Is blogging in decline?
I was just asked to take part in a survey for Technorati on the “state of the blogosphere”, and they asked me to provide statistics about my blogs and things like that.
I had to go hunting for the statistics, and they seem to show that blogging is in decline, or at least it seems to be so for my blogs.
Here are the statistics for this blog, Khanya, for this year so far:
My other general blog, Notes from underground, shows a similar decline:
Our family history blog shows a slight upward trend in recent months, but that may be because we have been more than usually active in family history in the period:
But though there is a decline in page reads and visitors, these blogs seem to maintain their general position in relation to other blogs, which is why I think there may be an across-the-board decline.
Here, for example are the Amatomu statistics for religious blogs in South Africa.
For the purpose of this exercise, this blog, Khanya, has been at the number 4 position for the last year or so. On rare occasions it has moved up to 3 or down to 5, but it’s generally about at the same number 4 position. So if its readers are declining, the average reeadership of all the other blogs in the table must be declining as well.
One problem is that I’m not sure how accurate the Amatomu statistics are. The blog at No 3, Dion’s random ramblings, is inactive, and so should have dropped a long way down the list. Dion Forster’s new blog, An uncommon path remains inexplicably stuck below it at number 7, even though he posts to it regularly.
On the same page of Amatomu, though not shown in this extract, there is a list of currently popular recent posts. The list is supposted to contain posts that are not more than two days old, ranked by the number of reads in the last hour. But posts from the top three blogs in the list almost never appear there. That means either that a lot of people are reading their old posts, and almost no one is reading their current ones, or that the Amatomu statistics are simply inaccurate, and quite meaningless.
There is also a quite different picture that one gets when one reads the list according to different criteria. The righthand tab shows the list ordered by Technorati “authority”. I think that is calculated by the number of links to recent individual posts from other blogs, but I’m not sure about that.
But I think one can draw the same conclusion from that too — if blogs remain in the same relative positions, then the number of people reading blogs has been dropping steadily from the beginning of the year.
I suspect that one reason for the decline may be the Gadarene rush to sites like Facebook.
Some bloggers I know have been blogging less frequently, and have been putting pages on Facebook instead. The problem is that Facebook is a pretty poor medium for that kind of thing.
I sometimes announce links to my blog posts on Facebook. The problem is that many people prefer to comment on the Facebook link rather than on the blog post itself.
That’s OK for ephemeral, trivial or irrelevant comments. But for serious comments, it means that the comments are lost. I can look at the blog post three years later and can see the comments that people made when it was first posted, or at any time since. But the comments that were posted on the link at Facebook are irretrievable, no matter how profound or witty they may have been.
There was a group of bloggers who tried to post a monthly Synchroblog, blogging on the same general topic, and linking to each other’s posts. There is a mailing list for regular participants, to discuss what the monthly theme should be, and remind people about it. But then people thought that Facebook was the new and in thing, and started announcing it there instead. As a result, I missed this month’s one, because I was busy and spent less time on Facebook. I always read my e-mail first thing in the morning (well, fourth really, but first of the things I do on the Internet). I look at Facebook when I have time. Yes, e-mail reminders come to me from Facebook, but they inevitably get dropped in the “Junk and suspicious mail” queue, which I look at about once a week, mainly to do a mass delete of spam.
So really, people, Facebook has its uses, but it’s no substitute for blogging, and for many things, blogging’s better.
Anyway, if you’d like to participate in the Technorati “state of the blogosphere” survey, here’s the blurb:
We’d love for you to share some information about blogging as your passion or your profession, that we can then share back with you, the bloggers, and everyone who is interested in you. It should take just 15 minutes of your time.
The more responses we get the better the data we can deliver to you, so please share this link with other bloggers. http://www.psasurveys.com/detect.aspx?I.Project=a18214
Look for the full study on technorati.com on Monday, November 7.
I have to say that I found it somewhat annoying.
For example, one question offered the following options:
- I blog as part of my full-time job for a company or organization
- I blog full-time for the company or organization I work for
- I blog full-time for a company or organization that I own
- Right now I blog for fun. I would like to make money on my blog some day
- I blog occasionally for a company or organization that I own
- I blog for fun. I do not make, or plan to ever make, any money on my blog
- I am an independent blogger and consider it my full time job
- I use my blog to supplement my income, but dont consider it my full time job
My answer was “None of the above”, but that wasn’t an option.
I find this grossly insulting to people who do the survey. It implies that the only alternative to “making money” is “fun”, and so that anyone who is not blogging for money is shallow and only interested in trivialities.
Still, I suppose it is an accurate reflection of the dominant religion of the West — Moneytheism.