Pew’s latest report Bloggers: A portrait of the internet’s new storytellers is based on phone surveys. Is it me, or is the phone a less than ideal way to ask bloggers what they are thinking? “Telephone surveys capture the most accurate snapshot possible of a small and moving target,” says Pew, but I wonder if a web-based survey tool with IP tracking wouldn’t do as well, or better.
Maybe that is why the number of respondents here is so small — only two hundred and thirty-three bloggers. So keep in mind Pew generated all these numbers (“87% of bloggers allow comments on their blog”) based on talking to less than three hundred bloggers on the phone, and the margin of error for their numbers is plus or minus seven percent.
That puts the number of bloggers who cited “To make money” as a major reason for blogging within the margin of error. Seth Godin was onto something when he said that blogging is the new poetry. (“Just as we don’t spend a lot of time worrying about how all those poets out there are going to monetize their poetry, the same is true for most bloggers.”)
So, blogging really is about conversation (“77% of bloggers have shared their own artwork, photos, stories, or videos online, compared with 26% of all internet users”) and people don’t intend to shut up any time soon (“eight out of ten (82%) of bloggers think they will still be blogging a year from now”). In other words, Pew’s report doesn’t really reveal anything new for people who have been following blogs.
The report has minor weaknesses, aside from the phone thing: not listing WordPress as an option for blogging tools (which is probably why more people listed “Something else” than any specific tool), and not questioning how “only 18% of bloggers offer an RSS feed of their blog’s content” even though nearly all blogging tools automatically generate RSS feeds by default. Granted, you need to be a geek to even notice or care, but, well… I am, so I do.
I want surveys to ask more interesting questions, such as:
- Do you publish material under a Creative Commons license? Why or why not?
- Would it help, hurt, or have no effect on your career if your boss or coworkers read your blog?
- Do you consider yourself to have a clear, a fuzzy, or no line between your professional life and your work life? Is your blog a factor in your answer?
- Have you posted a photograph of yourself on your blog? If you are involved in online worlds, does your avatar look like you?
- If you were forced to change one, would you get a new URL or a new cell phone number?
If you are a blogger, feel free leave your answers in the comments. I really am curious.