Identity in the Blogosphere

The Blogosphere is exploding with activity. Driven by empowered users who are leveraging easy-to-use tools, blogging is transforming the publishing industry. CNN had an interesting article on the number of blogs in china.

BEIJING, China (Reuters) — The number of blog sites in China reached 34 million in August, a 30-fold increase from four years ago, state media said on Tuesday, despite a series of curbs on media and dissent.

China has more than 17 million people writing blogs (short for Web logs) and more than 75 million people reading them, Xinhua news agency said.

David Sifry of Technorati in his latest state of the blogosphere post says that they are tracking 50 million blogs and that the size of blogosphere is doubling every 6 months.

  • Technorati is now tracking over 50 Million Blogs.
  • The Blogosphere is over 100 times bigger than it was just 3 years ago.
  • Today, the blogosphere is doubling in size every 200 days, or about once every 6 and a half months.
  • From January 2004 until July 2006, the number of blogs that Technorati tracks has continued to double every 5-7 months.
  • About 175,000 new weblogs were created each day, which means that on average, there are more than 2 blogs created each second of each day.
  • About 8% of new blogs get past Technorati’s filters, even if it is only for a few hours or days.
  • About 70% of the pings Technorati receives are from known spam sources, but we drop them before we have to send out a spider to go and index the splog.
  • Total posting volume of the blogosphere continues to rise, showing about 1.6 Million postings per day, or about 18.6 posts per second.
  • This is about double the volume of about a year ago.

In the article David mentions that only 12% of the posts are in Chinese language compared to 41% for English. This means that they are under-counting the number of blogs in other languages than English. Also they are likely under-counting the blogs at community sites such at MySpace etc. I believe a more accurate picture is presented by the blog herald survey from February (its a bit dated but still very instructive…I hope they come up with another survey soon)

The good news: the blogosphere continues to boom. This month I estimate there to be 200 million blogs in existence.

The sums by country add up to approx 154 million blogs and by host 185 million, but this doesn’t take into account a pile of places + smaller hosts + self hosted blogs. Hence I’m calling the figure 200 million blogs.

Broken down by the hosts the data looks as follows (from Marketingfacts):

Broken down by country the breakdown looks as follows:

Overall my guess is that the number of blogs is well above 250 million (based on the review of the blog hearld sources to get updated count). Of these about 30% are spam blogs (some estimates are higher but taking into account all the estimates for hosting sites etc. this seems like a reasonable number) and another 35-40% are inactive blogs (refer to David Sifry’s post for inactive blog rates. The rates are probably lower for community blogs because of ease of use) in which users stopped posting after creating the blog. This leaves us about 80 million blogs. Taking into account the world Internet usage statistics, this means that about 4-8% (Assuming some users have multiple blogs) of the people on-line are blogging. To get a better understanding of who is creating these blogs, let’s break the blog usage in three different categories.

  1. Community Blogs: These are blogs created to participate in an existing community where blogging is the main method of communication. A number of times the authors of such blogs don’t even know that they are blogging. Example of such sites are MySpace, LiveJournal, MSN spaces , Xanga etc. These kinds of blogs make up majority of the blogosphere. MySpace has more then 100 million members now. I don’t thinkTechnorati indexes most of these blogs. One can argue that these should not even be considered blogs but if the they do enable users to publish information in an easy and democratic way I think they should be considered as blogs.
  2. Personal Blogs: These blogs are created by individuals to express a point of view and to interact with other like-minded bloggers in an open community. These are the kind of blogs like this one that are hosted by individuals or blog hosting sites like wordpress, Typepad etc. The community interaction on such blogs are less closed and the level of technical sophistication required to manage such a blog is a lot higher then the community blogs. Such blogs form a small part of the blogosphere (less then 15% would be my guess).
  3. Corporate Blogs: These blogs are created by companies to propagate or enhance the company positioning. They also serve to humanize the company (e.g. Microsoft blogs or Google employee blogs). Not many companies have created formal structures for blogging yet but they are likely to come down the line. These might include corporate hosting of blogs or universal branding etc. Such blogs form a small part of the blogosphere (less then 5% would be my guess).

Vertically speaking the blogosphere for non-community blogs can be broken down in 6 main areas:

  1. Technology
  2. Politics and world events
  3. Arts (celebrity, jokes, films, music, TV etc.)
  4. Sports (Don’t think this one is a huge segment yet)
  5. Personal
  6. All other

Identity in a community blog site is typically governed by the the community owner. They make each of the users sign up and provide some basic identity information that is shared.

In the personal and corporate blogosphere identity is a problem. Some hosting sites try to address the issue by requiring users to log-in and have a create a blog before they can interact with the blogs on their site but this does not help the identity situation if the users don’t post anything on their blogs. In reality for most interactions in personal and corporate blogosphere anonymity is the norm. This default of anonymity provides the wrong incentives for participation in communities and thereby messing up the quality of conversations.

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7 Responses to Identity in the Blogosphere

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