Why Aren’t There More A-List Women Bloggers
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Yesterday, I received an email from M. Pamela Bumsted with a link to a story titled Women Bloggers: How Many and Why Aren’t There Enough? posted by Lorelle on WordPress.
The story resurrects the on-again, off-again debate in the blogosphere about the lack of women bloggers in the top 100 blogs lists.
It is speculated that blog rankings are top-heavy with men because it was mostly men who created blogging software and they were the early adopters. Also, men spend a lot more time networking at conferences than women do. And, men are more likely to toot their own horns.
All that undoubtedly contributes to the near stranglehold men appear to have on that coveted A-list, but there is another reason that almost makes the discussion moot: the tools we have for ranking blog traffic are so inaccurate as to be useless.
Technorati, the top arbiter of blog popularity, ranks blogs by counting incoming links. But I can’t be the only blogger who has dozens of regular readers who don’t keep blogs and therefore don’t link to Time Goes By. None of those readers are counted by Technorati in calculating TGB's ranking. There is something peculiar about a measurement system that gives full value to readers who blog and zero to those who don't blog - a parochial point of view completely out of whack with the professed principles of blogging.
But, until someone invents a better ranking system, we are stuck (like Rumsfeld and his Army) with the one we've got - if you choose to take it seriously, which I don't. It's hard to get my knickers in too much of a twist over what inaccurate measurement tools can't possibly prove or not prove.
For these reasons and others, I believe there are more A-list women bloggers than we know, but that won't become evident until the measurement tools improve. Meanwhile, Blogher is raising the profile of women bloggers who are, if the research is accurate, the majority in the blogosphere and they are helping too, to increase the visibility of women at tech and blog conferences.
Although I enjoy many kinds of blogs, I care mostly about elderblogs and what blogging adds to the lives of elders. None are A-listers, but in this little subcategory of blogging, by a most unscientific measurement, gender distribution appears equal: a quick perusal of the ElderBloggers blogroll on TGB shows about a 50/50 split between men and women. I didn’t plan it that way and I can't draw much of a conclusion from the fact because ElderBlogs are listed as interesting or useful sites come into my view regardless of gender.
Women are well represented here and they appear, from anecdotal memory, to be the majority of commenters on TGB. Perhaps that reflects nothing more than the larger percentage of women among the elder population and if younger women who complain of not making the blogging A-lists would just be patient for a few years, you'll eventually have the upper hand by numbers alone. (Kidding! Just kidding!)
With all this, however, is a question that hasn’t been asked: do you care if your blog isn’t in the top 100? Does it matter?
Most of us are not without ego and would like to have hundreds of thousands of readers. Most of us are also realistic. Unless we are willing to give over the majority of our waking hours to our blogs, do the homework, research and reporting necessary to add new information to the conversation, and regularly pursue mentions in mainstream media and on widely-read blogs to draw new readers (highly time-consuming activities), our readership will remain small.
Is that so bad? Humans being what we are, people will not stop finding ways to compare themselves and figure out who's the current top dog. But there are other pleasures in blogging. For elderbloggers - my personal concern - there are the non-competitive values of new social networks, cognitive maintenance and improvement, and ease of communication of all kinds.
And here's something else worth pondering: no one needs to be number one to make a difference. A small example: I dislike the term "seniors," which has become pejorative with overuse, and prefer "elders" even though it's hardly been used for decades except in history books about Native Americans.
When I was interviewed for a New York Times story about older bloggers, I made it a point to use the terms elder and elderbloggers and I discussed the language issue with the Times writer. As a result, the story was titled, "Elderbloggers Stake Their Claim."
That's real and positive social change instigated by a woman blogger nowhere near the A-list. So perhaps we're all asking the wrong question.
There are so many excellent points to this post that I don't know where to begin. I certainly have been through a short period where I craved to be "top dog" but find so much more worth in the quality and depth of relationships in the virtual as well as real world.
As your blog is specific to Elder bloggers, so mine is to the matter of psyche, spirit and heart and, gee, if I don't make it to the A-list - well, too bad! Life is deep, moving and intellectual one day, one person, one feeling at a time.
Posted by: Tamar | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 03:38 AM
Seems to me this is so akin to the age-old conflict of quality vs. quantity, or - in writing or the other arts - art-for-art's sake vs. bestsellerdom, that I don't know where to begin. Or maybe I'm just stunned at this first glimpse of blog-rankings and what they're based on. But I'm so glad to have been out of the loop on all this. If I had known that there's an explicit hierarchy of worth in blogging based on numbers of readers rather than content of message, I probably wouldn't have entered this world.
Posted by: ml | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 04:43 AM
A blog can get a high ranking on Technorati just by adding tons of links and getting others to trade links but the quality of content isn't ranked. I have just been enjoying the developing network of friends around the world who share my interests.
