Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Liberal Blog Ascendancy

I've been casually following the rocket-like trajectory of the liberal blogosphere for almost two years and now Chris Bowers has another serious treatment of the phenomenon:

By comparison, right-wing blogs have pretty much only one means of finding a new voice in the blogosphere: when someone starts a new blog. The inability to operate within a community must be the primary reason behind the large number of conservative blogs in the second, third and fourth quintiles of the Blogads traffic rankings. In fact, of these 120 blogs, 77 of them are openly conservative / libertarian. There are swarms of new conservative voices looking to breakout in the right-wing blogosphere, but they are not even allowed to comment, much less post a diary and gain a following, on the high traffic conservative blogs. Instead, without any fanfare, they are forced to start their own blogs. However, because of the top-down nature of right-wing blogs, new conservative blogs remain almost entirely dependent upon the untouchable high traffic blogs for visitors. In short, the anti-community nature of right-wing blogs has resulted in a stagnant aristocracy within the conservative blogosphere that prevents the emergence of new voices and, as a result, new reasons for people to visit conservative blogs.

Unless right-wing blogs decide to open up and allow their readers to have a greater voice, I expect that the liberal and progressive blogosphere will continue its unbroken twenty-month rise in relative traffic. Conservative bloggers continue to act as though they are simply a supplement to the existing pundit class, without any need to converse with those operating outside of a small social bubble or any need to engage people within the new structure of the public sphere. In the formulation of Stirling Newberry, they view themselves existing on top of a pyramid rather than in the middle of a sphere.

This is a much more in-depth analysis than the simple hive vs. herd analogy. Worth reading.

Update, 5:17 p.m.: After thinking this over for almost five whole hours, and reading thoughts from Polipundit and Mark in Mexico, it strikes me that it's possible that reading blogs might be the intellectual equivalent of going out to protests. (Secretly, I've always thought that reading--and writing--blogs was more worthless than that even, but never mind for now.)

It could well be that the liberal temperament is more predisposed to blog-reading than the conservative temperament is in the same way that, for instance, modern American liberalism is more predisposed to protest marches than modern American conservatism is.

The size and number of protest movements, of course, means very little. In the 1990s, there were relatively few mass protest movements, but Bill Clinton was winning elections. Since 2000, there have been many big, impressive protest demonstrations by liberals--yet they've been shellacked at the polls.

(Come to think of it, maybe there is a correlation between liberal protesting and conservative electoral success?)

In any case, while it's certainly possible that the success of the liberal blogosphere is a harbinger of an important growth in liberalism, it's also possible that it's a meaningless indicator.

None of which, by the way, invalidates Chris Bowers's very thoughtful and interesting initial post on the subject.


Anonymous said...

Singapore is right. Put simply, lefty blogs is where lefties go to confirm what they already believed or learned from the MSM, and perhaps to vent some rage about it. Righty blogs are where righties go to learn something new because the MSM for the most part doesn't tell the whole story. Liberals may be more inclined to visit blogs than conservatives, hence the higher traffic, but I wouldn't equate the traffic advantage with an increased influence.

craig said...

I'm not certain i agree with all his conclusions, but it is a very thoughtful analysis.

Two quick thoughts:

1. Is it possible that part of the problem is the over-represenation of libertarians among leading rightwing bloggers? The potential readership has more values or religious types, but they will find little to interest them at Instapundit or VC or LGF.

2. The leading right-wing bloggers are more careful about who they associate with. There are many similarities between Kos and Free Republic, but Reynolds rarely links to anything going on at FR. Kos, in contrast, is at the very heart of the left blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... the followers of a political party that has put a candiate named Bush or Dole on every presidential ticket since 1976, some of whom, and you can Nexis this, backed George W. Bush in 1999 because they love his momma, behave like "a stagnant aristocracy." Gosh, what a surprise. I'm sure all observers are shocked to find authoritarian tendencies among right-wing activists.

