Once again, I am taking a few weeks off from blogging in November. In the meantime, let me leave you with some alternative blogs you might chance to explore, and look at the differences between the blogs I read based upon the number of RSS subscribers they have. Have fun!
Greater than 1,000
Blogs change considerably as they grow in size. The blog I read with the highest number of readers is Seth Godin’s, which has some 9,000 subscribers, and presumably therefore perhaps 20,000 readers. (I only know the figure for RSS feeds, and am guessing roughly the same number visit the website as well). I rarely read the content, which is about marketing, but it’s good stuff, if a tad repetitive. At this size there are too many people for comments to be viable. Even disabling comments doesn’t stop the traffic though; Neil Gaiman’s Journal is frequently interrupted with posts containing nothing but answers to questions – not surprising given that he is a popular niche author with a firm fanbase.
- Seth’s Blog (9,023) http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/
- Neil Gaiman’s Journal (3,248) http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/
300 to 1000
The threshold of reasonable exchange in comments appears to be around a thousand readers or so. All the blogs I read that are in this range are accompanied by vast volume of comments, too much that it is impossible for one person to respond. Greg Costikyan’s Games * Design * Art * Culture pulls in so much traffic that Greg himself can only read it, and rarely replies, while Terra Nova (the essential forum for online worlds) only manages conversation by having a troupe of authors. Dan’s astonishing Lost Garden seems to get by posting only rarely, but often posts rich, detailed discussions about the videogames industry or game design, which are justly celebrated.
- Wonderland (885) http://www.wonderlandblog.com/wonderland/
- Terra Nova (576) http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/
- Games * Design * Art * Culture (528) http://www.costik.com/weblog/
- Game Girl Advance (410) http://www.gamegirladvance.com/
- Lost Garden (378) http://lostgarden.com/
101 to 300
Between one and three hundred subscribers is an odd middle ground. There seems little pattern here; there is lively discussion at Raph Koster’s blog (covering online worlds from his personal perspective), with about 200 subscribers, but my friend Matt Mower’s technical and political blog, Curiouser and Curiouser! has only 25 fewer subscribers and generates almost no comment traffic at all!
- Collision Detection (206) http://www.collisiondetection.net/
- Raph’s Website (202) http://www.raphkoster.com/
- Curiouser & Curiouser! (175) http://matt.blogs.it/
- Grumpy Gamer (143) http://grumpygamer.com/
- Purse Lip Square Jaw (132) http://www.purselipsquarejaw.org/index.php
51 to 100
And now to my own weight class. The scale is set for me by Slashdot: games with its 81 subscribers. I’m right behind it on 59, occasionally gaining subscribers and – every now and then – scaring some away. If I pass Slashdot: games, I go into the century-class blogs, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to maintain the conversations I like at this “weight”, although I have a lot of lurkers, so perhaps like Matt’s blog I will get by.
There are two other blogs I read in my own weight scale. The first is Tea Leaves, which I rate as about the best blog by gamers that I read (that also happens to cover food and photography), and remains a recurring delight. The other, The Mahablog is a fiercely political blog from an entrenched left-wing perspective (anyone suggest a good entrenched right-wing blog for counter-point?) I skim it, mostly, but her Wisdom of Doubt series is must reading for people interesting in religious politics. Both are home to brisk dialogues, much like the ones here at Only a Game, although far livelier and less preposterous.
- Slashdot: games (81) http://games.slashdot.org/
- Only a Game (59) http://onlyagame.typepad.com/
- The Mahablog (57) http://www.mahablog.com/
- Tea Leaves (53) http://tleaves.com/
21 to 50
In the weight class I left behind not long ago, we find my old target – Daily Dilbert. It was a milestone for me when I passed this in subscriber numbers! Also noteworthy is Mildly Diverting, which is the blog of someone who came to one of my lectures in London, and posts only intermittently, and Design Synthesis, which is the largest of the “Blogs of the Round Table” (which I’ll explain in the next size group); its content is mostly about games, but often rambles further afield.
- Daily Dilbert (48) http://www.dilbert.com/
- Mildly Diverting (37) http://mildlydiverting.blogspot.com/
- Design Synthesis (28) http://designsynthesis.blogspot.com/
6 to 20
Below twenty subscribers, and we are getting to the point
where the numbers don’t mean so much – many blogs at this scale have more people
coming to visit the website than subscribing, so a blog with low numbers isn’t
necessarily unread, it just doesn't have many RSS subscribers.
The two largest blogs in this block have 20 subscribers each. The first, and a consistent gem, is the photography posted at Always Curious, which is often close-ups of plants , or urban black and white still life. The other is Good Neighbours, which is attempting to foster dialogue between Israeli’s and Palestinians. One of its authors, Yehuda, writes another blog in this size, which is the only tabletop games blog I read. I’d like to find more like this one, but I haven’t found the time.
