In 2006, the research group Gartner made a very surprising prediction: they announced that the total number of bloggers would peak at 100 million in mid 2007. Gartner reported that over 200 million people have tried blogging but then quit.
Later, in April, 2007, BusinessWeek reported that Gartner’s prediction seemed to be panning out. With 15.5 million active blogs, the number of new blogs each week was decreasing. The source for this was Technorati’s State of the Live Web, April 2007.
I tried to find more current statistics but I could not find anything more current. I did a search to see if there was an interesting blog on why someone plans to stop blogging. I did find this one from April, 2008 but I’m not sure that it’s serious.
To me, this prediction sounds a bit premature. Even if the rate of blogging growth is starting to level off, how can we be sure that this trend will be long standing? Still, I think that these trends do show that people who recently blogged are not returning as quickly to blog again.
There are many reasons why this may be occurring. It is getting more and more difficult to get yourself heard in the blogosphere. With the increasing number of blogs, it becomes a challenge to stand out. How do you get your blog noticed, linked to, and ranked high by the search engines? How do you get advice on how to improve your blog? How do you promote your blog? How do you build a community around your blog?
Additionally, certain content does not fit in well with a blog. Sometimes people want short, informative articles rather than personal viewpoints. The rise of wikipedia has shown that people want more than just blogs. They want focused, reliable content that is easily locateable. Another plus with wikipedia is its professional layout with its images, text, links, and video all neatly organized.
While wikipedia provides an incredible, free reference, it offers little help for the newbie blogger. Wikipedia does not readily link to unestablished bloggers. There is no easy-to-find comment section to post your opinions on articles or engage in a topic conversation. The discussion section which exists is more a forum for editors of the current article: what topics are appropriate to be included, what are the footnotes or references for certain claims, etc.
Wikipedia’s strength, in my opinion, is the “insider” community that supports it. The quality content that makes up Wikipedia has emerged through the dedication and passion of a community of Wikipediacs. For details on the Wikipedia’s make up, check out this recent article from PC World Australia.
While Wikipedia was not designed to promote existing web sites and blogs, there are other well known bookmarking and social network sites available for promoting a blog. While their services sound promising on the surface for the newbie blogger, they are reader-focused rather than author-focused. With these sites, the question becomes: how do you attract the existing community around your blog? How do you get noticed by Digg, Deli.cio.us, etc.? How do you attract a following from the existing users?
In my view, it is these pain points which HubPages seeks to address. The goal of HubPages, from my view, is to foster a community of successful content builders. I am very excited about joining the HubPages community as one of the new software engineers. Please let me know what you think. Do you agree with my observations? What services or features would you like to see HubPages provide?
Whether blogging is on the rise or not, it is clear to me that blogging alone will probably not provide people with the best return on their time. Utilizing social networks and bookmarking services are fine but in themselves, they are little different from chasing traffic by making numerous forum posts. A better alternative is to join an existing community of web authors and promote your blog or other content by writing wikipedia-like articles. Just blogging and waiting for people to come is not enough.