Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Bloggernacle Dilemma

There was a time when the blog group known as "Bloggernacle," that is a play on Tabernacle if anyone doesn't already know, was a very busy place. It didn't take long for comments to be piled up on each other. This was especially the case with big group blogs and those that started the trend. Even now they get a good sized participation, but not nearly as much as in the past. Many of the single blogs have dropped down to one or two comments when an article is posted. Still other blogs have simply dimmed away and have not been replaced. All this could be chalked up to the season, but it has been going on for several months.

Several questions could be asked about this, although no actual study has been done. It could very well be subjective observation. It’s not as if this blog ever generated much of a buzz. Yet, there are several "regular" reads that are not producing much work, if any at all.

Possibly those who participate have become bored by the community chat. Sometimes it does seem that topics are picked over time and again. What could be said by most has probably already been said. This is not to say new and interesting posts have not been written, but they have become rare. Then again, that is another subjective observation that can easily be rejected. The more controversial topics become a feeding frenzy that quickly dies down filled with the usual suspects.

Another probability is the "circle the wagon" syndrome, where readers latch on to particular blogs and don't explore others. This is reasonable considering the number of blogs out there to be read. Having to read every one of them in a list and commenting on them, especially with something to say, could be a full time job. It could also be a fun challenge for at least a week. Considering the seeming downshift of the Bloggernacle, perhaps it wouldn't be so hard at this time. There is the idea that "diversification" of single writer blogs have inundated the reader and siphoned off simple commentors. This doesn't seem to be the answer as, again, there aren’t a lot of new faces.

It isn't that any of this is of importance to the real world. There have been a few who, for various reasons, see the Bloggernacle as a kind of support group. What is at issue is all the predictions made early on about the promise of the whole venture. No longer would a person be stuck only with a set of real world people who probably don't have the same interests or needs. Particularly with Latter-day Saints, a more open and talkative "Ward" would develop that gets past simple Sunday School discussions. The blog is especially suited for the "create your own systematic theology" that Mormonism often exhibits. Of course the danger is sometimes not telling apart the orthodox from the speculative and worse. That is partly why the "Straight and Narrow Blog" was created; to offer a more controlled discussion and topic check. It evolved to have a less defensive posture, but still remains faithful to the LDS Church and its teachings. It seems "The Blogger of Jared morphed into the intentions of this blog.

Where does the Bloggernacle go from here? That depends on the reality of the observation. It could move to another place. Writers could spread out and try to make a niche for themselves. Only the strongest and most popular could survive - with a few determined stragglers. Like Web Pages before it, the blog could be replaced by a new Internet communication structure. Yet, it could be the slowing down is just a short trend that will pick back up with time. As the saying goes, only the future can tell.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that your observations are particularly accurate. Splendid Sun get's more comments and traffic than it ever has. Same with BCC. The only one that seems to be slowing down a bit is T&S, but they are slow to add new bloggers and real life trumps the blogs every time. There are still the uber-threads, though and, as I said, traffic is as high as ever (despite the dramatic proliferation of newer blogs).

Jettboy said...

Well, your probably right, I don't know. It isn't as if there is a scientific way to measure things. However, I am not the only one to has said the bloggernacle was getting a lower participation. Perhaps its a matter of the proliferation of newer blogs (that I don't see, or they don't last long) that makes it seem less people are commenting on posts.

All I know is the ones I used to read a lot are not very active and don't have much interaction anymore. The big blogs have always had a high number of people involved. The problem is that most who do post at them seem to be the same people. Therefore, I think my observations are particularly accurate, but not for every single instance.

Anonymous said...

Several people I have talked to have become, as I have at times, disenchanted with the big-blog bloggernacle. Some have expressed disinterest in the deep doctrine discussions, others don't like being ignored when their comment gets lost among all the others, and some are sick of the arrogance and hubris they see displayed. But everybody I've discussed this with (it's been on my mind in recent weeks as well) seems to agree with what you've stated here. Things are slowing down, and people (not all, of course) are growing tired of the bloggernacle.

Perhaps out of the ashes a phoenix will rise?

Clark Goble said...

I think for many there is a "been there done that." When you've already seen a discussion multiple times there is far less incentive to go through it again. But finding new and interesting posts isn't that easy. When they pop up they get a lot of traffic.

But I think time has a lot to do with it as well.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Clark's been-there-done-that theme, I've actually heard this discussion several times over the last 2-3 years. I've never cared for the term "Bloggernacle," but the statistics for things like do suggest that the audience for LDS blogs has been continuing its steady growth.

What may be changing is the distribution of attention. Where there used to be a reasonably large floating audience that checked out new blogs and read widely among the existing ones, it now seems as if a larger number of readers are sticking to a relatively short list of sites. Which creates impediments for the emergence of new high-profile sites, but not an insurmountable one.

Jettboy said...

I just want to add that I don't believe the "Bloggernacle" is dying. When I wrote this blog entry I specifically tried to avoid that kind of language. True, it could be implied by what I said. That was not my intention.

What I was doing was expressing my personal observation. One that I have heard from others. What I don't believe is that any of this is going to just go away. There are too many people still active and interested. There is, I believe, a change that is hard to explain. Perhaps the whole thing is subjective to the blogs the reader pays attention to.

Threads of the Divine said...

Blogs and their posts are either interesting or they aren't. If they are, people will continue to read and post comments. It may be that the "Bloggernacle" as a whole is just too large. Outer Blogness / Damu seems to have a very strong readership and level of activity. You should check it out! Blogs like Daves Mormon Inquiry and Joh Dehlin seem to attract Mormons of all types since they seem to both give and take.