How powerful, or irrelevant, are political blogs?

An envious newspaper hack declared Cameron Slater and his blog “irrelevant” a few weeks ago.  At the time, I had a good chuckle at that. But as the recent events around the Man Ban unfolded, and given that the Seed of the Man Ban was planted right here, I believe “How powerful, or irrelevant, are political blogs” to be a very relevant question.

For a Blog to have influence, it needs readers.  But not just any readers.  It needs influential ones.  Those that shape ideas, those that shape policy, those that advise, those that report, and those that are the ultimate targets of any such influence: the politicians themselves. (Hi there!)

With the General Election next year, part of the information and influence machinery that will ultimately attempt to be involved in the process of how you will place your vote will be political bloggers.

It would be false modesty to understate how well Whale Oil Beef Hooked is doing right now.  In every metric you wish to apply, the blog is surging ahead.

But how does this compare to other New Zealand political blogs?  Is Whaleoil simply surging ahead on a general growth of interest in political blogs, or does it stand alone?  Is this a right vs left phenomenon, or are we experiencing a general increase in people using blogs as an information source?

Don’t mistake the race for being “the biggest” as a simple exercise in blog owner machismo – although in Slater’s case that’s a large part of it.  You see, more eyes equals more reach.  And the more those eyes read, the more power a blog enjoys.

June '13 pageviews - Open Parachute Blog Rankings

June 2013 pageviews* – Open Parachute Blog Rankings

But the graph above gives a snapshot of “market share” right now.  It doesn’t tell the story of how each blog’s market share has changed.  Doing so gives us a much clearer picture.

Jan 13 - Jun 13 Pageviews - Open Parachute Blog Rankings

Jan 2013 – Jun 2013 Pageviews* – Open Parachute Blog Rankings

It turns out that the phenomenal growth that Whaleoil enjoys isn’t reflected in the New Zealand political blogosphere.  Neither is it a “right” vs “left” issue.

As an interesting aside, the appearance of DailyBlog this year was the source of hope for many left leaning blog followers.  With The Standard having stagnated and to some degree eating its own, and Kiwiblog and Whaleoil presenting such a formidable opposition, the left correctly identified the need for a better, more effective blog.

DailyBlog launched into a 200k per month pageview profile with hopes to be at a cool million close to the election.  Selwyn Manning must be sobbing in his coffee now that it has become clear that having no less than 30 bloggers “on staff” on a fully funded blog with a full time salaried caretaker is showing no growth since it was launched.   Their last month was the worst yet.  Unless they find the On Switch and get to work delivering on their 1 million pageviews per month by the election, I wouldn’t be surprised if their funding will be turned off.

One thing is for sure:  If this blog keeps growing the way it is (thank you all, we can’t do it without you), it will continue to be as irrelevant as before influential.


* Please note that for this post we've used the Open Parachute blog 
ranking figures for comparison purposes.  We have discovered some 
time ago that our Google Analytics figures differ greatly, and have 
our monthly pageview performance at 3.5 million as of last month.

THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • blokeintakapuna

    I mentioned something like this a couple of weeks ago, and I recon WhaleOil will be a far superior bellwether than most realise – and certainly will have far more credible polling results than even the polling companies.
    Absolutely fantastic result for WhaleOil and all involved. Well done Cam & crew!
    Accurate polling stats has got to be worth some income to political parties? But if selling to the Labia Party – don’t give them any credit. Get ya funds up front – they can’t even afford to pay for the membership to the socialists club!

  • Agent BallSack

    I think whats great about this blog is it gives everyone an equal voice. If you have an opinion you state it and let it stand on its own merits or be strangled with derision depending on the worth of your post. At least you know here when you press submit – your voice will be heard instantly, you don’t go into a holding queue of moderation only to wait an hour and find your opinion wasn’t wanted (or bucked the no right wing voice rule). Long may it continue to reign over the NZ political blogosphere.

    • peterwn

      This is the number one issue which influences popularity. Play silly games and it turns people off. For example if Whale or Kiwiblog link to an item in a left wing blog, their blogmaster may ‘redirect’ the link to something completely different. This sort of thing isolates the left wing blogs still further.

      • AngryTory

        Nope. Ordinary sensible people despise and hate leftwing blogs… because they’re leftists. Whale is loved for exactly the opposite reason: because it’s not leftist.

    • AngryTory

      Ha! The thing about Whale that’s great is precisely that there isn’t any of this “equal voice, equal opportunity, equal outcome crap”.

