Why Subscribe to Blogs? Survey Results

In my article Why subscribe to blogs? 8 Things to consider, I outlined the characteristics of a blog which would induce me to subscribe to it - or not. I invited readers to take part in a small survey asking the question "Why do you subscribe to blogs?".

I've analysed the results and placed them in rank order. Here they are:




Informative 21% 1
Well-written 19% 2
Consistent quality 14% 3
Easy to subscribe to 10% 4
Updated regularly 9% 5
Provocative 9% 5
Other 8% 7
Humorous 5% 8
Newsworthy 3% 9


Why subscribe to a blog?

I have to say that to some extent these results surprised me. Of course, most of us suffer from the delusion that everyone thinks like ourselves, but I should have thought 'Updated regularly' would have attracted a greater percentage of the 'vote', whilst whether a blog is easy to subscribe to seems not to worry too many people.

What really is strange though is the low ranking of 'Newsworthy', because several people said that they subscribe to blogs which they believe will help them keep up-to-date in technology and education. Perhaps the word 'Newsworthy' was ill-chosen when I framed the survey. Perhaps the word 'Informative' is sufficient in this context.

I was pleased to see that 'Well-written' and 'Consistent quality' came in at positions 2 and 3 respectively. However, I was disappointed to discover that 'humorous' ranks almost bottom.

Other reasons for subscribing to a blog, or for not unsubscribing, included supporting people who are friends or who are within one's personal learning network. One person said that the content of a blog should not be too personal or embarrassing.

Unfortunately, because I forgot to include a note on the blog stating that respondents may be quoted unless they requested otherwise, I don't feel able to credit individual people for their comments, but should like to thank everyone who took part.

This was hardly a scientific survey, but hopefully it has provided food for thought and a starting point for discussion. Perhaps a similar kind of survey could be undertaken by a school in relation to what its parents look for in a  school website. It strikes me that we make all sorts of assumptions about what people like or dislike, and one way (not the only way) to find out if such assumptions are justified is to ask our target readership.

If you have any thoughts about this, or if you have run a similar survey yourself, please leave a comment about it below.

Why Subscribe to Blogs? 8 Things to Consider

So many blogs, so little time. What with all the 101 other things you have to do in your life, you can't afford to waste time on blogs that won't benefit you in any way. Or, to be more accurate, in which the benefits are exceeded by the cost, ie the time spent.

So what kind of things might you take into account when deciding whether or not to subscribe to a blog's RSS feed? Here is what I look for.

  1. I will usually have discovered a blog through a reference to one particular article. The obvious thing to check out, then, is whether all or most of the articles on the blog look interesting, or whether the one I came across was the exception to the rule.
  2. Are the articles engaging? Ideally, I prefer to read stuff that is well-written. Not just well-written from a technical point of view, but in a way that's engaging, that reels me in. I want to have to drag myself away because I have other things to do, not force myself to read it because I think it might be good for me.
  3. OK, not everyone can be a great writer, so is it informative at least? Am I going to learn stuff that I may not otherwise come across, or not packaged in as succinct a manner?
  4. Is it newsworthy? I find it hard to keep up with news, despite, or possibly because of, the dozens of sources I rely on. If there's a blog that consistently mentions the latest news, be it technical or educational or otherwise, I'm interested.
  5. Is it humorous? Even if it's none of the things mentioned so far, if it makes me smile or laugh that is a big plus.
  6. Is it provocative? A blog should make you think, or react.
  7. Once it's made it through the hurdles presented so far, a blog has to show that its owner is serious about it. The issue here is: has it been updated regularly? If it's been more than a month since the last post, that is a real turn-off for me.
    Yes, I know that people are busy, but I think it's a matter of priorities. I have blogs that I haven't updated in months. But this one, ICT in Education, gets updated on average at least once a day during the week, and sometimes more, and sometimes at the weekends and on holidays too. And let me tell you: I am busy!
    That does raise another issue, of course: is a blog updated too frequently? That doesn't bother me in the slightest. I figure that someone can update their blog every 15 minutes if they want to, but I don't have to read it all. But I mention it here because I have recently had one person unsubscribe from my RSS feed because he thought that I update my blog too often.
  8. Finally, is it easy to subscribe? I have a Google toolbar which enables me to subscribe to a blog by clicking on a button labelled 'Subscribe'. If I get a message saying 'Feed not found', I become slightly miffed, because it is pretty easy to avoid that,m and people with slick-looking websites ought to know that. All you have to do is insert the following code within the HEAD part of your Index page:

    "<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml"
    title="RSS Feed for ictineducation.org"
    href="http://www.ictineducation.org/home-page/rss.xml" »",

    substituting your RSS feed and title for mine, or course.

If clicking on Subscribe doesn't work, I'll click on an RSS feed icon or similar. If have to hunt around for that, I'll probably give up, especially if the decision to subscribe was touch and go anyway.

Total time for this whole process? I would say no more than 5 minutes, and most of that will be taken up with #1.

I'd be interested in hearing about what makes you decide to subscribe to an RSS feed or not, so please either comment below or complete the survey on the subject; it will take you just two or three minutes, and I'll publish the results soon.