Sunday, February 26, 2006

Political Blog Survey

Note: Myspace users see update at the end.

One of the largest listings of political blogs (if not the largest) is found at Technorati. In late December, the number of political blogs listed at Technorati was over 6,800; most blogs I regularly read usually list ten to fifty blogs in their links section.

I was curious to know who all these other bloggers were (and I felt the need to publicize my own site as well) so I took a deep breath and started surveying all the political blogs listed on Technorati. I used the alphabetical listing category under politics and sometimes it took several evenings to do a single letter (the letter 't' took the longest since Technorati doesn't drop 'the' from the title).

This was by no means a formal survey. For one thing, blogs were being deleted and added during the period I was doing the survey. Also, my main purpose was to locate active, frequently updated political blogs that would interest me enough to bookmark. Now I was very generous in what I bookmarked and yet I was pleasantly surprised at the number of quality blogs I found that are not listed in the links sections of the many blogs I already read.

I didn't click on every one of the more than 6,800 blogs listed. First, it became obvious that the number 6,800 is somewhat misleading. Many blogs are listed more than once and many blogs have been dormant for more than a 120 days; it became apparent that roughly 2,000 blogs fall in this category. It also became obvious that Technorati doesn't do much in the way of screening blogs that list themselves under politics. I surveyed many blogs that were really about other things and only occassionally was there a post about politics. I arbitrarily decided many of these did not qualify as political blogs. I really don't mind a variety of subjects on a political blog and in cases like Kevin Drum's blog on The Washington Monthly, I actually look forward to good non-political posts. But on many of the blogs I surveyed, there were far too many weddding pictures, baby pictures, music reviews, bad days at school or the office, technical discussions of electronics, travelogues, etc. and far too little to qualify them as political blogs. Roughly 3,100 so-called political blogs fell into the category of not-much-politics. Another 400 blogs or so fell into the category of too specialized because they were about a narrowly defined topic or they were an English-language blog about places like Malaysia; and I had to eliminate the 20 or 30 blogs in a foreign language. Some blogs were Canadian, Australian or British and I bookmarked some of the better ones (particularly if they wrote about international issues) but I considered most of them too specialized for my needs though a number of them are the equal of any American blog.

That left over 1,300 blogs that are actively about politics. I had no stomach to read every right wing screed after the first dozen or so but as far as I can guess, the blogs were reasonably divided between conservatives on one side, and moderates and liberals on the other. I should add that there were one or two dozen blogs on the left that were so over the top with conspiracy theories or so full of vitriol that I considered bookmarking them a waste of time (I can handle vigorous debate, and some good honest sarcasm and cynicism but when credibility falls completely by the wayside, there isn't much point in staying around). By the time I was done, I had bookmarked 624 political blogs that I didn't know about before. I would say that about 585 of these blogs are moderate to liberal (and a handful clearly way over to the left). The remaining 40 or so were a variety of conservative blogs that I bookmarked for reference. Some 'conservative' sites I bookmarked were the type difficult to read because of their hate-mongering, general dishonesty or outright silliness when defending Bush, but a number of conservative sites were reasonably straight forward in their posts and were readable. Some fell in the category of the thoughtful and rational conservative; whether I agree with them or not, I wish there were more in the category (see RealCurrents as an example).

So Technorati led me to 585 new moderate to liberal blogs (I'll call them progressive blogs). But I already had about 70 progressive blogs that I had bookmarked for a total of around 655 blogs listed on Technorati. I should add that I have about 35 progressive blogs bookmarked that don't appear on Technorati (or didn't appear at the time I did the survey). So let me summarize my survey of Technorati political blogs (all numbers are approximate):

Claimed Political Blogs on Technorati as of Dec, 2005: over 6,800
Duplicates or dormant blogs: 2,000
Blogs that aren't much about politics: 3,100
Political Blogs that are too specialized: 400
Active Political Blogs (my definition): 1,300
Political Blogs I bookmarked during survey: 624
Progressive Blogs I bookmarked: 585
Conservative blogs I bookmarked: 39
Technorati Blogs I had previously bookmarked: 70
Total Technorati progressive blogs bookmarked: 655
Non-Technorati progressive blogs bookmarked: 35

In the last year, I heard from different people that there are thousands of progressive blogs on the Internet. One person suggested tens of thousands of progressive blogs. Neither appear to be the case. Before I started the survey, one-third of the progressive blogs I had bookmarked were not listed on Technorati. So we have to ask how many people don't have their progressive blog listed on Technorati. If my arbitrary list of blogs just happened to be about the right ratio, the total list of progressive blogs that are active and of interest to American readers would be under a thousand. As far as I can tell, Technorati does a good job of representing most of the top 100 political blogs as measured by different surveys. So even if Technorati happens to miss many of the smaller progressive blogs that are active, it's not likely that there are more than let's say about 2,000 progressive blogs.