      Whale is about commonsense, ordinary ideas that the leftist elite hate. (And with good reason)

  • James Stephenson

    Quibbling a bit maybe, but that pie isn’t particularly meaningful without “other”

    • SteveWrathall

      Yes very confusing. What do these percentages actually mean? Are there only 4 blogs in NZ?

      • PlanetOrphan

        Check open parachute for an indepth breakdown

      • AngryTory

        Nope. There’s only one. And you’re reading it right here.

    • Agent BallSack

      It does say the 4 main political blogs in NZ. Merely showing market share of readership distribution amongst those 4 blogs.

    • OT Richter

      Is a round chart titled ‘Reach’, a reach-around chart?

  • tarkwin

    Isn’t it funny how the Standard’s graph line mirrors Labia’s misfortunes.

    • OT Richter

      Yes, it does tend to ‘flap’ around a bit.

  • Agent BallSack

    Be good to see some more ‘Guest Posts’ on here maybe from some of our politicians? WhaleOil is gaining a lot of traction from its readership now, more and more average Kiwis are getting turned off of Labour and the crazy Greens.

    • Dave

      Exactly, and that also reflects in the graph showing the 2 right leaning Blogs Versus the irrelevant Left leaning labour funded blogs. Well done to Cam and team, and the people supporing you as well (WAG’s)

      • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

        Are those two blogs funded by Labour? I thought they had no money.

    • blokeintakapuna

      Agree ABS!
      Hopefully a monthly “State of the Nation” address / post by the PM and leading Cabinet MP’s – an “exclusive” for WhaleOil.
      Not only would it get all the leftie MSM in a right tizzy being totally outclassed and gazumped, but it would also generate it’s own momentum, where the credible politicians with credible policies will line up for their chance to voice their opinion without having to be filtered through a myopic-leftie filter before going to air or press.
      Those “Guest posts” would generate huge public interest and help National frame the narrative on any given topic… and about bloody time too. I am so sick and tired of the “anti-National” slant on most TV and paper articles.
      Plus, the “Guest post” would far out-shine the leftie MSM credibility wise, only ensuring greater attraction to Whale Oil also. So with the election just around the corner…

      • OT Richter

        I suspect that this blog is still a tad feral (not suggesting that’s a bad thing) for a politician to post regularly and become what would essentially be a supporter by association. A good example is the boots ‘n all shellacking that stupid teacher got yesterday – well deserved, but not to everyone’s liking.

      • Dave

        Good Idea BiT Perhaps Cam can ask Shearer to have a guest post about the Leadership and the rumours, then Robertson on the leadership. Be an interesting read.

        Also one from a WO fan, none other than JC

        • AngryTory

          Fuck that. One of the best things about WO is no leftism and no tolerance for leftists.

          We don’t want to Shearer or any other leftist in Whale. The only possible good news about Shearer will be when he’s gone; the only possible good news about Labour will be when they’ve gone.

          • Dave

            Seriously AT, imagine Shearers post and the WOBH army tearing it to shreds. Thats assuming Shearer accepted the challenge, or he managed to put a few words on paper :)

      • Goldie

        I hope not – one of the things I love about WhaleOil is that it has little respect for those in authority and fiercely independent (two typically “kiwi” qualities, which is why I think it appeals to lot of kiwis), and is in no way a National party mouthpiece. And frankly, most Ministerial speeches are boring bland bullshit anyway.

        • blokeintakapuna

          I don’t want WO to become a National Party mouthpiece either – but I am keen for it to be a “level” unadulterated platform where they can frame the narrative…

          A huge difference…

  • Col

    When your doing well they kick you down, and when your down they are sorry for you.
    That’s why we like W/O, all for real, and sometimes your put in your place, but this is the real world, not the make believe from story tellers!!!

  • On this rather Long post I have praised Whale Oil and Kiwiblog.

    It’s a pity “Left wing” blogs do so pathetic. Even a blogger at The Daily Blog was whining on his post why “right wing” blogs do so well. I left a comment saying because “right wing” blogs are not afraid to tell the truth. They do not hide behind a politically correct facade. The Daily Blog is a JOKE if they’re all getting PAID to do it!

    How cool was your post today on Labour’s “SkyCity” hypocrisy. That’s the kind of scoop that courageous blogs can deliver for healthy democracy.

    • maninblack

      what i hate about leftie blogs.. they are always moderated..
      Least here, you can say what you think, and as long as its not personal, the worst that will happen is down votes.

      • I absolutely agree with you. They deleted so many of my comments. I had to repost them by changing the language that may not “”offend” them.

        One time, I had to add, why the fuck are you censoring me, isn’t NZ a free country!? Then they published me because their conscience may have been hurt.

        Gahh….. Left Blog? Gag Blog is more like it.

