The world of Hindi blogging: our detailed observations हिंदी ब्लॉगिंग के संसार में हमने क्या पाया?

Updated: 2019
ITB’s is perhaps the only team that has manually checked over 35,000 Hindi blogs, examined a quarter of them for specific attributes and reviewed nearly 2,000 blogs in fine detail. That has been going on since 2011 and continues year after year. Therefore, we can say with authority that our observations are not sweeping comments on Hindi blogging but serious statements of fact. 

Over the years, we have seen appreciable expansion of blogging in Hindi (and other Indian languages) and also some decline after fast rise of social networking. But just numbers do not tell the true story, so we have analyzed the Hindi blogosphere from many points of view - quantitative as well qualitative. 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 shall try to share our findings in that manner.

What types of blogs are there in the Hindi blogosphere? What is written on Hindi blogs?

Hindi-speaking people seem to have found a revolutionary medium of self expression in blogging. Since blogging is 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. In addition, the free blogging platforms, Wordpress and Blogger, have made it completely free.

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 2,000 active Hindi blogs in our database now (we have culled from our database all blogs that are not updated in at least four months in a year), nearly 1,500 relate to creative self-expression and free-style commentary. 

There are, understandably, not many blogs on technical matters, photography, stock market and western music. For some reason there are very few blogs on beauty and fashion, DIY & craft, food, art and culture and social cause while in English, a large number of women bloggers have blogs on these subjects, also in India. One another big miss is quality children blogs. We had expected many blogs helping Hindi speakers with English, but found only a few. 

There are far too many blogs on literary discussion, compilation of classic poetry and ghazals, and religion. Though every other person seems to be writing, there are not many book-review blogs in Hindi. 

A good number of bloggers indulge in spreading ancient wisdom - and self-righteously add to it their own - and preach ad nauseum on worldly as well as ethereal matters.
Hindi blogging

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

One, the ubiquitous blogroll. Eight out of ten Hindi blogs have a blogroll on the blog. Many bloggers who themselves are very regular and popular, and  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 died 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. The trend of commenting on blogs is going down as social networks have taken over this activity. Yet, Hindi bloggers do comment on others' blogs. 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 flavor. Hindi being the spoken language of a significant part of population in nearly 15 states of India, people write different shades of Hindi [It’s no brainer that khari boli or the standard Hindi happens to be the most prevalent]. 

Hindi is also spoken, with local variations, in some other countries including Nepal, Pakistan (Its main language Urdu is similar to Hindi, though written in Arabic script), Bangladesh, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, Mauritius and Singapore.

Together with local variations come the local icons: Kanha in Braj, Ganga in eastern UP and Bihar, hills in Uttarakhand… Some bloggers have passionately been writing about their local icons as well as their region, city, caste and other identities.

Six, blog-design aspects. Hindi bloggers are as good or bad in blog design as their English counterparts. They play scant heed to readability, navigation, placing of widgets and page-length. When it comes to experimenting with colors, fonts etc, Hindi bloggers seem to be more experimental than their English counterparts, generally speaking. Many Hindi bloggers use very intense colors.       

Who blogs in Hindi?

Hindi bloggers, as bloggers in other languages, represent the population to which they belong. So, they are mostly north-Indian, of different ages and backgrounds, speak different dialects, have different customs... 

Both the sexes are represented almost equally, and we didn’t come across even one blog on/from the third sex.

Children have their first tryst with blogging when they are in post-primary school, but not many children take up blogging in Hindi. In a few blogs on/ by children that are available, we found parents doing blogging rather than the child.

By education and profession, the majority of Hindi bloggers seem to have studied humanities [as against technical or science subjects]. Similarly, while many working and retired Hindi literary teachers/ practitioners have adopted blogging, not many scientists, technical professionals, experts and medicos have got attracted to blogging in Hindi.

There are numerous housewives adorning blogging in Hindi language. Indian housewives are amazing cooks and have also mastered folk art and craft, but that is hardly reflected in Hindi blogs. Most blogs by women bloggers in Hindi are on poetry or life in general.

Besides mainstream bloggers, Hindi bloggers come in some very striking shades: a lonely lovelorn soul, a village girl trying to adjust in a metropolis, a father  passionately blogging on behalf of his her kid, a grandpa narrating his lifelong experiences, a retired professor and a judge trying to help the society by sharing their worldly wisdom, an expatriate emotionally connecting herself to her ‘maati’ (=soil).

We can group majority of Hindi bloggers into these four overlapping categories: i- grown up males, ii- housewives, iii- retired and aged persons, and iv- young adults (we will talk more about blogging by this last category, later).

Why does the Hindi blogger create a blog?

Blogging is the universal new platform for self-expression, and Hindi bloggers are no exception in lapping it up. However, unlike English bloggers, their main muse seem to be love [real or imagined], morals, religion and nostalgia about the small-town/ village life that has changed fast.

blogs in Hindi

In Hindi, blogging with literary tinge gets appreciation and encouragement. Many bloggers get awarded in public functions, quite a number get kudos on other blogs, and some get mention in the print medium. This seems to encourage others to join ‘blogger associations’, write about other bloggers, participate in blogger meets - besides maintaining their own blog.

