Jul 30 2007

Why Australian Bloggers are “Under-represented”

Published by at 1:36 pm under Aussosphere,Australia,Australian Blogs

Nearly two weeks ago Graeme Philipson published a post an article in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled “The Lost Art of Blogging“. The byline is “Australians are just a blip on the global blogosphere. Why is it so?”

The article quotes research by Ross Dawson indicating that only 75 Australian blogs make it in the “Top 25,000” (I’m presuming this metric is taken from how many Australian blogs rank in the top 25,000 on Technorati).

In the article Ross claims a number of reasons why, as a nation, we don’t appear to blog as much as other countries:

I think one key reason is lack of bandwidth in Australia, and of its high cost. Australian internet connections are slower than they are in the rest of the world, and Australia is almost unique in capping usage at quite low levels.

Another factor, according to Mr Dawson, is Australia‘s love of the outdoors. We play more sport, we have better weather and we are not as reliant as people in some countries on indoor leisure activities.

Australians are reluctant to shout out. They don’t want to share their views as much as people in other countries. Australians are not as connected as many other people – there is something of a culture of isolationism in this country.

Firstly, I agree with Gavin Heaton – I don’t think it really has anything to do with the cost of bandwidth. Or the fact that we like spending time outdoors (to which Joe Caruso counters it’s just a matter of discipline). And as to our reluctance to shout out, I think Aussies, on the whole, are pretty opinionated and not exactly shy about airing them. But as far as the “isolationism” goes, perhaps Ross has a point (I’ll expand on this below).

So why are we under-represented in the Blogoshpere? Well, firstly one has to accept the premise that we are in fact under-represented. Perhaps in terms of representation in the “top 25,000 blogs”, we might be. However, the fact remains, that we can’t even be sure how many Australian blogs there are.

But assuming we are under-represented, here are some of my thoughts as to why.

Lack of Awareness

How many Australians in the general population are aware of “blogs”? If we surveyed a cross section of Australians, what do you think the result would be? Whilst many might have visited a blog, there is a giant leap to actually knowing what a blog *is*, and the fact that they could actually blog too.

Lack of Exposure

How much “traditional media” attention does blogging get? Really. And some of it isn’t all that inspiring. Remember this?

BAD news for those worried that the internet’s population seems a little self-obsessed: the top blog on a list of Australia‘s top 100 blogs is a blog about blogging.

Blogs, web journals written by everyone from professional journalists to eight-year-olds, are a phenomenon of the ever-evolving internet. There are more than 75 million worldwide, though many are not worth the click of a mouse button.

Chris Newlan explains a little more about Fairfax’s reluctance to promote the work of bloggers, and David Koopmans weighs in with The Problem with Australian Media.

Lack of Locality

How many Australian blogs are hosted on blogging platforms like Blogspot, TypePad or WordPress?

How many are hosted on overseas servers and on “dot com” domains?

These blogs generally don’t show up on “pages from Australia” searches, which could drastically reduce the local audience.

Lack of Community

Getting back to Ross’ claim that we have a culture of “isolationism”, this may have a bearing.

I remember years ago studying Geert Hofstede and his “Cultural Dimensions”. I don’t know whether his findings are still applicable today, or the authority with which they’re held. But as a nation he found that Australians were the second most “individualist” culture (behind the Americans). On the “Individualism” scale:

Individualism (IDV) on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. The word ‘collectivism’ in this sense has no political meaning: it refers to the group, not to the state. Again, the issue addressed by this dimension is an extremely fundamental one, regarding all societies in the world.

So could it be our lack of collectivism that’s “holding us back” as a nation of bloggers? Although this doesn’t seem to affect Americans, but they do have a much larger audience. In general, I think we could be a lot more supportive of the Aussosphere.

Moving Forward

How do we address these issues? My suggestions for Australian bloggers are;

Maybe collectively we can raise the profile of bloggers and blogging in this fine land of ours. What do you think?

