Zelophehad’s Daughters

Nacle Numbers, 2003-2008, Part 2: The Blogs

Posted by Ziff

Last year, I counted up posts and comments for 11 Bloggernacle group blogs and found that By Common Consent was the largest in 2007, in terms of both posts and comments. So which blog was the biggest in 2008?

It was BCC again. To answer this question, I looked at counts of post and comments from 18 Bloggernacle group blogs (the same sample discussed in Nacle Numbers Part 1). BCC had 750 posts in 2008 (71 more than in 2007), followed by Mormon Matters with 580, Times and Seasons with 530, and Feminist Mormon Housewives with 521. BCC also led with 37,788 comments (3992  more than in 2007), followed by FMH with 35,378, T&S with 20,581, and Mormon Matters with 18,702.

But that wasn’t my major question. I’d like to look at the data across five or more years a little more broadly. Ideally, one way to do that would be to make a figure showing each blog’s number of posts and comments each month across time. Unfortunately, with 18 blogs, and the longest-lived of these having existed for more than 60 months, now, such a figure would be incredibly messy and uninformative. The large range in activity levels of the blogs make this a particularly thorny problem; it’s difficult to make one figure that includes both high traffic blogs like FMH and low traffic ones like ZD. So I’m going to present this messy figure by breaking it down in parts. I’ll do this in two different ways. First, I’ll break it down by years and separate the blogs by size. Second, I’ll break it down by individual blog, showing post and comments across every month of each blog’s existence.

One warning: When people present multiple figures together, they often use the same values across the axes of the figures. For example, if one of the axes represents time, then all the figures will show the same length of time. Doing this makes the figures easier to compare. Unfortunately, because of the vast differences in activity levels I mentioned before, and the differences in how long the 18 blogs have existed, I will break this rule in this post over and over (although I’ll try to keep axis values constant to the extent I can). Please look carefully at the values along the axes before making any comparisons between figures in this post.

Posts and Comments by Year and Blog Size

In these figures, I’ve used the following abbreviations for the 18 blogs:

  • By Common Consent: BCC
  • The Exponent: Exp
  • Faith Promoting Rumor: FPR
  • Feast Upon the Word: FW
  • Feminist Mormon Housewives: FMH
  • Juvenile Instructor: JI
  • Millennial Star: M*
  • Mormon Matters: Mmat
  • Mormon Mentality: Mmen
  • Mormon Mommy Wars: MMW
  • A Motley Vision: MV
  • New Cool Thang: NCT
  • Nine Moons: 9M
  • Our Thoughts: OT
  • Segullah: Seg
  • Times and Seasons: T&S
  • Waters of Mormon: WM
  • Zelophehad’s Daughters: ZD

These figures are helpful for comparing each blog to other blogs at the same time. Unfortunately, since they’re broken up by year, they tend to obscure comparisons within blog–for example how a blog’s size changes over time.

2003-2004

Here are counts of posts for blogs in the sample between November 2003 and December 2004. (Our Thoughts had two posts before November 2003, but I’ve left them out to simplify the figure.) The letters across the bottom are for months. There were few enough blogs that I haven’t broken them down into separate figures by size.

posts-2004Here are counts of comments for the same time period.

comments-2004So in 2003-04, T&S was bigger than everyone else put together, by far. T&S had 1322 posts in 2004. That’s about 110 a month, or over three and a half a day. No other blog in the sample has ever had even as many as 800 posts in a month (although T&S also had over 800 in 2005–see individual blog figures in the next section). T&S also drew a large number of comments quite quickly, getting over 1500 comments by December, 2003, over 2000 by February, 2004, over 3000 by April, and over 4000 by December. Their comments continued to rise even as their number of posts leveled off. Among the other blogs, BCC twice had over 900 comments in a month in 2004, but T&S was clearly in a class by itself.

As far as the timeline goes, Our Thoughts started in July of 2003, followed by T&S in November, BCC the following March,  A Motley Vision in June, Nine Moons in July, FMH in August, and New Cool Thang just before the end of 2004.

2005

Starting with 2005, I’ve broken the figures down not only by year, but by size of blog. I’ve classified each blog each year as big, medium, or small using the following criteria:

  • To be classified as big, a blog had to average 40 or more posts per month for the year, or 1200 or more comments per month.
  • To be classified as medium, a blog had to (1) not qualify as big, and (2) average 20 or more posts per month for the year, or 600 or more comments per month.
  • To be classified as small, a blog had to not qualify as big or medium.

Note that I chose the multiplier relating post criteria to comment criteria to be 30 (i.e., 40 x 30 = 1200; 20 x 30 = 600) because the average number of comments per post for the whole sample of blogs across all their existence is almost exactly 30. I originally tried making up the size categories using just number of posts as a criterion, but in the end it seemed more reasonable to use both the post and comment criteria, and classify a blog in a category if it achieved either one. I figured, for example, that a blog with a medium number of posts should still be classified as big if it managed to draw a big number of comments.

One more note: Since the blogs are reclassified each year, it’s possible for them to move between categories from one year to another. A few blogs did this, but as you’ll see below, most have stayed in the same category from year to year.

