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 Post subject: Blogging for Bonsai?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:06 am 
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A while ago Walter Pall made a few comments to the editors over at KoB concerning blogs and their unique flexibility. At this time he had recently created his own blog (see link below) which has become wildly successful.
Walter's comments got the gears turning at KoB and after looking at his blog and the often quoted blog of Brent Walston (see link below), it was decided that it would be a remarkable accomplishment if a collection of influential people in bonsai all had blogs at the same place, a one stop source for bonsaist blogs, if you will. However, it was also decided that the collection had to be one of quality and not one that would be open to everybody, it would have to be by invite only in order to conserve space, to keep it undiluted, and to maintain quality.
Now, a short time later, the blog collection is well underway at KoB. It featues some of the most respected names in bonsai from all over the world and it is still growing!
The questions are, can blogs help the bonsai community, can they successfully promote the art of bonsai, do they compete with forums, will they cause a reduction in the number of articles published elsewhere, and does having a collection of bonsai related blogs all in one single location contribute to the readers quest for knowledge and inspiration?
What are your thoughts?
The KoB Blog Collection http://www.knowledgeofbonsai.org/blogs.php
Walter Pall's Blog http://walter-pall-bonsai.blogspot.com/
Brent Walston's Blog http://bonsainurseryman.typepad.com/

Will


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:04 pm 
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some food for thought here:
My blog is successful indeed. Within less than 2 months I now have clearly more than 1000 visitors per week. My system can differentiate between visitors who are coming back and totally new ones. By now around 50 % are coming back. This means that around 500 NEW people are seeing the blog per week. And this only 2.5 months after inception. The numbers are steadily rising. So over one year I expect around 30,000 or more people who have at least visited my blog once. One has to know that quite a few so called robots are searching the net. These are not people, these are machines on search for something. Since the robots would be under the category 'coming back' there should really be more than 30,000 people.
How does this compare to forums? I think one has to see the number of hits of certain threads. Like if one goes to the eristic section you can see from 1000 to 15,000 and more total hits per thread. You have to taken into account that numerous people look at them several times, so about half of that should be more to the number of total individuals looking at a thread. But this over the course of many months and even years. Is this many? This is enormous! This is the highest numbers that I know of bonsai forums and it is pretty high for any forums on the net. What is normal for forums? Well, look at a few well visited forums and look at hte hit numbers for the general thread. you will find that the numbers are 100 to 300 sometimes more and only rarely over 1000. Then take off the ones who have visited it several times and you come to a couple hundred visitors for a thread. If I ahve started a thread on any of these forums I tend to get more hits than generally. From 300 to 500 people would be a fir guess over the lifetime of a thread, which can be many years. So that is the exposure that I get on bonsai forums if I show something. One has to understand that for a professional exposure is one of the main driving forces to be on the net. It is only worthwhile to show something if people look at it.
Now this is what I compare my blog numbers with. I get on my blog as many people in one day as the majority of threads in bonsai forums ever get in their lifetime. This I would called exposure!
Can this be true? Well, I have a homepage with my gallery which is very well known. Most people have seen it. Some come there a couple of times per year. But who would go there many times? Not much is happening there, only two or three times per year it is updated. (On the blog there are more than one threads every day on average). Around 500 to 700 people look at my homepage EVERY day.Take off the robots and then it should be something like 300 per day. This makes it 100,000 per year! Kind of impressive isn't it? At least to me it is. Or am I missing something?
This shows what the demand out there is, what the market for online bonsai information really is.
The question is why only a small fraction of these people look at bonsai forums.
The question was whether blogs are a threat to bonsai forums. Well, in a way yes. I am still posting on several English forums and also on ones in other languages. But I am not anymore showing all my new pictures and creations and travelogues etc. on the forums. I lead people to my blog instead. Besides exposure there is the need to interact, to communicate. And this forums do much better. And there is the need to be informed and entertained. These are reasons for me to still browse through a dozen different forums every day. But I rarely ever write something.
Should everybody have a blog now? Well, everybody can have one, but most would be pretty lonely. People must make an effort to find you and they must be interested. So a well known name is the prerequisite for a successful blog. The blog offers at KoB are a good idea and it is wise to choose the people carefully who are running blogs there. It should be an easy to find gateway for people on search on the net.
I would not be surprised if some of these blogs soon get more visitors than KoB itself.
A blog is NOT designed for interaction. While one can interact somehow it is mainly about and ongoing diary that is written by one person and a whole lot of folks are watching him quietly. A forum is about interaction. So I think both have their place and both will continue to thrive if run well.
Walter


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:14 pm 
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Walter Pall wrote:
A blog is NOT designed for interaction. While one can interact somehow it is mainly about and ongoing diary that is written by one person and a whole lot of folks are watching him quietly. A forum is about interaction. So I think both have their place and both will continue to thrive if run well.

