The Future of Game Consoles
Sweeping Out

Blog Size

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


Under 5

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...


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!

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.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Where are you getting your numbers, Chris? I don't think they're the whole picture. According to my tracking via Feedburner, I have about 170 RSS subscribers on Man Bytes Blog. In fact, the majority of my site traffic is now from Google searches and people clicking through to comment.

Oh, and I also subscribe to the World Cave's RSS feed!

Corvus: now I did wonder if my figures were incomplete - this seems to confirm it!

All the figures given are those reported by Bloglines - which may (on reflection) only represent those reading using Bloglines.

A quick check on Google Reader shows I have 91 readers via Google - so all the figures listed here should be treated with a giant grain of salt!

I apologise for misrepresenting anyone's readership, and invite everyone listed to share what they have as their subscriber values in the comments.

I've added an addendum to the text to this effect. Thanks for clearing this up! I had wondered about it for quite a while.

Best wishes!

Heh. I remember when I had less than 20 subscribers. :-)

I'll leave the real number as an exercise to the reader.


Thanks for the mention Chris. I do have 19 subscribers, but I get an odd 300 to 1000 readers a month from links and google searches, according to Google Analytics. I find coining arcane terms like "phantasm" or writing thoroughly on already defined but obscure terms like "double consciousness" can add up. I'm also on the top 10 for "columbine game" which links back to my blog via Gama, shit like that. Its kind of an outlier aggregate strategy.

Yehuda, given that I know Chris's numbers don't account for me and that I do, in fact, subscribe to your blog... I'd guess... um... 21? *kniw*

Funny: Both Nongames and MBB have 6 Bloglines subscribers, but while Corvus has 170 subscribers listed in his feedburner, I get only 33! I wonder if our six blogliners are the same!

I think it's around 300 or so.


As Chris and Patrick have both touched on, breadth of content means a lot. There are people who track my RSS feed just for the EA bashing, others for the rare mythology post. I don't know that the subscriber number is quite the measure of a blog's audience.

Then again, if it isn't a really good indicator I'm not sure what would be.

Heh... Bloglines represents less than 10% of my RSS traffic. I have close to 2500 subscribers, according to FeedBurner, and the large majority come via Google Feed Reader.

Technorati Authority (inbound links) is another way to measure, as is Technorati Rank, which is some more complex formula.

In terms of unique visitors, I get like 100000 a month, but of course that stat like all web stats is always suspect.

Fascinated to see the wider picture that this post obfuscates. :)

All this makes me wonder: should I be using Feedburner? It's tricky, because I don't want the blog to grow too big, but on the other hand it sounds as if I have much more room to expand than I originally thought... (In terms of not reaching the point when conversation in the comments becomes impossible).

I guess I shall ponder this while I'm "away"...

Yes, you should use FeedBurner. :) What FeedBurner does is sit as a wedge in between all the readers and you. That lets it collect stats on all the sources of readers, instead of just Bloglines. It will also do some services for you -- you can stick extra stuff in the feed, add links for "email this," stuff like that. It also can troubleshoot your feed if there's problems with updates. Basically, it's a very useful tool.

Feedburner won't so much spread the word about you, as it will help you keep better track of those of us who rarely stop by the site itself.

Incidentally, thanks for putting your full posts in your feed!

Thanks for the mention Chris! It's funny, but I was going to get myself a Feedburner account to keep better track of these things... Bloglines currently says PLSJ has 421 subscribers, which is considerably different than the 132 you quote. In any case, I've always been curious to know who's reading! Anyway, enjoy your time off.

My feedburner stats show 44 subscribers as of Wednesday (although I assume that's my Thursday, living in Aus where they front-load the days :))

I'm not too fussed about stats - I used to check them a lot, but I realise I'm not really getting a growing audience (it goes up about 1 person every couple of months).

When you said I had 11 though, I was a bit worried, as that would suggest that my family and friends no longer care about what I have to say...

Thanks for reading my increasingly infrequent blog though :)

Until a few weeks ago, I didn't even know anyone subscribed to my blog. Until a few months ago, I didn't know anyone even read my blog. It's kind of like finding out that now that I live in a small town, people really do talk about me behind my back.
But like that, in a nice way :D

Also, on the issue of RSS numbers reflecting true readership, if I am not among the top commenters on this site, I'll eat my hat. And yet I don't anything. I just visit sites.

I read Games * Design * Art * Culture, Lost Garden and Tea Leaves as well. Can't remember which blog I found first, but I'm sure one of the four (including yours) lead to the others. I also read Grumpy Gamer. I bought Yehuda's game, but haven't played it yet. I don't think I've read his blog before. :^D

What kind of tabletop blog are you looking for? Reviews? Sessions? Design discussions? Other?

I have more subscribers thatn visitors to my site.

We link to Terra Nova and Grumpy Gamer and others not mentioned here, but this list has been helpful in identifying other possibilities. I'm definitely going to add Feedburner when I get the chance -- it is annoying not knowing our RSS subscribers.

Our blog is about writing games and is aimed mostly at non-writing developers, though of course game design and writing creeps in. If you have any suggestions of links that would complement our blog, no matter the subscriber numbers, let me know!

Thanks for all the great links!

Thanks for all the additional information, everyone... I can't believe bloglines can't even be consistent with itself about subscription numbers. :)

Greg W.: I suppose I'm looking for something that will be a mix of reviews or commentary on new boardgames, perhaps with a little design theory and thought thrown in on the side. If you have any suggestions, I'd welcome them!

Thanks again, everyone! Posting begins again shortly...

Hi There!
I'm thrilled to be mentioned on your site.
There's a typo in your post :) My last name is spelled Bauer.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)