Yet Another Blogging Survey: Prospecting the Blogosphere. At some point, we will hit respondent fatigue. Given that, I wish that these surveys were getting at a narrower, theory-driven focus. The last thing we need is more demographic data, and more “why do you blog” questions. (Unless, of course, that is the actual point of the survey, in which case it can delve into that a bit more deeply.) I get the feeling that this is one of the “let’s ask a bunch of questions, do a regression, and see what sticks” sorts of instruments.

But, it is out of my _alma mater_, so you should go take the survey.

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  1. Posted 7/12/2004 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Speaking as someone who has yet to find a good reliable survey of blogger demographics I would welcome one. But surveys that rely on self-selecting samples like this one don’t really help much. Wouldn’t it be better to find a large sample of bloggers and email them individually with an invitation to do the survey? the results would be a lot more defensible. Has this been done?

    And I have yet to see a “why do you blog” survey that asks the question in a way that would help me (but I suppose everyone has their own approach to that kind of question).

  2. stef
    Posted 7/12/2004 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    david, maybe if one is emailed one on one after one has insight into how one has answered a survey and is able to see ones own blogging pattern so that the answers reflect more of a meta analysis, or self insight into why one does what one does.

  3. Posted 7/12/2004 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    David: You are, of course, right about the sampling issue. _If_ there was a controlled feel for the demographics, the sample could be controlled (weighted), but since there remains no clear profile of blogger demographics as a whole (AFAIK), this isn’t possible.

    Two of my students have done what you suggested: sampled off of weblogs.com, then emailed surveys. The response rate was abysmal in both cases (~10%). This might have been due to the topics of the survey, but my thought is that bloggers are more likely to go to a site and take a survey if they feel that they somehow “found” it, rather than it finding them.

    One of the biggest issues both had was that everyone wanted to blog about the survey and let their friends take it. One even considered opening it up and not using the data, just to keep the respondents happy.

  4. Posted 7/13/2004 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    why not make a short documentary on blogging: why do people blog is the same as asking why do persons like books, or why do persons like news: the interactivity is key: socialization that is fragmented is also kind of addictive.

    but will persons be honest: maybe a more honest sampling would be a short film…not scientific, but artistic;

    the other aproach is via literature: to write a book that has blogging as a central theme.

    alex, you probably have thought of these things.


    PS happy upcomming birthday

  5. Posted 7/13/2004 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    There is a fun short documentary on blogging out there… Blogumentary. I want to write that book, and this was going to be the summer I did it. But I’ve been totally sidelined trying to track down an ongoing allergic reaction. Similar to last summer, but much worse :(. Hopefully I’ll have a handle on it before the new semester and a lot of travel is in store.

    And thanks for the Happy Birthday! I think I’m headed to NYC for a couple of days to visit Jamie and maybe catch a show or something.

  6. Posted 7/13/2004 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi, all the comments have been very interesting. We have been emailing random bloggers (many blog sites have a link to get to random sites) and popular blogs. Its a tough job because the response rate is indeed low, and you have to email these people in a thoughtful, polite way. Also, unless you actively keep advertising, response rates will dip very quickly. There are a lot of blog surveys out there, but I hope that targetting different cultures will make the results a bit more unique.

  7. Posted 7/13/2004 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Makko: I don’t think that’s quite what David and I meant. If you are going to extrapolate global trends from a sample of bloggers, it’s important that the sample is representative. The big issue is not increasing the number of respondents, but assuring that there is no systematic bias in the data collected. By allowing respondents to self-select, you have almost certainly biased your sample in ways that you can’t really control for.

    That’s not the kiss of death, of course. And I’ll be very interested to see what you come up with. However, because the sample is self-selected, inferences to the population of bloggers will need to be taken with a big chunk of salt.

  8. Posted 7/13/2004 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Alex: Yes, I understand now what you and Dave were saying. Selection bias is a thorny issue and we won’t be able to concretely say our sample is representative of bloggers on the whole. Thanks for pointing that out.

  9. stef
    Posted 7/18/2004 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    hey: wonder if you can give us some clues about your semacode project?

    wonder if we can view your personal blog using this geolocation stuff and if it corresponds to the allergens you might be exposed to.

    we could do alot with this and it touches on Dr. Pennefathers work on blogging toxic waste…

  10. Posted 7/18/2004 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    Stef: Have to admit, that’s been on hold for a bit, and will be until I finish some backlogged work. But I had already come to the conclusion that I need to dummy up a workable system in order to demonstrate it, even if it relies on some technologies that are not yet widely available. -A

  11. stef
    Posted 7/19/2004 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    i had a problem trying to get a grant from pfizer on a separate topic: it seems that people need a demostration of this stuff that goes with future proposals.

    maybe if the project overlaps with a short story. I think lots of persons create art or theatrics that goes with a tech project. (ie steve mann)

    that way, it can be part of two things you need to do and the art aspect allows ordinary folks to give feedback; poetry readings are pretty safe places that can be wowed with a new prototype: and at the same time, you are working on a novel that expresses what can’t be expressed via acadmia. the actual poetry space can be the theatrical space you need to work out the ideas and try things on willing victems…most persons are good sports and go to poetry readings to learn something.

    I kind of like the probe idea the Intel people are doing: did give an idea to eric paulos. i think what he is doing is important, but the candid camera aspect of such work can be problematic. I have tried lots of sousvaillence stuff and have witnessed some strong reactions.

    i think art has to be balanced with science. I guess i am sort of also responding to the prior post about work done outside the acadamy and if to whom it may belong to.

    well, if you come up with a good novel that overlaps with a screen play, proceeds belong to you.

    Zorba the Greek answers this question by stating “boss, when i work i am all yours. but in dance and song, i am free, i play for myself and for the music.”

    creating theatre and novels are outside your scope of practice when it comes to your “teaching.”

    i am getting in touch with Jason Nolan on tuesday by email and will send him some sample art magazines that we will work on.

    we would find it very cool if you have some creative stuff to publish with us. I do not think we will profit on the magazine but we have a good audience. the mag is out of nyc and connected with the spoken word scene. i think mixing academics with art along with techart would make it very edgy. it will get attention.

    hope you join us.


  12. Posted 4/28/2005 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Hi there!

    I’ve done some research on this subject (but in relation to people who blog about work) and my initial findings can be found on the following link. Feel free to add your opinion on my suggestions.



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