Here are counts of posts for 2005, first for the big blogs, then for the medium blogs, and finally for the small blogs.

posts-2005-big

posts-2005-medium

posts-2005-small

Watch those vertical axes! In the big blogs figure, it goes up to 120 posts; in the medium blogs figure, only to 50, and in the small blogs figure, only to 30.

Here are counts of comments for 2005, first for the big blogs, then for the medium blogs, and finally for the small blogs.

comments-2005-big

comments-2005-medium

comments-2005-small

It looks like in 2005, T&S declined in both posts and comments. Although it remained the largest blog in the sample, the margin was nowhere near as large as in 2004. They were overtaken a few months in posts and one month in comments by Millennial Star, which had only just started in 2005, but grew very quickly. These two were followed by Our Thoughts, FMH, and BCC, all of which generally lagged Millennial Star. FMH actually out-commented Millennial Star in October, and seemed to be increasing in comments across the year. At the small end, Mormon Mommy Wars and Faith Promoting Rumor were new entrants with big starts followed by declines (at least in posts). When their zigs and zags are averaged out, though, the small blogs looked pretty consistent across the year.

2006

Here are counts of posts for 2006, first for the big blogs, then for the medium blogs, and finally for the small blogs.

posts-2006-big

posts-2006-medium

posts-2006-small

Here are counts of comments for 2006, first for the big blogs, then for the medium blogs, and finally for the small blogs.

comments-2006-big

comments-2006-medium

comments-2006-small

T&S remained the largest in 2006, by a margin of 10 posts or more per month over its new challengers, BCC and FMH, for most of the year. But in comments, in spite of T&S’s early lead (e.g., a margin of over 2000 comments in April), they were overtaken by both BCC and FMH in comments in the last three months of the year. After its fast start the previous year, Millennial Star fell back from their early challenge of T&S. Our Thoughts overtook Millennial Star in posts early in the year and a few months in comments, but like Millennial Star, was generally declining across the year. The Exponent put up its first post in January of 2006 and settled into a consistent position slightly behind Mormon Mommy Wars, which was also quite consistent across the year. Mormon Mentality began in October, at an activity level just below the threshold for big blogs, but clearly the fourth largest blog in the sample at that time. Other than FPR’s dramatic peaks in posts and New Cool Thang’s peaks in comments, the small blogs were largely consistent across the year. New entrants were ZD (in January), Segullah (in September), and Feast Upon the Word (in December).

2007

Here are counts of posts for 2007, first for the big blogs, then for the medium blogs, and finally for the small blogs.

posts-2007-big

posts-2007-medium

posts-2007-small

Here are counts of comments for 2007, first for the big blogs, then for the medium blogs, and finally for the small blogs.

comments-2007-big

comments-2007-medium

comments-2007-small

BCC took over the largest blog position from T&S in 2007, although its lead slipped late in the year, as T&S had more comments in three months and more posts in two. FMH generally trailed both, although by less in comments than in posts. In the first half of the year, Mormon Mentality was also hot on their heels, reaching #2 in posts in March and May, and reaching #3 in comments in June (although this isn’t evident from the figures since they appear in the medium blogs and BCC, T&S, and FMH in the large blogs), but they fell back as the year progressed. Mormon Mommy Wars was again consistent across the year, with Feast Upon the Word leading them at the beginning of the year but trailing at the end. The Exponent was also again consistent across the year, classified as medium because of its posts, but with comment numbers falling in the small range. Juvenile Instructor debuted in October. Among the small blogs, there was not much consistent movement by any of the blogs, although lots of within-year variation. Both Millennial Star and Our Thoughts slipped from being medium to small blogs. For Millennial Star, this completed its leveling off from its early 2005 peak. For Our Thoughts, this came after two years of being a medium blog, sometimes bordering on large. In new blogs, Mormon Matters began in May, and Waters of Mormon in August.

2008

Here are counts of posts for 2008, first for the big blogs, then for the medium blogs, and finally for the small blogs.

posts-2008-big

posts-2008-medium

posts-2008-small

Here are counts of comments for 2008, first for the big blogs, then for the medium blogs, and finally for the small blogs.

comments-2008-big

comments-2008-medium

comments-2008-small

BCC solidified its position as biggest blog in 2008, although it was overtaken in comments by FMH in all the Prop 8-related argument near the end of the year. The new player in the biggest blog game was Mormon Matters, which went from being John Dehlin’s individual project to a group blog at the beginning of the year, and overnight became one of the biggest blogs in the Bloggernacle. In number of posts, BCC was clearly the largest, with the other three going back and forth over the #2 slot. In number of comments, BCC and FMH went back and forth for the top slot, while T&S and Mormon Matters were typically lower. Both Mormon Mommy Wars and Mormon Mentality approached the edges of challenging the biggest blogs at times. Mormon Mentality reached #3 in comments in September and October, for example. But neither was as consistent as the big four in having as high numbers of posts and comments.

Among the medium blogs, Segullah increased in size enough to be considered medium, Juvenile Instructor started strong but had a slight decline through the year, and the Exponent was its usual consistent self. Feast Upon the Word fell from being a medium to a small blog, but it leveled off quickly and other than perhaps a late-year increase by Millennial Star, it’s difficult to see much pattern in the changes in the small blogs across the year.

