Meta-Blogging 12: Liberal vs. Conservative, Community vs. Pundit
In this piece, he presents the results of almost a year's worth of tracking blogs by statistics and by political orientation, with specific focus on growth of audience and spin-off of audience into producers. His basic conclusion seems to be that the conservative blogosphere is top-down and inhibits new voices by virtue of its preferred format and style, and that the liberal blogosphere, by enabling comments and scoop-style diaries, is producing new voices and multiplying its political bandwidth. This all would seem to be old-hat rehashing of familiar points--but Chris has some compelling statistics to prove his case.
In the first category, audience, Chris estimates that that in 2003, the conservatives had more than twice the democratic/liberal blogospheric presence, whereas today democratic/liberal sites dominate by 65%.
In the second category, readers into writers, the data becomes more uncertain. RedState certainly offers a forum for conservatives to become internet celebrities--yet, one imagines, if RedState were really a hot forum, Charles Bird wouldn't bother to cross-post on Obsidian Wings, where his post usually get at least double the traffic as they do on RS. Chris offers some data on the community-disparity between lib and conv sites:
Of the twenty-four liberal blogs in the top quintile, Dailykos, TPM Café, Smirking Chimp, Metafilter, BooMan Tribune, MyDD, and Dembloggers are full-fledged community sites where members cannot only comment, but they can also post diaries / articles / polls. By comparison, there are no community sites among the top twenty-four conservative blogs. None, zip, zero, nada. This is particularly stunning when one considers the importance of the Free Republic community to the conservative netroots. While it would appear that there are hordes of Glenn Reynolds wannabe's among conservatives in the netroots, Redstate.org sticks out as the only success story for a community oriented blog within the conservative blogosphere. In fact, of the five most trafficked conservative blogs (over 200,000 page views per week), only one, Little Green Footballs, even allows comments, much less the ability to actually write a diary or a new article.
Props out to Josh Trevino, and I hope his community can maintain its momentum without him!
Look, it would be far too easy to write a snarky post about why the liberals do grassroot internet stuff better in the long haul than the conservatives, and I have no interest in doing such things here, nor, frankly, do I believe such ideas, familiar as I am with those sites where conservatives don't bother with politics at all.
Eh. I'm collecting.
On that note, I'll collect some responses to Chris's post.
Hilzoy at ObWi, who first brought my attention to this post and whom, as the script goes, I'd like to marry, is baffled that "so many of the most visited liberal sites either community blogs or (at least) blogs that allow comments, and so many of the most visited conservative sites blogs that do not?"
Polipundit, a consversative blog, questions the study's completeness:
First, I’ll note that polipundit.com gets above 200,000 pages views per week, using the BlogAds numbers that Bowers uses. In fact, we’re in the top 20 conservative political blogs by any reckoning. And we do allow comments. In fact, the four “guest” bloggers on this blog all started out as regular commenters. And other commenters have gone on to start their own highly successful blogs, like Scott Elliott’s Election Projection.
Clearly, the blogosphere has arriveed, and the only remaining question is what ideology fostered it.
[Update: Matthew Yglesias has some smart comments on this question at his personal site, as opposed to his BigMedia site or his EliteBlogger site. I do notice, however, that his historiography of the blogosphere tends towards the Great Man theory: the personal idiosyncracies of Atrios and Sullivan--alone!--represent the tendencies of the two--two!--sides of the blogosphere.]