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Advertorials and the blogger

OK, must blog every day right? A quick one before supper, dog walk, and bed. Hmm... will pour myself a little nip of whiskey first though :-) Reward at the end of the day :-)

I finally selected the ten blogs I want to focus on. It was difficult as there are so many interesting blogs out there, and all with useful aspects: in the end, my decision is based pretty much on popularity (i.e. the blogs with the highest visitors) and relevance to Nuffnang. It feels bad to let go of some others though.

I mean, one question is - is it a good idea just to look at the most popular ones? Aren't the less popular just as important, or maybe even more so, in revealing everyday practices of bloggers? Just like if I want to know more about Malaysians, I wouldn't just look at the lives of the rich and famous right? Argh, now I'm wondering all over again... My real problem is time - i.e. I can't track everyone, and I need to focus on those who do advertising, advertorials, etc.

I will also track (but less diligently) other blogs, and of course the comments in those I do track (the 'A-listers') will give insight into how bloggers/readers react.

On that note, here's something I was wondering about today:

When there is an advertorial, normally the blogger indicates that it is one - for example by putting a tag, or prefixing the post title. However, advertorials are usually written in the blogger's usual style, and typically they start like an ordinary post, but by the time you get to the end, it's quite clear it's an advertorial. On one post I read today, the blogger had forgotten to put the tag in and two commenters asked 'hey is this an advertorial or not?' - the blogger responded in the comments and put in the tag which s/he had forgotten. So, there was an example of readers wanting to know if the post was an advertorial or not.

This got me thinking a bit: do different readers of blogs respond differently to advertorials? I have seen readers criticising the blogger, praising the advertorial, asking about the product/service being profiled, and just ignoring the fact it's an advertorial.

It's my guess that - depending on the blog - the readers will respond differently. In Blog X - readers who are used to seeing the blogger try out different ways of doing an advertorial may comment on the quality of the advertorial; in Blog Y - which has lots and lots of comments, there are always some who disparage the blogger and use the advertorial to make accusations of selling out, etc; in Blog Z - the blogger makes more of an effort to discuss the product with the commenters.

I suppose, in a way a blog is a mini-microcosm of social interaction, coloured by and dominated by the blogger. Therefore the regular commenters will reflect that persona to a certain extent. So a blog will shape its readers in some manner, while they also shape the blog/blogger... The advertorial comes in as a specific genre that will get more or less reactions, depending on how the blogger presents it, and how much that diverges from the usual style/content of the blog. Which would also explain why an advertorial in a SoPo blog would be quite out of place; but one in - for example - an automotive blog - would hardly be noticed.

Decisions, decisions: ethnographic focus

I have to blog everyday!! Two reasons:
• As an anthropologist, I need to keep a diary to record thoughts and impressions. Later on, I will refer back to these when writing up my theses.
• As a blogger, I should update regularly. More importantly, as a blogger who is focusing on 'personal' or 'lifestyle' blogs, I need to write about what I'm doing, giving that personal aspect to it all.

And, I am falling behind in my schedule for my research and getting pretty stressed :-O Need.To.Work


So, anyway, I have decided to focus only on lifestyle/personal bloggers who have Nuffnang ads. I will not ignore other blogs, but I am finding that the work of tracking blogs takes up a lot of time - about four hours a day or more. Normally I wake up around 6am and am at my computer before seven; typically, with a break for breakfast, I will be reading blogs, archiving, and writing notes until lunchtime. During this time I may or may not have the time to write a post myself. In one month, I have archived 362 posts! This is a lot and basically, I need to focus. So - no SoPo and only Nuffnang.

Why not Advertlets bloggers? Well mainly because I have been with Nuffnang since starting, and I prefer to have the 'Glitterati' status (which means I can't have Advertlets ads) to improve my chances of getting invited to Nuffnang events. Also because the biggest bloggers seem to be with Nuffnang.

Why not SoPo? The two main reasons are: 1) they are not the focus of my research; 2) They don't carry ads (usually)
Exceptions to the last point are Screenshots... and Che Det (for those who don't know, the latter is the ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia's blog, Dr Mahathir (aka TDM))

Interestingly, for those who wonder how much money can be made by blogging, here are the details of Che Det's advertising rate: the minimum is RM300 a day, and the top banner is RM1000/day. So, he can make RM30,000+ a month. That is a lot of money! For non-Malaysians, consider that the Malaysian Trade Union Congress is asking for a minimum wage of RM1,200/month.

I doubt that even the top bloggers such as Kenny Sia are able to ask for R1,000/day for banner ads - my guess is that on the one hand TDM has the most popular blog in Malaysia (average 40-50K visitors/day), and on the other hand he just puts the price higher to have to less requests to deal with.

So, overall in my thesis I will deal with SoPo bloggers, and all other kinds. But for my ethnographic, in-depth aspect, I will focus on Nuffnangers :-)

Dancing God of Prosperity!

We're off to Pontian for the Chinese New Year, so I'll be mostly offline for three-four days (strange feeling...)

