Comments, Traffic Statistics Help Empower Bloggers

Tag: Cool Places and Things

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Whether bloggers are writing to change the world, or just discussing a bad break-up, they may get an extra boost of motivation from traffic-measuring and interactive tools that help them feel more connected to and more influential in their communities, according to researchers.

In a series of studies, female bloggers showed that they enjoyed blogging because it made them feel empowered and part of a community, said Carmen Stavrositu, who recently completed doctoral work in mass communications at Penn State. The studies also indicated that the sheer number of visits to their blog and comments predicted their continued interest in blogging.

"Women who received a high number of site visitors felt a deeper sense of agency about blogging compared to those who received fewer visitors, ultimately leading to a greater sense of influence," said Stavrositu, who is currently an assistant professor of communications at the University of Colorado. "Also, women who received many comments felt more empowered than those who received very few comments, due to a strong perceived sense of community."

The number of comments is anindicator of connection, and traffic statistics are indicators of influence, according to S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications andco-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, who worked with Stavrositu.

The researchers, who report their findings in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, initially asked 340 female bloggers about their blogging activities and their feelings of empowerment. The survey of bloggers, who were drawn at random from a web directory of blogs written predominantly by women, showed that those who blogged for personal reasons felt a greater sense of community in the blogosphere, whereas bloggers who wrote about external subjects believed said they felt that blogging made them competent, assertive and confident.

In a follow-up experiment, researchers asked 106 female college students to create a blog and write over two days about a personal topic -- for instance, personal relationships or their health. Another group of 108 participants were asked to write about external issuesthat were important to them, such as racism, science, social issues and politics.

The researchers then manipulated site metrics indicating the number of visitors to the blog to test how theyaffected the bloggers' sense of agency. The si