The blogs I return to are the ones who are always interesting because they have something to say. I have no idea what their rankings are.
Posted by: zuleme | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 05:30 AM
Answer: No, it bothers me not at all that my blog isn't in the Top 100--or the Top 1,000,000, for that matter. My blog is a communications tool aimed at family and friends. (For Pete's sake, I don't even allow search engines access to it!)
It was highly amusing to me to receive a comment (or an email--I don't recall) from a blogger (male) with a pitch to the effect that he would link to mine if I would link to his. Glory hounds can have it. I'm not buying!
Posted by: Cop Car | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 06:08 AM
Ronni...Great post and I think you have addressed many of the points with the exception that for many men, linear thinking -- getting from point a to point b -- is what drives the process, especially when they are working hard to build or maintain careers and reputations. For women, on the otherhand (and elder bloggers might fit in here), the circularity of it is important. The circle of relationships and the ebb and flow of energy is probably more important than the rankings...
Blogging has opened up a sphere of conversation and networking -- something that women have always been good at. And until the tools can measure this, we're at the mercy of technorati or other measurement tools.
I agree with Cop Car's comment above and think that many of the female bloggers would have that viewpoint as well.
Posted by: H.A. Page | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 06:46 AM
This was interesting and I had no idea there even was a top 100, but giving the competitive nature of humans, guess that was inevitable. When I went googling for it and looked down the list, it didn't look like topical ones of interest for me-- except Huffington which doesn't seem much like a blog given it's a compilation of many. Determining who has the most blog interest based on number of links seems like a technorati gimmick to grow themselves more than showing how many actually visit and benefit from a site. I suppose there is a reason the list matters? Like sponsorship maybe or something?
Posted by: Rain | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 06:52 AM
Great post, Ronni. Thought provoking. I posted some thoughts on my own blog, since my comments fall on the technical side.
Posted by: Virginia | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 07:05 AM
using the word "elderblogging," gets attention from some who think they're not interested in knowing about blogging in general. i stood next to a 40-something (hey, i can't tell) new york times reporter on the last day of the trial of the 18 granny peace brigaders.
handed her my card with the little red hen on it. "what's it about?" she asked. opportunity to tell her about US, ronni, and why it's an important way of connecting people invisible in the culture. she wrote the word in her notes, "never heard of that before." whatever, wherever.
Posted by: Naomi Dagen Bloom | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 08:02 AM
Enjoyed this posting, Ronni and funny enough since my one year anniversary of blogging was yesterday, I blogged on this amazing world that's opened for so many of us.
As my post yesterday explained, what began as a means of communication with friends, family and my book readers...it's evolved into so much more. And being ranked Number 1 isn't one of them. To me, blogging is about so much more than numbers.
Posted by: Terri | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 08:50 AM
Good, Ronnie! I'm competitive, though my regular checks on my hit counter have everything to do with how I'm doing. Have no one else to compete with. I do 2 blogs: One is "standard" , the other is quiet, short and meditative. I am seriously considering adding a podcast to the menagerie. Reason: I just have some things to say. They are all spontaneous (ok, edited 4 to 5 times!) it is a fine channel for creativity and a great discipline. And, it is fun. I am 77 and this is one of the neat aspects of my life.
Posted by: citrus | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 09:25 AM
Thanks for the link to the NY Times article. I always get a big smile when I read your interviews.
And, I am very proud to be on your sidebar blogroll. That is a measurement I value much more than anything Technorati could offer.
Posted by: Cowtown Pattie | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 09:43 AM
I've said it before...."A" list, schmay list....
Posted by: Joy | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 01:26 PM
I don't think I even read any of the top 100. I prefer to blog for family and friends and have made many here in BlogLand.
The ones I read are real life blogs, real journals, real angst, real confusion, real hurt, real coping ideas. REAL.
How do you measure the top 100 real lives...LOL! You can't.
When I want news I read news. When I want to know how my friends are I read their blogs.
I have one goal. To help people skip screwing up like I have by sharing it here. It's what I think is important. Helping each other.
So, no, I don't care about lists or hundreds of readers.
A woman blogger over 50 living a real life.
Posted by: Valerie | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 02:32 PM
I blog more for myself than for anyone else, and I do not care whether or not I am named in anyone's top 100 or top anything list.
Posted by: kenju | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 03:27 PM
I think the ego in most of us would like us to see our blogs more recognised than they are. I know deep down I'll never be on the A-list and that doesn't bother me but it would be nice to be recognised amongst a community of bloggers, whichever community that is.
It's happening for me slowly but surely and I love it when someone bothers to comment on my blog.
Whatever happens, I enjoy writing my blog and I enjoy reading other people's blogs.