Summary

I started reading the Bloggernacle in late 2005. By that point, T&S had settled down from being insanely huge to merely large. I didn’t really have a sense, until I began this project, of how big and busy T&S was when it first started out. It’s now clearly been supplanted by BCC as the biggest blog in the Bloggernacle. BCC has had a much different growth pattern over time than T&S–no early peak and decline to a consistent level, but something more like small, consistent growth across time (this will be more clear in the next section). But BCC now, as big as it is, doesn’t have anything like the number of posts that T&S did at its peak.

All I’ve had to say here has been descriptive. I simply don’t know enough to answer the questions that would be really interesting, which largely boil down to why any of these changes took place. I am hoping that you all, the more knowledgeable Bloggernacle participants who will I hope read this, may be able to fill in the gaps. I do wonder if for T&S, its size simply became unwieldy. I know that even now, with comment levels at BCC and FMH approaching (and even surpassing) the early peaks achieved by T&S, I have a hard time keeping up with even the discussions that interest me as a lurker. I couldn’t begin to participate consistently in these conversations. So is it possible that some of the energy of T&S was siphoned off to other blogs because the discussion at T&S was so fast-paced that people couldn’t keep up? This is just speculation, of course.

An even more interesting question is what the future holds. Having not done any analysis of why the blogs that have grown or shrunk have done what they have, I really can’t even begin to guess. But again I would love to hear thoughts from anyone who knows more (or even from ignorant people in the same position I’m in).

Posts and Comments by Blog

In this section, for each of the 18 blogs in the sample, I’ll show a figure of their change in posts and comments over time. The figures vary in the values on their vertical axes, depending on how busy the blog being depicted has been, but the comment scale (on the right vertical axis) is always 30 times the post scale (on the left vertical axis). After the figure, I’ll list a few interesting numbers about the blog, including how many total posts and comments they’ve had through 2008, as well as their top five months for posts, comments, and comments per post.

Since I’m going to be showing total posts and comments for each blog, let me first show a figure that makes the blogs easy to compare on these totals. In this figure, total posts are represented by a blue bar and total comments by a red bar. As in the figures for the individual blogs below, the scale for comments is 30 times as big as the scale for posts, so blogs for which the left (blue) bar is taller have had fewer than 30 comments per post, and blogs for which the right (red) bar is taller have had more than 30 comments per post. The blogs are ordered by total number of posts.

total-posts-and-comments-by-blog

BCC may be bigger now, but it’s got a long way to go to catch up to having more total posts over time than T&S, especially considering that T&S is still going strong. The big three-T&S, BCC, and FMH, really dominate the other blogs in comments, but less so in posts (other than T&S). This is largely due to their size, but it’s also a function of their age. Mormon Matters has been in the same ballpark for the last year, but is far behind in totals given the others’ 3-4 year head start.

The big blogs also tend to get far more than their share of comments, with the big three averaging more than 30 comments per post (far more for BCC and FMH) and most of the smaller blogs averaging fewer. NCT, among the small blogs, bucks this trend, with their tendency to have really long discussions.

Okay, here are the figures for the individual blogs. The blogs are in the same order as in the figure above–largest to smallest by total number of posts. Rather than comment on each blog separately, I’ll just have a few things to say at the end.

Times and Seasons

times-and-seasons

Founded: November, 2003

Total posts: 4102

Top 5 months:

  1. April, 2004: 133
  2. June, 2004: 129
  3. March, 2004: 124
  4. August, 2004: 117
  5. October, 2004: 115

Total comments: 140,721

Top 5 months:

  1. January, 2005: 4306
  2. December, 2004: 4176
  3. October, 2004: 3726
  4. October, 2007: 3673
  5. April, 2006: 3425

Overall comments/post: 34.3

Top 5 months:

  1. September, 2005: 67.6
  2. October, 2007: 59.2
  3. April, 2008: 58.6
  4. October, 2005: 57.0
  5. May, 2006: 54.4

By Common Consent

by-common-consent

Founded: March, 2004

Total posts: 2405

Top 5 months:

  1. May, 2008: 75
  2. March, 2008: 72
  3. [tie] June, 2008: 69
  4. [tie] November, 2008: 69
  5. March, 2007: 68

Total comments: 110,742

Top 5 months:

  1. November, 2008: 4255
  2. October, 2008: 3955
  3. June, 2008: 3548
  4. November, 2007: 3487
  5. May, 2008: 3481

Overall comments/post: 46.0

Top 5 months:

  1. November, 2007: 68.4
  2. December, 2005: 63.6
  3. September, 2006: 63.2
  4. October, 2008: 61.8
  5. November, 2008: 61.7

Feminist Mormon Housewives

feminist-mormon-housewives

Founded: August, 2004

Total posts: 1757

Top 5 months:

  1. December, 2008: 65
  2. December, 2007: 54
  3. October, 2008: 51
  4. May, 2008: 49
  5. [tie] July, 2007: 46
  6. [tie] April, 2008: 46

Total comments: 86,387

Top 5 months:

