The 10 biggest blogs are -- how's that again?

ON BLOGS

April 06, 2008|By Andrew Ratner

Name some of the biggest newspapers and magazines in the country? You probably couldn't help but get a few of them right.

Name some of the largest Web sites? Again, you'd probably guess correctly on at least a couple, even if you didn't think you knew for sure.

Now name one of the biggest blogs?

Good luck.

Blogs collectively are forging transformative change in the way people get information and communicate, but at this point, the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.

The 10 largest U.S. blogs in the most recent measure by Nielsen Online totaled about 80 million unique visitors in February. It's an impressive number, and up about 50 percent from a year earlier -- although to put it in perspective, it's a little smaller than the total audience for two nights' worth of American Idol and Dancing With the Stars.

Here's a rundown of the 10 biggest blogs; the names are probably not going to win many bar bets:

Blogger (37.2 million visitors in February): The most popular blog sites are the ones used to build blogs. I guess that makes sense, although it's a little like saying the largest-circulation daily publication isn't USA Today, but the tree farm that supplies its newsprint. Anyway, Blogger was one of the first sites dedicated to blog publishing when it launched in 1999. Google bought it from San Francisco-based Pyra Labs in 2003.

Wordpress (16.5 million): Another free blog-publishing site. It's an "open source" site, meaning that people working with it continue to shape and improve it. Trivia: Each new version is named for a jazz artist. Version 2.5, which came out last month, is called Brecker (for saxophonist and composer Michael Brecker).

Six Apart Typepad (9.6 million): A paid blog hosting site, so it doesn't rely on advertising. Subscribers pay from $50 to $900 a year based on whether they want an individual or business account with various customized design and storage features.

tmz (8.1 million): It's counted as a blog, although it's arguably one of the most influential Web sites in transforming the media this decade. Its numerous scoops in the "30-mile zone" around Hollywood, most spectacularly the Mel Gibson DUI arrest in 2006, forced traditional media to pay more attention to competition from new media -- and to celebrity gossip news. Tmz.com is owned by AOL and led by managing editor Harvey Levin, formerly a legal reporter for KCBS-TV in L.A. and executive producer of The People's Court.

TheHuffingtonPost (3.7 million): A liberal online Web site and blog founded by Arianna Huffington, a syndicated columnist who made an unsuccessful bid as an independent candidate for governor of California in 2003. HuffPost is one of the most popular political blogs, with links to various news sources and columnists. There was some tongue-clucking last month when it beat out the conservative-leaning Drudge Report, by Nielsen's measure, for the first time.

LiveJournal (3.7 million): It's a virtual community where users can keep a blog, journal or diary. Last year, a Russian media company, SUP, bought the company for a reported $30 million, stirring blog headlines such as "Who Will Save LiveJournal from the Kremlin?" LiveJournal features its own online "shop" with logo sweatshirts and "eco-friendly" t-shirts. If you need another measure of the swiftness of technological change, consider blogs now creating their own clothing lines.

Gadling (3.6 million): It's a travel log, more like a compilation of bizarre stories related to traveling. Gadling, meaning roving vagabond, is part of group of blogs called Weblogs Inc. that America Online bought in 2005, reportedly for $25 million. Blogs have the reputation as mom-and-pop independent upstarts. But the largest of them are no less big media -- and these days more profitable -- than big media itself.

Thatsfit (2.4 million): A gossipy "healthy living" blog, it's similar to Gadling and also a Weblog offshoot now owned by AOL. Recent headlines: "Mouthwash may be causing your bad breath" and "What your sleep position says about you."

Xanga (2.1 million): A host for Web logs and social networking profiles with particular appeal for young people, with free and higher-end paid versions. It was fined $1 million in 2006 for violating federal law by repeatedly allowing children under 13 to sign up without parental consent, and tightened control in response.

Engadget (2.1 million): A tech blog on consumer electronics, it's also part of the Weblogs AOL group. For technophiles, a leaked secret about a new gadget can be as big a deal as the latest dish about Britney.

andrew.ratner@baltsun.com

Andrew Ratner, a former technology reporter, is Today editor of The Sun.

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