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Three years on

Warwick Blogs has been running for a little bit more than three years now; we had a pilot period between about May and September 2004, then we went live in October 2004, offering a blog to every student and staff member who wanted one.  That means that Warwick Blogs has now run for three consecutive academic years, so it seems as though this might be an interesting time to look at some statistics for those three years.  Here they are:-

Blogs Authors Posts Comments Commenters Photos
04/5 2,362 2,242 35,983 88,231 8,602 48,709
05/6 988 1,721 32,411 70,261 7,344 45,954
06/7 800 1,396 24,254 31,829 6,340 16,111

Essentially, usage is declining.  Can we hazard any guesses as to why?  I can think of three reasons, though I'm sure there may be others:-

  1. In the first year, we marketed the existence of blogs very heavily, with posters, fridge magnets, beer mats and anything else we could think of.  We went to some time and trouble to get these promotional materials dstributed widely; into academic departments, University House and the residences.  We had an enormous banner made and put it up in University House so that students who were queuing to register might see it and remember it.  Then in the second year, we did a little bit of the same sort of stuff - but nothing like as much.  And in the third year we did no marketing at all (and we haven't done anything in this, the fourth year, either).

  2. This is just a theory, but I think there was a moment when we were first getting started when blogging was, relatively speaking, a new, shiny, interesting thing, (and our own system was itself new and shiny), and I wonder if we benefited from that timing.  But nothing can stay new forever, and there are now many more alternatives to having a Warwick Blog; you can have a blog in any number of good and interesting systems, like Vox or Typepad.  Or you can Twitter instead of blogging.  Or...

  3. ... you could have a Facebook account, and I suspect that this swamps number 1 or 2.  For social networking within the academic community, Facebook is all-conquering, and we observe a startling number of students who have a Facebook account before they arrive or get one soon after they start. And if you already have a Facebook account then it's not immediately obvious that you need another place to write about what you're doing, or another place to share your photos (hence the precipitous drop in the number of photos uploaded; they've all gone into Facebook instead).
One interesting trend that we observe as this academic year got started, though: the proportion of blog entries which are essentially academic in nature seems to have risen sharply.  It's too soon to say yet whether this year will continue the overall downwards trend from last year, but it's very noticeable when looking at the recent entries for the last week or so that (a) most of them have some degree of permissions set on them (mostly "Staff only", presumably because they're entries written at the behest of a tutor), and (b) they're almost all course or study related.  Perhaps this is also a consequence of the Facebook explosion; institutional systems such as ours end up settling into a different niche (ironically, the one we had thought we were originally building for), the area of study and personal development-related blogging.  Time will tell.


Comments Re–enabled

Follow-up to Comments Disabled from Blogbuilder news

Comments on Warwick Blogs entries have now been re-enabled. We apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused.

Changes that you may wish to note:

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Comments Disabled

Unfortunately, during the course of today blogs has been under a malicious attack from a user posting comments under the pseudonym "Dr. Deall". These comments, when viewed in the browser, cause the user to be redirected to another website which may cause distress to the user.

We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused. As a measure to stop more of these comments being posted, we have disabled all commenting on blogs until we can be sure that this cannot happen again. Again, we apologise for this inconvenience - we will be working to re-enable commenting as soon as possible.

Once again, we would like to apologise for any distress or inconvenience these comments have caused. 

UPDATE (24/09) - Comments have now been re-enabled


Two years

Warwick Blogs has now been running for two years, raising the interesting question of how usage in its second year compared with usage in its first year. The numbers look like this:–

  04/5 05/6
Blogs created 2,393 1,163
Blog entries 32,020 29,492
Authors 2,127 1,747
Comments 78,141 65,242
Commenters 1,804 1,530
Images 44,106 41,821

The fact that fewer blogs were created in the second year than in the first is unsurprising; in the first year, nobody had a blog, but in the second year many of the people who wanted a blog had already acquired one. The other numbers are all down slightly, but two data points don't make a trend, so it remains to be seen whether the third year demonstrates that usage is really in gentle decline, or whether it's just random noise from one year to the next.

100,000 comments

There are currently 99,856 comments in Warwick Blogs, which means that some time in the next few days we'll hit 100,000. In one sense, of course, so what? It's just a number. But even so, we're kind of pleased that the system has lasted long enough and proved popular and interesting enough to contain that amount of discussion and debate; the count of comments, much more than the count of posts or images, reflects the degree to which there is a community here, as opposed to a bunch of people all typing away in their own private worlds. (Livejournal, anyone?) How long to a million?
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