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Partisan Democratic Blogs Sucking The Life Out Of The Blogosphere

Chris Bowers at MyDD attempts to divine some meaning from BlogAds traffic. I've framed the title post in the grand terms he used when looking at blogosphere traffic in his stories. While I don't completely disagree with his findings, I do have issues with his methodology and conclusions.

First it's worth addressing his critique of top conservative bloggers for not creating communities.

Of the twenty-four liberal blogs in the top quintile, Dailykos, TPM Cafe, Smirking Chimp, Metafilter, BooMan Tribune, MyDD, and Dembloggers are full-fledged community sites where members cannot only comment, but they can also post diaries / articles / polls. By comparison, there are no community sites among the top twenty-four conservative blogs. None, zip, zero, nada.
I'll let the world in on the two big secrets of Scoop.
  1. It's a shitty blogging tool - There are, as best as I can tell, maybe two or three good features in Scoop (diaries being the main one), and the rest of the mess is a horrible blogging tool. Want RSS feeds, trackbacks, a custom layout? Scoop doesn't do trackbacks, the RSS support is confusing and rudimentary, and all Scoop blogs tend to look the same because it's not real easy to design a layout for.

  2. You can't get the version of Scoop in use at DailyKos - One of the cool features (reader recommended diaries) isn't in the Scoop available from scoop.kuro5hin.org. In fact as the development page indicated there's been very little public activity on the Scoop development site, while sites led by DailyKos have been implementing all sorts of new Scoop features. Why is that, you might ask? It's because Scoop has become, in effect, a bought and paid for tool of the elite liberal bloggers. Scoop development is occurring, funded by Kos and others, and the by product of that work isn't available to you the lowly blogger. There's nothing wrong with Kos and crew keeping the good stuff for themselves while the open source Scoop stagnates, it's just innocuous to suggest that conservative bloggers should be rushing to adopt a feature poor, stagnant product when there are plenty off good blogging tools available that are supported.
As to the traffic generated by Scoop sites, Bowers says, "Anyone who spends a significant amount of time on Scoop blogs should not have any difficulty figuring out why this is the case." The problem with that statement is that anyone who examines Bowers methodology, has a basic understanding of web advertising, and has some familiarity with Scoop should be able to easily identify his error. BlogAds traffic statistics measure page views not unique visitors. Since a site like DailyKos is a traffic vacuum (sucking in and keeping traffic from the wider blogosphere) it's easy to see how their page view counts keep puffing up. I've examined the top 100 sites at the TTLB Ecosystem based on SiteMeter traffic in the table shown below. The SiteMeter comparisons show traffic to the top liberal blogs is 20% higher than the top conservative blogs, but even Bowers admits there are considerably more conservative blogs in the mid-tiers. My guess is that if you were to extend my ecosystem traffic numbers on down into the 200 range (I'll send you the parsing spreadsheet if you want) the liberal and conservative traffic would be essentially equal. If you were able to extend the traffic calculation even further down the ecosystem the total traffic for conservative blogs would quickly surpass liberal blogs due to the higher number of conservative blogs. Using a power law curve I'd estimate that, were you able to do the traffic calculations into the 1000 range, conservative blogs would hold a 10%-20% traffic edge. All of which goes to show that back of the envelope traffic calculations are an "iffy" proposition, regardless of whose making them.

Using his data, here's how Chris characterizes the right side of the blogosphere:

There are swarms of new conservative voices looking to breakout in the right-wing blogosphere, but they are not even allowed to comment, much less post a diary and gain a following, on the high traffic conservative blogs. Instead, without any fanfare, they are forced to start their own blogs. However, because of the top-down nature of right-wing blogs, new conservative blogs remain almost entirely dependent upon the untouchable high traffic blogs for visitors. In short, the anti-community nature of right-wing blogs has resulted in a stagnant aristocracy within the conservative blogosphere that prevents the emergence of new voices and, as a result, new reasons for people to visit conservative blogs.
Those "untouchable" high traffic blogs do a damn site more linking to new voices than the liberal communities. Bowers forgets to mention that with traffic on the left converging on a few mega-sites (that by and large do not support smaller liberal blogs by linking to them) they are actually harming independent liberal voices. It's not just me (the right-wing blogger) saying that, look into recent controversies among smaller lefty bloggers trying to get a little linkage from the big liberal bloggers.