  1. October, 2008: 4535
  2. September, 2008: 3669
  3. August, 2008: 3549
  4. November, 2008: 3442
  5. May, 2008: 3049

Overall comments/post: 49.2

Top 5 months:

  1. September, 2008: 99.2
  2. August, 2008: 93.4
  3. October, 2008: 88.9
  4. November, 2008: 80.0
  5. January, 2008: 78.6

Mormon Mommy Wars

mormon-mommy-wars

Founded: March, 2005

Total posts: 1317

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2008: 53
  2. April, 2008: 50
  3. May, 2008: 45
  4. January, 2008: 44
  5. February, 2008: 43

Total comments: 28,441

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2008: 1736
  2. February, 2008: 1632
  3. January, 2008: 1606
  4. May, 2008: 1486
  5. April, 2008: 1473

Overall comments/post: 21.6

Top 5 months:

  1. February, 2008: 38.0
  2. January, 2008: 36.5
  3. May, 2008: 33.0
  4. March, 2008: 32.8
  5. June, 2008: 31.3

Millennial Star

millennial-star

Founded: January, 2005

Total posts: 1280

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2005: 74
  2. August, 2005: 68
  3. [tie] April, 2005: 55
  4. [tie] October, 2005: 55
  5. May, 2005: 51

Total comments: 32,909

Top 5 months:

  1. August, 2005: 2123
  2. June, 2005: 1673
  3. May, 2005: 1563
  4. October, 2005: 1530
  5. March, 2005: 1523

Overall comments/post: 25.7

Top 5 months:

  1. August, 2006: 44.4
  2. August, 2007: 38.4
  3. July, 2006: 37.7
  4. September, 2005: 35.1
  5. June, 2005: 34.9

Our Thoughts

our-thoughts

Founded: July, 2003

Total posts: 1088

Top 5 months:

  1. February, 2006: 60
  2. March, 2006: 46
  3. April, 2005: 45
  4. December, 2005: 41
  5. March, 2005: 40

Total comments: 16,973

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2006: 998
  2. February, 2006: 996
  3. August, 2006: 766
  4. January, 2006: 748
  5. July, 2006: 730

Overall comments/post: 15.6

Top 5 months:

  1. October, 2003: 57.0
  2. May, 2007: 36.3
  3. September, 2006: 33.9
  4. August, 2004: 32.0
  5. August, 2006: 30.1

Mormon Mentality

mormon-mentality

Founded: October, 2006

Total posts: 822

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2008: 51
  2. [tie] May, 2007: 43
  3. [tie] February, 2007: 43
  4. March, 2007: 42
  5. April, 2008: 39

Total comments: 29,242

Top 5 months:

  1. February, 2008: 1607
  2. October, 2008: 1599
  3. September, 2008: 1584
  4. March, 2008: 1566
  5. April, 2008: 1558

Overall comments/post: 35.6

Top 5 months:

  1. September, 2008: 63.4
  2. October, 2008: 53.3
  3. June, 2007: 50.2
  4. January, 2008: 46.6
  5. August, 2008: 45.9

The Exponent

exponent

Founded: January, 2006

Total posts: 755

Top 5 months:

  1. April, 2008: 28
  2. May, 2007: 27
  3. February, 2006: 26
  4. August, 2006: 25
  5. [tie] March, 2006: 24
  6. [tie] November, 2006: 24
  7. [tie] March, 2007: 24
  8. [tie] March, 2008: 24

Total comments: 9694

Top 5 months:

  1. April, 2008: 427
  2. July, 2006: 385
  3. July, 2008: 375
  4. October, 2008: 361
  5. May, 2008: 357

Overall comments/post: 12.8

Top 5 months:

  1. September, 2008: 17.9 [17.89]
  2. July, 2008: 17.9 [17.86]
  3. July, 2006: 17.5 [17.50]
  4. November, 2008: 17.5 [17.47]
  5. December, 2008: 16.7

Nine Moons

nine-moons

Founded: July, 2004

Total posts: 668

Top 5 months:

  1. [tie] July, 2005: 20
  2. [tie] October, 2007: 20
  3. September, 2005: 19
  4. [tie] August, 2006: 18
  5. [tie] February, 2007: 18

Total comments: 14,075

Top 5 months:

  1. June, 2007: 684
  2. October, 2005: 571
  3. October, 2007: 454
  4. May, 2007: 451
  5. July, 2007: 444

Overall comments/post: 21.1

Top 5 months:

  1. August, 2008: 68.6
  2. October, 2005: 51.9
  3. June, 2007: 40.2
  4. November, 2007: 32.4
  5. May, 2007: 32.2

Segullah

segullah

Founded: September, 2006

Total posts: 643

Top 5 months:

  1. August, 2008: 37
  2. February, 2008: 36
  3. October, 2008: 34
  4. [tie] March, 2008: 31
  5. [tie] July, 2008: 31

Total comments: 11,080

Top 5 months:

  1. September, 2008: 963
  2. July, 2008: 728
  3. August, 2008: 698
  4. November, 2008: 579
  5. October, 2008: 578

Overall comments/post: 17.2

Top 5 months:

