Friday, November 6, 2015

Three Days of Genealogy Blogging Statistics

I read James Tanner's post What is the Future of Genealogical Blogs on 3 November and pondered how to respond.  One of James main concerns was that "Almost all the blog posts I now see now are created by commercial enterprises."

I decided that if I was going to discuss that issue, I had better have some statistics.  So, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week I have been compiling statistics about "Personal genealogy" blogs, "Corporate genealogy" blogs, and "Non-genealogy blogs" that I read with Feedly.

I have over 1,600 blogs in my Feedly reader, but only about 1,500 are for genealogy.  I have news, technology, humor, science, sports and other blog genres in my Feedly list.

Here are my statistics:

1)  Wednesday, 4 November:

*  Personal genealogy blogs - 79 posts
*  Corporate genealogy blogs - 34 posts
*  Non-genealogy blogs - I didn't count them.

2)  Thursday, 5 November:

*  Personal genealogy blogs - 95 posts
*  Corporate genealogy blogs - 34 posts
*  Non-genealogy blogs - 228 posts

3)  Friday, 6 November:

*  Personal genealogy blogs - 87 posts
*  Corporate genealogy blogs - 35 posts
*  Non-genealogy blogs - 197 posts

So, from the genealogy-related blogs - there are 261 that I classified as "personal," and 103 that I classified as "corporate."  So about 70% of the genealogy blog posts were personal.

I tried to note different types of "corporate genealogy" blog posts - examples are press releases, corporate blog posts (e.g., Ancestry, Findmypast, FamilySearch, GenealogyBank, Legacy Family Tree, etc.), organization blog posts (e.g., NEHGS, TNA, NIGS, NGS, SCGS), and professional blogger posts (e.g., Dick Eastman, Lisa Cooke, Leland Meitzler, etc.).

Now, James may be reading (or not reading) the same genealogy blogs that I read.  I don't have his list and he doesn't have mine.  My guess is he reads all of the corporate blogs I do, but few of the personal blogs.

So it all comes down to "what blogs do you read."  I was surprised by some of my statistics:

*  I think the number of personal genealogy blog posts has gone down over the past year.

*  I think the number of corporate blog posts has gone up over the past year.

*  Very few genealogy bloggers post each day (less than 10%).

*  I was shocked that genealogy blog posts are only 36% of all of the blog posts I receive in my Feedly reader.  I know where I can save some time!

I will do a similar statistics dump sometime next year to see if the trends continue.

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Charles said...

While I do not read as many blogs each day as you do I see similar results, most of the blog posts I read each day are non genealogy posts also, mostly news. Very few blogs are active every day and most are lucky to have a couple of posts a week. I do read a few commercial blogs, but mostly personal blogs.

Michigan Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily Barlett said...

You made an interesting research! I agree that nowadays, blogging is very popular kind of activity. As we can see that personal blogs outnumbered the number of Corporate blogs and it's interesting what is the reason of it. Recently I read an article "Channel the Artist in You: 7 Blogging Mistakes to Fix" where the author says that There are over 153,000,000 blogs on the web today. And every second on this planet, a new blog is created. I think it's really interesting to research the phenomenon of blogging.

Tom said...

Thanks for an interesting analysis, Randy. Our reasons for following particular blogs very widely so, as you say, you read different blogs from James Tanner.

I still find that listserv messages give me more concise and speedy information on the subjects I am interested in (my family history software, genetic genealogy, research and publishing techniques) than blogs. I do follow a small number of blogs for more in-depth analysis and I really appreciate the work their authors put into them.

However, I suspect that the majority of genealogy/family history blogs are only aimed at close and near family and their authors have no interest in publishing to a wider audience. Perhaps these are the ones you refer to as personal blogs. Some of these may even be private blogs with readership confined to a few appropriate family members. Some may be intended for blog-to-book writing; among others Lynn Palermo,'The Armchair Genealogist', has encouraged this as a relatively (!) painless way for family historians to progress from research to publishing. That way, even if they never actually get to finish their book at least they have finished some chapters. If a project is a set of tasks with a beginning and an end that together are intended to achieve a particular goal, a family history project tends to become a similar set of tasks with a beginning but no end. Posting to a blog (to book) at least means that family can access their stories and relationships in a fairly digestible form even if it is still a work in progress.

By their nature these are plankton blogs compared to the corporate shark blogs, the the salmon professional blogs and the sardine shoal organisation blogs. It will be some task to count their numbers, just as it would be to count the number of family trees put out on web sites, but they are still a very useful weapon in the family historian and genealogist's publishing armoury.

The blog is dead! Long live the blog!

Mary Foxworthy said...

Interesting analysis. Thanks.

I disagree with James Tanner's post. My guess is that professional genealogists' reading lists are probably quite different from us amateurs. As a amateur, I don't feel a need to keep up with the latest news from the corporations. But I am very grateful for people like you who do follow them.