Posted by: jen | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 04:34 PM
Since I believe you have some of the most intelligent and articulate "A" list readers, perhaps we should rate the audiences.
Posted by: Bonnie | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 04:45 PM
You know what else has changed? RSS feeds of all kinds. I'm pretty sure I have you linked in my blogroll, but I read you mostly in Bloglines. I only come over to the "real" blog if I have something to say.
In some ways, my blog is A list--posts come up near the top for many searches. I've had more than 500,000 page views. But I'm practically invisible to Technorati.
Do I care? Not really. I do like it when someone finds an answer to a vexing problem via my blog.
Posted by: liz | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 04:48 PM
I checked out Technorati's top 100 blogs list and found that about 25 of them are either political or news blogs or a combo of both. So that list is not relevant to what Ronni and others are doing in reference to highlighting matters referencing aging with dignity.
"Time Goes By" is the number one Elder Bloggers site in my book and that is all that matters to most of us who visit here frequently.
From Ronni's links I have explored and widened my circle of blogging friends to include those in Japan, Israel, Canada, Australia,England, France and many others places. Also the North, South, East and West of the US.
And I stumbled upon all this by happenstance one day when I "Googled" positive aging and found "Time Goes By" on Technorati.
As they say "the rest is history"
Posted by: Chancy | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 06:28 PM
I stop in to read and you're writing about one of my favorite subjects! I was recently at a conference in NYC, and 9 out of the 62 speakers was a woman. Frankly, those are better odds than I've seen advertised at some other conferences (although, quite frankly, not all that great.)
The biggest problem, I think, is that women don't toot their own horns enough--and when they do, they're sometimes referred to by the "B" word, which can be wrong in so many ways and super-discouraging.
and you're right about Technorati. It isn't all it's cracked up to be. Its ranking system really should be, like tarot card readings, only for our entertainment. Sadly, in come circles, it's not.
Hope to see you soon! (I think I'll be in NYC next week)
Posted by: tish grier | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 07:06 PM
Wow, you mean we're supposed to blog for *other* people?
Posted by: donna | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 08:47 PM
I used to get caught up in the numbers, but I realized introspectively that I wasn't going in that direction when I started blogging and I didn't want to tweak my blogging to try to go that way. I was going to ask the genre of the top 100 but it appears that Chancy answered that. As all us 'elders' know, what is popular in our culture is not necessarily what is good or of quality.
Posted by: Tabor | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 09:53 PM
The top 100 are red hot because they're irrelevant in a day or two; all those folks heading nowhere love the rush. What you have in your blog, Ronnie, and your visitors in theirs, is slow news, the kind that stays news.
Posted by: Robert Brady | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 10:38 PM
Bloggers get all excited about the annual blog awards, but I don't aspire to anything like that. I would like a modest readership, as opposed to 'just writing for myself', because I could use feedback on my topics and opinions. We learn from researching, but we also learn from each other.
As to seniors vs elders, I've been thinking of 'seniors' in the SS retirement sense of 62+ but putting 'elders' somewhat older. I'm probably wrong, lol. There are four decades now in the senior category! with 90-somethings becoming more common, and think what changes occur between birth and 40!
The best political blogs that happen to have women writers or women running them are treated pretty much the same as male-authored ones, it seems to me. I'm not sure how much it matters online although in real-life conferences and the like, I can see where the absence of females (being invited?) would be obvious, as would any lack of ethnic diversity, range in age, and so on.
Posted by: dus7 | Wednesday, 31 May 2006 at 11:09 PM
This is all a great read and continuing thought provoking.
It seems if the "youthcentric" social blogs, such as MySpace and LiveJournal etc. would be on the other tail of the A-list distribution?
RE: seniors or senior citizens vs elders
In some cultures, "elder" is a title bestowed on some but not all people above a certain age. It is an achieved status, not one acsribed simply by living longer. I like Vuee's solution (theelderlies.wordpress.com) to borrow the Pueblo Indian (among other groups) concept of "the elderlies" to refer to the general class of golden agers.
Posted by: M Pamela Bumsted | Thursday, 01 June 2006 at 01:15 AM
Your blogs are always provocative, thoughtful, informative, well written, and the only one of two to which I regularly return. But "elder"? Makes me feel as if I should be wise, and that will never happen.
Perhaps we can do away with identifiers altogether? It's what we say and do, and not our age, that counts.
Incidentally, "well written" means a great deal to me. I've been ploughing through a lot of terribly dull blogs lately, it it's begun to be upsetting, as well as unsettling.
Posted by: leah | Thursday, 01 June 2006 at 11:59 AM
I thought elder was a term not necessarily age-related, more dependent upon the respect and admiration of a community for an individual as a reliable source of accumulated life knowledge. Typically, that individual is likely to be older, but as with everything in life, there are always exceptions to the rule.