        • Agent BallSack

          They publish you when you finally get sick of it, lose it and abuse them, any well thought out post is generally moderated out, leaving you feeling stupid for coming across like a shrill lefty. Been there, done that and have the badge!

          • cows4me

            Hell you haven’t lived till you’ve been banned from the substandard.

          • Dave

            I have had a badge of honour from them as well, must remember to put it on my CV.

          • I recently got censored by a blogger from The Daily Blog, but I had saved the comment before posting it. Now I’ve blogged about this censorship.

            Feel free to check it out or comment:

        • Travis Poulson

          What you perceive to be “free” doesn’t extend to the internet, least of all blogs.

          • Comments should be moderated or deleted only when they apparently defame or incite violence/hatred.

            Kwiblog has this policy. They let anything get published in the comments section. If someone reports a defamatory or other objectionable comment, it is deleted by their moderators.

            But… 1.) Censoring and blocking a comment even before it is published is kind of stupid. 2.) Then to actually Delete the comment because it did not agree with moderator’s politics is just plain criminal!

          • Travis Poulson

            This has been standard procedure for The Standard for as long as I can remember.

        • pukakidon

          It is funny alright Rajiv. Here they are banging on about the GCSB bill being an impediment to free speech and they do it themselves on their blog.

          They are the do as we say not as we do party. Liarbour or Labia they are all the same.

    • thor42

      “I left a comment saying because “right wing” blogs are not afraid to tell the truth. They do not hide behind a politically correct facade.”

      Yep – bang-on there, Rajiv!

  • Jman

    Clearly this blog has seen good growth, and congrats to all involved. However that graph is misleading. It appears to be basing the figures off Page Views and as I have pointed out before, the page views get unfairly exaggerated on this blog due to the use of the “Read More” on every post. Unlike on Kiwiblog where you can read all the most recent posts on a single page view, on this blog you need multiple page views to do the same.

    If you look at just unique visits per month, going by the open parachute stats, Whaleoils figure drops to 49.5% and Kiwiblogs goes up to 29%.

    I question the need for the “Read More” function as being anything other than a way to artifically inflate the blogs page view stats.

    • Interesting point. But still Whale Oil is at the top, although by reduced margin.

      I think one major reason for Whale Oil’s popularity is its often tabloid or populist style of reportage as opposed to Kiwiblog’s staid style.

      But that said, Whale Oil has the courage to go where most other blogs would stop. Whale digs deeper.

      It would be cool to see Whale Oil evolve into a news website with its own little fleet of journalists who report events directly and interview big personalities in New Zealand politics and government.

    • Travis Poulson

      Yes you have mentioned that before, and it’s still nonsense. That function has been in place for 6 months or so now, but we still show steady upward growth. I mean seriously, the “read more” argument died after the first month it was implemented because it becomes irrelevant from the second month onwards. How does ‘read more’ play a part in the blog growth in the following months? it doesn’t. The growing audience does.

      It’s time to start shoveling the dirt onto the carcass of this point of argument.

      • Jman

        You missed the point. I wasn’t saying the Read More made any difference to the Blogs popularity. I was saying that it results in misleading stats.

        • Travis Poulson

          You’ll be disappointed to know that ‘read more’ hasn’t made a hugely significant difference to page views.

          As an example, and I’m sure many others do, I NEVER scroll through the stories on the home page and click ‘read more’. I always navigate via the ‘today’s posts’ list on the side bar.

          Secondly, ‘read more’ actually forces a more accurate tracking of views per post/story rather than people going through and reading posts in their entirety scrolling though one page.

          So essentially, rather that being misleading, they are in fact more accurate.

          • Agent BallSack

            I agree Trav, I use the left links to navigate through the pages unless the first story catches me. Whereas I used to scroll down the entirety of the page and read the stories from the ‘Home” page

          • Jman

            The only thing that disappoints me is the insistence on sticking with the Read More thing, as it makes my reading of this blog less efficient/more time consuming, thus detracting from the overall pleasure of the experience. It’s my own personal preference and I guess it’s not a big deal to others as I don’t see anyone else complaining about it.

            I would however advise you to not to assume your habits are done by many others. This blog is obviously a big thing for you, and you are commenting on a large number of posts. That would make you very much an atypical consumer of the blog. Most people can’t be arsed with comments. You can probably tell that because the blog must have 1000’s of readers but maybe 100 regular commenters if that.

  • Sidey

    I wonder if allowing the likes of our collective good selves to comment here adds or detracts from the overall impact of WOBF? Does any increasing influence come from the posts themselves, or from the (astute & erudite, naturally) comments?