45 responses so far

45 Responses to “Why Australian Bloggers are “Under-represented””

  1. Megan over at Imaginifon 30 Jul 2007 at 3:01 pm

    You know Meg, I’ve been spending a lot of time pondering this recently. I blog to raise consciousness about a particular social issue. Yet, in many Aussie circles my efforts are seen as partisan and radically self centred. Neither of these are further from the truth.

    Blogging does appear to be a culture though…like a favoured dish I guess you either like it or not. I LOVE it. I get it. It makes sense.

    Bandwidth though: We are making house purchase choices on whether broadband is available. How archaic is that!

    Perhaps we need a, “Introduce an Aussie to Blogging Day”.

    I am embarrassed to say that I have not registered my blog to many of the ones you suggest. I shall toddle off and do that now.

    Many thanks for submitting this to the carnival of Australia – an excellent and most interesting post.

  2. Megon 30 Jul 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Megan

    “Blogging does appear to be a culture though…like a favoured dish I guess you either like it or not.”

    I agree it’s either “your thing” or “not your thing”, but like a favoured dish – how does one know until they try?

    And in terms of being solely a blog consumer, it’s all a matter of finding the right blogs – no matter what your interests, there are bound at least a handful of top quality blogs with relevant content.

    I’m sorry that your intentions are misunderstood in some circles, but I hope you don’t take that to heart.

    It’s pretty sad that you have to factor broadband availability into your choice of house (but wise that you ARE considering it now).

    It’s a really good idea to submit your blog, but obviously not mandatory! It just helps others find you :)

    Looking forward to the Carnival of Australia – thanks!


  3. swollenpickleson 30 Jul 2007 at 3:25 pm

    So where does Graeme Philipson in the top 100 aussie blogs?? Is he the Andrew Bolt of the Sydney Morning Herald??

  4. Karen (Miscellaneous Mum)on 30 Jul 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Very interesting question – I’ve touched on it in the past, but – very ironically – as most of my readership is American, I felt awkward going into it too much for fear of sounding too parochial! You’re damned if you talk about it; you’re damned if you don’t.

    I think, really, in this whole debate we forget just how small our population base is to start with. There are just so many international blogs to ‘fight’ for attention with (depending on your niche, I guess).

  5. Megon 30 Jul 2007 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t think there is a Technorati rank for “columnists”. Mr Philipson points out:

    “I don’t blog. Can’t see the point, when I write this column and others. I also rarely read them – the letters page of this newspaper and the many emails I receive is for me more than enough exposure to the unfiltered opinion of the common man.”

  6. Megon 30 Jul 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Karen

    Sure, we have a small population (just don’t let Darren Rowse know that 😉 ), and I’m not suggesting that those with wider audiences should ostracise them by focusing purely on Aussie content, but I don’t think that it hurts to be a little more “Aussie blogger aware”.

    You, for instance, have a link to your spot in the “Top 100”. That’s great, as it helps others know where you come from, your prominence in the Aussoshpere and perhaps encourages other Aussies to follow the link and see what it’s all about…

  7. Karen (Miscellaneous Mum)on 30 Jul 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Oh, I know ‘population’ is a bit of a cop-out explanation for the reasons why aussies aren’t as prominent in the bloggersphere – really, I do.

    I should’ve finished my train of thought by adding that – speaking for myself – its the quality of the writing which attracts my interest in blogs; aussie or not. Am I saying aussies need to lift their game? Sure thing. Myself included!

  8. Megon 30 Jul 2007 at 4:14 pm


    Ooh – them’s fighting words 😉 but coming from a writer, probably not surprising. Are we THAT bad?!

  9. Snoskredon 30 Jul 2007 at 10:58 pm

    I think one thing we can do is invite people to join the Australian Blogs Community – when we see an Aussie blog we should let them know the community exists. :)

    I’m lucky I found you and the community, I have really enjoyed being a part of it and I know I’m not the only one. 😉

    I’ll add the moving forward things to my to do list – so much to do, so little time! 😉


  10. Jeremy Jacobson 31 Jul 2007 at 6:29 am

    The best way is to keep on blogging. Using “Blogger” and other dot com servers will help

  11. Edon 31 Jul 2007 at 9:31 am

    Perhaps the answer to our under representation is down to the fact that many of the early adopters were from IT and the IT industry in Australia is very small. Also blogging took off in the early 2000s when there wasn’t widespread broadband in Australia. Interestingly, though, I think Australia may be overrepresented in the food blogging stakes. I think there are around 120 in the country which doesn’t sound much but is around the same as in the UK which has three times the population.