  1. September, 2008: 33.2
  2. July, 2008: 23.5
  3. March, 2007: 21.6
  4. June, 2008: 21.0
  5. November, 2008: 20.7

Mormon Matters

mormon-matters

Founded: May, 2007

Total posts: 607

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2008: 57
  2. February, 2008: 56
  3. January, 2008: 53
  4. [tie] April, 2008: 52
  5. [tie] September, 2008: 52

Total comments: 19,542

Top 5 months:

  1. June, 2008: 2199
  2. February, 2008: 2080
  3. April, 2008: 1848
  4. May, 2008: 1822
  5. March, 2008: 1792

Overall comments/post: 32.2

Top 5 months:

  1. September, 2007: 171.0
  2. November, 2007: 49.0
  3. June, 2008: 45.8
  4. May, 2008: 39.6
  5. February, 2008: 37.1

Faith-Promoting Rumor

(including Urban Mormonism, October, 2006 – February, 2007)

faith-promoting-rumor

Founded: May, 2005

Total posts: 596

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2006: 33
  2. May, 2005: 30
  3. [tie] January, 2006: 27
  4. [tie] October, 2006: 27
  5. [tie] November, 2006: 23
  6. [tie] March, 2007: 23

Total comments: 9273

Top 5 months:

  1. June, 2008: 528
  2. August, 2008: 515
  3. August, 2007: 501
  4. November, 2008: 415
  5. March, 2007: 409

Overall comments/post: 15.6

Top 5 months:

  1. August, 2008: 39.6
  2. November, 2008: 34.6
  3. February, 2008: 30.2
  4. October, 2008: 29.9
  5. [tie] September, 2007: 29.7
  6. [tie] May, 2008: 29.7

New Cool Thang

new-cool-thang

Founded: December, 2004

Total posts: 549

Top 5 months:

  1. [tie] February, 2005: 19
  2. [tie] August, 2005: 19
  3. [tie] September, 2007: 19
  4. June, 2005: 18
  5. April, 2005: 17

Total comments: 20,262

Top 5 months:

  1. July, 2007: 919
  2. May, 2006: 860
  3. April, 2007: 766
  4. March, 2005: 721
  5. September, 2007: 705

Overall comments/post: 36.9

Top 5 months:

  1. December, 2006: 87.3
  2. July, 2007: 76.6
  3. January, 2008: 69.2
  4. June, 2006: 67.0
  5. May, 2006: 66.2

A Motley Vision

a-motley-vision

Founded: June, 2004

Total posts: 522

Top 5 months:

  1. [tie] June, 2004: 22
  2. [tie] August, 2005: 22
  3. [tie] September, 2005: 19
  4. [tie] September, 2008: 19
  5. [tie] December, 2004: 16
  6. [tie] October, 2008: 16

Total comments: 4628

Top 5 months:

  1. November, 2008: 268
  2. August, 2008: 213
  3. December, 2008: 194
  4. October, 2008: 185
  5. May, 2008: 174

Overall comments/post: 8.9

Top 5 months:

  1. September, 2006: 19.8
  2. December, 2007: 19.6
  3. August, 2008: 19.4
  4. November, 2008: 17.9
  5. October, 2006: 17.1

Feast Upon the Word

feast-upon-the-word

Founded: December, 2006

Total posts: 412

Top 5 months:

  1. February, 2007: 37
  2. January, 2007: 29
  3. January, 2008: 27
  4. June, 2007: 26
  5. [tie] April, 2007: 24
  6. [tie] July, 2007: 24

Total comments: 6380

Top 5 months:

  1. February, 2007: 775
  2. March, 2007: 546
  3. June, 2007: 530
  4. January, 2007: 527
  5. July, 2007: 486

Overall comments/post: 15.5

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2007: 26.0
  2. November, 2007: 21.4
  3. February, 2007: 20.9
  4. May, 2007: 20.5
  5. June, 2007: 20.4

Juvenile Instructor

juvenile-instructor

Founded: October, 2007

Total posts: 367

Top 5 months:

  1. February, 2008: 42
  2. November, 2007: 40
  3. March, 2008: 36
  4. September, 2008: 30
  5. June, 2008: 28

Total comments: 6383

Top 5 months:

  1. February, 2008: 773
  2. June, 2008: 751
  3. November, 2007: 647
  4. March, 2008: 623
  5. July, 2008: 525

Overall comments/post: 17.4

Top 5 months:

  1. June, 2008: 26.8
  2. July, 2008: 20.2
  3. May, 2008: 19.6
  4. November, 2008: 18.6
  5. February, 2008: 18.4

Zelophehad’s Daughters

zelophehads-daughters
Founded: January, 2006

Total posts: 320

Top 5 months:

  1. May, 2006: 17
  2. [tie] January, 2006: 16
  3. [tie] December, 2008: 16
  4. [tie] November, 2006: 15
  5. [tie] December, 2006: 15
  6. [tie] February, 2007: 15
  7. [tie] April, 2008: 15

Total comments: 9117

Top 5 months:

  1. April, 2007: 690
  2. April, 2008: 606
  3. November, 2006: 570
  4. February, 2007: 474
  5. November, 2007: 472

Overall comments/post: 28.5

Top 5 months:

  1. April, 2007: 86.3
  2. November, 2007: 47.2
  3. September, 2007: 45.5
  4. September, 2008: 43.3
  5. June, 2008: 42.5