    A survey of the movers & shakers of the political landscape as to whether they bother readings our comments would be interesting to complete the picture. It would need to be anonymous of course – I suspect few pollies will admit to following WO to find out what’s really going on!

    • I find the comments illuminating and often use them as a nub of an idea for a post. You will see this tomorrow at 0800.

  • PlanetOrphan

    How influential? ….

    Cameron put a one liner at the end of his First “Man Ban” article asking Shearer to resign …. He was only saying what everyone must have been thinking, next thing you know it’s on the news , letter of no confidence etc etc etc

    It must’ve stuck in the MSMs’ and Labours’ subconscious mind M8!
    (That’s what happens when they scab every thought they ever had … )

    Go Cameron :-)

  • cows4me

    I don’t think it’s a right versus left thing but I do think many are beginning to wake up and see they don’t have to be take the bullshit that the MSM and the political parties use to force down our throats. The old order is starting to realize that they are no longer the only voice in the argument and I suspect it sits very uneasy with them. You only have to look at the huge surveillance networks that soak up internet traffic, the bastards are filling their pants and they would give their nuts to shut it down. Whaleoil and similar blogs give idiots like me a small say and with another thousand voices it has become a force to be reckoned with.

  • Polish Pride

    I had a look at this a few months back and there’s a combination of factors that make Whaleoil popular in my view In no particular order.

    Format – easy to follow navigate and read even down to size of font (compare it with Kiwiblog). Consistent format and theme repeated everyday.
    Variety – no one seriously wants to talk politics the whole time and a good percentage of the things on Whaleoil are topics that aren’t politics. Many of them are amusing as well which helps a great deal especially many of the vids later in the day.
    Cam isn’t perfect – Many people can relate to this. Ron Jeremy had immense popularity for similar reasons.
    The fact that it is pretty no holds barred – People can say what they want (within reason) often it brings out emotion and emotive language. Much of it probably appears OTT to many reading and as such it makes interesting reading.
    I think political blogs are becoming an increasingly important part of this sham we call a democracy. And with the exception of Campbell Lives Article on the GCSB last night the performance from MSM is so shockingly poor, that blogs are filling a gaping hole in the media market. Even on the MSM websites, you can comment but your comment doesn’t appear instantly as it does on a blog and they pick and choose what you can comment on, you can’t comment on everything.

    The role of political blogs will only get more important moving forward. They give people a voice that politics in many ways fails to do.

    • Agent BallSack

      They’re getting a lot more circumspect which stories they put them on too, the MSM don’t like their crafted stories being shot down in the comments by the evermore aware public.

    • Bad__Cat

      Good comments PP. I’d add that the discussion and put downs can be pretty robust, but usually without descending into pure abuse.

      (So OK, there are exceptions, but then, LBIAFC!)

      EDIT: PS, I spend most of my time here reading the comments. One of WO’s talents is picking topics that are interesting and varied enough to engender discussion.

  • thor42

    I think they can be *very* powerful.
    The blog readers and regular commenters here tend to be a *lot* more intelligent than the leftist rabble who go to the Stranded and Red Alert.

    • Bad__Cat

      Thank you thor42 ;-)

      • thor42

        You’re welcome…. :)

        That is also the case with Andrew Bolt’s *excellent* Aussie blog. That too is a must-read.

  • philbest

    This is incredible, I never suspected this could happen. I only just returned to WOBH after a few years absence, and my whole mindset was still stuck in the old days of Cam Slater personally reading every comment and often responding to them.

    I returned here because of tip offs about some very good coverage of the Dorkland Grand Twenty Year Plan nonsense. I can see WOBH has really gained ground in a whole lot of areas, being genuinely investigative journalism that is so sorely lacking elsewhere.

    So congratulations, and keep up the hammering of the little poodles in the Lefty Greeny politicians (like Len Brown FC) laps – I mean the NZ Herald etc. I am suddenly aware of how much more significant the thread arguments here, might be.

  • Muffin

    I still don’t get this right wing left wing thing…. I see it as ‘normal’ and ‘communist idiots’

    • thor42

      That’s very true, Muffin.

      Right-wing – intelligent, take-no-BS.

      Left-wing – ignorant, naive, easily-led, BS-swallowing.

    • Travis Poulson

      That’s cool, I’ll explain for you. Right is right, left is to the right of what’s right, alright?

    • Pissedoffyouth

      One desires equal opportunity
      The other desires equal outcomes

  • thor42

    *All over the world*, people are turning away from leftwing media in droves, and *towards* right-leaning media and blogs.

    Andrew Bolt’s blog is another *great* example of a right-leaning blog. He covers *lots* of stories that the MSM don’t touch.