Here's wishing Gong Xi Fa Cai! to all who celebrate CNY, Happy Holidays to those who don't - and to those who don't get holidays for Hindu, Muslim, Chinese, Buddhist AND Christian festivals ... Come to live in Malaysia :-D

Diggin' the Dancing God of Prosperity :-)

Wishing everyone Prosperity, Happiness, and Success in the Year of the Ox! :-D

Good riddance to the Shrub

Bush is soon to go, and while I'm no believer in Obama ushering in Nirvana, I’ll be glad to see the back of that blithering idiot...

Here are some nuggets from the brain(?) of that sample of the worst America has to offer – ignorance, cultural imperialism, bigotism, and guns...
"As governor of Texas, I have set high standards for our public schools, and I have met those standards."
CNN, 30 August, 2000

"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."
Reuters, 5 May, 2000

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."
Saginaw, Michigan, 29 September, 2000

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."
Washington DC, 12 May, 2008 (“A look at some of George W Bush's best 'Bushisms'”)

But the one that struck me the most was
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."
CBS News, Washington DC, 6 September, 2006 (ibid.)

Continue reading "Good riddance to the Shrub"

The Commentosphere

A key feature of blogs are the comments, and rare are the bloggers such as kinkybluefairy who have disabled the comments. Interestingly, the reason she gave for disabling the comments - "Because i’m always thinking about what people perceive when they read thingsz" - relates to the reason why I see comments as an integral part of a blog: for me, a blog’s authors are both the blogger and the commenters. First because people read blogs for different reasons, but reading the comments is one of them; also because the blogger is influenced by the comments, and to a greater of lesser degree the feedback from the comments will influence the content of the blog.

People also no doubt leave comments for different reasons - and most bloggers know that one way to publicise one’s blog, and to make others aware that there’s a 'new blog on the block' is to leave comments in other blogs, with a link. On the extreme of that practice, are 'free-loaders': bloggers who leave a comment such as:
'Hi great blog, check out mine'
(this is why so much comment spam now looks like this – spammers are very good at tapping into people’s interests and motivations to make people click on links)
or, in a manner more relevant to the post:
'Hi, I blogged about this too here:'

Anyway, most bloggers like to leave comments in other blogs from time to time, for various reasons, and it’s most definitely a way to expand one’s personal blogosphere.

Baumer, Sueyoshi & Tomlinson is the only paper that I know of that looks specifically at blog readers. This is a good idea. However, in their study "only three of the fifteen participants do not have their own blog." (1117); so basically, they are mostly bloggers talking about their reading practices. Hopefully, someone else will look more at the blog readers – in my upcoming survey, I will allow for them to answer questions even if they don’t have a blog.

There are three levels to blogs in terms of the blogosphere: the bloggers, the commenters, and the readers.

Also to be noted that, in terms of influence, the bloggers are the opinion leaders, trendsetters, and so on. So power radiates out from those who engage the most in the formative practices of the blogosphere.

There are some differences in terms of types of blogs though. In the 'normal' blogs (i.e. personal/lifestyle which are the majority), most of the commenters tend to also have a blog; but in the SoPo blogs this is less likely. This may also be because people in Malaysia are more careful about giving political opinions in public.

I have also started to notice what I’m starting to call 'professional commenters'. The name isn’t quite right, as they are not making money or anything, but what I mean is that these commenters regularly comment in blogs, becoming a fixture of particular blogs comment space, but don’t have their own blogs. It seems that these are more common in the SoPo blogs, such as rocky’s bru, or Che Det.

Those two blogs are high traffic blogs, and Baumer, Sueyoshi & Tomlinson also note that there is a “tendency for the non-bloggers to read only popular, highly trafficked blogs” (ibid.:1117). However on, with a readership of apprx. 15-20K readers a day, and whose posts usually get 1-300 comments, there are a greater proportion of commenters who have blogs too (or, at least, who leave their blog url).

So, a conclusion is that SoPo blogs are less of a meeting space for bloggers, and more of a place for people to engage in political discussion. Duh. It also means that if one is looking for examples of ‘pure’ blogging, it’s not in the SoPo blogs that you’ll find it.

By 'pure' (an essentialist and flawed notion I know), I mean people who blog more for the sake of blogging, rather than to achieve non-blogging oriented goals such as political influence. Blogging is basically a socialising activity, a way for people to share interests and concerns, meet others and display one’s social eligibility.

Oops. I titled this post 'The Commentosphere' and now I’ve gone off track a bit. I guess my main point is that it would also be fruitful to study blogs just by looking at the comments. There are many kinds of interactions and practices there that say a lot about blogging, on the one hand, and also could perhaps be considered separately from blogs.

What do you think?

Chinese virus? Please help :'(

Hello you all out there, I was wondering if someone can help me?

I've been having a problem with my browsers for a few weeks now, and suspect there's an effing spyware or trojan in there somewhere >:[

I spotted this in the startup folder;
File Name: ??????????????e
Startup Value: ??????????????e
File Path: ??????????????e
Startup Type: Registry: Current User
Location: Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
Classification: Disabled
SpyNet Voting: Not Available

And in case the characters are not showing up in your browser, here's a screenshot

It's disabled now, but I'd really like to know what it is. I tried Googling - but although people have also had it, nobody has said what it is...

Can anyone translate the characters for me? Please??