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The 'ideal type' blog?

As promised, here is some more analysis of the survey. In this post, I'm going to compare responses to a series of statements that were asked to both bloggers and non-bloggers about their opinions on blogs in general. The idea behind this set of statements was to see whether there was some sort of consensus amongst bloggers and readers about what a blog should be like - i.e. is there an ideal-type blog that the members of the blogosphere believes should be a model to follow? There were some questions on more objective matters (e.g. photos or not, comments or not), and some more subjective matters (e.g. whether a blogger should be honest or not).

For me, often the most interesting questions are usually those that ask people to rate their level of agreement with certain statements (it's called using a Likert scale normally); social science is never an accurate science, and reflecting people's range of thoughts and practices accurately based on a structured questionnaire (i.e. with choices of answers) is very difficult, but this way does give one way of reflecting the many shades of gray that make up human behaviour.

You can see the details of the responses by clicking on the thumbnails below
myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudesmyblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudesmyblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudesmyblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes

but what I'll do here is compare them using area charts to get a feel for the trends. The charts compare the responses by Bloggers (in pink; n = 356) and Non-Bloggers (in green; n = 197). If you see more on the right side, it means more agreed with the statement, and disagreements show up on the left; a peak in the middle means more were 'Neutral'. Where there is more of a difference in their attitudes, you can see the colour stand out. You should also be aware that these graphs are not always directly comparable - because the scale on the y-axis changes sometimes.

Functional features
These compare the more 'functional features' that bloggers and non-bloggers prefer.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
The clearest preference is for comments - overall just over 80% of bloggers and non-bloggers think that blogs should have a comments function; compared to the chat-box, you can see that there is a lot less interest as to whether or not there is a chat-box on a blog.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
There's a general preference for photos, but many are Neutral, and about one-fifth think they are not a necessity. The Non-Bloggers tend to think this is more important.

The total amount who think a blogger should use original material only is similar for Bloggers and Non-Bloggers, but the preferences are inverted with Bloggers thinking this is more important and there are are stronger feelings in opposite directions. This question may not have been very well designed (by yours truly) as - upon reflection - I realised that some may interpret it as meaning you shouldn't copy and paste and stuff like that, whereas others may have considered that it's common to use some photos and other material from other blogs and/or websites.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
Most disagree that a blog should be written by a single person. I must say I was surprised at this result, as most blogs are written by a single person - but I guess people here are saying 'why not, you can have more than one blogger on a blog if you want, it's up to the bloggers'; also, there are no technical barriers to it.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
(These were not from Likert scale questions)
The preference is for regular updates more than once a week - but there is a distinct difference between the Non-Bloggers and the Bloggers, with a lot more of the latter saying it's not important and the former saying once a day was preferable. For the length of the post there was general agreement between the two groups; about a third said it's not important but half prefer less than five minute. For the 'Other' responses, a few pointed out that it depends on the type of blog - a news blog should be more frequent - that it's up to the blogger, or that the quality of the content is the most important.

Attitudinal aspects
This compares the more subjective attitudes that bloggers and readers may have.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
Most respondents want to relate to the blogger as a person - this is part of the appeal of a blog I think, and this result tends to support that. The next question about being honest relates to that - if you want to learn about the blogger as a person, they need to be honest and open too; the result here is the highest of the 'attitudinal' questions, and second only to the high preference for comments in the 'functional' questions.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
Carrying on from the honesty aspect, both Bloggers and Non-Bloggers would feel cheated if they had been led to believe in untruths; but if the blog is openly fictional, there is a significant difference in attitudes. The Bloggers would be more likely than Non-Bloggers to read a fictional blog; however, the spread across the range is quite equal, with a significant amount being 'Neutral' too.

myblogs2009 malaysian blog survey blogger attitudes
The greater proportion think that they can know something about a blogger just through his/her blog, as opposed to 'In Real Life' [a term I have lots of issues with, but that's how many people describe it]. However, a significant amount don't see the blog as sufficient. Finally, anonymous bloggers don't seem to excite people's feelings either way very much - the greatest proportion is neutral, with more not trusting them as opposed to trusting them, but they don't seem to be overly suspicious of them.

Main differences between bloggers and non-bloggers
• So, is there an 'ideal-type' blog that the respondents prefer? I would say yes: it is a blog with comments, some photos at least, and mostly using original material - or at least original use of existing material. The blog also has a personal feel to it, with open and honest expressions of likes and dislikes, and its subject matter is mostly real (i.e. non-fictional) occurrences. These factors are the core of the 'authentic' blogger.
• The combination of the high desire for an honest and open blogger, and the tendency to be indifferent about anonymous bloggers, suggests to me that blog readers are quite confident that they can judge for themselves whether or not a blogger is being honest, and the blog is worth reading. The reaction to being cheated would tie in with this - if a reader had invested some faith in a blog only to find out that s/he had been fooled, it would raise doubts about his/her 'cultural literacy' (i.e. the ability to 'read' situations properly).
• Overall the Non-Bloggers tend to express stronger opinions and tend to have higher expectations in terms of honesty, non-fictional material and identification of the blogger. They also want more frequent posts and more photos. This may reflect the experience of the Bloggers who will know - for example - that there are always some situations where they will not reveal the 'whole truth'; and who know how much work it can take to produce good posts regularly.
• I can't say I'm overly surprised at the results, and they tend to confirm what I expected (which may or may not be a good thing :-|). I was surprised by the lack of emphasis on the single blogger. The higher expectations of the readers was unexpected too, though it's not so surprising when you think of it - we all love to criticise athletes even if we're incapable of running fifty metres :-)

OK that's it! What do you think? Or is there anything in particular you'd like me to look at?


Notes
• For some more details on the survey please go here
• By the way, while I was doing this I found a blog that has a very useful add-in for Excel which enables you to save Excel charts as images. I found it in five minutes via a rapid google - man, I so love the internet sometimes! :-)

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kenwooi on :

wow..
a very elaborate research!
the charts are clear and direct!
good one..
so, check out my blog and i wanna know what you think of my blog.. whether it is near or far away from the 'ideal type' blog..

thanks and cheers! =D

julian on :

:-) pretty near I would say - and if you continue the gender-bending you will have completed the profile! ;p

David on :

The "art" so to speak is to offer original content, spice it up with personal opinion and a few photos? Makes a lot of sense to me. A tendency I find pertty disturbing nowadys, though, is that more and more ppl tend to tweet instead of blog. Maybe it's just me, but tweets will never replace blog entries. Any thoughts?

julian on :

I think that tweets can replace a certain type of blog content - the random mini-rant, the sharing of a link. This means that blogs' content will be a bit more developed and thought out I suppose.
(sorry I didn't answer before, slipped me by)

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