I totally agree with you Walter. It is very hard and almost impractical to have interaction with a blog. But the exposure is there in full force.
Forums are definitely all about interaction.
And for these reasons I believe that the two forms will both prosper.
Thanks for you thoughts.
-Paul


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:19 pm 
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Blogs are good because you get quality information, and often there is new stuff added.
On forums, 90% of the posts is irrelevant to what I am interested in. So, I rather go to a blog if I want to spend some "quality time" with my computer.
But I think the number of hits on blogs that Walter is talking about is significantly inflated by the repeated hits of previous visitors: Let's say that one day you get 1000 hits on your blog. People look at it and they like it.
The next day, you get another 1000 hits. These hits could be from the exact same people who visited your blog yesterday, and they are looking for new stuff today. They spend a few seconds, and after seing that there is nothing new, they leave.
The same 1000 people could be hitting your blog every day (I don't even count the robots), and by the end of the month you have 30000 hits. You assume that half of these are new people (15000), but in fact you may have only 1000 "members" altogether. So, you inflated your number by about 15 times, which is a huge margin of error (of course, 1000 is still a good number).
This is not unrealistic scenario, since I do this all the time, looking into a few blogs for new entries.
But alltogether, blogs are a great idea if you want exposure: people who like your work will always visit you (plus some new people), and they don't have to search through all the garbage on the forums to find you.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:29 pm 
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Attila, you may have missed Walter's words in the first paragraph of his reply, "My system can differentiate between visitors who are coming back and totally new ones. By now around 50 % are coming back. This means that around 500 NEW people are seeing the blog per week. And this only 2.5 months after inception."
Will


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:54 pm 
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Will Heath wrote:
Attila, you may have missed Walter's words in the first paragraph of his reply, "My system can differentiate between visitors who are coming back and totally new ones. By now around 50 % are coming back. This means that around 500 NEW people are seeing the blog per week. And this only 2.5 months after inception."
Will

Ok, if that's really the case, then disregard my example.
BTW, how does that work? How does the system register my address when I hit a blog?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:36 pm 
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Attila,
Some systems recognize IP addresses and others use cookies to determine if the visitor is unique. Server logs usually differentiate between fresh visitors and repeats also in reports.

Will


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:03 pm 
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Regarding cookies, I hope the system doesn't record a viewer as a new one every time the cookie is cleaned up from his hard drive. I do clean up my cookies almost every other day.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:08 pm 
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Attila Soos wrote:
Regarding cookies, I hope the system doesn't record a viewer as a new one every time the cookie is cleaned up from his hard drive. I do clean up my cookies almost every other day.

It does.
-Paul


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:15 pm 
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Walter Pall wrote:
How does this compare to forums? I think one has to see the number of hits of certain threads. Like if one goes to the eristic section you can see from 1000 to 15,000 and more total hits per thread. You have to taken into account that numerous people look at them several times, so about half of that should be more to the number of total individuals looking at a thread. But this over the course of many months and even years. Is this many? This is enormous! This is the highest numbers that I know of bonsai forums and it is pretty high for any forums on the net. What is normal for forums? Well, look at a few well visited forums and look at hte hit numbers for the general thread. you will find that the numbers are 100 to 300 sometimes more and only rarely over 1000. Then take off the ones who have visited it several times and you come to a couple hundred visitors for a thread.

Yes, the Eristic section here on AoB is highly popular and some of the articles have incredible numbers of views, as you said, certainly some of the highest numbers on any articles on any bonsai forums, anywhere.
And as you also pointed out, as extremely successful as AoB is in regards to numbers of views, it still pales in comparison to blogs like yours, Brent's, and even blogs featured at KoB like Min Hsuan Lo, Rob Kempinski, or Peter Chan.
So what does this tell us about the internet bonsai community, when blog content receives more views than the most popular forum articles? It tells me that serious bonsaists haven't changed at all, they still seek quality information, quality photographs, straight forward content, and undiluted knowledge. Blogs offer all this without the discussion prevalent on most forums, of which a huge percentage is rambling, non-educational, political, or non-bonsai related.
Walter Pall wrote:
Now this is what I compare my blog numbers with. I get on my blog as many people in one day as the majority of threads in bonsai forums ever get in their lifetime. This I would called exposure!
Can this be true? Well, I have a homepage with my gallery which is very well known. Most people have seen it. Some come there a couple of times per year. But who would go there many times? Not much is happening there, only two or three times per year it is updated. (On the blog there are more than one threads every day on average). Around 500 to 700 people look at my homepage EVERY day.Take off the robots and then it should be something like 300 per day. This makes it 100,000 per year! Kind of impressive isn't it? At least to me it is. Or am I missing something?

