Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Biggest Blogs are “Blogs”

Having a look at the competition in the blogosphere, I'm disappointed to see that the top positions are occupied by what are not really blogs at all, but big commercial ventures, similar to newspapers online, with hired staff and all. That's not what I would call a blog.

The blog, or weblog, started off as a kind of personal diary on the internet. Individuals wrote their stories or commented on things that came to mind, and got response from other individuals surfing the net in a leisure kind of way. The writers and readers were delighted to create and find interactive media, not controlled by big business and governments, where you didn't have to be rich or famous to get published.

But when the thing took off and started to get visitors by the millions, big business stepped in. Newspapers started columns that they renamed blogs, for no other apparent reason than the possibility to comment them online. Media companies started big website projects, calling them blogs for the same reason.

Now, the personal blog where one voice speaks its mind is hard to find, in the jungle of enterprise projects. The internet is not immune to money and power.

I checked the top list of the 15 most visited “blogs” in the world. The figures below are for October 2010, but I guess that not much has changed during November. It's evident that the personal touch has been replaced by the big business sledgehammer. AOL owns four of them, and so does Gawker Media.


The most visited “blogs”
The number of unique visitors (a questionable concept, depending on how it is defined) is a monthly estimate. The figures are from Ebizmba.com. Most of these sites are US based, and all of them in English. I don't know if other blogs or “blogs” outside of the USA would merit a place on the list – maybe some in other world languages, such as Chinese, Spanish, or French?

1 HuffingtonPost 28,000,000
A news website launched in May 2005 by Arianna Huffington and partners. Over 3,000 writers contribute to it. They have also started local editions of the website.

2 TMZ 17,000,000
The Thirty Mile Zone (a movie business expression for an area in Los Angeles) is a celebrity news website launched in November 2005, by AOL and Warner Bros. They also have a TV series. Harvey Levin is the managing editor since its foundation.

3 Engadget 11,500,000
A consumer technology “blog” launched in March 2004 by Peter Rojas. It has nine websites in separate parts of the world, written in different languages. It belongs to Weblogs Inc., purchased by AOL in 2005.

4 PerezHilton 9,000,000
A celebrity gossip site launched in 2005 by Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr. The blog name is, of course, a play on Paris Hilton, who is frequently mentioned in it. The blog started under the name Pagesixsixsix.com in 2004. This is actually a blog in the sense that it's in the hands of one person, expressing his views and interests. As far as I can see, he is the sole owner of it.

5 Gizmodo 8,900,000
A consumer technology website launched in 2002 by Peter Rojas, who later left to start Engadget. It is owned by Gawker Media. It has editions in several other countries and languages.

6 Mashable 7,000,000
A social media news website launched in Scotland by Pete Cashmore in July 2005. Now, it's based in New York and has a staff of 35, with Cashmore as its CEO.

7 TechCrunch 6,500,000
A technical news website launched in June 2005 by Michael Arrington, with editions also in some other countries. It is just now being acquired by AOL.

8 Gawker 4,500,000
A New York City based celebrity gossip site launched in January 2003. It has several editors and contributors. It is owned by Gawker Media, which includes Gizmodo, Lifehacker, and Kotaku.

9 Lifehacker 4,400,000
A software news website launched in January 2005, where Gina Trapani was the sole contributor until September that year. Now, it has several editors and contributors, as well as editions in Japan and Australia. It is owned by Gawker Media.

10 FanHouse 4,350,000
A sports news website launched in September 2005, owned by AOL. Its staff includes several experienced sports journalists.

11 SmashingMagazine 4,325,000
A resource for web developers and designers launched in Germany, September 2006, by Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman.

12 FailBlog 4,300,000
A comedy website presenting videos and images of funny failures, launched in January 2008. The same year it was sold to Pet Holdings.

13 Kotaku 4,200,000
A video games news website owned by Gawker Media (domain name created in March 2002). They have several editors, as well as editions in other countries.

14 BusinessInsider 2,100,000
A business news website launched in February 2009, owned by Silicon Alley Insider, Inc. It has several well-merited editors and contributors.

15 Boingboing 2,000,000
A mixed subjects commented news website, mainly IT related, which started as a zine in 1988, became a website in 1995, and a “blog” in 2000. It is owned by Happy Mutants LLC, based in London, and has a number of editors and contributors.

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