I can certainly embrace use of the term "elder" though I am challenged by a long held belief that it referred to the oldest of the old. I surely can go along with thinking...consider me an elder until I prove myself otherwise! ;-) Seems to me the term sets the tone for bestowing on those who are aging some respect and deference.
My experience suggests almost everyone who is aging has acquired some knowledge worthy of being shared with others who may not have yet acquired that learning.
I share a dislike for the term "seniors," but find so much officially labelled with that term, including names across the tops of bldgs for "Senior Centers," so that change will be slow. "Elderbloggers" in NYT reinforces the start here earlier for that change.
We live in a dynamic world. Change is inevitable. Let's not be passive participants in life. Let's make the change the way we want.
As a reader without a blog, I must tell you that I pay only cursory attention to "100 top" or "100 best" type lists of anything. But...I should point out that a small UP newspaper article listing "3 of the best senior blogs" is what caught my attention, bringing me to TGB in the first place. Obviously, press, publicity are important if a blogger wants to increase readership.
Also, as a reader, I want to see any blog which I hold in high regard, such as this one, receive more attention, more publicity, more readers and more comments beyond when I am an active participant. I love the dialogue, even when I may not agree.
I tend to think that supporting that in which I believe requires action for any readership expansion, be it making the blog known to those in the media, acquainting people with whom I come in contact through word-of-mouth, passing along a printed blog name with web address, etc., all of which may have a ripple effect over time. I hope other readers are doing the same.
When I think of the rating system of bloggers, I am reminded of the rating system in television. Programs came and went based on ratings in TV, still do. What a crock! Has nothing to do with quality of content.
The same may well be true of your blogs. Too bad these genius tech people can't come up with a better system for recognizing and measuring blog quality, readership.
Posted by: joared | Thursday, 01 June 2006 at 02:30 PM
I blog because I must, I don't count anything because that would upset the balance, and finally now that I'm 64, I kind of like "crone" rather than Old, senior or elder. sometimes screaming crone is good.
Posted by: Lorna | Thursday, 01 June 2006 at 04:52 PM
Posted by: steve Garfield | Thursday, 01 June 2006 at 07:44 PM
"I come from a land down-under...
Where women glow and men plunder...
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover!"
-Men At Work, Nov 1980-
On the verge of turning 60 last year I came to the net looking for community - people of my generation to share 'stuff' with - it seemed at the time I was fast approaching a brick wall and I needed help to get over/under/around... whatever it took.
I've always been a bit of a geek, so when I found the 'elder' community online I jumped right on in to participate. My blog so far is a bit of everything - and my website celebrates my new status of senior.
I am not so much concerned with reaching any top 100 - but with reaching people I can talk to - or more importantly as it has turned out - listen to! I thought I needed to reach other 60-year-olds, but I have been blown away by the encouragement, motivation and enthusiasm I have found in people online way beyond that age, and yes, many of them women...
Posted by: DellaB | Friday, 02 June 2006 at 10:01 AM
Wow! Look at all the people you inspired to comment on your thought-provoking blog! That certainly speaks for itself.
Posted by: Alexandra Grabbe | Saturday, 03 June 2006 at 12:39 PM
The top 100 are not the blogs I read, so it would be odd to want to be on the list. But I do want readers, it's true -- and I don't want age or gender to determine whether I read -- or am read by -- any particular person.
I really appreciate the point that many of our readers are not, themselves, bloggers, and so don't register on these rankings anyway. Even hit counts are beside the point, as someone else mentioned above, now that so many of us use feeds to read.
I'm interested in how your writing will change from a new place.
Posted by: SB | Saturday, 03 June 2006 at 07:18 PM
Am I to understand, that non-bloggers, such as myself, don't count in determining the Top 100 Blogs? What a pathetic rating system! Surely they can come up with something better.
Posted by: joared | Saturday, 03 June 2006 at 10:08 PM
I took a look at my "blog list" out of interest. It's broken into three groups: misc, famous (as in the person writing it is famous for something other than their blog), and (real life) friends. I'll discount friends for the moment because I don't have a choice about adding them to the list/reading them. :D
Misc has 6 women bloggers and 3 male. Intriguingly, under famous I have four men, one couple and only one woman. Is this because less famous women bother with a blog?
Posted by: sylvia | Sunday, 04 June 2006 at 05:44 AM
Welcome this blogher to your world and am I grateful/lucky to blunder onto TGB. Incidentally, the near title of a fabulous PBS 'eldershow'. Great minds...
Posted by: makm-over | Thursday, 08 June 2006 at 12:08 PM
I am one of those "elder" bloggers. I hate the term and I agree the stats aren't quite accurate.
Dr. Dorree Lynn
Posted by: Dr. Dorree Lynn | Monday, 28 May 2007 at 03:40 PM