In short, a good blog, like yours, is reaching more people than all the combined subscriptions to the major bonsai magazines and more than most the on-line forums will ever reach. A collection of quality blogs, all easily located and accessible, like those at KoB, in time may very well reach more people than all the forums combined.
Walter Pall wrote:
The question is why only a small fraction of these people look at bonsai forums.

The answer lies in content. A forum can only be judged by the content it offers, not the number of members, not the logo, not politics, but by the content.
Most people do not realize that all the bonsai magazines have more subscribers than all the active members of all the bonsai forums combined (active being defined as posting at least twice per month). As much as people may not want to hear it, bonsai forum members are a very small percentage of all total bonsai practitioners, in fact, they are a minority.
Those who do not seek advise, companionship, idle conversation, may well find blogs a refreshing alternative.
Walter Pall wrote:
The question was whether blogs are a threat to bonsai forums. Well, in a way yes. I am still posting on several English forums and also on ones in other languages. But I am not anymore showing all my new pictures and creations and travelogues etc. on the forums. I lead people to my blog instead. Besides exposure there is the need to interact, to communicate. And this forums do much better. And there is the need to be informed and entertained. These are reasons for me to still browse through a dozen different forums every day. But I rarely ever write something.

I believe blogs will attract a different breed of bonsaist as well as some of the forum regulars. Those who do not seek interaction, those curious about the art, and those looking to better understand the great artists and their work, will no doubt enjoy blogs. Blogs may not be a threat, per say, there will always be those who have the need to interact, but they may well educate the public that quality information and inspiration can be found, without the usual dilution.

Will


Last edited by Will Heath on Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:30 pm 
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Paul Stokes wrote:
It does.
-Paul

That's what I suspected, but I wanted to confirm with somebody else.
Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:34 pm 
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Will Heath wrote:
So what does this tell us about the internet bonsai community, when blog content receives more views than the most popular forum articles? It tells me that serious bonsaists haven't changed at all, they still seek quality information, quality photographs, straight forward content, and undiluted knowledge. Blogs offer all this without the discussion prevalent on most forums, of which a huge percentage is rambling, non-educational, political, or non-bonsai related.

Will,
you just posted a great summary of why there is a great need for blogs vs forums in the bonsai marketplace. Very good points.
In light of this need, KOB had a great strategic vision to incorporate these blogs into the website.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:15 pm 
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Attila Soos wrote:
Blogs are good because you get quality information, and often there is new stuff added.
On forums, 90% of the posts is irrelevant to what I am interested in. So, I rather go to a blog if I want to spend some "quality time" with my computer.

Absolutely! Very few forums delve into the depths of pertinant/relevant information. The majority of forums these days is no better than MSN messenger, where idle chit chat takes place with little to no valuable information. On occasion certain threads stimulate passionate instructive communication, but too few and too far between IMO.
On the other hand I have always found blogs very informative, some more than others. Because a blog is more of a "personal diary" and the audience at large cannot control the content, not that we want to, but perhaps the authors should reflect on the important aspects of the information provided (not unlike discussions taken place). What is the thought I am trying to convey and what information will the audience receive from my daily inscriptions.


Last edited by Richard Moquin on Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:15 pm 
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Richard Moquin wrote:
Because a blog is more of a "personal diary" and the audience at large cannot control the content, not that we want to, but perhaps the authors should reflect on the important aspects of the information provided (not unlike discussions taken place). What is the thought I am trying to convey and what information will the audience receive from my daily inscriptions.

AoB was in fact started a couple years ago to get away from the "Audience controlling the content." At another forum, which shall remain unnamed, every time a conversation about art was started, certain members of the audience quickly jumped in to proclaim bonsai as a hobby and went to great lengths to marginalize any discussion of art in bonsai.
Debates quickly turned heated with the intent, often successful, of getting the thread closed, effectually censoring any such conversation. A few like minded individuals decided they needed a place where such vital discussion could take place without such interruptions and censorship tactics and approached the owner of that forum to have a separate section of the forum set up for artistic discussion. The owner refused, stating that he did not want to "segregate" his members. A few months later we opened the doors here at AoB to the great dismay of the hobbyists and have been called elitist every since.
Blogs give the artist the ability to show bonsai their way, write what they feel is important, without censorship, without being controlled by the audience. They can post what they want and let the readers decide if it is valuable. AoB filtered the common forum fodder and gleaned the artistic aspects that were so commonly attacked or ignored on other forums. Blogs can take this further, they can give us straight from the hip, no punches pulled, unfiltered and uncensored bonsai. Raw and tasty!

Will


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