There's plenty of new new voices emerging on the right. How do I know this you may ask? Look back at listings of the top sites from 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years ago. The cast is ever changing, blogs rise and blogs fall, and if we've learned anything it's that the blogosphere won't miss you much if you leave - someone new will step up to fill the void.

See also: Arguing with signposts, Outside The Beltway, PoliPundit, The LlamaButchers

Liberal Blogs
1) Daily Kos 428619 visits/day (2)                                   428,619
6) Eschaton 104570 visits/day (7)                                    104,570
12) Wonkette 48001 visits/day (51)                                    48,001
13) The Washington Monthly 37850 visits/day (14)                      37,850
14) The Smirking Chimp 37768 visits/day (645)                         37,768
18) Blog for America 33746 visits/day (666)                           33,746
19) Crooks and Liars 33615 visits/day (252)                           33,615
28) MyDD :: Due Diligence of Politics, Election Forecast & the World  14,971
33) Taegan Goddard's Political Wire 13224 visits/day (178)            13,224
43) The Poor Man 10994 visits/day (253)                               10,994
44) pandagon.net - just poppin' and bloggin' 10970 visits/day (56)    10,970
45) TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime 10917 visits/day (54)             10,917
47) onegoodmove: I thought these things might be clues 10081 visits/  10,081
50) This Modern World 9510 visits/day (116)                            9,510
58) BuzzFlash - Daily Headlines and Breaking News 7840 visits/day (1   7,840
59) Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal 7571 visits/day (90)              7,571
62) The Agonist | thoughtful, global, timely 7186 visits/day (517)     7,186
67) LiberalOasis 6680 visits/day (291)                                 6,680
74) Jesus' General 6169 visits/day (280)                               6,169
79) The Left Coaster 5813 visits/day (289)                             5,813
94) TBogg     4745 visits/day (243)                                    4,745
96) Editor: Myself | Hossein Derakhshan's Weblog (Persian) 4714 visi   4,714
100) The Blogging of the President 4456 visits/day (391)               4,456

Traffic/Day 860,010

Conservative Blogs
4) Instapundit.com 119030 visits/day (1) 119,030
7) lgf: banned from metafilter! 77328 visits/day (5) 77,328
9) Power Line 68265 visits/day (4) 68,265
10) Michelle Malkin 53742 visits/day (3) 53,742
15) www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish 36465 visits/day (16) 36,465
17) Riehl World View 36184 visits/day (1277) 36,184
21) Scared Monkeys 25685 visits/day (238) 25,685
22) HughHewitt.com 24595 visits/day (17) 24,595
23) Captain's Quarters 23523 visits/day (6) 23,523
24) PoliPundit.com 18792 visits/day (52) 18,792
29) Wizbang 14350 visits/day (19) 14,350
31) Kim du Toit - Daily Rant 13672 visits/day (132) 13,672
32) The Volokh Conspiracy - - 13379 visits/day (10) 13,379
34) Roger L. Simon: Mystery Novelist and Screenwriter 12942 visits/d 12,942
37) RedState.org 11356 visits/day (109) 11,356
41) The Shape of Days 11146 visits/day (759) 11,146
46) Belmont Club 10313 visits/day (72) 10,313
48) Outside The Beltway 9648 visits/day (15) 9,648
51) a small victory: Check it out, I'm like a buzzbomb 9391 visits/d 9,391
55) ScrappleFace 8482 visits/day (25) 8,482
57) Sound Politics 8000 visits/day (694) 8,000
60) Cox & Forkum Editorial Cartoons 7530 visits/day (63) 7,530
61) mensNEWSdaily: 1deAs are c0ntagiOns 7345 visits/day (251) 7,345
63) Right Wing News (Conservative News and Views) 7153 visits/day (4 7,153
64) Winds of Change.NET 6803 visits/day (30) 6,803
65) Daily Pundit 6788 visits/day (191) 6,788
66) JustOneMinute 6733 visits/day (248) 6,733
68) BuzzMachine ... by Jeff Jarvis 6621 visits/day (61) 6,621
69) The Spoons Experience: Guess you broke into the wrong goddamn re 6,548
73) BLACKFIVE 6275 visits/day (38) 6,275
80) The Jawa Report 5788 visits/day (67) 5,788
82) Ace of Spades HQ 5487 visits/day (76) 5,487
85) The Political Teen 5198 visits/day (268) 5,198
86) Mudville Gazette 5172 visits/day (29) 5,172
89) Austin Bay Blog 5022 visits/day (531) 5,022
92) Althouse 4886 visits/day (140) 4,886

