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Perseus weblog study

The Blogging Iceberg – Of 4.12 Million Hosted Weblogs,Most Little Seen, Quickly Abandoned by Jeffrey Henning [via Andrew Orlowski]. An interesting study about weblogs:

Perseus Development Corp. randomly surveyed 3,634 blogs on eight leading blog-hosting services to develop a model of blog populations. Based on this research, Perseus estimates that 4.12 million blogs have been created on these services: Blog-City, BlogSpot, Diaryland, LiveJournal, Pitas, TypePad, Weblogger and Xanga.

Interesting findings:

…The most dramatic finding was that 66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned. Apparently the blog-hosting services have made it so easy to create a blog that many tire-kickers feel no commitment to continuing the blog they initiate…

…Blogs are famed for their linkages, and while 80.8% of active blogs linked to at least one external site from a post on their home page, these links were rarely to traditional news sources. Only 9.9% of active blogs had a current post that linked to one of 2,875 traditional news sites. So blogging in practice is not just about linking to news articles…

…Blogs are currently the province of the young, with 92.4% of blogs created by people under the age of 30.

And from the conclusion:

When you say ‘blog’ most people think of the most popular weblogs, which are often updated multiple times a day and which by definition have tens of thousands of daily readers. These make up the tip of a very deep iceberg: prominently visible, but not characteristic of the iceberg as a whole.

What is below the water line are the literally millions of blogs that are rarely pointed to by others, since they are only of interest to the family, friends, fellow students and co-workers of their teenage and 20-something bloggers. Think of them as blogs for nanoaudiences.

I guess this study correlates well with an average view on weblogs: weblogs are “me and my cat” diaries by teens 🙂

I found the most interesting part at the end, in “caveats” describing research method:

  • only hosted blog services were considered (because your-own-hosting-blogs “require more work to set up and will be characteristically different than those blogs created using hosting services”)
  • most demographic data are taken from LiveJournal and Xanga

So, they didn’t take into account Movable Type blogs (and MT blogs have larger share than some of hosted services they looked for) and hosted Radio blogs.

I think that selecting a sample for such research should be considered more carefully: focusing on some platforms/hosted services and not the others can impact results a lot. I don’t have hard data here, but I believe that demographics, blogging goals and styles differ a lot between blogging communities (e.g. comment about word of the mouth and differences between Radio and LiveJournal blogs), so you are likely to get biased sample selecting only some of them.

I would also look at the correlation between technology “community and communication” features and links/number of readers of a weblog. For example, weblogs with RSS feeds or embedded comments or community features like “friends” in LiveJournal have higher potential for survival (because even those who write for themselves write more when they have readers). See Marysia on interpersonal communication on blogs

Another caveat gives hope for more careful follow-up studies:

This is the first in a series of studies we will be conducting on the blogging community, each designed to help strengthen our understanding of the community as well as to refine our blogging research methodology.

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2003/10/05.html#a781; comments are here.

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