  12. Martin Neumannon 31 Jul 2007 at 10:59 am

    Hey Meg – great article, lots of thought-provoking views and good to see you linking out to other sources to read.

    I take what “traditional” media in Australia have to say about blogging with a grain of salt. Why? Because they’re conflicted. To promote blogging to the masses would dilute their own media businesses.

    The (sad) fact is that as a nation we are still way too reliant on “traditional” media and anything outside of that (blogging included) is seen as second rate.

    I’ve seen this debate over MSM vs blogging in the US a year or so ago – I think they’re finding a happy medium.

    I think it has absolutely nothing to do with broadband (broadband is totally another issue) … it’s more to do with a lack of awareness IMHO.

    Also, I don’t think it’s our lack of “shouting out” thats the problem – it’s more to do with our modesty – I think Aussies generally find self-promotion a hard thing to do. Its not in our nature.

    That “common man” comment is so problematic of the how and why Australian blogging has the perception of lagging behind.

    Population is an issue – if your target is an Aussie audience (like I’m doing) and you’re doing it as a profession. If your audience is worldwide then blogging is the ultimate cure for our tyranny of distance…

    I know hundreds of Aussie bloggers who sadly play down their Aussieness because 90% of their audience are American – heck I even have 5-6 blogs/sites that pay my mortgage but are solely for an American market – that’s just plain business.

    It’s really a sad state of affairs – we need “traditional” media to get the word out but all we get out of them is the same old same-old.

    Maybe it’s time us Aussie bloggers get the ball rolling and make a statement that can’t be ignored.

  13. […] of the hat to Meg who is very nicely spreading the conversation around. Share This | tags: blogging | LEAVE A […]

  14. Megon 31 Jul 2007 at 12:39 pm

    @ Snoskred – I’ve enjoyed being part of the Aussie blogs community too. You play a great part in raising awareness of the community and Aussie bloggers in general :)

    @ Jeremy – I agree that we need to keep on blogging, but the problem is that if someone searches “pages from Australia” on Google, blogs on .com domains and blogspot generally don’t appear. It may be a similar scenario in the U.K. (with google.co.uk)? So this makes it harder for Aussies to identify local content.

    @ Ed – tough niche to crack 😉

    Ross Dawson has elaborated on

    Why bandwidth drives internet participation

    @ Martin – thanks :)

    You may well be right about our lack of willingness to self-promote. With some niches heavy saturated, I often get the opinion it’s the brash gen Y’s (or gen C’s?) that are making the most noise, and inroads.

    And I also wonder about the Tall Poppy Syndrome coming into play…

    Australia is certainly a tiny market, and I can completely understand why you would continue the blogs directed to the US market. A man’s got to eat…

    I see you started with making a “statement” ROAR 😉

  15. […] the dead tree media the debate is whether or not blogging has peaked. And the blog focused bloggers debate why there aren’t more blogs in Australia. As a microcosm of the whole Australian blogging […]

  16. Leaon 01 Aug 2007 at 9:36 am

    I still think the original premise is debatable – I’d want to see a hard comparision of raw numbers before I start debating causes of something that may or may not be valid.
    – How many Australians are online? (compare to the US, Europe and Asia)
    – How many Australians are running blogs? (and posting more often than me, the slack blogger, or it doesn’t count 😉 ) (and, again, compare to the US, Europe and Asia)

    I think we are doing fine, where we are falling down is in raw numbers.
    Ah, well…

  17. Rodon 01 Aug 2007 at 12:24 pm

    I think Karen and Lea are on to something.

    Lets keep it in perspective:
    Australia does have a high % of internet users although as the age old business argument goes ‘not enough bums on seats’.

