Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Blogshocking Revelation

I did not plan on posting today, but read something this morning that I almost couldn't believe.

I subscribe to the weekly email from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS). The email, entitled 'The Weekly Genealogist,' always has great links and stories of interest. For the last few years they also have a Survey. I look forward to it every Wednesday. Last week's survey posed several questions about writing and reading blogs.

Are you sitting down?

FIFTY-SEVEN PERCENT of their almost 4,000 responders read NO blogs.

None. Zip. Zero.

Here are the results of the survey:

The Weekly Genealogist Survey
Last week's survey asked how many genealogy blogs you follow. More than one answer could be selected. 3,788 people answered the survey. The results are:

57%, 0
23%, 1-2
14%, 3-5
3%, 6-10
3%, More than 10
4%, I write a genealogy blog.
2%, I'm planning to start a genealogy blog.
1%, I used to write a genealogy blog.

Source: The Weekly Genealogist, Vol. 17, No. 03, Whole #670, January 15, 2014

I know blogging may not be the most popular method of reaching out to the internet, but a lot of people sure still do it. I was one of the 3% reporting that I read 'More than 10' blogs per week.

Only 4% replied they write a blog. Is it us writers that are also the readers? Perhaps the readership for NEHGS skews older, and therefore fewer subscribers also blog? Maybe this email goes to more casual researchers? 

Theories abound. Any opinions? Are you surprised, too?

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen


  1. I was also surprised that I was one of the only 3% that follow more than 10 blogs a week. (In fact I follow more than 100, but don't necessarily read every one, and most don't post very often.) I think Randy Seaver noted that the question asked how many do you "follow." Do you think people interpreted that differently than if the question had been asked "how many do you read?"

  2. Sally, that is astounding! As Elizabeth mentioned, I was also somewhat surprised to note that only 3% follow more than ten blogs a week. More than ten?!?! I think I broke the blogspot dashboard with the number I attempted subscribing to--and I'm nowhere near the likes of Randy Seaver!

    Like Elizabeth, I don't read all I subscribe to, but I scan the headers and search for content I'm focused on at the time. It's become so much a way of life in my research routine that it seems inconceivable that others don't follow suit. But it's true.

    I like to take a pro-active approach to statistics like these. My mind starts thinking of, "How can we change this?" Changing trends is often like the proverbial giant flywheel in Jim Collins' book, Good to Great. It takes a monumental force to push the thing to get it started, and sustained effort to maintain its momentum, but at some tipping point, it does gain speed and seems to almost go on its own effort.

    I see this same disparity in statistics at our local genealogical society: many are "into genealogy" for different reasons. Some fancy themselves "supporters" or community leaders by their donations so others may benefit from the collections, meetings, special events. Some are simply organizers and take-charge people at heart, whose goal is facilitating the involvement of others. Not everyone--at all times--is conducting his or her own research. That includes not only that old-fashioned kind in repositories of the tangible kind, but of the new, in-the-ether, digital variety.

    At some point, those small numbers will inch up from 3% to 5% to 10%. At some point, the gain will begin multiplying.

    And someday, we'll wonder what we were thinking when we missed out on all those enriching resources that were available to us all the time online.

    At least, in this case, thanks to the digital cutting edge, all that stuff we will have missed will still be searchable. All we'll need is a geometric multiple of more time to catch up on our reading...

  3. Thanks for the comments. I agree with both of you - a lot is left to the wording, and the interpretation of said wording. Just one more thing to wonder about!

  4. Sally,

    Thanks for sharing this information. I take comfort in the thought that, even if the majority of those surveyed don't read blogs at this time, perhaps someday someone will find my blog while doing an online search for one of our shared ancestors. It's that old "cousin bait" aspect of blog writing. Plus, I have family members who seem to appreciate my efforts to write about our ancestors in my blog. And that makes the effort and hard work worth it.

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  5. The %age confused me - I would have thought it could hit 5-8%... I read many different ones each week, and this year I'm trying to write 2-3 per week on my different blogs. It is very surprising.

    1. I agree, Celia. And if so many of these people aren't reading blogs, how do we get them too?!

  6. I'm not surprised while I look at some often I don't really have the time to really follow any very carefully. I started a blog mainly to help me with writing my family history and sharing it with family. I don't expect much of anyone else to want to read it

  7. Thanks for the reply, Margaret. We certainly all have different reasons. Good luck in your searching, too!