A slight error in numbers

Someone mentioned in the comments of the previous entry that there would be a blog explosion in Finland, if the IRC gallery started to offer blogs. Maybe not.

I have to say that I was both thrown off and relieved to read this article (in Finnish), which says that there are now a hundred thousand blogs in Finland, with MSN Spaces hosting a half of these. (Though I think that the estimate of 10k blogs not on any of the major blog hosts may be a bit overstated.)

I, and I believe many others, have been looking too much into blogilista.fi, which has about 2000 blogs listed, and has served as a focal point of discussion (in its previous incarnation) for the Finnish blogosphere for many years. Well, if it lists 2000 blogs, which is about 2% of the Finnish bloggers, then what's the point? Most of the Finnish bloggers don't even know of its existence - or if they do, they don't care. But all of these new blogs support RSS...

A hundred thousand blogs. That means probably at least 50,000 bloggers, all writing their own thoughts and experiences to the internet. That would be one percent of the population, making blogging an equally popular pastime to acting, though not as popular as role playing games (3%, according to this study).

The Finnish blogosphere is doing nicely, thankyouverymuch. It's growing in the underground, not caring about anything, thinking its own thoughts, ignoring us "established Finnish bloggers" and will probably crush us while we're not watching, as an accident. I welcome that day. It will be interesting ;-)

(Actually, now that I think about it more instead of the knee-jerk -reaction, the 75k MSN Spaces users + 17k Livejournalists seems awfully high. I mean, each year about 60,000 people are born. That means that if you assume that MSN Spaces and Livejournal users are say, 12-17 year olds, you get about 360,000 people in that age range. That would mean that 25% of teenagers would be bloggers (assuming one blog per person)... Any teachers out there willing to ask around in their class and confirm this?)

(More thinking: Not all of the blogs are active; this is just the number of created blogs. A Pew study says that only 10% update regularly, so you can still estimate at least 10,000 regularly updated blogs. Which is still a lot.)




Comments

If 98% of the blogs are not in Pinseri, then why no one in Pinseri is referring to them? Where are all the high-quality blogs that should emerge from this 98% by sheer force of numbers?

Even if 80% of the regularly updated blogs are outside Piseri, they should show up somewhere: In Pinseri all blogs do not update regularly either.

Bottom line: The numbers can't stand back-of-the-envelope smoke test.

Also, I wouldn't trust numbers announced by the marketing persons in the blogging companies, if they don't give any knowledge about other factors than the number of blogs (update frequency, starting age distribution of the blogs, etc.).

--Simo, 07-Jun-2005


The figure 100,000 seems extremely high, even though plausible in some sense (the "propable users" do exist). But when you compare it to the 2000 listed at blogilista it seems that something is missing here. If out of the 100k, about 75k are in MSN Spaces it of course could be that due to the nature of MSN Spaces, most of them are mostly in the form of an online diary (which does not make it any less of a blog. I would personally guess that those writing basic diaries on MSN Spaces might 1) not have heard of blogilista 2) might not be interested in this as MSN Spaces seems to be a community in its own (as only members can comment on blog entries for example).

Also, LiveJournal and MSN Spaces are, even though available in Finnish, not Finnish services and therefore do not provide for any hints towards blogilista. blogs.fi/.de/.se/.?? seems to ping multiple blogroll-sites and therefore make it easier for the users to syndicate their site as they really don't have to do anything except post. But all the sites that blogs.fi pings seem to be US- or UK-based.

Therefore it seems that we need a more connected network of blog-syndication in Finland that needs to be brought to the attention of more users. This is in no means a critisism towards blogilista.fi which I think is doing a great job, but I'm just waiting for the Next Step(tm) in the networking of Finnish blogs. What this will mean and how it should be accomplished? Well... *insert shrug here*

--Tuomas, 07-Jun-2005


Simo: the referrer thing is an illusion: the question is, why aren't those bloggers referring to guys on Pinseri. They are, after all, the majority...

The answer is simple: because most of these bloggers do not link. Why would they? They don't care...

--JanneJalkanen, 07-Jun-2005


Let's make some assumptions: 1) Finnish bloggers use the same normal vocabulary both in Blogspot and in MSN Spaces. 2) Google indexes MSN Spaces and Blogspot eaqually well. 3) MSN has ~80000 Finnish blogs. 4) The others ~10000 estimate is correct, and all these blogs are in Blogspot.

Corollary: By searching with usual finnish words you should get way more results on MSN, since they have 8 times more blogs.