I think anyone with grassroots organizing experience would find much the same phenomenon happening at all levels of partisan political discourse. In the broadest general strokes, you bring speakers to Republican community meetings in order for the speaker to tell the folks at the meeting what to do. You bring speakers to Democratic community meetings in order for the folks at the meeting to tell the speaker what to do. Republican caucus meetings tend to finish on time; Democratic caucuses always run late.

If folks who lean right were capable of creating an inclusive, small-D democratic community, they wouldn't lean right in the first place. Likewise, if folks who lean left were temperamentally equipped to participate at the bottom of a well-run hierarchy, they wouldn't lean left in the first place. Deep down, what makes a person lean right is the desire for a benevolent dictator to just run the world and make things work; what makes a person lean left is the secret desire to abolish the state and just have everyone make every decision together around a great big campfire while toasting organic marshmallows so that we all get along. Those tendencies have real effects, and the state of political blogs on each side (inclusive but undisciplined versus hierarchical but well-ordered) is just one of them.

Anonymous said...

An interesting and valid hypothesis because:

1) Humans tend to organize in a hierarchy, from Sumer to Egypt to Rome to the early modern age to now.

2) There's no guarantee people will understand how a new technology changes all the complementary activities related to it. The rifled musket was around for decades and people were still being cut down in Napoleonic formations until James Longstreet saw his division destroyed on July 3 at Gettysburg. He realized a new approach to warfare was necessary, and his fortifications in 1864 presaged WWI by 50 years.

There are about 1000 other examples of this throughout history.

Similarly, the conservative blogosphere may be utilizing the old MSM hierarchy tactics.

Jason O.

Anonymous said...

I do buy the argument. I did a little blogging last year. And I did get mentions on the big guys blogs, one from Jim Geraghty at NRO, and a Hugh Hewitt special and one from JVL. But nothing could sustain that traffic. I blogged daily for awhile ona number of topics to see my traffic down to two diehards. I thanked them for their loyalty and closed shop. What the liberal blogs do, and do well is foster new voices. Are the voices in the Corner up and coming bloggers? No, they are the same old folks who write for NR or other large publications. Many of the conservative/libertarian blogs have to make their own way in the blogosphere, and since many of us are (were in my case) employed elsewhere and desirous of a life apart from work and blogging, we must chosoe between cutting bait or fishing, hoping that we get mentioned to spike traffic. Conservative blogs have tremendous influence, but it is like pitching, you can never have too much. We need more solid writers blogging and we need to promote them vigorously. It doesn't matter if the left is in an echo chamber. What matters is what we are doing to maintain our stake of new media.

Eric said...

I'll keep it short and sweet, but I think that on the whole Bowers is probably correct in his analysis. It is awfully tough to get new stuff out there on established site, and that leaves many a blogger out there like me with having to almost do nothing but stick to older material that others have done while we piggyback some of their viewers.

Anyways, if anyone wants to check me out then please feel free.

On the Wright at

MommyLydia said...

Why does one need traffic to continue operating a blog? Seems to me, it all depends on the REASON you are writing. if it gets numbers, then you need to write what draws people in. If its to write what is on your heart, then you won't care if your numbers are thousands, or just 2. (or even just yourself)

La Shawn Barber didn't get where she is today by worrying if someone else was linking to her or not.

But perhaps part of my problem is that the Corner is the only blog mentioned here that I regularly visit. (and you can write most of their commentators email. Note) I have followed links to Powerline, etc during various times. But they never got added to my regular reading.

If you want a conservative blog with individual journals and comments, check out

Paddy O said...

I wonder if it boils down to community needs.

Who are the people most likely to be aligned with the Right? They are married with Children, involved in a religious institution living in the suburbs.

Such folks don't have time on their hands. Their social network is based on factors besides their politics, and they do not have the time, ability, or interest to pursue the meanderings of the blogosphere.

To find a likeminded conservative, one participates in a Church or civic or family activity. To find a likeminded liberal one has to be a little more purposeful, and this leads to more online activity.

These are obviously generalizations but I think might be a worthwhile consideration.

