Belated LDV statporn for 2009. And my answer to the question, does it matter?

by Stephen Tall on January 4, 2010

Call it laziness, call it New Year ennui, but I’d half a mind not to re-commence my monthly LDV statporn posts. I realise they can be a little bit self-congratulatory and/or self-obsessed. But I’ve finally got round to doing it. And here’s why.

First, because I think it’s only fair to LDV’s readers and, more importantly, our contributors (both those who write for us, and those who comment on what’s written here) to know how many people read this site. It is not my blog, or that of any of the small, volunteer team who runs LDV: it is a collective blog for and by Lib Dems. Clearly that concept only really works if we have some kind of critical mass. And fortunately, thanks to y’all, we do. Statporn is one way in which we demonstrate that LDV is working: to ourselves, to our fellow Lib Dems, and to those from beyond the party who read us.

Secondly, I noticed Liberal Conspiracy and Labour List have both published their year-end statporn: roughly 400,000 and 300,000 absolute unique visitors respectively. Lib Dem Voice (as you’ll see below) is within touching distance, at just under 300,000 for 2009.

We are, it’s true, all some way behind the two blogging behemoths, Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. Neither published their absolute unique visitor counts for 2009, but I expect both broke the one million mark. Iain fell just short of one million absolute unique visitors in 2009 – see his post here; I imagine Guido will have exceeded that milestone. That’s a sizeable achievement, and – whatever LDV readers think of them – one for which they both deserve credit, as single-minded, single-author blogs which have built a large audience of loyal readers.

But size isn’t everything, of course.

For a start, while the big political blogs are read by the political-media commentariat, we are all still minnows compared to the mainstream media: The Independent, the UK’s lowest-selling newspaper, is bought every day by more people than read Iain’s blog for free in a month.

Nor does audience reach necessarily equate to influence. Put it this way, whose views do you take more seriously: Matthew Parris’s or Richard Littlejohn’s? The latter, in the Daily Mail, is vastly more read than the former, in The Times. But it is Mr Parris’s columns which are more likely to influence mainstream media and shape the national political conversation.

Which leaves us where, exactly? Well, it means statporn has a use, just as newspaper circulation figures do. It’s good to be transparent and honest about your readership. But in publishing ours, LDV well recognises that we – and the rest of the blogosphere – are nowhere near as important as the noise that’s generated sometimes suggests.

2009 statporn

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* Google Analytics’ term: it broadly means people using almost 300,000 different computers visited LDV at least once. Some people may be counted more than once (eg, home and work computer),whilst some people may not be counted (eg, two different people use the same computer, or someone reads the site through a feed reader without ever actually visiting it).