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Decline of Political Blogs?

Aaron Brazell, who used to blog politics but now mostly does tech and social media, notes something interesting: While political blogs are blogging in terms of media coverage of the phenomenon, they’re actually a relatively small part of the story. It’s not just that, as we all know, personal diary blogs far outnumber others in sheer volume but that political blogs make up a relatively small segment of the blogs people actually read and link to.

[O]nly one blog, Huffington Post remains in the top 10 blogs in existence, a range that is dominated by tech blogs. Of the Technorati Top 100, only 16 could be deemed “political” blogs.

Intuitively, it’s not all that surprising that tech blogs would compete well with their political counterparts. After all, techies dominated the Internet for most of its existence. And discussions of gadgetry and whatnot don’t bifurcate along party lines (unless you count the Apple/PC feud). Further, there’s more “new” out there in the tech world whereas the topics discussed on political blogs are widely covered, dispersing the audience. But here’s the thing: It wasn’t always thus. Political blogs were much more represented in the Top 100 four years ago than now.

It’s not just linkage, either. The top tech blogs have more traffic than their political counterparts.

And this doesn’t even take into account celebrity gossip blogs, which dominate the traffic charts as tabulated by BlogAds.

Have reading and usage patterns changed that much? Or are the metrics simply capturing reality with more precision? Alternatively, do the tech blogs simply interlink more than is the norm on political blogs? Or have the techies figured out a way to “game” the system as political bloggers did years ago to the old TTLB Ecosystem, simply rendering it meaningless as a true measure?

Another thing: There are “Top 10″ blogs on Technorati that I’ve never heard of. I don’t think my reading habits are particularly specialized or insular. How can sites with over 10,000 links to them have escaped my attention?

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds responds, “I’m not surprised to hear this — based on email, etc., people are a lot more interested in my tech- and lifestyle-related posts than the political ones. And if you look in the larger world, the most popular TV shows, magazines, etc., are not the ones about politics.”

Indeed.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    So why is my site traffic through the roof the last few months, then?

    Anicdotal, of course, but…

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  2. James Joyner says:

    So why is my site traffic through the roof the last few months, then?

    Dunno. Your traffic seems to be coming mostly from Memeorandum, RealClear Politics, and Google Image search. Maybe you’re being indexed better than you used to? Or writing about things that are more likely to show up there?

    But the post is about the relative share of the traffic and links enjoyed by the political blogs vice their tech and entertainment counterparts.

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  3. Triumph says:

    And discussions of gadgetry and whatnot don’t bifurcate along party lines (unless you count the Apple/PC feud).

    You probably don’t visit SlashDot, then–its the Linux proponents you have to watch out for!

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  4. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    For whatever reason, technorati has always had a really skewed sample of blogs. I pay more attention to more scientific surveys like quantcast, comscore, etc.

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  5. Michael says:

    So why is my site traffic through the roof the last few months, then?

    I visited your site a couple of times, perhaps that accounts for the increase?

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  6. Michael says:

    You probably don’t visit SlashDot, then–its the Linux proponents you have to watch out for!

    Isn’t that what he was talking about? Linux on Apple hardware, or Linux on PC hardware? Seriously though, we can’t help it if our operating system is better than yours.

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  7. Bithead says:

    Your traffic seems to be coming mostly from Memeorandum, RealClear Politics, and Google Image search

    Today, yes… but that vaires. And therein lies the point; there is no one particular aspect I can name that provides what I’ve been seeing.

    I visited your site a couple of times, perhaps that accounts for the increase?

    If you alone account for the weekly multi thousands worth of increase, lemme tell ya… I want you nowhere near a voting machine. (grin)

    Seriously, I don’t understand the reported drop, in light of both my own experience and that of others. Example, James, your site seems to be holding rather steady on month over month basis for the last year or so. Q&O has, as well, i note.

    But the post is about the relative share of the traffic and links enjoyed by the political blogs vice their tech and entertainment counterparts

    Uh huh. That makes more sense. It’s just that these others are growing FASTER. Interesting how the turn of a phase will change utterly, the perception.

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  8. Michael says:

    Uh huh. That makes more sense. It’s just that these others are growing FASTER.

    I wonder how much of that growth can be directly attributed to posts complaining about Vista, and praising the iPhone?

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  9. Michael says:

    If you alone account for the weekly multi thousands worth of increase, lemme tell ya… I want you nowhere near a voting machine. (grin)

    And if you consider 871 “multi thousands”, I don’t want you anywhere near the vote counting.

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  10. Bithead says:

    And if you consider 871 “multi thousands”,

    Heh. Sorry. Monthly, I meant.

    I wonder how much of that growth can be directly attributed to posts complaining about Vista, and praising the iPhone?

    Heh. Yeah, that does suggest a certain shelf-life, for such blogs, doesn’t it?

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  11. Michael says:

    Heh. Yeah, that does suggest a certain shelf-life, for such blogs, doesn’t it?

    You’d think so, but we just got a new iPhone, and developer alphas of Windows 7 are on their way, so there’s plenty of fresh fodder.

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  12. Seerak says:

    Perhaps it’s because technology is evolving and advancing to empower the individual, while politics (both “sides”) are doing the opposite.

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  13. arteclectic says:

    Easy to explain – political coverage is oversaturated and has been for months now. I’ve been bypassing anything to do with presidential campaigns since February. The media in general has spent waaaayyyy too much time on campaign minutia.

    Another factor: the big political blogs that have a community have long since turned into echo-chambers. The in-depth discussions of policy are gone and have been replaced by (insert daily attack rant here) blogging and commentary. Yawn. I haven’t visited Kos or RedState in weeks now – every time I do visit it is just more of the same, read them once and why bother going back to read the exact same attack-their-side/fawn-on-our side drivel yet again? Political blogs need to wake the hell up that everyone except the hardliners on either side have lost interest in partisan sniping with no substance.

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  14. Tech Trumps Politics…

    James Joyner notes the relative dearth of political blogs among the top sites in the blogosphere. Many technology blogs, on the other hand, and perhaps not surprisingly, are near the top. According to Technorati, HuffingtonPost still reigns at No. 1……

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  15. It’s worth noting that the dip in DailyKos’s viewers between March and April of this year could be associated with the attrition of Hillary supporters towards more Hillary friendly sites. Alegre led a very visible walkout of a few of the top Hillary supporters at DailyKos, but a lot of their readers could eb expected to leave more gradually.

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