It is in fact similar to the same drive that promotes the liberal tendency for Protest. Protestors are people with enough freedom to spend days holding a sign, and who revel in the developed community as much as the cause.

If the cultural forces such as marriage, religion, and family tend to push one to the Right, then it requires counter-cultural activities like Protest or the blogosphere to find like-minded people.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Andrew Sullivan that different blogs, left or right, serve different purposes and have different characteristics and that's a good thing.

Some thrive on comments and a community feel (like whereas others, like Sullivan's own, thrive on the prose of the author.

That said, I do take one issue with your post. The Right quite clearly has protests and marches just like the Left. Think about anti-abortion demonstrations, for example.

Ben said...

Just my opinion, disagree if you like:

Face it, there are a lot of smart people out there, but only a small minority combine the smarts, wit, knowledge and writing ability to be good pundits (that is, to say stuff worth hearing and do it well). If that's what you want, then comments are mainly a distraction because for every commenter with something interesting to say, you are likely to have several others who don't (exceptions being blogs with smaller, more select audiences).

If, on the other hand, the blogger himself is just an emotional ranter, then inviting more emotional ranters to the party only makes things more interesting to those who, for some reason, like that kind of thing. The left just has more irrational emoters, thus comments work better for them.

Anonymous said...

Liberal blogs remind me of the early days of CB's with truckers with their call signs and everyone blabbering along. They are protest blogs with no new ideas or thoughts. They wear out except with the angry left. Conservative blogs tend to make folks think and move along to the next topic.

Anonymous said...

It's a smart analysis and I have to say I personally have found it frustratingly difficult to interact with conservative bloggers.

I'm a huge fan of the Corner and the NRO folks, but if you have something to add you get the sense that your e-mail is in a stack of a million, none of which anyone has time to read. I've even been quoted in the corner, though I was later told (and I'm sure it's true) that six other people said the same thing. Maybe so, but it would still be nice to see that. Then I wouldn't have to waste my time writing it.

I can't stand the politics of the folks over at Ain't It Cool News, but I love being able to browse the talkbacks over on that site. Some of the funniest things I've ever read were in those posts.

If K-Lo is looking for a way to harness some of the talent without getting overwhelmed, how about shunting comments onto a seperate blog so they don't interfere with the layout of the Corner (for instance). One good submission gets you posting rights, one bad one gets you delisted. I even have the perfect name, something that will satisfy everyone. Call it THE HOLODECK!

Anonymous said...

You can't really gauge blog usage by growth. You have to look at the total numbers of visitors. I think it's arguable that the conservative blogs are more established that the liberal blogs and are less of a growth industry. It's been contended (establsihed, perhaps?) in the past that conservatives took to the Internet in larger numbers initially than liberals.

Kos is the wild card in all this because his numbers are so high. I suspect the growth he's had is directly related to the Move On grassroots movement as the two are linked in various ways (via Dean, etc.) I have to really wonder though if the left blogs are pulling in a greater number of readers that the right blogs.

Finally, in regards to comments, they are a mixed bag. The greater the numbers, the greater the danger that a comments section will succumb to trolls and flames, rather than intelligent discourse. While such content may be entertaining and attractive to a certain mindset (just visit the Yahoo! news message boards if you want to see how low this can become), it really defeats the purpose of a blog. In addition, a high volume of comments is difficult for bloggers to police, and the conservative blogs, for the most part, are not big enterprises with staff that can sit around and monitor comments. That is a part of their appeal, in my view.

ned said...

Some bozo anonymous above said the following:

If folks who lean right were capable of creating an inclusive, small-D democratic community, they wouldn't lean right in the first place. Likewise, if folks who lean left were temperamentally equipped to participate at the bottom of a well-run hierarchy, they wouldn't lean left in the first place.

REPLY: If you want inclusive communities, try my church or my homeschool network or my wife's scrapbook group or my Men's Fraternity network. If you want a top-down hierarchy try a Union, or any of the DNC's various constituencies. Your attempt at profundity was plain ol' self-aggrandizement. The reality is that sometimes I want to hear from experts (generally, always) rather than just sound off with a bunch of like-minded folks and one or two "lifelong Republicans" who happen along to cause a ruckus.

