious metal blogosphere"?

    Then my take:
    -> Information penetration grows (people are in general more informed than few years ago due to the amount of internet users growth) = more readers & more bloggers.
    -> The availability of infomation grows (people have more talored access to info they seak) "PM bloggers are in some way specializing".
    -> The network of PM bloggers can catch very easily new info and "destile" what it is about (vis discussions rather than by blog posts), some kind of "watchdogs".
    -> Interconnectivity & cloud approach of PM blogsphere grows via loose cooperation (ideas compete more freely than on sphere of paid comentators).
    -> Some PM bloggers "get it right" and some do not depends on where you stand.
    -> Note: there is a wide quality of PM bloggers out there and some are objective and concerned about facts.
    -> Everytime (not just in PM) people perceive new info as agree/disagree, understand it or not, what I see important is that PM blogging & discussion forums are open and enable an real time exchange of opinion, a "free of charge" way and thus enable those who do not have access to paid financial advisors who need to sell, end users have option to believe what they want not just a mainstream, "read->think_for_yourselve->discuss".
    -> Lately I observe that there is a feedback loop between established comentators and quality bloggers and there is a vivid viable fruitful exchange of opinions, so the quality of bloggers, comentators seems growing.
    -> Bloggers have advantage: they can say unpleasant things straight or put out theories to test with no harm but their name.

    So: To answer Yours "The fun part is working out where to place all the precious metal bloggers."

    Underlined summarized:

    Bloggers have their place on the PM info flow landscape.

  11. Top left could also be 'To the moon'.

  12. The other change I see happening is a growing divergence of knowledge level amongst readers.

    As gold becomes more 'mainstream', less nuanced comment becomes more common. Concepts that have been hammered out over 10 years or so amongst the early adopters now have to be disseminated to the many newcomers, who often don't take the time to 'read the archives'. These newcomers are often heavily influenced by the 'Talk the Book' type of information - it's packaged, neat and tidy compared to most 'truth seeking'.

    The gap I see is for truth seekers to be able to say - we sought the truth and this is what we found.

    What did I find?

    There will be a new monetary reference point. Physical gold is the logical, but not sole, choice.

    That a discount rate, responding to the rate of consumption, provides an axis of flexibility not present in the current system.

    That nothing remains fixed in value, not even gold.

    That both income taxes and company taxes are inherently destructive and unjustifiable. That a land value tax not only provides a stabilising influence on an economy, but also provides a mechanism for recognising and valuing community benefit.

    That we have forgotten why the Westminster system of Parliament has two houses, and are suffering for this loss.

    That economies and societies cycle, repeating on a consistent, predictable basis. That this only tells the when, not the what.

    So.. just a few things.

  13. How about you also make a matrix for the REGULAR PRESS and their reason's ... to downgrade PM's

  14. Problem is the regular press would all just fit into one box! None of them understand gold.

  15. ALOHA!!

    Thanks Bron for this platform ...

    I am an American who was buying gold and silver in 2001. After the NASDAQ crash I looked for the next TREND! I found KITCO and then I looked at a long term gold chart and saw a basing formation. I then started doing research as I had not bought into the PMs since 1980 when I bought silver and sold.

    This is different as this is a monetary issue that is not going away. This is not the usual recession or "loan scandal" that America seems to propagate every decade.

    The path to truth is ever changing and is perceptual, but we can state some basic truths now. One of them is that our global MONETARY SYSTEM doe snot work for the masses. There is no staore of value unless you are adept at leveraging trends. Few even at Wall Street can pull that off.

    This dilemma that Bron speaks of is exactly what I am involved in now in termsof leveraging not so much the ultimate truth but the spirit of seeking the truth,likethe first stepof the twelve steps of AA. WE ADMIT WE ARE POWERLESS OVER DEBT! That in itself is the product of corrupt money. Like cancer you have to first diagnose the disease.

    I write for this Canadian based blog that I feel has diversity and not so much hype. I write a weekly report on the US TREASURY, the World's largest corrupt money launderer, under the title SOUND MONEY.

    Bill Cara-Cara Community

    I also am involved in an IPTV venture out of Hollywood, CA. Here is one of our weekly one hour shows entitled COUNTERMEASURES hosted by Rebecca Costa. She just did a show with G Edward Griffin, author of "The Creature From jeckyl Island". This linkis the Griffin interview. This IPTV channel TV show was started two months ago.


    There are people and media who see a huge void between what CNBC and Wall Street sell to the masses as "truth". Most of media in America is propoganda sponsored by corporate interests. It is an intricate network that includes the government agenda. I always say that if you stripped away US Treasury funds from US corporations the Fortune 500 would be the Fortune 5!