Little Beetle Blogs

by admin on July 21, 2016

Yesterday, just for fun, I read a bunch of articles online about whether blogging is dead. I guess my interest was provoked by this article, already two years old, about the end of Technorati’s blog-rating directory. The article explained Technorati’s quiet, no-fuss decision to shutter what used to be their #1 service:

In recent years, however, it struggled to stay relevant as the landscape shifted and social media enabled anyone to have a voice on the internet without starting a blog.

Aha! So there it is! Facebook killed the blogosphere. And then after that, Instagram killed the blogosphere. And after that, Tumblr and Periscope and Medium and other sites that I haven’t even heard of.

I started searching for other articles on “Is Blogging Dead?” and found basically two kinds. A small number said that blogging is dead. A larger number said that blogging is not dead but it’s changing. Nobody wants to be a “blogger” any more, they want to be an “influencer.” Writing is less important, social media and multimedia are more important, etc.

After reading a few of these, I realized that they were talking about a completely different world from the one I live in. They were talking about blogs as a way to make money. There was and still is a whole industry or ecosystem of (for example) cooking blogs that provide advertising for food products, or mommy blogs that promote baby products. Many of these started as labors of love but morphed over time as companies realized they could get good word-of-mouth advertising from bloggers, and bloggers realized they could actually make a little money.

Apparently, so the articles say, that kind of blog is falling on hard times, as the number of page views decreases and the comments section dries up.

I’d like to reassure my readers that I have seen nothing of the sort going on with this blog. All the credit for this goes to you! The number of comments has seemed nice and steady over the years, with the occasional post provoking more discussion. For example, my recent post on “black and white” got 15 comments, not counting two of my own. As for page views, here are the latest stats.

Year Posts Page Views Views per Post
2010 84 39463 470
2011 92 32579 354
2012 117 53869 460
2013 106 47764 451
2014 95 50941 536
2015 93 56545 608
2016 41 26461 645

(Note: Data on 2016 through July 20 — slightly more than half the year.)

Last year was my most-viewed year ever. This year the total number of page views has dropped a little, but that’s partly because I have not been writing as many posts. I apologize for that; I’ve been working on a book this year, so I have not been playing in tournaments and I have been paying a little bit less attention to top-level grandmaster chess. When my book is finished I assure you that I will be able to put more energy into chess.

Although I’ve been writing fewer posts this year, I think I have actually been putting more effort into each individual post, and I’m gratified to see that people still want to read them.

So what does it all mean, in the grand scheme of things? I think that the doom-and-gloom articles overlook the fact that there are still plenty of blogs out there that never tried to monetize, that simply remained true to their original concept as a labor of love, as one person wanting to communicate to others about topics of mutual interest. They are blogs where the writing is still the point, not “multimedia” or “influencing.” These blogs are the dragonflies and beetles of the Internet ecosystem. While other blogs were evolving into gigantic dinosaurs and then going extinct, the little beetle blogs have stayed who they are and have kept on going.

Another way to measure whether blogging is dead or not is to ask whether anyone is starting new blogs. As it happens, one of my chess friends, Salman Azhar, has just started a new one this month, which I hope some of you will check out. It’s called Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, and the best description I can provide from the first few entries is that it’s about the challenges of living as a law-abiding Muslim in the U.S. It’s really eye-opening, and you’ll see that it is related to some of the things we were talking about in the comment section on my “black and white” post.

Once again, thanks for keeping this blog going by your comments and your visits! You can be assured that there will never be advertising on this blog, and the only reason I would ever stop writing it would be if I ran out of things to say about chess.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

brabo July 22, 2016 at 5:52 am

A couple of years ago Michael Goeller discussed this topic in his final post:
His main conclusion was that professional chess blogging has made amateur chess blogs increasingly irrelevant.
I do see some sense in this claim as, chessbase, .. are today daily reporting about any serious event. Their quality/ speed can’t be achieved by amateurs.
However as I wrote in my article
it is perfectly possible to write interesting stuff about chess while not covering any top tournament.
As you wrote in this article, I also notice via my blog statistics that people keep coming if you offer something original/ interesting. In my last tournament (which finished a couple of days ago) again several people came to tell me personally that they discovered my blog and how much they enjoy it.

Btw cleverly sensed this too by not only offering a platform to amateur bloggers but also paying some of the best bloggers for bringing up their original articles. A well written interesting post can easily achieve 10.000 views on

So blogging about chess is definitely not dead. At contrary as even some professional sites are using the little beetle blogs to attract traffic.

That also brings up another topic closely related to this article. Today there exist many chess blogs (just google). However only a few are really interesting. Which ones do you follow or can you recommend? Is there a way to find the real treasures quickly without spending countless hours on the internet?


admin July 23, 2016 at 9:34 am

Actually, I’d like to throw this question open to the readers, if any of them want to chime in. Do you have any other favorite chess blogs? What does a personal blog offer to you that a professional site doesn’t?


Salman Azhar July 26, 2016 at 11:28 pm

I read Dana’s and Fpwan’s blog as far as chess is concerned.

Professional site doesn’t have the feeling that I’m sitting at a coffee shop and listening to you.


Salman Azhar July 22, 2016 at 11:28 pm

Thanks Dana for the shout out.
Perhaps, I should start by saying, “first time commenting, long time reader.” 🙂
Appreciate your writing about life and chess.


Salman Azhar July 22, 2016 at 11:28 pm

Thanks Dana for the shout out.
Perhaps, I should start by saying, “first time commenting, long time reader.” 🙂
Appreciate your writing about life and chess.


ChessAdmin July 29, 2016 at 8:36 am

Firstly, it’s interesting to note that this blog is itself currently top-ranked if you Google “chess blogs”. Not a bad thing.

Secondly, I found the post’s insight on the professional vs. amateur divide on blogging to be perceptive, especially as it applies to chess. I’ve always considered this blog to be in a “semi-professional” category, being similar in terms of content and approach to some professional players’ blogs, either active ( or inactive (Vinay Bhat’s, linked in the sidebar here). In other words, the level of analysis (master) is much higher than a typical “amateur” blog, but there’s no attempt to monetize it and it’s a genuine reflection of the author’s personal interests rather than being driven by professional considerations.

The heyday of amateur chess blogs’ popularity relative to the entire internet is certainly over, given the wide proliferation of social media tools, but amateur blogging remains just as relevant as any user-provided content on the net. When it offers unique and accessible commentary, insights, etc. there will be value-added to the content and people will come read it. Dana’s more detailed and thoughtful level of explanation of chess topics, along with the personal commentary, I think reflects that dynamic here.

I also think search engines also play a bigger role these days than followers or links in terms of driving the number of blog views. In other words, people are more likely to come across blog content through queries than links, although that balance depends on a variety of factors for an individual site. I believe this phenomenon tends to help rather than hurt amateur blogs that have a genuine point of view, a reasonable level of focus, and regular content additions, since they can be found without a lot of outside links. The “genuineness” piece is also more important than ever, as people don’t expect or put up with too much self-promotion or commercialization of content from amateur content – which is why it is valued.


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