Anonymous said...

I am curious.

Discussions of blogs and blogging almost never mention discussion fora. The only ones that ever seem to get mentioned are Democratic Underground and Free Republic (usually in dismissive comments about the latest DUer or freeper idiocy, depending upon your particular politics). Far more than a blog that allows comments, discussion fora are interactive communities. Many have thousands of members, hundreds of whom are active at any given time.

Because they are relatively open communities, the problems of trolling and flame wars are constant irritant. But well-moderated communities avoid this.

And many discussion fora are true communities. The most active members get to know each other, and often link up when they are in the same city. Some become real "offline" friends and some even hook up. This sense of community exists on the fora I mainly participate in and/or moderate, and none of these fora are particularly liberal, so I don't buy Bowers' "inability to operate within a community" explanation for the liberal/conservative blog dichotomy.

Any thoughts or observations on the place of discussion fora in this blog debate?

ned said...

One other thing: I remember how surprised I was to hear from a Pew Research Poll done for NPR that more than 50% of NPR listeners are self-identified "Conservatives", by far the largest segment. A higher percentage of people who vote "Liberally" are much less interested in talk and substantive news (note: this is also the reason that Liberal talk radio will never fly). I have, at various times listened to NPR because I couldn't find any other station offering news or talk for more than the news update on the hour.

And regarding "fora" (sorry, I'm going to have to say "forums"); I believe that many blogs with comment sections are closer to the forum model (which, I guess Bowers is saying typically more Liberal). One forum that I frequent ( is very much a community.

Anonymous said...

Liberal blogs with comments (esp. Kos) may have more "page views." Does that even translate into more readers? The thing is, once people get into a hot-and-heavy debate about some posting or another, the same 5 people might be clicking on the blog 50 times on a given day. So how do we know that Kos's higher numbers aren't just due to higher repeat traffic from the same small group of people?

Matt said...

If the big-time left-blogosphere is structured like the left's favorite mode of expression (mass protest), the big-time right blogosphere seems to be structured like the right's favorite mode- talk radio. In a talk radio show, you have lots of people listening to the host, and if they have something to say, they call in. If the host (or in reality, the host's staff) thinks you have something interesting to say, he'll put you on. Substitute "read" and "email" for "listen" and "call-in" and that's exactly how the top right-wing blog sites work. Glenn Reynolds sees himself more as a vehicle for promoting and filtering what other people say rather than saying it himself (although he makes his points as well), hence his stated belief that "the long tail" is what gives the blogosphere its strength. But by the nature of the left-wing community sites, much of the left's long tail is counted among the pageviews at Kos, etc. None of the right's long tail is counted within Instapundit's pageviews, so comparing the top sites is probably results in a biased count.

OBloodyHell said...

> 1) Humans tend to organize in a hierarchy, from Sumer to Egypt to Rome to the early modern age to now.

A ridiculous assertion. Humans have used heirarchical systems because the efforts being sought lent themselves to that system as a proper organizational form. Modern IP/Service systems do not, they lend far more towards networking organizations than top-down command structures.

The reason why the GOP is so much more successful than the Dems is precisely that -- look at where each gets its funding.

The GOP is vastly represented by thousands and thousands of small contributors.

The Dem funding comes almost entirely from a small cadre of ultraleftists like Soros, et al.

Since the Dems get funded by a small cadre, that group gets far too much say in its voices and actions -- and thus represents a far smaller group of people -- an ever dwindling group if the congressional elections of the last *15* years are any indication -- something which, I think the latest anti-American antics of the Dems and the left are making more and more blatant. Ridiculously anti-semitic "presidential impeachments" and ludicrously over-the-top comparisons to Nazi and Soviet democides (which go virtually unchallenged from the party elite).