    • Polish Pride

      I think its more accurate to say that people are waking up and are turning to alternative sources of media. I think more and more people are waking up to the fact that the whole left vs right thing is just part of the illusion in what is being shown everyday to be a system that is beyond repair and in need of serious change or complete overhaul.
      Many have lost faith in MSM, Politicians regardless of whether they hail from the left or the right. The political system. The big all pervasive system. The judicial systems (especially with none of the banks having been prosecuted).
      It will appear to you that more are turning to right leaning media and blogs because that is your particular persuasion and what you are attracted to.
      Someone who is left leaning will be saying exactly the same thing but that more and more are turning away from neocon war mongering policies and turning to Left leaning media and blogs.
      Example: you don’t really believe more and more people are switching onto Fox News do you? yet more and more are switching to things like RT, the Young Turks etc. etc.

  • P1LL

    I would love to see the IP log views from government agencies here :P

  • KiwikevNZ

    i’m not sure if it right that a blog (one persons opinion) should have so much political sway especially when most articles are fairly loosely based around fact and one persons opinion, how sad would ya have to be to go out and vote on what whaleoil, kiwiblog, or the standard told you to do, i bet theres even ppl out there on election day looking for whaleoil on the voting sheet and cant figure out why hes not there cause they read the blog every week all year. also the more powerful the blog the more people believe in whats said even tho its still only only mans personal opinion. one of these polls few months ago i was able to click on “more” which gave time spent on each page, while whale oil might have 54% of the market on the how long ppl spent on each page it was covered in 0 (zero) minutes how does that work ?

    • Travis Poulson

      A pointless angle, the same can be said about every politically motivated factions across the board. People are dumb enough to vote Greens after buying into all their nonsense propaganda, the same with Labour…so on and so forth. Do you see what I am getting at? Intelligent people vote wisely, but dumb people can vote too.

      It matters not how much influence this blog has, as EVERYONE is playing the same game, we just happen to do it better than all the rest.

      Influence is a significant factor in every part of politics, and any politician, blogger or journalist who says it’s not is either lying, or not telling the truth.

  • AngryTory

    Neither is it a “right” vs “left” issue

    of course it is a “left vs right” issue. Right blogs grow and thive and reproduce. Left blogs die. Just like their underlying ideologies and their adherents.

    In NZ’s current toxic political culture, with National and Labour dashing ever further to the extreme left — so far that National is building an rail loop and giving away free school dinners and swearing never to touch super — Whaleoil’s numbers show just one thing:

    that NZ is desperate for an actual ordinary bloke with a common sense alternative to the different brands of elitist leftism (socialism, communism, libertarianism) promoted by every single parliamentary political party.

    The other refreshing difference is that Whale enjoys “playing the man” as much as “playing the ball.” We want to destroy Shearer because he’s a leftist, and because destroying leftists is fun, and because for our entire lives, leftist have been telling us how much better than us they are. Ditto every state schoolteacher, every bludger, every parent who hates their children, sends them to a state school, and then kids themselves that voting Labour or Green somehow will make up for the child abuse they have perpetrated on their own children.

    We don’t want or need TVNZ or RNZ or the Herald or the DomPost or any other leftist MSM “media” – we get all that we need from Whale and that will only increase in the future! The sooner they are closed and burned the better.

    My only regret is that Whale is obviously still sentimentally tied to National – via his dad I guess. Because a Whale party would get 5% no problem, would get a couple of electorates, and would put steel into the next National government of a kind that would make ardent ACT voters eyes water and (hopefully) Greens & Labour to off themselves. (Hell, on those figures above, the Whale Party would make 50%, and everything we hate about elitist socialist New Zealand would end overnight).

    Because – ultimately – everyone else in NZ politics plays the happy centre-ground. Complaining about communism one day, appointing its architects to well paying sinecures the next, and then making NZ even more communist, if such a thing is possible.

    Wale simply wants leftists and leftism dead. And that’s why his is the only voice that matters.

  • David Kerr

    I do enjoy this Blog, as it raises issues of the day, and keeps us amused with a bit of humour along the way. Whilst I would like be interested in regular interviews from our ministers in Govt, I prefer the independance of WO, and giving those who deserve a “schelacking” to which ever side of the house they belong. Thank you Cam and team, keep fighting the good fight.

  • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

    It is funny to think how skewered the political culture of NZ was when the only source of information were PC hysteria peddling lefties. Nice to know that the bulk of those with a degree of intellectual curiosity which compels them to seek information for themselves, lean to the political right.
    We knew this all along though didn’t we?