Waters of Mormon

waters-of-mormon

Founded: August, 2007

Total posts: 172

Top 5 months:

  1. [tie] September, 2007: 18
  2. [tie] October, 2007: 18
  3. November, 2007: 16
  4. February, 2008: 13
  5. January, 2008: 12

Total comments: 1303

Top 5 months:

  1. March, 2008: 161
  2. May, 2008: 140
  3. October, 2007: 124
  4. [tie] September, 2007: 105
  5. [tie] November, 2007: 105

Overall comments/post: 7.6

Top 5 months:

  1. May, 2008: 15.6
  2. March, 2008: 14.6
  3. September, 2008: 9.8
  4. June, 2008: 8.9
  5. October, 2008: 8.6

Summary

I find it interesting that several blogs started with a bang, but then slowed down over time. This pattern is most clear for Millennial Star, but you can also definitely see it in T&S and Feast Upon the Word, and in parts of the figures for other blogs. I wonder if when bloggers first start out, we’re thrilled to have found a voice, and we blog about everything. But then after a while, we start to get bored of it all, particularly when we have what seem like the same discussions and arguments over and over (as expressed well by Rusty of Nine Moons in this post from 2006; I know I’ve seen fMhLisa say the same thing, but I can’t find where). Lots of blogs haven’t followed this pattern, though. I suspect there are at least two major reasons why. First, is that even if some of a blog’s bloggers get burned out, you can always add more. This has been the strategy most prominently of BCC as well as of T&S. FMH has been less prone to add permabloggers, but has lots of guest bloggers, particularly those who submit just a single post. So the first solution is to add more people who haven’t heard it all before. The second is to never be big in the first place. This has been our strategy at ZD, I know, where we potentially have lots to say, but we never really get around to saying it. If you’re small, it’s not all that noticeable if you don’t post for a month.

One more interesting pattern is that for lots of blogs that have increased in size (or even stayed the same), the number of posts has increased ahead of the number of comments. You can see this for T&S, for example, where they were writing insane numbers of posts in late 2003 and early 2004, but took until late 2004 to really get their comment numbers up. Or similarly for FMH, posts and comments roughly tracked each other (although with comments increasing more steeply) until 2007, when comments started increasing dramatically even though posts remained fairly flat. This pattern suggests that drawing comments requires not just an interesting post one day, but a history of interesting posts preceding it that have gotten commenters to come back repeatedly so they can accumulate.

Now, considering that I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s going on with even the data I’ve presented here, I’d love to hear any comments anyone else has on all these post and comment counts.

38 Responses to “Nacle Numbers, 2003-2008, Part 2: The Blogs”

  1. 1.

    Quite fascinating, as always, Ziff. I’m afraid Bloggernacle history is not my strong suit, so I can’t explain any of these numbers, but I enjoyed the presentation nevertheless.

  2. 2.

    It’s not the size that counts, it’s how you use it. (Sung to the tune of “I am a Child of God”)

  3. 3.

    I understand that you are tracking only group blogs, but I’m still going to point out that by your measurements, Keepa has been a medium blog since its debut. If shown in your 2008 graphs, Keepa would float above two or three or four of those group blogs in terms of both posts and comments for several months, especially toward the end of the year. Perhaps group vs. individual status isn’t a meaningful way to measure Bloggernacle presence.

  4. 4.

    Beautiful work.

    I find it interesting that several blogs started with a bang, but then slowed down over time… you can also definitely see it in T&S and Feast Upon the Word…. I wonder if when bloggers first start out, we’re thrilled to have found a voice, and we blog about everything. But then after a while, we start to get bored of it all….

    Part of the reason Feast upon the Word declined in posts in 2008 is that one of its authors moved across the country and has taken forever to get back into the swing of posting. Your graphs make it visually obvious how neglectful I—I mean, that certain author has been! Shame on him (or her)!

    On a different note, it’s interesting to look at the blogs with the highest or lowest comments:posts ratios. Some with the highest (T&S, FMH, MMent, BCC) often post on topics that generate a lot of quick, argumentative comments (e.g., Prop 8 or gay marriage or proposition 8 or SSM or prop 8). But then there’s NCT, that usually does pretty deep, difficult, and precise posts. How do they get so many comments? One thought, based on my observation, is that the authors do a great job responding to just about every comment—no matter how off-subject it is or how old the post is.

    Of course those big blogs I mentioned also post plenty of “deep and precise” topics, so maybe one would need to do an internal comparison of posts by topic to see if my hunch holds out.

  5. 5.

    A fine piece of navel gazing, Ziff! Great post and information.

  6. 6.

    This is a lot of fun. Thanks!

    On your penultimate paragraph: it would be interesting to see graphs of the number of comments over the number of posts for each month for a given blog.

    Also Ardis makes an interesting point, but I won’t volunteer you, Ziff (or anyone else!) to repeat this analysis for the solo blogs!

  7. 7.

    Pure awesomeness, Ziff, as always.

  8. 8.

    Ardis is a BEASTLY blogger. Not many solo blogs can keep those posts coming over time like even a small or medium group blog can. You go, girl.

