The indefatigable Sian Jones has crunched the numbers on the impressive 352 responses to last month’s readers’ survey, so I now have a much clearer picture of who reads this blog (or at least that subset of them able and willing to reply to annoying online questionnaires). Here’s the results (and Sian’s powerpoint summary):
First the X-ray of the readership:
A pretty even gender balance (55% female), mainly young (at least by my standards) – 50% under the age of 34 – and European (58%).
Over a quarter (27%) do not have English as a first language, so I may have to keep an eye on my use of slang or obscure English humour, although a reassuring 89% find the blog easy to understand.
Over two fifths (44%) of the readers work for NGOs (a third of them for Oxfam). Add to them the 19% academics/students and the 15% government/multilaterals and it looks like a pretty specialised development sector audience. On this blog, wonks rule.
Now your thoughts on the blog:
A fair number of glitches using it on mobiles, via RSS feeds etc which the tech guys will take a look at in the impending redesign – many thanks for those tips.
In terms of content, the thing you most like is original articles. I hate you – they’re the most work. Next most popular are ‘links I liked’ signposts to other work and summaries of new research from other organizations (that’s more like it). You’re not that keen on video content (shame, I enjoy digging up random youtube content….). Mixed messages on having more multi-contributor debates.
As for readers’ suggestions, no clear message beyond ‘more of everything’ – I’m thinking of moving from posting every day to every hour. Which rather endorses the reader who wrote “Henry Ford apparently said ‘If I asked the customer what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’. So I am loving reading whatever Duncan writes, and the best suggestion I can make is – a faster horse.” I’m starting to feel like Boxer in Animal Farm…….
As for innovation (which as we all know, is a Good Thing), readers are notably unimpressed by twitter (yesssss), and instead want more content management tools – access to ‘greatest hits’, old posts etc. We’ll get onto it. And I’m glad at least one person said ‘make it printable’ – I always hate it when you can’t print out stuff on the interweb.
And no surprises on who else you read – uberblogger and ABBA hoover Chris Blattman comes top of the list, followed by Owen Barder, narrowly beating the mighty Guardian machine. I do think blogging particularly suits maverick individuals (but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?)
Favourite overall comments [and my responses]:
‘I love watching Duncan writhe under the strain of his internal battle with Development jargon.’ [glad you can enjoy my pain, really]
‘The guests can be a bit heavy’ [are you paying attention, guest posters?]
‘He could write about fashion and I bet I would find it interesting.’ [you’ve clearly never met me]
‘I read it every morning with a cup of tea’ [awwwww-sweeeet!]
‘If I’m honest I use it more for a break from doing my PhD….’ [that’s OK, I use it as a break from doing my job too]
‘I know that the fp2p has occasionally come under some criticism for its honesty (for instance the Spectator’s misinterpretation of the swimming pool debate), but it’s the honesty about the inner workings of Oxfam, and the debates that take place and the decisions that get taken about how to work and what to fund that make it so readable. I enjoy interesting links and the book reviews and the guest posts, but these can be found in other places. The honest commentary on the workings of a massive INGO is unique and fascinating.’ [no comment on swimming pool-gate, but will keep trying to air Oxfam’s more interesting internal dilemmas, despite the Spectator]
‘I work for a small rural community in South Africa, and use this blog to breathe fresh air about current ideas, debates and cool papers.’ [thanks, you just made my day]
Now I promised free copies of the second edition of From Poverty to Power (due out in October) to the authors of these quotes, but that was before I realized the responses were anonymous. If you want to claim your copy, send a mailing address to dgreen[at]oxfam[dot]org[dot]uk – I’m relying on your natural honesty and the unattractiveness of the prizes to make this work.
My overall impressions? Extremely encouraged and touched by the support, and ‘just keep doing what you’re doing’ tone of most comments. People generally seem to like the tone, the magpie nature of the content etc. So as it doesn’t seem to be broke, I will only make limited attempts to fix it – more on that redesign to follow. But above all, thankyou very much to all the 352 people who took the trouble to respond and to Sian for processing all those comments – really appreciated.