Pete Brown is encouraging us to be more controversial. Beer blogs are getting very boring it would seem; talking about great beer we've drunk is all well and good, but he thinks we should discuss issues that are more pressing. There are plenty of issues to discuss, so let's get on and do it. But is there any point if we are just a few lonely souls huddled over our keyboards because we have little else to do? There certainly would be little point if it is just a closed loop of beer enthusiasts sounding off at each other completely detached from the real world. I don't think this is the case. OK, perhaps it is partly, but I do still think there is relevance to a greater audience.
There would be no point in blogging if nobody read blogs. It might be that some people only blog for their own fun and it's a nice bonus if there are others who read them. Not me, I am competitive and seek attention, if I knew nobody read this blog I would stop, it's as simple as that. However, how do I know my blog has any influence at all? Perhaps it would be useful to know how representative the collective views of the beer blogosphere are compared to a wider beer enthusiasts perspective.
In reality, I think that measuring this is a little difficult. I know that my blog gets around 75 unique visitors per day, I have no way of knowing, reliably, how long each visitor spends reading because if only one page is down-loaded then my stats counts this as "less than 5 seconds", you can read quite a lot with only one page load.
It can be estimated, because I post, on average, about once every three days, that each post is read by more than 200 or so people. 75 x 3 = 225. The bloggers who post more often seem to get proportionally more hits, based on the comments on my last post. So I expect Tandleman, Curmudgeon, Mark Dredge and Pete Brown have several hundred people read each of their posts.
I estimate that around 50% of the hits on my blog are repeat visitors. Again, this is hard to be sure about because it relies on a cookie being placed on your hard disk, and presumably you need to resisting the urge to eat it before you visit again, otherwise you look like a new visitor. Also, the same people might be reading the blog on different computers, my stats have no way of knowing this. The numbers of repeat visitors seems to be greater than the number of commenters by a reasonable factor. Additional anecdotal evidence of silent readers comes from the number of people I meet who have read my blog, but don't comment on-line. These are not an insignificant number. Again, I expect more prolific and popular bloggers than myself will correspondingly have greater readership.
I suspect that beer blogging does have a reasonable influence and more importantly an influence with a younger, more internet savvy population, the future beer drinkers.
The more pressing issue of whether or not the beer blogosphere accurately represents the view of a wider beer drinking audience is perhaps a little more difficult to be sure of. However, as bloggers are the more internet savvy proportion of beer enthusiasts it would be reasonable to suggest we might also represent part of the future of craft beer in this country.