Traffic/Day 699,637


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Partisan Democratic Blogs Sucking The Life Out Of The Blogosphere:

» Don Singleton linked with Liberal vs Conservative Blogs

» Arguing with signposts... linked with Blogs, left and right, ascending and declining

» Outside The Beltway linked with Is the Right Wing Blogosphere Stagnating?

» Iowa Voice linked with Friday Blog Round-Up

Comments (31)

For the record, that list i... (Below threshold)

For the record, that list is pretty screwed up. I mean, Kevin reproduced it accurately, but it's pretty screwed up. My traffic has recently been artificially inflated by a big story. It's important to remember that this list is a snapshot.

My site is NOT bigger than Jeff Jarvis', Ace's, Austin's, Ann's, or any of the other gods of our legends. That's just crazy talk.

Anyone who has been reading... (Below threshold)

Anyone who has been reading conservative blogs for the past year knows why comments and/or trackbacks have been removed from some - the blogs were deluged with profane and abusive comments and comment/trackback spam.

As a "lowly blogger" (I'm a TTLB Crawling Amphibian) I can attest to the fact that being able to track my posts back to top blogs has definitely improved my traffic. Good trackbacks for posts on controversial topics usually generate 150 - 300 visits to my blog. For a little guy like me, that's nothing to be ashamed of. I wish more top conservative blogs had trackback and comments available, but I understand why they can't.

I can also testify to the fact that many top bloggers read and respond to their emails, as numerous correspondences with me will attest. And if you post something worthwhile, they will link to your posts. Michelle Malkin gave me a link in April that generated over 3000 visits. I have also greatly benefitted from corresponding with other mid and lower-level bloggers and working to drive traffic between our blogs.

In short, this system works if you are willing to work it. (Gee, where have I heard that phrase before?) And you don't get buried inside a monster website which ultimately ends up possessing your content. I made that mistake seven years ago with a "free web page" provider and I won't make it again.

And personal thanks to you, Kevin, for keeping comments and trackbacks open at WizBang.

Chris Bowers obviously unde... (Below threshold)

Chris Bowers obviously understands markets and distributed systems just about as well as one would expect from a lefty.

The distributed nature of the "conservative" blogosphere lessens group think, allowing for more emergence of distributed intelligence / wisdom of crowds.

The left is passing through a singularity filter (Daily Kos), which they think is good. Just like they think large central government is good. Just like they think the U.N. is good. blah blah blah.

Let them keep at it. Rarely will they come up with anything new.

Could it be that the right ... (Below threshold)

Could it be that the right side of the blogosphere is more diverse in its voices?

Could it be that bloggers on the right side just don't want to always deal with trolls? (I don't visit many lefty blogs - do they have as big of a problem with that?)

And what about FreeRepublic? It obviously isn't a blog, but doesn't it fulfill that community role for at least some conservatives?

Since it has been around for years before blogs hit it big, maybe there is subsequently less demand for more community-oriented conservative blogs?

I'm sure those are just a few of the likely explanations.

The Daily Kos and Echaton, ... (Below threshold)

The Daily Kos and Echaton, two of the most popular leftist blogs, seem to be little more than "F#$k Bush", "F&*k Delay" over and over again, all day long, day after day.

So they allow thousands of juveniles to "join the community" and post that drivel all day? So what? Conservatives should emulate that to get more traffic? No thanks, never.