Also in this size are the “Blogs of the Round Table”, such as King Lud IC, Mile Zero, and The Dust Forms Words. These are so named because they participate regularly in the Round Table discussions about videogames which are hosted by Corvus Elrod’s delightful oddity Man Bytes Blog. Any of these blogs will be of interest to gamers, although the content is often wider.
There are also a few random blogs, such as Steve Ince’s Writing & Design, the rarely updated Casual Game Design, and The Rodeo (a personal blog from a Christian perspective). Last, but by no means least, is Chico’s Nongames, which is a touch intermittent but focused on a subject of great interest to me. It used to be the only blog I read from South America (and also my news source for the last world cup!) but now that Patrick Dugan has switched continent, King Lud IC is coming from Buenos Aires!
- Always Curious (20) http://www.alwayscurious.com/photos/
- Good Neighbours (20) http://gnblog.com/
- King Lud IC (19) http://kingludic.blogspot.com/
- Writing & Design [Steve Ince] (18) http://www.steve-ince.co.uk/blog/blog.html
- Mile Zero (14) http://www.milezero.org/index.cgi
- The Dust Forms Words (11) http://amongthedust.blogspot.com/
- The Rodeo (11) http://www.the-rodeo.com/blog
- Casual Game Design (12) http://www.casualgamedesign.com/
- Yehuda (14) http://jergames.blogspot.com/
- Man Bytes Blog (6) http://blog.pjsattic.com/corvus
- Nongames (6) http://nongames.blogspot.com/
Next, those blogs on the fringes of the blogosphere. Some are read by people on a website and just have low subscriber counts because no-one uses the RSS feed; some are genuinely obscure. The (marginal) king is zenBen Land, which could easily have more content if its proprietor wasn’t so monstrously busy writing comments here! Also of note, fellow Game Writers’ Special Interest Group demigod Rich Dansky’s personal blog, and SIG stalwart James Swallow’s Red Flag. Jim is a game and TV screenwriter and also writes an astonishing number of novelisations on all the top science fiction brands, including the various Star Treks, Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who. As for Ghosts in the Game – like it’s name, it is largely but a phantom...
- zenBen Land (4) http://zenben.net/blog/
- Red Flag (3) http://jmswallow.livejournal.com/
- Rich Dansky (3) http://rdansky.livejournal.com/
- Ghosts in the Game (2) http://ghostsinthegame.blogspot.com/
Just me (on RSS at least)
Finally, there are a great many excellent blogs with just a single subscriber – namely me! These are oddities that have become caught in my net, some of which rely on web traffic for their visitors, while others are barely in existence (such as The World Cave), or are waiting to be discovered. There’s also some personal blogs belonging to SIG folks here, such as Christy Marx (who has an extraordinary collection of cats) and Lucien Soulban's Garbage Dump (from which I learned about the latest “gay Mario” scandal).
My personal pick of the bunch is Shoshanna Baeur’s blog, which showcases her artwork, some of which draw from Jewish themes. I used one of her images on a post; I find her watercolours especially beautiful. Two other favourites are Science is a Method Not a Position – a fiercely anti-Skeptic fringe science newsfeed – and Sinistre & Destre’s noumenal realm, which is a delightfully whimsical philosophy blog with purposefully ambiguous authorship, and a place I go often to ramble incoherently in someone else’s backyard for a change.
I will close with those blogs which are new to the scene and perhaps looking for readers. On the subject of games, I recommend Ophelia’s “Out There” (game journalism), and James Lillis’ The Kryptonite Cafe (game design) – both recently launched, and definitely worth a look if you’re into games. Ophelia is still finding her feet, while James has landed with both feet running.
I remember when Only a Game first launched, and I had no idea what I was doing, what I should talk about, or how often. Now, years later, I still have no idea what I’m doing, but at least I have some idea of when I’m doing it. I wish the newcomers all the best!
- Shoshanna Bauer (1) http://shoshannabauer.com/blog
- Sinistre & Destre’s noumenal realm (1) http://sinistredestre.wordpress.com/
- Ophelia “Out There” (1) http://www.gamersinfo.net/staff_blogs/ophelea
- The Kryptonite Cafe (1) http://kryptonitecafe.typepad.com/kryptonitecafe/
- The World Cave (1) http://antronympharum.blogspot.com/
- Science is a Method Not a Position (1) http://amnap.blogspot.com/
- Christy Marx (1) http://christymarx.livejournal.com/
- Garbage Dump (1) http://lucien-soulban.livejournal.com/
Addendum: it transpires the numbers listed are for RSS subscribers using just one specific blog reader (bloglines) - therefore, all the numbers given should be taken with a giant grain of salt. If your blog is listed, feel free to quote alternative subscriber values in the comments. I apologise for any misrepresentation!
Only a Game will return in December.