    Australia – 14.7 million internet users
    US – 210 million internet users
    World – 1093 million internet users

    So we make up .01%

    stats: http://www.business.nsw.gov.au/PDF/infrastructure-D10_internetusers_intl.pdf

    Great post though Meg, and your Moving Forward section hit’s the nail on the head – there needs to be more effort put into Australian based portals, social networking sites and connectors that push Australian content to rival what murdoch and fairfax push.

    Hmmm……me thinks I can bootstrap something…..

    “Maybe collectively we can raise the profile of bloggers and blogging in this fine land of ours.” – Spot on – join and participate in local communities and give facebook, myspace etc the big flick

  18. Megon 01 Aug 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Lea – thanks to Rod for jumping in with the stats for you. Seems the unanswered question is “how many Australians are running blogs”.

    Hi Rod

    Nice research (thanks for saving me the work) :)

    So if there are an estimated 1,093 million internet users in the world and 14.7 million are in Australia, then that would mean we make up 1.3 % of the internet population.

    Would it follow then, that Australian blogs would be required to make up 1.3% of the blogosphere to have an equal representation?

    If Technorati are tracking 94.2 million blogs, equal representation in terms of our share of the population of internet users would mean there should be 1.22 million Australian blogs.

    Makes you go hmmmm.

  19. Rodon 01 Aug 2007 at 1:40 pm

    That is interesting.

    It’s a shame that blogging platforms and cms systems don’t have a geo identifier. I think that was a large oversight although the move to a more semantic based web may provide solutions, long way down the track though.

    It also makes me think that maybe auda’s policies on domain names, that may have delivered in some areas, although have they hindered the fostering of the Australian webosphere….

  20. […] presents Why Australian Bloggers are “Under-represented” posted at Dipping into the Blogpond. A very interesting post on why Aussie bloggers may not be […]

  21. Snoskredon 01 Aug 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Rod – re the auda policies – that is why I did not get a .com.au domain name. I would have, but I think (its a little foggy, it was a while ago) you have to have an ABN? Which I don’t have. 😉

    So I think in general most bloggers wouldn’t get a .com.au due to the policies – and the cost, it’s quite a lot more expensive. It’s fairly rare to see a .com.au domain on a blog, I’ve found.

    Maybe there should be a .blog.au extension available at a much cheaper rate than a .com.au to Aussie bloggers. Of course most of the established ones wouldn’t switch now, but the newer bloggers could get one.


  22. Leaon 01 Aug 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Ah, the myths of the .au domain space :)

    * “Its dearer”
    A .com.au is easy to find for around $20 per year, if you actually shop around. Yes, its sold in two-year lots, but that doesn’t change the annual cost.
    I usually pay around $17 for a .com – I don’t think that is a huge difference.
    You can get a .com cheaper than that – but if you look into the reputation of those suppliers, you do found a few.. interesting opinions.

    * “I’m not eligible for one”
    Thats right, if you aren’t a company then you can’t have a .com.au domain name.
    If you aren’t a company – why would you want to claim you are?
    Do you sign your letters “Joe Bloggs Pty Ltd”? Didn’t think so. 😉
    Every Aussie is eligible for a .id.au domain name, based on your first name, your surname, or a reasonable nickname.
    id.au says ‘my personal place’ – what were you going to talk about on your blog again? :)

    Don’t be confused by the Americans using .com domains – just because they do doesn’t mean you should copy, or next you’ll be trying to figure out your SSN 😉

    Yes, .au domain names used to be hard to get. They aren’t anymore
    Yes, .au domain names used to be insanely expensive. They aren’t anymore.
    Shop around.

    ~ oooh, you got me going! 😉

  23. Megon 01 Aug 2007 at 4:28 pm


    “Thats right, if you aren’t a company then you can’t have a .com.au domain name.”

    Technically, you don’t HAVE to be a company, you can also get one if you’re a registered business (so sole traders would be eligible) – so you’d need an ACN, ABN, or business registration number.

    see: http://www.melbourneit.com.au/cc/domainname/australian-domain-names

    But they are technically “commercial” in nature.

