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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gender bias in blogrolls?

Blogger Danah Boyd took the initiative to determine whether there is gender bias in the blog network. Working with Technorati who handed over 500 random sample blogs for Danah to analyze, she coded them by gender and sought out patterns in links and blogrolls, which are outside services that manage increasing blog links. Here are some of the patterns she found:

  • Blogrolls seem to be very common on politically-oriented blogs and always connect to blogs with similar political views (or to mainstream media).
  • Male bloggers who write about technology (particularly social software) seem to be the most likely to keep blogrolls. Their blogrolls tend be be dominantly male, even when few of the blogs they link to are about technology. I haven’t found one with >25% female bloggers (and most seem to be closer to 10%).
  • On LJ (even though it doesn’t count) and Xanga, there’s a gender division in blogrolls whereby female bloggers have mostly female “friends” and vice versa.
  • Content type is correlated with link structure (personal blogs contain few links, politics blogs contain lots of links). There’s a gender split in content type
  • When bloggers link to another blog, it is more likely to be same gender. (bold added by me)

Here are some other observations Boyd made:

  • All links are created equal. All relationships are not. Treating everything like a consistent weak tie is quantity over quality and in social networks, that means male over female.
  • There are social consequences to linking structures and those who have a lot of eyes on them are probably more aware of the consequences of their linking habits. This is another reason why people with a lot of eyes may get rid of blogrolls. Having to negotiate lots of requests for links can be a real turn-off.

Not up on statistical data or algorithms, I can only surmise from these findings that males bloggers link to other male bloggers and likewise women bloggers do the same. Is it a matter of subject differences; that is, women will tend to blog about those things considered "important" to women and men will do the same. I don't know.

As for me, I do look at content without gender; if a blog piques my interest, I will link to it. But as you can see from my links, all but one of them are to female bloggers or female-oriented blogs, basically romance. Which makes sense as I'm a romance writer and there aren't a lot of male romance writers. The one link to the male blogger is actually to his art gallery website, because I happen to like his pic.

Maybe there is a gender difference after all. Now the question is, is this more detrimental to male or female bloggers, or both? Or does it even make a difference at all?

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 9/11/2005 01:12:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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