We'd much rather have 100 people come and read a post or two than 1,000 or 10,000 "members" posting the F-word repeatedly every day.

We all want more hits, but quality matters too.

I personally liked the "for... (Below threshold)

I personally liked the "forced to start their own BLOGs" comment. What a typically collectivist thing to say.

Well I started my own blog because I WANTED too, not because I was FORCED to. As for traffic, who cares. My family and friends enjoy my efforts and thats plenty good for me. If more people visit thats fine too. I just like having a place where I can express my thoughts and ideas, like an open diary.

What I find funny is that l... (Below threshold)

What I find funny is that liberal bloggers need to go out on record and proclaim their inherent blog superiority over the "blog aristocracy" of the right.

What a load of crap.

Consider Michelle Malkin, who has to have comments disabled for the reasons Mike spoke of above. She has posted examples of the disgusting attacks she receives on a regular basis via email and via the comments section in the rare instances that she has had it turned on.

Moonbat Nation, encouraged by the vitriol posted at places like Kos, etc. are the people who comment inappropriately on sites like hers in the first place, thus fostering the so-called "anti-community" enviromnent Bowers so readily attacks.

The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of outlets where small blogs can go to get their names seen. Wizbang is, of course, one of them. Whenever I participate in a Carnival of the Trackbacks, I can count on a good number of visits. It's great.

My blog is tiny, yet I still managed to get invited to contribute to a larger group blog. So much for the opressive nature of the right-wing blogosphere.

Tom MacGuire posted <a href... (Below threshold)

Tom MacGuire posted some thoughts on this a while ago.

I think it's a shame that sites are cutting comments and trackbacks, though - I'd rather be able to see who else is discussing something without going to Technorati.

First you have to define wh... (Below threshold)

First you have to define what you want in a blog, then what you hope to achomplish. I like Wizbang the way it is, and would rather not be wha tthe traffic counter is counting, just because.

I also enjoy that I grew up in MA, CT and even lived in NH for a while, so I can relate to what's going on. (I've been living in FL for 17 years now, but my sister still live in your neck of the woods).

Keep up the good work Kevin, just don't pick out my nephew for any oddball stories, eh!

I would like to build on th... (Below threshold)

I would like to build on the comments of Josh a bit. I think a lot of this can be explained by the psychology or core beliefs of the typical lefty versus the typical righty. It goes to the very core beliefs of the power of the individual versus the power of the group. That’s what tends to separate us into two opposing groups to begin with.

There should always, always, ALWAYS, be a greater number of “conservative” blogs than left leaning blogs. And assuming a near equal split in political leanings in the population, and the hits each conservative blog gets will always be smaller.

the anti-community natur... (Below threshold)

the anti-community nature of right-wing blogs has resulted in a stagnant aristocracy within the conservative blogosphere that prevents the emergence of new voices....

As a reader of conservative blogs, this statement isn't true. Most conservative blogs had to build their readership, and they did that by the quality and relevance of their posts, and by updating their blog several times a day. Aristocrats have things handed to them on silver spoons, unlike bloggers who achieved success independently through hard work, dedication, and intelligence. Also, aristocrats have that title for life, if a conservative blogger slacks off his readership will dry up. I doubt that most bloggers go into blogging to become the king of the blogosphere -- they'd have to wait until Instapundit passes away. A blogger just has to provide readers with a reason to visit their blog. One of the reasons I visit www.isfullofcrap.com several times a day is for the cats and Laurence's amusing posts -- his blog is unique and provides me with daily entertainment. He might not have the same level of traffic as the top conservative blogs, but he gives me a reason to keep coming back, especially after I get depressed from reading LGF and need a quick pick me up.

You'll take my tiny conserv... (Below threshold)

You'll take my tiny conservative blog from my cold, dead hands.

scoop is licensed under the... (Below threshold)

scoop is licensed under the GPL v2.

What Kos is doing with it is within the letter of the GPLv2 but is in violation of the spirit.

Stallman is working on GPLv3 and if this statement from wikipedia: "We'll put in something to deal with this case of public use on a server the public connects to." bears out then Kos's use of scoop (which can remain licensed under GPLv2) will be in violation of the letter of the GPLv3.