Tom MacEntee's GeneaBloggers lists more than 3,000 blogs. There are probably some that are promoting their product or service, my experience is that most of them are personal blogs.

I have both a private and a public blog. The private blog is aimed at family and the posts may contain information that I want to remain private.

My public blog is aimed at other amateurs. It is partly cousin bait, but mostly about my research activities than about my family history. Looking for feedback and suggestions. My goal is to have a balance - gotta work on that. I should probably include more family information than I do.

IMHO the blog is not dead.

Jacqi Stevens said...

Only 1,500, Randy? You must be a speed reader extraordinaire!

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

While the personal blogs dominate statistically, they represent (I'd guess) more individuals whereas the corporates would be a limited number...and less personal. News vs stories.

Michigan Girl said...

Thank your for taking the time to do that short survey Randy. For me, personally, I rarely read the corporate blogs or the blogs posted by the more commercial bloggers. I prefer to read all the personal blogs as I find them pleasant and interesting most of the time. I don't care for advertising and having a blogger trying to sell me something, be it a book, a subscription or whatever. So I pretty much avoid those blogs. I don't read any other types of blogs, like sports, cooking, gardening etc. I have enough trouble trying to read, on a regular basis, the genealogy blogs I follow.
It's now been 6 days since I've posted to my own blog. I try to post at least twice a week and would prefer to post three times per week, but don't always succeed. This week a photo project has kept me busy every day. I am determined to get something written and posted tomorrow. Wish me luck, as that photo project is still not complete.

Kathleen O'Hara said...

I think your results are completely intuitive. There are more individual genealogy blogs than corporate genealogy blogs, because there are more individuals doing genealogy than companies in the field. But there are more corporate blog posts than individual blog posts because the people blogging for companies are often paid, which means they're able to prioritize blogging the way the rest of us prioritize our jobs, which we have to squeeze blogging in around.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid to look at the count on my blog roll to see how many blogs I follow. Thankfully, everyone doesn't post every day. I follow many personal genealogy blogs, but I don't follow any commercial blogs. I know where they are if I want to read them.

I believe the blog is far from dead, whether that be genealogy blog or other topic blog. It's good to have numbers because they can be compared over time. But I believe it all depends on the individual's taste. I imagine there are some genealogists who want posts every day from commercial blogs, while others are happy with one post a week from a blogger who is trying to solve the mysteries of their family tree.

I like reading personal stories of discovery (or failure). I learn from them.

IsraelP said...


Weekends might be very different and I include Mondays as carryover.

Devon Noel Lee said...

First, thank you for identifying a 'corporate' blog. I do believe there should be a distinction between your list of corporate blogs and blogs that receive any type of financial compensation (but that's another comment for another time). One we are using the same definitions, it's easier to have clear conversation.

Now, please forgive me for continuing to stir the pot. I must ask two questions:

1) Why does it matter?

2) Is it really a negative?

Sure analyzing trends are fun, but if they don't lead to answering these two questions, then what good is the observation?

I follow perhaps 100 blogs. I'm a busy gal and if the content of a blog is not worth my time, I remove them from my feed reader. Am I the only one who does this?

If I receive too much 'commercial' content, then I can stop reading those bogs. There are other things I could be doing, and other blogs I could be supporting, than clogging my blog reader with useless content. So, I ask the question, why does it matter if there are more blog posts by commercial, corporate, or personal venues? To me, if you're bothered by the content, it's time to purge your readers list. And if readership drops for 'corporate' blogs, they will move to a different medium of communication.

Next, if the blogging community is filled with 'corporate' blogs, is this really a bad thing?

Corporate bloggers would not be involved in this medium of information exchange if a) they were not benefiting from the time spent and b) if their readers were not receiving a value. So, why is it a negative that there are more blogs that are monetized or corporate? If the readers and the writers are pleased with the exchange of information and the compensation of the blog post producer, why is this a problem?

Just some thoughts to consider. I remember a viral discussion about genealogists being pushed out in favor of more amateur family historians not too long ago. Seems this conversation now wants to push out profit generating bloggers. So, please tell me who would be left?

Randy Seaver said...


You make excellent points, and I agree with you that corporate blogs are not a bad thing, nor are those that have monetized their blog. I don't want to push out any blog - I think it's a wonderful way to share information - for free.

James said that he thought there were more corporate blogs than personal blogs. That may be true for his blog reading list. His reading list is unique, as is mine, and yours, and others. It was a useful exercise for me to see just how many genealogy posts I read every day. I also found out that I probably read too many non-genealogy blog posts. I also figured out that I get a lot of genealogy information from the corporate blogs and not as much from personal blogs, but I don't want to miss much in the geneablog world. The three-day study also provides me with a baseline to do the same comparison next year. One of James' other opinions is that genealogy blogs are dying off.

Thanks for the comment - Randy

Devon Noel Lee said...


Thanks for responding. Have fun with your analysis

- Devon