    Of course this also raises the question of declaring any income earned from the blog, if one isn’t technically operating a “business”

  24. Leaon 01 Aug 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Meg – yes, exactly.
    I was just lumping ABNs, BRNs, sole traders, etc, etc as ‘companies’.
    Perhaps I should have said ‘businesses’.

    So, if you are blogging about you and your cat – why would you want to do it from a .com.au?

    I see lots of claims that ‘the AUDA domain system stops me getting a domain name’ and it just isn’t true.
    It does set up a nice categorisation of what the site is likely to be about, but it doesn’t stop you.
    I have a very nice .id.au for my personal domain (and a .com for my business, which has international customers) and a blog there – clear and loud, I say I am Australian on my blog :) (just to bring it back on topic)

  25. Rodon 01 Aug 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Lea, “So, if you are blogging about you and your cat – why would you want to do it from a .com.au?” – perhaps there’s a need for .cat.au due to the proliferation of cat bloggers!

    Snoskred does have a point though, in the past .com.au policy was pretty foggy although much easier now.

  26. Snoskredon 01 Aug 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Well, all I know is I went to apply for one and was told I needed a ABN. Nobody mentioned id.au to me, it was not presented as an option and this is the first time I’m ever hearing of that domain. 😉

    So I guess a blog post clearing up the myths is a good idea. 😉


  27. Megon 01 Aug 2007 at 11:02 pm

    “So I guess a blog post clearing up the myths is a good idea.”

    Hey Snoskred – are you going to do it, or will I? :)

  28. Rodon 02 Aug 2007 at 10:38 am

    Both of you should! Why Not – more discussion and points of view the better!

    I’d love to see a discussion around http://www.auda.org.au/policies/auda-2005-05/ (1.2 (b) & 2)!

    Also more awareness of ICANN http://www.icann.org/resources/ and how they can help with disputes with gTLDs. I had a nasty register once and ICANN had it sorted fast.

    The whitepage case was interesting – http://www.blognow.com.au/blog/37455/WhitePagecomau_to_be_shut_down.html

    So are the rumours of Australian .com.au domain registrants not releasing expired domains………dig deep for dodginess!

    hope it helps for some more great articles..

  29. Leaon 02 Aug 2007 at 11:12 am

    Snoskred: I have a tool to help you find out what .au domains you are eligible for at:
    (Sorry for the linkdrop – disclaimer: mine)
    (And, yes, I agree the site needs a redesign 😛 )

    Rod: yes, I will try to find time to write something today, too :) Its a broad area which should be better understood by the general public

  30. Megon 02 Aug 2007 at 11:18 am

    Hi Rod

    Sorry had to dig you out of spam (too many links). But thanks, great fodder for discussion.

    As Con the fruiterer would say – “coupla days, bewdiful!”

  31. Megon 02 Aug 2007 at 11:28 am


    No worries for the link drop, it’s a good checklist :)

  32. Snoskredon 02 Aug 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Meg – you go for it.. :) I have a list of blog topics not yet blogged which I’m struggling through.. 😉

    Thanks Lea, I got a .org a little while ago and I’m going to stick with it now.. but I am looking at maybe starting a new Aussie blog, this info has been really useful to me.

    Now I just need someone to tell me how to start an online business, sort of like a step by step guide – care to tackle that one Meg? 😉 Stuff like ABN and business registration and tax etc? Boring, but necessary.


  33. Megon 03 Aug 2007 at 12:04 am


    “Now I just need someone to tell me how to start an online business, sort of like a step by step guide – care to tackle that one Meg?”

    Yep, can do…. soon 😉

  34. Kinon 05 Aug 2007 at 12:30 pm

    I found this site through Karen’s (Miscellanious Mum) blog, and damn it took a lot of effort to find hers. Finding blogs of any description by Australians, for Australians is hard. I have a friend with a homemaking blog, who feels the need, that as nearly all her readers are from the US she needs to convert everything. Her’s is not a commercial blog by any stretch, so I don’t know what her thinking is, but basically I’ve stopped reading hers, and spend more time on Karen’s, because the content is much more Australian.

