Update: Please note the comment from Sarah Lovato. I do not, in fact, question that the sampling done yields “5% error margin and 95% confidence level” as defined by standard sampling statistical measures. I do question–and have questioned elsewhere–the congruence of such “error margins” and “confidence levels” when used for heterogeneous populations for which bell-curve distribution may not be meaningful.
“The bunless librarian” posted “How do you blog?” yesterday.
She “decided to determine which blogging platforms are the most popular among librarian bloggers”–and did so by taking a random selection of 275 of the 780 blogs listed in the LISZen wiki. She says that yields “results with a 5% error margin and a 95% confidence level.”
Her results? Blogger “is by far the platform of choice for the general population, followed distantly by WordPress and even more distantly by Typepad.” Specifically, she found 150 blogs using Blogger, 70 using WordPress, 16 using Typepad and 12 using Movable Type, 6 using LiveJournal and a few other numbers.
95% confident, 100% wrong…
The problem here is that this research has already been done (as of last summer)–but using 100% of a population of active liblogs with at least nominal visibility. And that 100% sample shows very different figures.
Here’s what I report in Chapter 1 of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008, based on the 511 of 607 blogs for which the blogging platform was clearly identifiable:
- WordPress (platform and software): 230 blogs or 45%
- Blogger: 222 blogs or 43%
- TypePad: 35 or 7%
- MovableType: 18 or 3.5%
- LiveJournal: 6 or 1%
[Note: The percentages in the book are all lower because they're stated as percentages of the full 607 blogs, including the 96 for which I wasn't sure of the blogging software or it wasn't one of the "majors."]
Basically, it’s a tie between WordPress (not just WordPress.com, as many–probably most–WordPress users have their own domains) and Blogger. I’ve seen further migration toward WordPress software, as experienced bloggers tune up their blogs; I’ve never seen anyone migrate from WordPress to Blogger.
On the other hand, it’s doubtless true that Blogger is the platform of choice for “nonce blogs”–ones started to fulfill class requirements, 23-things programs, or other cases where continued blogging is unlikely.
Shifts from 2006
Of the 184 blogs in my 2006 study that are still around, 50% used Blogger, 24% used WordPress, 9% used MovableType, 6% used TypePad back in 2006. Among that group, 42% still use Blogger (and 32% use WordPress).
But the 2006 study deliberately chose “midrange” blogs. Of the 327 blogs in the 2008 study (with clearly evident blog platforms) that weren’t in the 2006 study, 170–52%–use WordPress and 143–44%–use Blogger.
Here’s the thing…
Sarah Lovato, the Bunless Librarian, didn’t know I’d done a much broader study already. That’s not surprising: To date, fewer than 50 copies of The Liblog Landscape have been purchased. (If you’re tracking, that means it’s now about 8% probable that I’ll continue with this ongoing study.) I have no particular reason to believe I’m on Lovato’s radar at all, or that I should be.
I didn’t feel that it was reasonable to just release the results of a couple hundred hours of work as a gimme, given the lack of sponsorship, a full-time job, independent wealth and unlimited time or energy. I still don’t. It’s not particularly a secret that this book is available (several other bloggers have commented on it, a pleasant change from the near-universal tree-falling-in-a-forest reception for the two library blogging books), but it’s not widely known or read.
Yes, I know, a 95% confidence level only means that, for 20 samples of the same size, 19 of them will have results within 5% of these results. And if the sample is taken with no regard for all of the long-abandoned blogs in LISZen (and every other blog directory), blogs that tend to stay around forever if they’re on Blogger, then I wouldn’t be surprised if the results were similar to those in the post.
So maybe I should revise what I’m claiming here. I’m claiming that library people who blog on an ongoing basis are at least as likely to use WordPress as Blogger. And I guess that’s a different claim.
[Sigh. I'm torn between the desire to promulgate the results of what I regard as very good research, and the desire to scratch together a decent living and see some rewards--monetary or otherwise--for that work or the other work I could be doing in the same time. Once the price for the book went up to a price that's still as low as, or lower than, most trade paperbacks in the library field, total sales went from an average of two every three days to a total of one in five days.]