Survey: How Many Blogs, and Interview With a WPMU NetWork Admin

So, how big are WPMU sites? This survey question, “how many blogs at your site,” drew a very wide variety of responses. The median response was 25. The mean response was 10,234, but this was driven up by and a few other sites with many thousands of blogs.

The question that drew the least surprising(to me) responses was the one about number of admins. Most WPMU sites have but one.

Related to the question of “how many blogs” is the question of “do you have to do anything to get a blog other than asking for one”? The answer to this question drives the distinction, which I make in the sidebar of this blog, between WPMU hosts and WPMU-driven networks. The latter do some sort of check before granting a new blog.

John, of WPMU network Digital Photography Blogs, was kind enough to answer some emailed interview questions relating to the decision to make a WPMU site a network, rather than a host. Here are some of his remarks.

There are two main reasons [for restricting blog creation].  First, as DPBlogs will be the first site to be integrated Glue, we wanted to put our best foot forward.  Second, we will shortly be implementing a revenue sharing program on DPBlogs and aim to make the best impression with potential advertisers.  Both reasons mean we need to maintaining tight control over the quality of the blogs.  In the future, we hope to have premium blogs (those which require application) and free general blogs.

Our decision to require application for DPBlogs has definitely restricted the growth of the number of blogs.  However, doing so provides a very clean and informative site.  Readers can quickly find good content and blogs which fit their specific area(s) of interest.

You can see more of the interview, and more statistics from the survey, in this document. It’ll probably be the last of its kind I post, since I’ve now posted about the responses to almost all the survey questions, it’s time to write a paper about the survey, and I have a ton of other things I need to do.

Survey: Whys and Hows

I’ve just written up responses to some of the Why? and How? questions on the survey of WPMU admins.

To summarize, the typical WPMU admin runs his site more for social than for economic reasons, was already familiar with WP when he chose WPMU, likes the fact that WPMU is free (as in speech and as in beer), and funds the sites out of his own pocket.

Reponses on how the site is hosted are more mixed, with just over half of the admins hosting their own sites, rather than purchasing server capacity. If you’re interested in further detail, there’s the above link, then there’s Comments in this blog, or email.

Survey: WPMU Admin Demographics

There’s been a gap in posting the survey results here. I blame the 4th of July weekend. But I just went through the demographic questions.

If I had to describe a typical WPMU admin, it would be as follows: male, childless, partnered, born and currently living in the USA, with a technical occupation and some college education. I’ve ordered the attributes in descending order of overwhelmingness; 27/30 respondents were male, there was a lot of variation in level of formal education.

Since there was a lot of variation in response to most of the demographic questions, those interested enough to read this post probably want to see a fuller account.

Survey: WPMU or… ?

One of the questions on my survey of WPMU admins was: What other blogging software, if any, did you consider for this site?

Of the 30 respondents, 13 did not consider any other software. I infer from this that these people would not have set up their blog sites were it not for the availability of WPMU.

So 17/30 did consider at least one other software option. The options mentioned more than once are as follows:

  • Drupal (5)
  • b2evolution (3)
  • WordPress (2)
  • Lyceum (2)
  • TypePad (2)

It’s interesting that three of these five blogging tools are WordPress-related. The other two are the free/open-source Drupal and the proprietary TypePad.

Survey: Are WPMU Admins Hackers?

One of the questions in my mind as I put the survey together was: to what extent are WPMU admins similar to the “hackers” who contribute to open source projects?

One aspect of this question is: are WPMU admins hackers? The following three survey items are particularly relevant to this more specific question.

  • I believe that software should be free/open source, as opposed to proprietary. (Yes/No question, included as a potential reason for choosing WPMU.)
  • What changes, if any, have you made to the WPMU code?
  • Do you contribute code to any free/open source software projects?

If a WPMU admin was an archetypal hacker, he would believe that software should be F/OS, would have hacked the source code, and would have contributed code to F/OS projects (and would be male).

I count an admin as a hacker if his responses to two of the three questions were in line with the hacker archetype. The second and third questions are open-ended, and so required some judgment in assessing the hacker-ness of responses. For example, if an admin seemed to have made just enough changes to the WPMU source in order to get his site running, I considered this to be site admin, rather than hacking.

The 30 WPMU admins who responded to the survey are split exactly 15/15 between hackers and non-hackers.

Update: The first comment, from Andrea, raises an issue I should have addressed in this post in the first place. It relates the ambiguity of the term hacker, which I’ve linked to its Wikipedia entry so that you can see this ambiguity. I was using the term in the positive sense in which it is usually used in free/open source software circles.

WPMU Survey: Likes and Dislikes

Two of the questions on the survey of WPMU admins related to what they liked most, and what they liked least, about WPMU.

Analysis of the Like responses shows that the most popular thing about WPMU was that it is WordPress. Admins were also pleased that WPMU is user-friendly, extensible, and open-source.

Analysis of the Dislike (actually, like least) responses shows that the least popular thing about WPMU was the quality of the code. There were also concerns about support, or the lack thereof. The specific aspect most often singled out was the way in which WPMU uses the database.

You can see more details here.