  9. 9.

    So T&S is Koufax, and BCC is Spahn?

    I can handle that. B-)

  10. 10.

    p.s. Keepa is a group blog — it has Ardis, plus Brigham Young as guest blogger! ;)

  11. 11.

    Ziff, this is really interesting. I had no idea T&S was that big in 2004. I started writing a web crawler so I could automatically gather numbers for you across more sites, but I haven’t finished it. Judging by how much data you pulled together here, it looks like you don’t need it.

  12. 12.

    Wonderful! Thank you for all your hard work in gathering and interpreting this much data in regards to the history of the Bloggernacle.

  13. 13.

    Thanks, Kevin, Brian, Brian, Ben, Kaimi, and Jacob. I’m glad you found some entertainment in this avalanche of graphs.

    Ardis, it’s quite impressive that you can as a solo blogger out-blog all of us smaller blogs and many of the other medium-sized ones. I think I used DMI Dave as an example last year since he also wrote way more posts by himself than lots of group blogs. Although Ben was understandably loathe to suggest it, I really do plan to include solo blogs when I do this next time, and of course Keepapitchinin will be at the top of my list.

    Brian, I am shocked to hear that real life can intrude on blogging. After all, what else could be more important? (I say this with tongue planted firmly in cheek. I often go months between posts.)

    I like the baseball comparison, Kaimi. Spahn is a good choice; it’s difficult to find someone who remained at a high level of performance for a long time. I think Rod Carew might be even better, since he actually pushed his performance higher across time, but that’s a quibble.

    Jacob, by all means don’t let me stop you from writing a web crawler for me! I actually considered trying it myself a couple of years ago, but I have little programming knowledge and I quickly realized that it would probably require too much up front investment in time for me to get anything out of it. I would love it, though, if there were an easier way to gather data like this. Thanks for thinking of me. (But of course I totally understand if it ends up being impossible or too time-consuming.)

  14. 14.

    o_0 Incredible. Simply incredible.

    And you say you gather the data by hand (or at least, don’t have a webcrawler now)? How long does it take to do all of the research and data mining for posts like this?

  15. 15.

    Wow. This is impressive. Thanks for this fun tour through blog stats, Ziff. I obviously can’t speak for other blogs, but I will say that JI’s number of posts at different times of the year is directly affected by the fact that all of our bloggers are either grad students or professors. Those months that coincide with the end of a semester (April and May, November and December) see a fairly dramatic decrease in posting, while the months immediately following (June and January) tend to see an increase in posts.

  16. 16.

    Yup, Andrew. I’m hopelessly backward; I would count by making hash marks on clay tablets if I could. :) For this, I just scrolled through each blog’s posts and noted the number of comments on each post and the month in which the post was written.

    Thanks, Christopher. I’m glad to hear that’s a common pattern. We’re heavy on the academic type too, so we tend to slow down around finals time. I think across all the blogs I’ve looked at, another major seasonal pattern is a slowdown around Christmas, when I guess people’s minds turn to things other than blogging. Also, my impression is that the summer is slower in general, although I could be wrong. Speaking for myself, I have less going on in the summer, and since blogging is mostly something I do to avoid doing other stuff, I therefore blog less.

  17. 17.

    Thanks, JA Benson!

    And Kaimi, I’ve been thinking more about the pitcher comparison. I don’t know that I like the implications of comparing T&S to Koufax. After all, he did have to retire fairly abruptly at the very peak of his career. So what would be the equivalent for a blog. That you, Kent, Julie, Frank, et al. suddenly come down with untreatable carpal tunnel syndrome? I only hope I’m not tempting fate by daring to suggest it.

  18. 18.

    Very cool. Thanks, as always, for the analysis. And I second Christopher’s observation about the academic schedule.

  19. 19.

    Great stuff, Ziff. Thanks.

  20. 20.

    Fun, indeed. And quite interesting.

    I do look forward to seeing how Ardis holds up in the midst of all of this, though. :)

  21. 21.

    I hesitate to leave a comment here, because it will increase the amount of comments on this blog and ipso facto decrease the amount of comments on M*. Oops, too late.

  22. 22.

    One thing about BCC’s stats: if you pulled them this year then the first years aren’t accurate. Because of traffic, we switched to wordpress hosting, which is reliable. But it is also a major pain to import posts, and we have a backlog of archives that still need to be ported over.

  23. 23.

    This is so interesting–thanks, Ziff.
    I am not sure what led to our spike in August. Possibly the fact that Cjane’s blog had a lot of traffic then, and she linked t o us several times.

    It’s great to be included in your list–thanks.

  24. 24.

    Hmm, you may be right, maybe we should choose a less star-crossed comparison. :)

    And there’s going to be some comment loss at both T&S and BCC if you just count the comments. At the very least, I can think of:

    1. T&S started out with Haloscan comments, for its first few weeks of existence. I believe that these were mostly or entirely imported, but some may have been missed.
    2. BCC used Haloscan for much longer, and I think some of the original BCC comments were lost into the ether.
    3. T&S moved hosts a few times early. One of those moves lost a number of comments due to an import error. I went back and pasted them in, en masse. This artificially reduces the number of comments — I’m posting 25 or 30 or 50 lost comments from the old site, as one comment.