    I also get quite a few US readers, but it seems a fairly even split between UK/US readers and Australian readers. Until 90% of my readership is from the US I won’t be doing anything to change the topics in my blog.

    Of course, I’m still fairly new to the blogosphere, and definitely learning as I go. Glad I found this site too!

  35. Megon 05 Aug 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Kin

    Nice to meet you and your blog :) Studying with a family isn’t hard, but hang in there. I finally finished my degree when my eldest children where 7 and 5, so it is possible!

    With regards to one’s blog audience, I suppose some things are universal. But there does come a point when we can’t read everything we’d like to, so we have to rationalise. That’s where you have to chose what’s the most relevant to you (as you have done). I could see how it would be tempting for your friend to blog to a wider audience, even if she’s not doing it for the money.

    I think that at the end of the day you have to blog about what interests you, otherwise it would be hard to get the motivation.

  36. Karen (Miscellaneous Mum)on 05 Aug 2007 at 5:12 pm

    You’re right Meg – you can’t be things to all people. All the big blogging mentors tell us this (well, some do. Then you have the Seth Godin’s who say, “You can be anything you want to be; be bold). Heh. Conflicting advice……..??

  37. Kinon 05 Aug 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Very true. There seems to be a large US homemaking sect that I think she’s trying to crack into. I dunno, while a large part of my blog *is* about homemaking, that’s not all it is, and the balance factor is more important to me.

    I just know what I want to read, and I don’t want to read Australian content geared for American readers. I guess then I vote with my page visits about what I want to read.

  38. Blog Strokeson 06 Aug 2007 at 2:05 pm

    “Australians are reluctant to shout out.”

    I remember back in the Fidonet days having lengthy discussion with a couple of Aussies. I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but these guys had no problems “Shouting Out”.

    I was actually just so thrilled back then to discover that I was holding real conversations, and making friends in a way with people on the other side of the world, who as it turned out were more accessible to me through a distributed messaging network than people on the other side of San Diego.

    Such an amazing dynamic.

    Anyhow, I’ve always been struck by how many Aussies I run into, both back in the Fidonet days and now in the interweb days. I would have thought you guys were engaged at a higher per capita level than most other countries. And after reading through what it takes just to get a domain name. Wow.

  39. Blog Strokeson 06 Aug 2007 at 3:42 pm

    “Karen (Miscellaneous Mum)on 05 Aug 2007 at 5:12 pm

    You’re right Meg – you can’t be things to all people. All the big blogging mentors tell us this (well, some do. Then you have the Seth Godin’s who say, “You can be anything you want to be; be bold). Heh. Conflicting advice……..??”

    Paraphrasing Covey, “You can be anything you want to be, but you can’t be everything you want to be”

    If Seth said ‘anything’ that’s probably what he meant. Be bold and be what you want. You can be anything, but that’s different from you can be everything.

  40. Megon 06 Aug 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Dane

    Yes, we’re certainly “out and about”, and vocal, on the blogoshpere, apparently just not in large enough numbers to represent our population.

    They do make us jump though a few hoops to register a domain name! I haven’t really looked into a price comparison, but I daresay it’s also cheaper to host O.S. than locally too, which also explains why we’re not being included in local numbers.

  41. […] Graeme Philipson, Founder, Connection Research (who recently wrote “The Lost Art of Blogging” which I discussed in “Why Australian Bloggers are “Under Represented“) […]

  42. […] of the hat to Meg who is very nicely spreading the conversation […]

  43. […] So, for the time being we’re still none the wiser and until we are, we have to be saddled with the label “under-represented“. […]

  44. kimon 21 Oct 2007 at 7:56 pm

    I am just pleased that I found this site. I was looking for links to Australian bloggers and I was having trouble finding them. So thank you, cheers Kim.

  45. Megon 21 Oct 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Hi Kim

    Nice to meet you, and congratulations on your new blog 😀

    I’m sure you’ll have fun exploring the range of talented home grown bloggers.