As a swing voter, I was getting pretty disgusted with the results of the last election (the behavior of the GOP electees was no better than historical Dems), and was pretty much going to simply vote against whoever was in office. The recent behavior of the Dems and the left make it clear -- they are complete nutballs with no grasp of reality of any kind. "American Gulag" my ASS.

As a result, where any Dem is close, I'm going to vote Republican. It's an evil, but better the evil than the absolutely insane.

I can UNDERSTAND the actions of the evil.

Anonymous said...


August 1, 2007

How many presidential candidates are there on both sides…so far? It’s not even running time and everyone in America, shy of an illegal alien, is running for president. But do Americans really choose the guy—or she-man—they want, or do the leaders of the parties decide?

And you thought party bosses had been outlawed. Yeah, and I’m a liberal.

Actually I sort of wish America allowed party bosses to continue; the bosses reigned in their members who acted like jackasses; now the heads of the DNC and RNC simply send out invitations to every insane asylum in America, asking which nut-job would most like the job of being in charge of Omaha. America needs a throw back to Henry J. Roraback.

If you think I’m joking, just look at the candidates and ask yourself if your favorite guy—the one who actually has an intact brain inside his head versus his rear-end and could legitimately run America with sense—is one of the front-runners. Only a few reading can make that claim, and those would be the Obama versus Hillary anti-conservatism conspiracy theorists in support of giving everything they own to those who don’t work, while supporting the hottest fad called Global Warming; or you’re in the Rudy Giuliani versus Mitt Romney crowd because Rudy whacked the mob, held New York together after 9/11, and Mitt is, quite simply, too pretty to ignore.

In the Democrat corner we have Barack Obama; he’s the black guy every white liberal Democrat wants as president so they can have a feel-good moment saying they voted a black guy to the Oval Office. Obama has no experience whatsoever in his nearly four years of doing nothing in the U.S. Senate other than doing the best imitation of a Pentecostal preacher I’ve ever seen, but he’s black, liberal, might be the new Martin Luther King of this generation, and that’s all that counts.

Then there’s Mr. Bill Clinton—(that would be Hillary Clinton in case some of you wondered why a man is wearing pearls)—the New York State Senator from Illinois and Arkansas. She ignores her home state’s existence and hates her husband’s hillbilly redneck state she’d like to forget; she only wants the one that gets her the Jewish vote.

Hillary whose done nothing but support Bush on the war in Iraq to gain the conservative vote; denounce Bush on the war in Iraq to gain the liberal anti-war vote; denounce tax breaks while secretly sending Bush thank you notes, spout Global Warming theories while driving around in gas-guzzling SUV’s and flying in private jets, has one agenda—turn America into Socialized Marxist Europe.

On the positive side and the reason she’s a front-runner, Hillary Romanov Clinton is unhappily married to America’s most beloved rapist and serial molester. That’s her shoe-in to the Primaries and the Democratic nomination from every feminist, housewife, single mother and college girl in America.

In the Republican camp—(my people who seem to think playing dumb while having their lips surgically attached to every American’s ass will win them the Oval Office)—there are some really good-for-America candidates; you just won’t hear about them unless you watch the debates. The reason; intelligent guys like Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, who wants to lock down the borders yesterday and round up 20 million illegals and ship them all home, is too conservative and outspoken for the suddenly liberal, compassionate, introverted, dope-headed Republicans who have forgotten James Madison and Abe Lincoln.

Tancredo denounces abortion for all and any situation; he denounces Affirmative Action, he wants taxes lowered more, supports the war, wants Gitmo Bay kept running and more terrorists captured and does not want a pull out of Iraq yet because the terrorists will only pull in on America; he wants dependency on Saudi Oil banned; oh, and people who don’t work for a living better be wealthy by trust fund, because Tancredo does not believe in robbing American’s taxes to pay for welfare leeches.

I just heard an angelic voice and it said: “Well….”

