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February 11, 2006

Baby blogs growing up

A year ago, on Feb. 9, Davenport Daily Politics led the behind-the-curve Q-C into political blogging. Five days later, The Inside Dope jumped in. Not sure about the dates on most of the others; The PP launched April 21.

There are least 11 now, though two, Moline Illinois Democratic Maverick and The Lone Patriot, seldom touch on Q-C-specific topics.

First question: Is anybody reading? Yes. How many? Tough to tell. Number growing? Definitely.

Visits and page views are common stats reported by most all blogging software.

At the PP, the average number of daily visits for its lifespan is 76. In January, it was 140, so far this month it's 210.

The numbers at The Dope's place (thanks for sharing:) Average daily visits since Day 1: 158, but again the newest numbers are the biggest. January was 234 per day, and the Dope says the most visits in a day ever, 744, was earlier this week.

DPP had hit 188 visits per day by November, when The Fly shut down for nearly three months before climbing back on the wall a couple of weeks ago.

Here's an estimate, based on the hard numbers I have and the altogether unscientific assumption that the seven other blogs combined get a merely equal number: The blogs are getting at least 1,000 visits a day today and the number is going up 40-60% a month.

The number of actual people making those visits is even tougher to pin down. The stats program I use reports "unique" visitors, based on IP numbers (if I understand the docs correctly).

In January, the PP had 1,398 unique visitors, so far this month, 948. The number is soft; since it's based on IP numbers, it overcounts people who visit from both home and work computers; it undercounts people who visit from behind the same firewall. No matter how many people in any workplace visit, they count as a single unique visitor.

Don't have hard "unique" numbers from anyone else, but The Dope's is bound to be at least as large as mine, or a total of 2,800 people in January. Reduce the number generously because lots of people hit both. Adjust it upward to account for the nine other blogs.

I gotta think the "universe" of people who at least occasionally visit the Q-C blogs amounts to somewhere between 3,000-4,000 individuals, mimimum. That number, and the fact it's soaring, has lots of implications, especially in politics and the media.

Second question, then: Does the blog audience matter?

DPP, in it's first incarnation, had lots going for it. One critical plus was the willingness of "official" Davenport to participate. City administrator Craig Malin, then Mayor Charlie Brooke, along with various aldermen and state reps, contributed to the discussions, using their real names. The impact on civic discourse was positive, though there was of course the usual dross found on blogs. (Illinois-side politicians, incidentally, have yet to grasp the advantages of openly-by-name joining discussions.)

DPP, too, was the "media" that rescued me when I belatedly realized a D'port school election was on top of me. TV and QCT no help at all. But DPP had a list of candidates and some info on all. (I'm sad that the Fly dropped the blog and then, when he picked it back up, shifted focus.)

Anyway, here's an anniversary observation from Fly: "I also think that there's an awareness among elected officials of the blogs and that while blog readers may be few in number they are among the most politically active which means they're centers of influence for far greater numbers of voters."

Couple of other aspects to blogs and their impact I'll get around to discussing, but in the meantime, please get in your two cents worth.

You can now find latest entries from Q-C bloggers at qconline.com/qcbloggers.

Posted by jcb at February 11, 2006 10:58 PM

Comments

Kudos to you, jcb, for what you have done to promote QC political blogs. It used to drive me crazy that I couldn't find any political blogs locally, except for a few IA blogs (if you live in IL QC's, who cares about IA?). I always just chalked it up to my poor search skills----I didn't realize there warn't none!

I used to wonder where to find IL QC political blogs. I figured they wouldn't show up in the D/A, since supposedly blog readers don't read newspapers. I'm pretty sure I discovered PP by reading the Dispatch. I think it's a good idea to include snippets from the Beyond Print in the D/A to expand readership in BP and other D/A blogs. I'm not sure if BP is a blog just for Kolb II, or a blog for all of D/A---please let me know. If it's for all, I want to encourage all D/A staffers to contribute.

BTW, it pleases me to no end to know that D/A out-blogged QCT (I think!---don't read QCT).

Finally, one of the plusses of blog reading is to "know" stuff before anyone else (every man {or person} a journalist!). I found myself smirking when Chris Minor announced at 5:00 PM that 10 jurors had been seated in the Kolb retrial---I had known it for hours! Yeah, I know it's juvenile---- but satisfying!

Posted by: paladin at February 12, 2006 01:40 PM

The idea is that Beyond Print will outlive Kolb II as a D/A staff blog.

I won't be involved after the trial. Back to the PP for me.

Posted by: jcb at February 12, 2006 02:14 PM

I might note that when I started TID, I had no idea there were any local blogs whatsoever. It was only after a week or so that I discovered "Daily Davenport Politics".

I had considered doing a blog, but when Rich Miller at "Capitol Fax" suggested in a post that someone should start a political blog to cover this area, that was enough to cause me to see if I could get a blog up.

The Inside Dope was up within 24 hours of Miller's post, showing just how much thought went into it. (If I had it to do over again, I'd pick a different name, for one.) What I'd do with it once it was up was unknown, I'd figure that out later. It was pure seat-of-the-pants flying.

I've always thought it was kind of amazing that the first political blogs in the Quad Cities started within days of each other, one on the Iowa side, one on the Illinois side, and both with no knowledge of the other.

Posted by: The Inside Dope at February 12, 2006 02:35 PM