Open source developers would consider Kos's actions to be sleazy hoarding.

Amen, Brethren!Wha... (Below threshold)

Amen, Brethren!

What a shock! Lefties gravitate to a culture where they can all be together, where the group leader tells them what they will think about and talk about today, and then they play echo chamber. Righties feed on a more varied diet, and every last one of us would just as soon have his or her own damn blog too, thank you anyway. If I'm interested in what the big boys are talking about, or think I have something to add, I'll talk about it too. If not, I'll talk about what I want to talk about today. Some of my favorite blogs are those that are not "all national politics all the time", like this site and Bill Hobbs'.

A, "open source" developers... (Below threshold)

A, "open source" developers consider anything even tangentially related to property to be sleazy hoarding. I think I speak for a whole lot of people when I say that we don't give a shit what "open source" developers think.

It's rare that I find myself on the same side of any issues as Markos "Screw Them" Zuniga. But if he wants to write a computer program and keep it for himself, more power to him.

Let me echo Alex and say *t... (Below threshold)

Let me echo Alex and say *thank you* for the carnival of the trackbacks you guys do. It's a great way to find new blogs and to get my own name out there a little more.

And Paul has made it clear ... (Below threshold)

And Paul has made it clear that he might as well move on over to the Kos world, echo chamber side.

Kevin writes: It'... (Below threshold)

Kevin writes: It's because Scoop has become, in effect, a bought and paid for tool of the elite partisan liberal bloggers. Scoop development is occurring, funded by Kos and others, and the by product of that work isn't available to you the lowly blogger.

Whiner. Fund your own software development effort then, you cheap bastards.

s9 writes: Fund y... (Below threshold)

s9 writes: Fund your own software development effort then, you cheap bastards.

I do. The differnce is I don't complain about liberal bloggers not using it.

I admit I like blogs with o... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I admit I like blogs with open comments and trackbacks. I understand completely why some bloggers-like Michelle just can't have open comments, but she always does a great job of giving credit where credit is due.

I also think the conservative blogging community is more diverse and for the most part misses the echo chamber problem. I can read the same issue on two different conservative blogs, and see two totally different takes on it-in the long run this aspect will be much better in regards to growth.

I would say conservative blogs are more diversified and independant, and even if it doesn't result in a single big hit getter, overall it is better for the conservatives and their vision.

It is intesting to see the ... (Below threshold)

It is intesting to see the difference pointed out so cleary this way. We'd have to do a little more study to see if it really plays out in the big picture, but as many have pointed out the independent speaker style of the conservative blogs as opposed to the group mind of the lefts blogs does seem to be highlighted here.

I have a handful of the larger right side blogs that I review on a regular basis and what I really like is that I am getting one persons clear take and opinion on things and I can make my own decision as to how I assimilate and react to that persons thinking.

On the other hand I have looked for some similar blogs on the left side and have not been able to get too far past the anger and venom. It seems like a piece of meat is thrown out and gnawed on until there is nothing left and then it starts over again.

Where is the Instapundit, Bainbridge or Chrenkoff of the left. I'd honestly like to read some intelligent thought about how they view the country and our future, but it seems like those rational voices are silenced by the snapping dogs snarling about bushhitlers toture emporiums.

Hmmm, maybe there are no rational minds over there.....

I would add that the softwa... (Below threshold)

I would add that the software they use at RedState has some limitations - besides no trackbacks, I haven't been able to code tables there and other bells and whistles I use when I post to my own blog.

RedState is a great site, but it's not hard to see some of lits drawbacks as well.

The left blogs might be mor... (Below threshold)

The left blogs might be more open to comments...etc. But that does not mean they are open to dissent. I was periodically posting comments on DailyKos and as soon as I was spotted as being obviously on the right, all my comments were removed and I was banned from commenting. Mind you, my comments were VERY civil (that's a foreign concept for Kos... but I digress) and I never was impolite or anything. I just posted counterpoints to the conversation at hand. For that, I was banned.