Word: Suomi Google search restricted to spaces.msn.com:44 results Google search restricted to blogspot.com: 761 results

Word: Kissa Google search restricted to spaces.msn.com: 42 results. Google search restricted to blogspot.com: 611 results

Word: Mies Google search restricted to spaces.msn.com: 67 results. Google search restricted to blogspot.com: 7950 results

In other words: The people running MSN Spaces Suomi are lying bastards.

--Simo, 07-Jun-2005


Assuming that the persons MSN space is public and people are not using them for photo journals only. And that Google actually indexes them, which might not be true.

But there are very few public blogs on MSN... I'd do more checks, but Passport seems to be broken (again), so I can't log in :-/. I can't even find their contact address, so I can't email them...

--JanneJalkanen, 07-Jun-2005


(Got in and created a space.)

If you create a new MSN Space, by default only people who are on your Messenger buddy list can view it. Therefore, Google cannot index MSN spaces, unless they have been explicitly changed to be public. Which, apparently, happens only rarely.

So perhaps the impact of MSN blogs to the rest of the world is pretty much nil. But the bloggers, growing up in this kind of world, might have something to say...

--JanneJalkanen, 07-Jun-2005


So this discussion boils down to:

* The definition of the blog: Does it have to be public? IMHO yes.

* Company secrets: What is the thing that there exists ~76000 units? Is the report comparing apples to oranges when it compares 76000 MSN spaces to 10000 other blogs?

--Simo, 07-Jun-2005


You can't argue about figures and argueing about the definition of blogs takes us nowhere.

But what it tells about Finland where 75% of blogs are on the other spectrum of blogsphere - on the spaces side?

Because we are here. Some words from this news atricle: http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/infoworld/20050527/tc_infoworld/59894

"There are two big buckets in blogging services. There are those built on open standards and meant to be publishing platforms. The beauty of those products is that they allow a lot of customization by the end-user," says Allen Weiner, a Gartner analyst.

"At the other end of the spectrum is the Microsoft approach, which is blogging services that are quite connected to e-mail, instant messaging, photos, music, and the like. Blogging is just one element of the overall experience, and they are more restrictive and harder to customize," Weiner adds.

Introduced in beta form just last December, MSN Spaces now hosts over 10 million blogs, an eye-popping adoption rate that has blown past internal Microsoft expectations. "MSN Spaces is the fastest growing service MSN has ever introduced," said Brooke Richardson, lead product manager at MSN communication services.

The significant thing for the blogging market is that Microsoft is doing it its way, designing MSN Spaces to have a central text-blogging core but complemented by and integrated with a suite of MSN online services, such as instant messaging, e-mail, music playlist posting, and photo sharing. Microsoft also built into the service access control features to let users determine who can view their blogs, although they can make their blogs totally open if they want. MSN Spaces will also notify users when blogs from friends have been updated.

...

MSN Spaces was topped only by blogging stalwarts. Google's Blogger and its accompanying Blogspot hosting site together drew 12.63 million unique visitors, followed by Six Apart's Typepad and LiveJournal services, which together rang up 11.47 million, and by Xanga.com with 8.26 million.

Microsoft makes no apologies for adopting a different approach. "When you thought of a blogger a year ago, it was someone writing a blog that they wanted to disseminate to anyone in the entire world. Now we're seeing blogging entering the more mainstream consumer space, and people are using it to share with a closer, tighter circle of people," MSN's Richardson says.

--Mediablogi, 07-Jun-2005


Indeed. Most blogs have only less than twenty readers anyway; for all intents and purposes it does not matter if a random person cannot read it. It has the same readership it would have with or without password protection.

An internal corporate blog would not be public either (unless you want to argue that it's public to the company employees and therefore a blog), but there you really cannot draw the line: how many potential readers would a blog need to have to be called a blog? If my "super-siikritz" blog in the office has 40,000 potential readers, why would it be any different from a blog that can be read by the twenty or so people on my Messenger buddy list? Where's the line? A hundred? A thousand? What about if I worked in a twenty-person startup and knew everyone?

And I don't really care whether the blogs are public or not. The value of blogging is reaching to those few people that you want to reach. If you only want to reach a close-knit circle of friends, you're probably even better off in a closed area such as MSN Spaces - you don't have to worry about things like anonymity, weird shit-o morons writing oddball comments in your blog, flames, your parents finding out about it, etc. It's quite likely, in fact, that very few people outside that circle would like to read those blogs anyway - and if the people are good writers, the rest of the world will probably hear about them anyway sooner or later...

--JanneJalkanen, 08-Jun-2005


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