Chris Bowers at MyDD has a story on the audiences of liberal and conservative blogs. Here's what he finds:
"I spent much of the morning looking at the Blogads traffic rankings. Adding up the 200 blogs that are concerned with politics and either identify or have been identified with Democrats / liberals or Republicans / conservatives, I found 87 blogs that general fit into the "liberal" category and 113 blogs that fit into the conservative category. However, despite the greater number of conservative blogs, the liberal blogs totaled nearly ten million page views per week, while the conservative blogs managed just over six million. I have been tracking the comparative audiences of the two blogosphere off and on for the past nine months, and this is the largest lead for the liberal blogosphere that I have ever found. In September, the margin in favor of Democrats was 25%. In winter, it was 33%. In the spring, it was 50%. Now, it has risen to 65%. This is particularly amazing, since less than two years ago the conservative blogosphere was at least twice the size of the liberal blogosphere."
Bowers has a theory about why this is. Since MyDD is a liberal site, you might expect that it would be something along the lines of: because we're right, or perhaps some slightly subtler version, like: because intelligent, insightful people such as ourselves both see the truth and write better blogs. But his theory is entirely different (luckily; had it been one of the above, I would not have bothered with it.) It doesn't mention the comparative merits either of liberalism and conservatism, or of liberal or conservative blogs, at all.
"Of the twenty-four liberal blogs in the top quintile, Dailykos, TPM Café, Smirking Chimp, Metafilter, BooMan Tribune, MyDD, and Dembloggers are full-fledged community sites where members cannot only comment, but they can also post diaries / articles / polls. By comparison, there are no community sites among the top twenty-four conservative blogs. None, zip, zero, nada. This is particularly stunning when one considers the importance of the Free Republic community to the conservative netroots. While it would appear that there are hordes of Glenn Reynolds wannabe's among conservatives in the netroots, Redstate.org sticks out as the only success story for a community oriented blog within the conservative blogosphere. In fact, of the five most trafficked conservative blogs (over 200,000 page views per week), only one, Little Green Footballs, even allows comments, much less the ability to actually write a diary or a new article.
The nine liberal community sites I listed in the paragraph above have accounted for the bulk of the exceptional growth of the liberal blogosphere over the past two years. (...)
Anyone who spends a significant amount of time on Scoop blogs should not have any difficulty figuring out why this is the case. Because of Scoop's diary feature, it is possible to become at least a semi-famous blogger without having a blog of your own. An entire generation of popular liberal bloggers grew out of the Dailykos diaries and comments: Billmon, Steve Soto, Steve Gillard, Melanie, DemfromCT, DhinMI, Theoria, Tom Schaller, Meteor Blades, DavidNYC, myself, SusanHu, Jerome a Paris, lapin, Maryscott O'Conner, NYCO, Mariascat, and many, many more. I believe that the wave of new talent and fresh voices that the comments and dairy options bring to a blog has been the key factor in the liberal blogosphere outpacing the growth of the right wing blogosphere. Every day brings more reasons to read the highly trafficked liberal blogs. Every two weeks or so brings a new liberal blog from someone who has already become famous as a diarist. Community moderated blogging platforms such as Scoop have provided us with an excellent means of finding new voices, and these are the voices that are generating the accelerated growth in the liberal and progressive blogosphere when compared to the right-wing blogosphere.
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."
I think this is probably right. But it raises a further question, namely: why do liberal and conservative blogs differ in this way? Why are so many of the most visited liberal sites either community blogs or (at least) blogs that allow comments, and so many of the most visited conservative sites blogs that do not? It can't really be that there just aren't any community blogs on the conservative side: there's RedState, for instance, but while it has neither sitemeter nor blogads, TTLB lists it as having about 3,000 fewer daily visitors than MyDD, and, um, about 410,000 fewer than dKos. Figures for Tacitus seem to be either screwed up or unobtainable, depending on where one looks, but its traffic seems to be more along the lines of ours, which is to say: way below RedState and MyDD. And yet RedState and Tacitus have more or less cornered the market on conservative community blogs.
Why is this? It's a mystery to me. Any thoughts?