One of the more interesting things I've read recently came in a comment on James Preece's blog here. "Anon" makes some interesting comments about the decline in the influence Catholic blogs have at Eccleston Square, the HQs of the CBCEW. It is instructive to reflect on the fact that the authorities were exercised once about how much influence bloggers might have (remember the hatchet job The Suppository tried on Fr Tim?) but had realised that the Cathosphere was having no significant effect on life in the Church in E&W.
"Anon" helpfully suggested Alexa as a way of getting a feel for the relative influence of different websites, and a quick look reveals quite a lot. Here are some websites and their rankings:
Fr Z 88,328
Protect the Pope 735,871
Fr Tim 1,568,178
Catholic and Loving It 1,905,622
Fr Ray 2,228,042
LMS Chairman 2,364,124
Fr Hunwicke 2,636,220
Catholic Voices 3,461,259
Eccles and Bosco 5,345,139
Countercultural Father 8,366,107
Due diligence: this blog doesn't even register, it gets so few views!
There are two points to be made about using Alexa as an analytical tool in this context: first, ignore the numbers and think of orders of magnitude: 1 to 10; 10 to 100; 100 to 1,000; 1,000 to 10,000; 10,000 to 100,000; 100,000 to 1,000,000; 1,000,000 to 10,000,000; the rest. The second is that however accurate Alexa is or isn't, it is the counter of choice at Eccleston Square.
I chose a few UK sites which reflect what I thought would be their relative popularity and sure enough Frs Tim and Ray are up there, with James Preece loving it in their company. Eccles and Countercultural Father both occupy a respectable position: not up with the world's opinion formers, but in a respectable spot.
But look at Deacon Nick: not in the preeminent world class of Fr Z, but far and away the highest ranking E&W blogger. I put Rorate and Mundabor's figures in NOT to compare him with them, but to give some idea of his reach. If there are more popular UK sites, or sites in the same general area, let me know.
I've said before that what goes on between Deacon Nick and his Ordinary is between them: but you can see why warning bells might have begun to sound in Eccleston Square as his blog began to climb so high up the rankings.
If this is right, we know what we have to do: find somebody who is completely orthodox to the Magisterium, who has the time to devote to ferreting things out, and whose job, livelihood, or pension is unthreatenable by the people who want to control the narrative of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.