A comparison of the blogging practices of UK and US bloggers Dr Sarah Pedersen
US and UK bloggers: are there differences? • Vast majority of research into blogging has so far focused on the North American experience • British bloggers are relatively late arrivals to the blogosphere
Methodology • Survey administered to 60 UK and 60 US bloggers • Selected randomly from two blogging directories which allowed selection by state or county • Equal numbers of male and female bloggers blogging in English and over the age of 18 • Data also collected directly from their blogs • Established a blog about the research
Demographic differences • Previous US studies have characterised bloggers as educated to graduate level • UK respondents, on average, were younger and less educated than US respondents • Is the second wave of blogging, outside the US, attracting a different type of person to the blogosphere? • Or did earlier studies focus on graduates?
Where and where do bloggers blog? • 14% at a workplace outside the home • 43% at home • 30% at home, which is also their place of employment • ’I sometimes wonder how a person who doesn’t work from home would find significant time to blog.’ • US bloggers more likely to blog in the morning • UK bloggers more likely to blog in the evening
Content of blogs • 51 blogs characterised as Personal • 15 men and 36 women • Only 4 US men wrote Personal blogs • Religion – 5 male blogs • Politics and opinion – 12 male and 3 female • Work, business and IT – 16 male and 5 female • Food – 3 female
The blog as online diary? • 28 respondents agreed that their blog had replaced a diary (19 women) • 17 agreed that the blog had replaced a project journal • 15 agreed that the blog had replaced a travel diary • US males least likely to see blogs as a form of diary keeping • 50% of UK women stated that they blogged for their own records • Compared to only 4 US males (13%)
Promotion of blogs • Most popular method – submit blog to blog directory (97) • Blogrings – 26 UK bloggers and 15 US bloggers (only 4 US males) • Most popular blogrings – linked bloggers of the same sex or same geographical location, ie Scottish bloggers • UK bloggers need to mark themselves out against numerically stronger US bloggers?
Concerns about privacy • 56 respondents had concerns about privacy • Particularly regarding family and work • Potential future employers might search for them on the Internet • Are bloggers identifiable through the information they give? • 70% of the blogs did not show an identifiable photo • But, 54% of US male blogs did show such a photo • Anecdotal evidence suggests that bloggers can be identified
Blog as income generator • Teams led by Nardi and Schiano suggested five main motivations for blogging • Documenting the author’s life • Commentary and opinion • Expressing deeply felt emotions • Working out ideas • Forming communities • Pedersen also suggests a need for validation • This survey suggested a desire for financial reward
Financial reward • Particularly strong motivation for women respondents • Looking for alternative to full-time employment out of house • ’I hope to eventually make enough money from my blog to support my family’ • Marketing tool • Blogging as a profession • Carrying advertising or requesting subscriptions • Publication of the blog itself
Blogrolls • Recommended reading • 82 blogs surveyed had a blogroll • Survey asked what respondents had in common with the blogs on their blogroll • Interests (92) • A sense of humour (59) • Part of the world (19)
US blogrolls • 47 US blogs carried a blogroll • 31 had less than 20% of all links to blogs outside the US • 15 of these had no links outside the US at all • Male blogger with most foreign links was a German ex-pat • Female blogger with most foreign links wrote a blog about Jane Austen
UK blogrolls • 43 UK blogs had blogrolls • 14 had less than 20% of all links to blogs outside the UK • 7 had no links outside the UK at all • 14 bloggers had more than 50% of their links to foreign blogs • Not surprising: there ARE more blogs outside the UK • However, the limited amount of linking that the average US blogger does to sites outside the US should be noted
The popular blogs • 120 respondents’ blogs were ranked in terms of popularity • The survey’s US male respondents were more popular in the blogosphere than other respondents • Agrees with other research investigating popularity in the US blogosphere
Conclusions • The project set out to compare and contrast the blogging techniques of UK and US bloggers. • However, what it has discovered is noticeable differences between US males and the rest of the blogosphere. • The dominance of male bloggers in the US, identified by many commentators in the last few years, also translates into a dominance of the international, anglophone blogosphere. • UK bloggers were more ready to make links to overseas blogs in their blogrolls, while US bloggers as a group were less ready. • Blogging is now being seen as a viable income generator for those who need a flexible approach to employment.