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As The Blogs Churn

  |  October 8, 2003   |  Comments

Measuring blog activity and the abandonment rate can largely depend on whether the site is hosted or standalone.

According to Perseus Development Corp., a significant number of Internet users jumped on the blog [define] bandwagon and then jumped off, as the company found that two-thirds of the 3,634 hosted blogs that were surveyed were inactive.

Interestingly, The National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) Blog Census finds almost the exact reverse: of the 1,372,266 Weblogs that are indexed by the NITLE, an estimated 905,695 are active.

Blog Status Report
Active 65%
Out of date 16%
Test site 8%
Abandoned 4%
404 error 4%
Misidentified 2%
Other 1%
Source: NITLE

NITLE arbitrarily uses 8 weeks as the magic number to determine whether a blog is active, and defines "abandoned" sites as those where the author indicates that there will be no more blogging.

The disparity between the Perseus research and NITLE's figures apparently lies in the type of blogs that were analyzed. The Perseus survey analyzed the estimated 4.12 million sites that have been created on blog-hosting services, such as Blog-City, BlogSpot, Diaryland, LiveJournal, Pitas, TypePad, Weblogger and Xanga, while the NITLE index includes standalone blogs as well as hosted.

The hosted sites are community oriented, providing the user with easy configuration and site design tools, and they are usually free and supported by advertising, or very low-cost. LiveJournal is the most popular hosted service, and of the 1,348,882 LiveJournal accounts, nearly 94 percent are using the free version. Less than half (47 percent) of all the LiveJournal accounts are active in some way, with 39 percent updated in the last 30 days.

Comparatively, sites run by standalone tools require more Internet proficiency, and standalone bloggers pay for their own domain, and sometimes even host their own pages. The cost investment is often the incentive to maintaining an active blog, or the indication of a deeper interest in blogging. Of the standalone blogging tools that are available, Movable Type accounts for the most users.

"... I think standalone sites are an important part of the picture; the highest-popularity sites all tend to be individually maintained," commented Maciej Ceglowski, lead developer of the NITLE Blog Census.

The Perseus survey found that 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days, and Ceglowski noted that abandonment often happens rather quickly. "... either someone tries the service out to see what it's about, or they decide that keeping an online journal is not for them; either way, the thing dies after just a handful of posts. Of the ones that are abandoned after a longer time, I believe a sizable proportion move to a new blogging tool."

Fleeting or otherwise, Internet users will continue to have bouts of self-expression and Perseus estimates the number of hosted blogs will more than double in the next year.

The Growing Blogsphere
Hosted Blogs Created Growth Rate
2000 135,731 NA
2001 958,182 606%
2002 2,163,636 126%
2003 5,007,272 131%
2004 10,283,687 105%
Source: Perseus Development Corp.

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