July 16, 2008

Reading the Readers

Quico says: A hearty thanks to all 280 of you who took the time to fill out the Readers' Survey over the last few days. There's some eye-popping stuff in there, so lets dig right in.

First, the ugly. I sort of figured that there would be more men than women reading this stuff, but a 4-to-1 split?!

That's crazy stuff. Gals, if you have any handy tips on how to make Caracas Chronicles more appealing to the XX Chromosome set, do let me know.

The age breakdown is less surprising:

Nor were there that many surprises about where people live:

The nationality question threw up some interesting results, though. I really wasn't expecting so many readers with dual citizenship:

As for ideology, you can see "center-left" takes it by a substantial plurality. I was heartened, though, by the preponderance of relative moderation - 70% of you describe yourselves a "center-something" - and by the popularity of "it's complicated", cuz of course we all know that trying to sum up one's political views in three words is an absurd exercise:

One that really surprised me was the "how-well-can-you-read-Spanish?" question. I'd always figured a relatively large proportion of you couldn't read much Spanish...why else, after all, would you spend your time on an English language blog about Venezuela?

Turns out that's not at all right: just 5% of you can't read Spanish, and more than 80% can read Spanish "very" or "quite" well:

The next question also gave fairly surprising results. I wanted to get a feel for how large the blog looms in readers' information gathering routines. I always thought of it as a kind of supplementary thing, a source you'd turn to for comment on news you'd already heard about elsewhere, rather than a source in itself. But that's not how a lot of you see it:

(Note to the 6.1% of you who use this blog as your main source of information about Venezuela: get your heads examined.)

More surprises came in the Types-of-Posts question. While most of you like most of the posts (I guess that's why you come), it turns out that posts on the Economy are the most popular of the bunch. Who knew? I guess we'll have to write more of them:

I did a simple Word Frequency Analysis on the open-ended question on what you like most and least about the blog. The most frequently used words in describing what you liked the most about Caracas Chronicles were Analysis, Well Written/Good Writing, Style, Perspective, Comments, Smart/Intelligent, Honest and Insight. Here's a taste for what they were like:
How it digs beyond the headlines - e.g., the disconnect of the discourse vs the reality.

Gives me news I might not otherwise find.

The analysis, not just reporting, of events.

Multi-theme, high caliber, English language.

Contemporaneous and genuine debate about the issues that matter most to Venezuelans abroad.

Good, thoughtful writing, good analysis and often interesting comment streams, helps me keep up with things I would miss elsewhere.

Seriousness, thoroughness, historical perspective.

Katy, before she became a man.

The quality of the writing, the intelligence of the posters and the lively comments section.

Sublimation of frustration into humor.

How Venezuelan news is viewed with a us format yet with a venezuelan perspective
The words that came up most often in describing what you liked least about the blog were Comments, Long, PSF, Spanish and Arrogance. A selection of responses:
Few spanish, but I understand it reaches more people in english... in spanish it could affect voting


The Chavista nutters who hang around the comments

Its randomness.

Lack of an educated Chavez supporter who uses intelligent and logical conversation to prove points.

Would like more posts but realize you have a life.

Can float off into theoretical wonkland.

Very long comments in comments section.

The sycophants in the comment section and the alleged superior intellectuality of its creator. Otro hijo de vecino and all that...

the language conundrum -- is this read by the same 10 folks who can dance between criollo spanish and perfect english (like myself)?

Sometimes the blog gets stuck on one single topic.

Katy is actually a hairy dude

Sometimes it's too Chavez centered as if he was the only responsible for what we have now

Comments section - too heavily moderated.

Its arrogance.

That there is no spanish version. There should be one!!! And you know it.

Not too consistent, sometimes there is nothing interesting for several days.
Finally we come to the Comments section. Here, the results were especially eye-catching.

As I'd long suspected, the people who tend to dominate the comments threads are a very small slice of the readership. In fact, 3 out of 4 survey respondents seldom or never post comments:

What's interesting is that the chart is reversed when I asked y'all how often you read the comments section:

It turns out we have a huge proportion of lurkers here: folks who come in, read the blog, read the comments, but don't join the fray. In fact, 35% of the readers who never comment still say they read the comments section "often."

I thought that was pretty interesting, and I'd love it if some of you lurkers broke the habit and piped in at least to say hello in this post's comments thread.

Overall, most people seem to appreciate the Comments Section, with a substantial minority seeing it as "a big reason to come to the blog". Again, it's interesting that while just 6.5% of you comment "often," a quarter see comments as a major reason to keep coming back:

I was also gratified that not many of you think this whole comments thing is a waste of time, though I admit that's how I feel sometimes having to moderate it!

And on that topic - comment moderation - it was nice to know that a very large majority thinks Juan Cristobal and I are in Goldilocks Territory on the issue of deleting obnoxious comments:

Thanks so much, once again, for taking a the time to answer the survey. In the coming weeks, we'll be unveiling a second, much more detailed questionnaire dealing with readers' political opinions and attitudes. Hell, I gave that surveymonkey 19 of my hard earned CADIVI dollars, I will get my money's worth!