November 12, 2012

Hindi blogs: our detailed observations: I

Now that we are in the last leg of compilation of the Directory of Best Hindi Blogs, we present before you our detailed observations on the Hindi blogosphere.

Like they say in journalistic parlance, we can get major details on a news event by asking 5 W’s and 1 H [what, who, why, when, where and how], we’ll try to share our findings in that manner, answering the first question here and the rest in one or two next posts.

ITB’s is perhaps the only team that has manually checked over 35,000 blogs, examined a quarter of them for specific attributes and reviewed nearly 600 blogs in fine detail. We tend to be very nasty in our comments when we review blogs. However, in these two posts, we will avoid sharp value judgments or advice.

What types of blogs are there in the Hindi blog world? What is written in Hindi blogs?

In blogging, Hindi-speaking people seem to have found a revolutionary medium of self expression. Since blogging is free, simple, unfettered and almost limit-less, the author within a guy can express himself the way he likes, without an editor looking down upon him with professional arrogance and dumping his creation in the slush-pile. This perhaps explains why a significantly large proportion of blogs in Hindi are on poetry and free-style discussions on myriad themes in one’s surroundings – the physical world, the society, the chaos, the issues of mis-governance. Out of the over 5,000 Hindi blogs in our database now, nearly 4,000 relate to creative self-expression and free-style commentary. 

There are, understandably, not many blogs on technical matters, photography, stock market and western music, but for some reason there are very few blogs on beauty and fashion, DIY & craft, food, art and culture and social cause. One another big miss is quality children blogs. We had expected many blogs helping Hindi speakers with English, but found only a few. On the other hand, there are far too many blogs on literary discussion, compilation of classic poetry and ghazals, and religion. A good number of bloggers indulge in spreading ancient and self-created wisdom on worldly as well as ethereal matters by preaching ad nauseum.

Anything special about the content in Hindi blogs? – you might ask. Yes, quite a few.

One, the ubiquitous blogroll. Nine out of ten Hindi blogs have a blogroll on the blog. Many bloggers who themselves are very regular and popular, and also write good content, have put long blogrolls with links to blogs that have not been updated for many years, have been taken off or have decayed over time. One regularly updated blog has a blogroll in which there are two blogs with no post at all! Do pick up a popular Hindi blog and check the entries of its blogroll; chances are that you will find many irrelevant and sleeping blogs in it.

Two, unattributed graphics and video. We found a large number of Hindi blogs with photographs taken straight from the web without even an attribution to the source. Even audio and video [especially ghazals and movie songs] are copy-pasted with no regard for copyright issues.

Three, great commenting culture. Hindi bloggers comment a lot. As is universal in blogging, this gets bloggers a lot of return comments. A number of blogs generate good, sometimes amazing, discussion on current topics. Many regular and popular blogs have threads of discussion that run into over a dozen responses.

Four, matra and other spelling blunders. Hindi bloggers have to grope with matras - little ligatures - which go crazy if one is not careful. Some bloggers also make grammatical and spelling mistakes, but such mistakes are fewer than those in English blogs by Indians.

Five, different shades of Hindi, and regional flavour. Hindi being the mother tongue of the majority in at least ten states in India, people write different shades of Hindi [It’s no brainer that khari boli happens to be the most prevalent]. Together with it come the local icons: Kanha in Braj, Ganga in eastern UP and Bihar, hills in Uttarakhand… Some bloggers have passionately been writing about their region, city, caste and other identities.

Six, blog-design aspects. Hindi bloggers are as good or bad in blog design, e.g. matters relating to readability, navigation, placing of widgets and page-length. When it comes to experimenting with colours, fonts etc, Hindi bloggers seem to be more passionate than their English counterparts, generally speaking.       

Seven, vulgar self-praise or self-promotion in many popular blogs. Because of their perceived expertise in, and success with, blogging, many popular Hindi bloggers tend to go overboard in promoting themselves. We mention it here as this show off often mars the content quality of their blogs. We’ll talk  about other aspects of this conduct in some later post.

You can read all ITB posts on Hindi blogging here. The second post on observations on Hindi blogosphere is here.