Tancredo’s not unknown, he’s quite well-known for being banned from the White House by Karl Rove when Tancredo demanded Bush lock down the borders, round up and send home all illegals or Republicans would lose the 2006 House and Senate on the grounds of not securing America. Tom was right, Republicans lost to crazies who think the sky is falling while handing out free entrance passes to Mexicans on the border. Karl got annoyed anyone would tell off the “Bush Architect” and phoned Tancredo saying lo siente’ and adios amigo, you’re no longer welcome on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Instead of crying fowl over such incredulous treatment of a patriot, Ken Melman and Mel Martinez act like nothing ever happened. Tom and Karl simply had a little misunderstanding, that’s all; just make sure you vote for America’s mob-whacking Mayor or the tall, dark and pretty one whom we think makes us all look spiritually good.

Democrats tell their race of sub-beings that Barak Obama is perfect for the White House because “he’s black enough” for the presidency; even though he’s half white. Now there’s a good reason to vote a guy to the presidency, he’s just black enough. Not too dark that you might compare him to a deviant mugger, and not too light you know his ancestors never worked the fields. It also helps to have a real African parent versus the kind who sailed to America in chains 400 years ago. When the blacks arrive in America by plane, we know they’re perfect White House Material.

There goes Bill Cosby’s chance.

Of course Democrats are denouncing wealth like Judas kissing Jesus, all the while taking hundreds of millions from Hollywood celebrities who state they don’t care which Democrat wins as long as a Democrat wins and liberalism is restored once more to the White house. The anti-wealth/anti-war Obama will be hosted by Oprah at her palatial multi-million dollar California estate where celebrities will pay Obama thousands while wining and dining the black-enough-man in luxury. Finally, liberals have a real token African-American to kiss up to and atone for slavery.

Republicans are receiving big donations, but nothing in the realm of Hollywood-giving; that’s because of conservatives like me won’t give one dime to Republicans until they Tancredo the borders; conservatives are cheap when it comes to throwing money away on political aspiration whores who act like maniacal door-bell ringing Jehovah Witnesses crashing people’s homes at 7 a.m., shoving literature in peoples hands while begging for donations on issues which have no viable truth or validation. We conservatives will slam the door in Republican faces like we do annoying, rigorous, religious salesmen trying to convert us to asinine conspiracy theories.

Fred Thompson has declared he’s going to run when its time—not until after September 2007. Apparently Fred’s mother raised him well, telling him to never arrive at the party too early or you’ll wind up working it. Thompson is an excellent candidate in Reagan-fashion like Tancredo. Together both would make a great ticket, but they would be so conservative, America might revert back to Plymouth, get revived and regain its Christian values. That would be a huge problem. What would Washington and Hollywood do if they had to become moral, live right, accept unborn babies as human beings created by God; stop experimenting with unborn human beings, pray to God more, crush the Supreme Court’s anti-Ten Commandment and anti-prayer in school rules; deport illegal aliens stealing tax-dollars and American jobs; blow up the Arab world before they bomb America; make Kim Jung Il, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro extinct; actually threaten Russia to shut up or be shut down; and make welfare, Affirmative Action and gay marriage a thing of the past.

Hollywood would no longer have a grip on U.S. culture and Washington would lose the unconstitutional control they’ve taken of American’s lives.

Fear the not America, Ken Melman, Mel Martinez and Howard Dean will decide prevent the above from happening; they will decide who wins the primaries and gets the convention’s nominations; party committee leaders will tell America who America should vote for, not the American voter.

Of course liberal Democrats wouldn’t care if Osama bin Laden ran and won, so long as he’s a liberal and a Democrat and abolishes conservatism.

That’s it in a nutshell; nuts are on the loose in both parties; the party chairmen have decided which guys and woman—if it truly is—they want Americans voting for. Americans don’t decide who becomes the front-runner, Ken Melman, Mel Martinez and Howard Dean tell the media who to promote while convincing Americans one guy is black enough to absolve America’s sin of slavery—despite the fact he’s too stupid to run a country; one woman is the best choice because her husband was the first black redneck president; one guy can save the world because he held a city together after a bombing, and the other guy is simply held together with fabulous DNA.

If you’re reading Tony Blair, I hear you’re out of a job.

copyright 2007 Lisa Richards
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