May 11, 2013

Initial observations on Indian blogosphere 2013

As we announced earlier, we will bring out the 2012-13 edition of the  Directory of Best Indian Blogs by May 30. 
In the process of surveying the blog world for good blogs and then scrutinizing individual blogs, we always get wiser about the status of the Indian blogosphere and the habits of bloggers. We plan to bring out a number of posts on what we are observing this year.

First, our journey so far. 
By the end of April, we had compiled a database of nearly 50,000 Indian blogs. We kept on adding new blogs to the list so that we didn't have to recheck blogs already checked by us. But a database with majority of entries that do not meet our criteria was proving a drag rather than a help in scrutiny of individual blogs. So, at the start of our short-listing exercise this time, we decided to drastically clean the database. After removing mirror blogs, blogs that have not been updated for over a year, blogs with automated content and blogs with obvious poor content / design, we are left with only about five thousand blogs. Good blogs suggested by our fellow bloggers and well-wishers and the blogs we spotted by surveying the blog-world added about two thousand to this list. Compliment us for a small database that has only those blogs that are live with activity.

We have checked these seven thousand blogs on a number of parameters and now on we’ll be re-re-re-checking them and ranking them so that we pick up the best blogs for the Directory.

The way we, Indian bloggers, behave

We intent to come up with a set of observations during this month. This first set talks of the overall blogger behavior. Our big sample size makes us confident that our observations hold true for majority of Indian bloggers. Bloggers outside India, we feel, would also display similar behavior.

Before that, let us refer to our detailed observations during 2011 blogosphere survey [Where do Indian bloggers stand?, Trends in the Indian blogging scene]. In these posts, we have given details of our observations, and we stand by them two years later too. Let's share some more details:

Yes, most bloggers post in spurts, including the disciplined ones. But even if they they do go up and down, their frequency of posting is not too volatile and they keep going while others take big breaks. Among those few who manage to update the blog at a constant pace and maintain the quality of content too, columnists and those on blog-communities are prominent. Stand-alone bloggers of this type are very rare; Indian Top Blogs salutes their perseverance. 

A large number of bloggers start with personal blogs and then start one or more niche blogs. However they lose interest in extra blogs soon. The ones who are able to sustain blogs with narrow themes beyond a year or so tend to stick with one blog and their popularity and authority grows fast. 
A few Indian bloggers maintain a number of blogs but the design and content of their blogs are horrible to say the least. [If there are one or two exceptions, we apologize to them for this generalized comment.]

Even those bloggers who update their blogs do seldom look at design aspects. Some of them start with a fairly good design and then concentrate only on content [e.g. bloggers/ columnists on newspaper platforms], and some start with a bad design and either leave it that way or butcher it further over time. Most others experiment with photos, title, widgets etc but not always for the better. They often clutter blogs with too many poor-value badges and useless widgets.

As many as 5% of live blogs that we've scanned have become private or want some sort of authentication to visit them. Another about 5% want the visitor to log-in before commenting.

Not many bloggers refresh their blogrolls. We found a good number of Hindi bloggers giving long lists of blogs they read; the number is less in the case of English bloggers [or they list blogs under profile rather than on home page], but nor updating the list is common among English blogs too. In a rather good blog, we found a list of 110 blogs that was compiled six years ago and 95 of these blogs have either not updated themselves for years or gone fully dead.

Most bloggers who maintain their blog rather well seem serious about their blogs, but not about blogging as a craft. They do not bother about the reader’s convenience in checking blog’s archives and commenting, readability, design and navigation aspects, linking, etc. Some blogs have great stuff but have been turned into websites, having been rid of chronological arrangement of posts, commenting facility, even updating. 

Our next post in this series is on the dynamics of Google PageRank of Indian blogs.