Of course, this speaks volumes. The reason they are losing on the left is because their ideas don't stand up to scrutiny. It's why Islam will fail, as well. When a core tenent of your belief/values/ideas is to keep all dissenting opinions from being read or consumed by your audience, you will be outed at some point for the vacuous nature of your beliefs.


Kevin follows up: <i... (Below threshold)

Kevin follows up: I do. The difference is I don't complain about liberal bloggers not using it.

Which would be a sensible rejoinder were you a "liberal" blogger yourself. You aren't. (At least, not in any but the most "drieuxish" sense, if you'll pardon the in-joke.)

The criticism is that right-wing bloggers aren't into building communities. They're much more into building hierarchies. (Here's another example of this criticism for you to chew on, Kevin...) Your defense? Paraphrasing: all the good community software is made by liberals who won't share.

Poor crybaby. Why not just come out and attack the central argument: that building communities is a good idea compared to building hierarchies?

CSH - I could furt... (Below threshold)


I could further elaborate:

Where is the Steven Den Beste of Left Blogs? Or Bill Whittle? Or Wretchard? Or James Lileks? Or Scrappleface?

Instead we get the intellectual vacuum of Oliver Willis and Daily Kos. Maybe Andrew Sullivan should just go ahead and defect to the Left. It would raise the IQ of their well-known bloggers by double-digits.

"Community" - a code word f... (Below threshold)

"Community" - a code word for conformity. Enjoy yourselves, leftoids.

I've been following this to... (Below threshold)
Doctor Science:

I've been following this topic around the blogosphere from left to right and back again, and have been alternately stunned and amused to hear left and right each stating that the other -- and the other *only* -- is rude, troll-mongering, echo-chambered, and delete-happy.

First hypothesis: everyone is equally and disgustingly rude, we all just filter what we see or process on sites we agree with that we don't notice.

My scientific question is, can anyone think of an objective, quantitative way to measure incivility?

Is it possible to track how many posters have been banned at different sites at different times, for instance? Can anyone think of any way to quantify rudeness or derive some sort of objective “incivility function” for different fora?

I'm starting to think the use of nicknames or epithets (in the Homeric sense) might be a good metric, correlating with a more general incivility. I don't know if use of "Carlin words" is a good metric, because the most trollish posts I've encountered often don't use them.

At sites with threading, long comment threads often mean a flame war is in progress, but there may also be an actual exchange of views taking place.

Has anyone studied this? Science wants to know!

I know that I would hate to... (Below threshold)

I know that I would hate to see Wizbang go the way of other blogs and close comments. It's the fine writing that gets me to come here; it's the comments section that gets me to stick around for awhile.

On the other hand, if it do... (Below threshold)

On the other hand, if it does happen, I won't have any trouble understanding why. Or figuring out who to blame.

I like the way you double-s... (Below threshold)

I like the way you double-space the right list and single-space the left list. Effectively make it look like a lot bigger list.

As a point of relevant inte... (Below threshold)

As a point of relevant interest here (affecting stats and site traffic for everyone), I'm curious why conservative blogs are hit so intensely by spam: trackback, referral, pings and comments, all attempted every single two minutes 24/7 every day of the week, in my experience, all by the same scammers using proxies in Mexico and China.

The point is, I'd be really curious as to why and if at all, those "big liberal" sites are affected or are not by the same process, and if not, why conservative blogs are.

I know that most among the conservative blog-site authors close trackbacks and comments and disallow pings and have to block entire I.P.A.s and public proxies from even accessing sites all due to the massive spammer crap that is ongoing and so intensely.

I've even got referral spam from sites that are proCastro and defending Castro's Cuba (now blocked) but, the point is, the liberal/left blogosphere conducts an untoward antagonism to and about conservative sites. No surprise there but these things all told do negatively impact sites and site traffic and even site authors, since it's easy to seek relief from blogging and the internet when most of your time is devoted to blocking access to a site or sites because of this spamming crap.

Conservatives don't tend to harass liberal sites like that, is my guess. Most spammers are among the most strident "right to free speech" enthusiasts and profit royally from abusing others using the internet, courtesy of the ACLU's insistences.






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