    Lots of variables in the process.

  25. 25.

    Thanks, Kaimi, I had missed the recreated comments at T&S that were pasted from an earlier piece of software (for example, as you point out, the 12 comments on this post show up as only 1 in my counts). And of course I didn’t get the ones that vanished entirely in the transitions. It’s unfortunate; I hate to lose data (although I guess you probably lament losing the comments even more). I did catch a similar problem with Nine Moons, where lots of comments were pasted over during a software change (for example, this post has 11 comments that appear as one).

    J. Stapley, thanks for pointing out that some BCC archives are still missing. I counted almost everything (from years before 2008) before the end of last year, and I got the latest stuff at the very beginning of February, so I think I just missed your transition.

    Edje, Ray, m&m, and Emily, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed this.

    Geoff, very funny! I wonder if actually the opposite is true. Rather than there being a finite pool of comments that are distributed among the blogs (so commenting at one diminishes another) I suspect that making more comments on different blogs spurs even more commenting and therefore increases the size of the total pool. (Although I guess you were probably being ironic and making that very point already. :) )

  26. 26.

    Holy Smokes! This may be the awesomest yet of all your awesomely awesome statistics posts Ziff. Great work. I clearly need to recruit a bunch of additional bloggers or NCT may never move into that coveted “medium blogs” category…

    In response to BrianJ’s #4 about NCT’s alarmingly high comment to post ratio: One thing that helps create long discussions is a core group of debaters who aren’t willing to go down without a vigorous fight. (ZD is like this too which is one of the things I really like about this here blog)

  27. 27.

    Geoff J: you’re wrong, I’m right.

  28. 28.

    Thanks for this Ziff, you’re the awesomest ever. I absolutely love these numbers posts. too am curious about how much time it takes for you to put this together. I feel like I really need to send you my rat infested My Little Pony collection that I promised but never delivered.

    I don’t know for sure that it’s so, but when I read back on fMh’s early posts (prior to the wordpress switch over) I’ve thought that we’re missing comments, or at least I had vague memories of comments I thought were there that arent’ there anymore. but i don’t at all understand the process (J very generously handled the whole transfer thing) and it could just be my faulty memory.

  29. 29.

    Thanks, Geoff.

    Thanks, Lisa. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I’m sorry to hear the issue of lost comments was so general. I should probably be grateful that ZD is new enough that we haven’t been through many transitions to lose comments.

    Truthfully, I’m not sure how long this post took. Many hours, definitely. I made a number of versions of the figures, breaking the data down different ways, before settling on these ones. But it’s all fun for me, so it may be long and slow, but it’s not a chore. It does mean that I only write five posts a year, but I guess that’s how it goes. :)

  30. 30.

    oh yeah, and I too remember talking about how the oldtimers can get bored with having the same discussions over and over again . . . but I don’t know where to find it either. I think is on one of those navel gazing where is the bloggernacle/fMh headed kinda posts that we’ve done sometimes around the new year.

  31. 31.

    Sorry I am late to the party, but I just wanted to throw my two cents in and say you have out down yourself this time, Ziff. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication.

  32. 32.

    […] Over at Zelophehad’s Daughters, Ziff recently compiled (by hand mind you) a tonne of data for many of the most popular group blogs in th Bloggernacle. The information is very fascinating. […]

  33. 33.

    Ziff, incredibly interesting. I’ve often thought that what newcomers to the Bloggernacle lack is a sense of history, in particular the historical importance of T&S and the interplay between the various sites. BCC would not exist were it not for T&S, and I imagine we are not alone in that respect. If ever you want to ping me for my thoughts on the whys, I’d be happy to write something with you.

  34. 34.

    Incredible presentation! Beautiful work and very informative for those of us who have come to the bloggernacle late. This should be published as a Dialogue or Sunstone article.

  35. 35.

    Thanks, Kim, Steve, and John. I’m glad you found something interesting in this. Steve–I would love to talk to you about writing something about the whys. Similarly to your comment that BCC wouldn’t exist without T&S, certainly ZD wouldn’t exist without FMH, BCC, and T&S. FMH I think inspired us to start ZD, and all three of y’all have pushed enough traffic to us since the beginning (with sidebar links and the like) to keep our conversation going so we don’t have to resort entirely to navel-gazing.

    John, that’s an interesting idea. Perhaps when combined with some analysis of the whys that Steve offers it might work.

  36. 36.

    It would be fun to see a chart with the bloggernacle blogs represented by points, with rays between them pointing to the one or two or three older blogs that each new blog identified as its major “parents.” It would be a graphic representation of which blogs have had the greatest impact in ways other than numbers, and how the cross-fertilization of a community of blogs works.

  37. 37.

    That’s a really interesting idea Ardis. I haven’t attempted such a figure yet, but I took your idea and ran with it to suggest that such historical links might be used in an attempt to define the Bloggernacle.

  38. 38.

    Ardis, I guess the problem with that is the community isn’t broad enough yet. We’d only have 2 or three major parents. Maybe a few medium ones. Cross-fertilization might be better shown by tracking the bloggers themselves: who posts where, and the personal real-world connection between them.

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