Thinkers, dreamers and shouters are not expected to think of money, so there is hardly any effort to earn money through blogging in Hindi. Most Hindi bloggers also do not think much of popularity beyond the word-of-mouth type, perhaps because it involves a bit of mundane technical tweaking. This trend, however, is changing. Many young bloggers are now experimenting with monetization.

What is the Hindi blogging platform of choice?

A significant proportion of Hindi bloggers run their blogs on Blogger - the free platform from Google stable. Only a handful bloggers choose WordPress, and hardly anyone goes to Live Journal, Typepad, etc or have a self-hosted blog.

A few blogging platforms – mostly provided by newspapers – used to exist in Hindi. A couple of them were very popular, both in terms of the number of people blogging on them and the number of comments received by such blogs, when Hindi blogging was at its peak around 2010. By 2019, all of them have stopped patronizing bloggers - even their own columnists.

There are a number of community blogs and multi-author blogs in Hindi. Contributors to these blogs have their own blogs too; hardly anybody seems to write exclusively for community blogs. 

Where do Hindi bloggers live?

Hindi bloggers come from not only the ‘Hindi belt’ of India but all around the world. In India, they are distributed across different sized cities of northern India.

How do Hindi bloggers blog? How much do Hindi bloggers blog?

Most Hindi bloggers leave blogging after an initial burst, but those few who do not fall into this state of inaction are very disciplined. Not only that, a number of bloggers have been maintaining a good frequency of blogging for years, without any effort to earn from the blog.

As we shared earlier, the world of Hindi blogging has a large number of blog aggregators, community blogs, multi-author blogs and web-magazines. The last genre is often a mix of blog, curator and portal  formats.

Many bloggers have made their own little communities of bloggers who support one another’s blogs by way of friendly follow up, links, excerpts, blogroll, etc. It sometimes goes to the extent of formation of coteries and ugly fights between them. Some of them also run various types of ‘associations’.

Quite a number of Hindi bloggers have many blogs. Some of them are able to somehow maintain all  their blogs, but others squander away their energy in more blogs than they can handle. In some cases, they have linked their sleeping/ dead blogs on their main blog(s). A couple of bloggers have tried to promote their multiple blogs awkwardly, by listing all of them on top of each blog and repeating the same content in different blogs.

In brief, a large number of active bloggers write [or are seen even without writing] on other web spaces in addition to their own blogs due to aggregation and cross-linking.

New bloggers seem to be eager to get a pat from the active few who have become sort of patrons of newbie Hindi bloggers.

When does the average Hindi blogger start blogging?

Blogging being a rather new platform, almost every blogger in the adult population has taken to blogging almost simultaneously. As such, it is difficult to say when people start blogging in Hindi. Yet, because blogging is more serious an activity than being active on Facebook and other social networks or chatting platforms, those who feel settled [even if in particular phase of life, e.g. getting employed] tend to take blogging seriously. 

The charm of technology, instantly seeing one's own words published, and easy typing in Unicode make people – especially students – experiment with blogging. The charm fades away when they realize that sustaining the craft needs hard work. This results in one obvious trend: blogging is the first casualty when the blogger gets disturbed or occupied, whether physically or emotionally. We have seen that young ones seldom pick up the thread again once they lose it, while old ones often come back. 

Many youth are attracted to the earning potential of blogs, usually due to [often inflated] claims of  having made big money through blogging, either by their colleagues or on videos posted on the web. Since 'professional blogging' in Hindi is yet nascent, it is ignored by brands and advertisers.

How big is the Hindi blogosphere?

Our earlier surveys of Hindi blogosphere gave us a sense that between 3 and 4 lakh [400,000] Hindi blogs could have been created, but there may not be more than a lakh [100,000] blogs in existence with varying degrees of blogging activity. Both these numbers are our guess, based on a number of postulates. There may not be more than 10,000 active Hindi blogs as of today - blogs on which there was at least one update in the last 12 months. The number of blogs that update regularly, month after month, might be just 2,000 or so.

We'd conclude this discussion by saying that Hindi blogging mirrors the population of Hindi speakers like none other platform can. Look at them: not as rich, tech-savvy or liberal as English speakers. Among old men and women, not many exposed to metropolitan or foreign culture. Among youth, many unemployed or in lower level posts. Among students, not many with big ambitions. Ridden with strong notions of community, faith and caste. At the same time rooted to the culture in which they grew - rich in its own way. When these Hindi speakers have found a way of expressing their traditions, colors, local idiom and realities of life, they seem to be pouring their hearts out. 

There has been a very fast growth in the number of Hindi-speaking youth online. They are the new smartphone generation. Because (i) mainline blogging is a serious business, (ii) blogging is better done on desktops/ laptops than on small screens, and (iii) the new generation wants to earn money rather than just expressing themselves, young people are seen active on YouTube and social networks. They make videos using smartphones, edit them using apps and publish them on these platforms. Majority of such video posts are half-baked, unscientific and factually incorrect. But since the users themselves come from the same background, they believe these posts and share them. This trend is seen not only among Hindi speakers but also among people speaking other Indian languages. That, in our opinion, is one big reason for fast decline in Hindi mainline blogging.

Besides these broad trends and features of Hindi  bloggers and blogs, we keep sharing our impressions about Hindi blogs in posts related to release of new editions of the Hindi blog directory that we bring out every year since 2011. If you are interested, please visit these posts too.