Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wow, talk about a bad mis-read of statistics

My jaw kinda dropped when I saw Idil Cakim from the Guidewire Group quote a stat that only 8% of stand-alone blogs are authored by women, pointing to some research from ComScore.

Just of the top of my head I remembered that between the most recent Pew study and an earlier Perseus study the number usually is pegged somewhere between 42% and 52%.

I checked out the study to see if I had missed some big news, or if maybe ComScore had missed looking at all of MySpace. LiveJournal and Typepad or something!

But no, just a really sloppy read of a statistic in the report.

Comscore divided 400 of the "biggest blogs" into seven (non-exclusive) categories. They then tracked which categories received the most traffic. So, in the quarter tracked the domains that were categorized as falling into the "Women" category received 8% of the traffic.

So, not only is the 8% referring to the patterns of readers, not the demographics of bloggers, but since there's little additional information on the study's methodology it's not quite clear how a blog would have the "Women" category attached to it. By virtue of being written by a woman? Or by significant focus on "women's issues?" Not sure.

Look, Cakim has a worthy goal to the piece: encourage women to see blogs as an instrument of social change.

Great, but by vastly underestimating the number of women bloggers out there Cakim makes a statement like "Is the number of women publishing blogs enough to push for change at a large scale? Unfortunately, not yet."

I don't think so. I think the timing is perfect.

Good catch on these statistics.

Of course, doesn't it feel like reports like this are measuring big fish in a little pond, anyway?

To me blogging is a tool to achieve broader goals. It's a great way to discover and follow trends, a cheap and easy publishing platform for disseminating messages, great for developing community, and a terrific marketing tool. But an end unto itself? Hmmm, I think not.

Good point Anita. Not only that, but considering how it has been proven that people don't always know when they're consuming RSS or blogs or whatever,most survey data seems to be outdated before it's dsitributed.
That's.... wow. Did you hear me screech with outrage?

Actually that's amazingly similar to how literary reputations happen. Successfulness and quality are judged by a standard, then the top is skimmed off, then around 10% of it is labelled as being "women". But if you look back at, say, what was being published in 1910, then a huge amount of what was going into print was written by women. But what *counts* in the minds of later judgers and distillers was only from the most male-dominated venues - "women's magazines" could be left right out of the mix because they weren't important anyway. But from my viewpoint, they *existed*. I suspect from yours, they *sold*. Someone was buying and consuming those novels and magazines...

Suddenly I wonder if I knew the gender of all the people who read my own blogs, what the mix would look like?
Hi Elisa,

Like you, I also think the timing is perfect. In fact, I was pointing out to an opportunity that women had with free and easy-to-use publishing tools. Also, would you please email me the details you found about the comScore metrics? (You can reach me at Perhaps there is some confusion. I was not looking at the gender divide between blog readers. I wanted to note the topics discussed in blogs.
OK, I went back and re-read the report and what I wrote. I see where the confusion might be coming from. In that piece, I am saying that there must be more content generated by women, about women. Here is an excerpt: "In fact, the actual percentage of blogs written by women is bound to be higher as there are many women writers and commentators in other categories (e.g., politics, healthcare, etc.), as well as those women who publish through blog hosting services." I guess my language was confusing since I made a direct transition from women's category as a topic to women authoring blogs. My apologies. (And thank you for reading what I wrote :-)
I like your blog actually I get what I was looking for I am glad to be the part of it.
Carrol spncr
wow gold
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