At least when it comes to China-related blogging, traffic in general seems to go down. An outspoken blogger told me that this was the case with his blog. Commenting activity on usually very lively blogs seems to suggest that even there, traffic is low, and it is certainly low my own blog. Statistics do go up once I’ve posted something new – and even more so when I post more than just one article a time. It certainly didn’t help that I’ve put some voluntary limits on my blogging output by now. OK – semi-voluntary limits.
But low traffic isn’t what I imagined five years ago, when I started this blog. I thought it would be more like publishing. In fact, it has become more like e-mailing. Most people seem to read this through a feedreader. And only rather little “comes back”, in terms of comments or emails.
Should that trouble me? It doesn’t, actually. It has led me to cutting back on blogging, because it’s influence was so small that it doesn’t justify two or even one hours a day of blogging (blogging here includes lots of reading). But at the same time, I see this blog as a contribution to the vast resources on which I depend myself – to the internet. It’s Give and Take.
And once in a while, something comes back directly to this blog. A comment, some advice, some kind of input.
There is only one regret I do feel: it’s that this blog is rarely read in China, and rarely responded to from China. Now, you can draw your own conclusions, of course, and suggest that it is too cold-war-minded to attract readers.
But I believe that the contrary is the case.
It isn’t just that JR isn’t really cold-war-minded – he’s only outspoken. And even people who take offense, as a rule, tend to come back to what seems to offend them. It’s a global rule, not specifically Chinese, and I’m not trying to explore the motivation for such reading habits.
It would seem to me that censorship in China has become yet more efficient – that would be one factor in declining traffic. In the past, even when it was said that WordPress blogs were blocked in China throughout, one or another white point in China would still appear on ClustrMaps, every few days or weeks. Not anymore.
There is a blog in German, Doppelpod, which – I think – started early in 2011. It has seen some success so far – it’s quoted on some of the more influential German blogs once in a while, for example. But the actual goal of its founders – to establish a platform where Chinese and German readers would discuss issues and build cross-cultural or personal links between each other – hasn’t been achieved, and that goal is now being abandoned.
Obviously, censorship isn’t the only barrier between a German and a Chinese public. Language is another barrier. Rather limited general interest in each other’s country is yet another.
But there’s a good thing about simply blogging for the fun it brings: cold numbers and economics don’t need to decide about its future. In fact, bloggers seem to be more free to write about what really concerns them, than professonal journalists.
And it doesn’t matter how many people read your blog. What matters is that those who care do read.