Russian Web 2.0 Explodes with Content – 10 Million Blogs by 2008

I was a lucky kid. Since I was seven, I waited with great anticipation for lunch time, when my mother, who worked at a large publishing house, would bring a freshly printed pack of Soviet newspapers, like “Izvestiya,” “Pravda,” “Trud,” “Komsomolskaya Pravda,” “Krasnaya Zvezda,” “Sovetsky Sport,” all in all, up to 10+ newspapers. There was nothing more pleasant than to chomp on a juicy apple and read all the latest news in one pack! I even used to fight with my older brother over who will get “Sovetsky Sport” and “Komsomolskaya Pravda” first.

Despite the abundance of styles, from the stiff and official “Pravda” to the more relaxed and youthful “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, the opinions expressed were trimmed to the rules of the reigning Soviet propaganda machine Only after the genie of glasnost came out of Gorbachev’s bottle, I saw some unusually critical articles in the Soviet press. Even then, people still could not really speak up or relate their opinions to particular events, except discussing it with friends or relatives in their tiny kitchens, where people could discuss anything and everything at small kitchen tables with the help of vodka and pickles…

Alas, in the early Yeltsin era, the newly minted democratic Russian media developed in a motley crew of yellow press, scandals and soap operas. Often it was hard to sift through this flow and find some real pearls of genuine truth and compelling critic. In the late 90’s, the Internet gave birth to the blogging universe, and it quickly gained popularity from mass users, journalists, politicians and critics, creating a gigantic Russian salad of opinions and philosophies never tasted before.

Today Russian blogging services are on their way up. The latest research by Yandex, the Russian search engine No. 1, showed that the two most popular services in the Russian Internet (RUNET) are LiveJournal’s Russian language community (RULJ) and LiveInternet (LI). On June 6, 2007, the RULJ proudly recorded 1 million registered users and blogs. Yet the long-standing #2 blogging site LI is rapidly reaching its main rival, RULJ, in terms of new blogs and everyday notes.

However, the gap is still wide: LI has 170,000 daily visitors, while there are 600,000 visitors at RULJ. LI’s General Director German Klimenko said to CNews that the number of active blogs at LI will exceed LJ by the end of 2007. Yandex research indicates that the overall growth of the Russian blogging sphere is 74% (41% worldwide), however the total number of Russian blogs account for only 3% of worldwide blogs. Analysts believe that by 2008 there will be at least 10 million blogs in the Russian part of the global blogosphere.

Let’s make a quick comparison between LI and RULJ. Once you check or register to both, one thing becomes clear immediately: RULJ is definitely more mature and garners an older audience. LI, boasting a kaleidoscope of services, is crafted for teenagers and young adults. Naturally, LI’s audience is growing faster than that of RULJ. After all, kids are craving for company and socializing. The big difference is in the quality of content and blogs, where at LI bored teenagers spill out their fresh half-thoughts and desires, while the good ol’ RULJ crowd is much more content with serious topics and informative content. There is a great number of really interesting blogs and boards at RULJ. Nevertheless, both blog arenas cover well for their type of audiences.

Unless you are a successful newspaper columnist or a famous actress who is able to draw hordes of readers by your reputation alone, your blog is going to need a theme. It may be a narrow one, like “Libertarian politics in the Massachusetts Governor’s race.” It may be a broad one, like, “art focusing on life and love.” But whatever your theme, your blog is going to keep readers by presenting them with the valuable content they expect. Not coincidentally, it’s also going to be a theme you love and will not be tempted to stray far from.

Because there are literally millions of blogs available, successful blogs reach one kind of reader, and they do it well. The reason is obvious: a reader who might share your interest in model trains may not share your love of fine wines. He may not care about your vacation in Paris. Unless he’s a personal friend, he may not care about your new car. That means you’re going to have to pick a subject and stick with it. A good starting place is the following list of popular blog categories: political, spiritual, society/culture, rant, business, hobby, technology, art, news, reference.

Of the most popular blogs, measured by, a popular blog search engine, significant percentages are political blogs. This should not be surprising: with the exception of religious opinions, opinions on politics are some of the most fiercely held and vociferously debated. Political opinions make great blog fodder. But there’s a catch: everyone has an opinion, but not everyone has one that millions of readers will take time to read. Successful political blogs, whether the liberal Daily Kos, the conservative Red State, or the law-oriented Volokh Conspiracy, all have one thing in common: they have important and timely information (not just opinions) that can be relied upon by serious political junkies. They have high-level political connections, access to rumors, or expertise to share. If you are connected in politics or law and have serious light to shed on the issues of the day, a political blog may be your Blog Empire. The same case holds for spiritual blogs, hobby blogs, and technology blogs: the successful blogs are those run by experts (that is, of course, why we’re going to build your empire on your own expertise) who can tell readers what they don’t know and want to know

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