But I think it's safe to say there are thousands of people who comment on blogs and thousands more who leave comments on message boards. But I'll leave that survey to someone else.

One final word. The number of political blogs listed under Technorati has now climbed to over 7,800 blogs. That's an increase of 1,000 blogs in two months but I'm fairly certain that only about a hundred of those blogs would qualify for my aribitrary definition of an active progressive blog. Still, I wonder what's leading to the increased numbers?

Update: Myspace users interested in political blogs on Myspace should try IceRocket myspace search which hosts a search engine for Myspace. If you find something better, I hope you come back and let me know.

Labels: ,

10 Comments:

Blogger theBhc said...

Hi Craig,

Wow, that was certainly some undertaking. I too have wondered about the actual environment out there, as opposed to the advertised one. It might be worthwhile to post your findings, i.e. the actual list/links of political blogs you finalised. I, for one, would be curious to see what's out there that I have been missing.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Craig said...

thebhc, it would be a lot of work to post those links! Slowly, I'm adding links as I get to know the better sites. Poechewe, the other contributor to Donkey Path, is working from the complete list and doing posts highlighting different blogs over at Cold Flute http:coldflute.blogspot.com/
(and a quick reminder that the comments section on Cold Flute has been fixed and is now open)

Notice that the operative word in my survey was 'generous'; I think in the end the list of moderate and liberal blogs worth linking to is smaller; in the time I did the survey several very good blogs were either discontinued or the writers went to work on a bigger blog.

Over on the right, under Rotating Blog File, are three blogs I found through Technorati:
http://wpblog.ohpinion.com/
http://panopticonman.blogspot.com/
http://americanpundit.blog-city.com/

Here's a few at random that I've looked at recently but haven't linked to yet:
http://kmilyun.com/
http://goverup.com/goverup.com/nfblog
http://liberalgirlnextdoor.blogspot.com/
http://macdonalds-animal-farm.blogspot.com/
http://accidentalblogger.typepad.com/accidental_blogger/
http://tenaciousblogging.blogspot.com/

And of course, while I'm at it:
http://anythingtheysay.blogspot.com/

Like I said, this takes time. My particular apologies to anyone who's been posting here that I should've linked to. I'll add more later in the comments of this post.

12:55 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

A commendable and interesting effort, not to mention a big one. Kind of amazing.

I do appreciate your including a link to Oh!pinion.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous stacy said...

Keep in mind that technorati apparently doesn't include all the blogs from myspace, and according to a techie friend of mine, it's a huge part of the blog market. I am not sure what the deal is with not ranking myspace blogs.

Good rundown though on the political blogs on technorati. I am going to go over and check out the political blog list to see how many I recognize.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Terrell said...

Thanks for dropping by and commenting on my site. Most of my few readers are conservatives, so it's good to have a congenial commenter.

What a project you have undertaker! I look forward to checking out some of your links.

2:43 PM  
Anonymous kmilyun said...

It takes hours to wade through the relevant from the irrelevant blogs. Your efforts are appreciated. I friend and I were laughing at some of the information we came up when researching a particular subject under the heading of politics. The result was an blog article about someone inserting a pencil . ..

Thankyou for the comment on my blog.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Please may you take 2 minutes to fill in this short survey regarding Internet privacy, in particular the privacy of Facebook for my dissertation.

Your help is much appreciated.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Y_2fecB6wnM8MFdaA5yOt8YA_3d_3d

3:48 AM  
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8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

This is a question for the webmaster/admin here at donkeypath.blogspot.com.

Can I use some of the information from this post above if I provide a backlink back to your site?

Thanks,
Mark

6:42 AM  

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