Competition: Are you Troubled Diva’s most typical reader?

Based on the results of my recent readership survey, I am now in a position to assemble a detailed profile of this site’s most “typical” reader. Maybe that reader is you?

In order to find out, take a look through the following list, ticking every statement which applies to yourself. Then total up your score, and either leave it in the comments box, or mail it to me: mikejla at btinternet dot com.

The person who attains the highest score will receive a beautiful Troubled Diva coffee mug, ABSOLUTELY FREE. As will the person who attains the lowest score. Because we value diversity.

Eyes down! Here we go!

1. I am male.
2. I am 28 years old.
3. I am heterosexual.
4. I am partnered (but not married).
5. I live in the UK.
6. I live in London.
7. I am in full time employment, but I am not self-employed.
8. I am reading this survey (for the first time) at home.
9. I am a university graduate.
10. We have never spoken to each other by e-mail.
11. We have never met in real life.
12. I have never won a prize on this site.
13. I have my own weblog, and have made at least one posting to it since January 1st 2005.
14. Troubled Diva has linked to my weblog.
15. Mike has left a comment on my weblog.
16. I started reading Troubled Diva in 2002.
17. I first found Troubled Diva via a link on someone else’s blog.
18. I read Troubled Diva every day, or whenever it is updated.
19. Compared to a year ago, I read Troubled Diva just as often as before.
20. I come here on the off-chance that you have updated; I don’t use any form of RSS reader or other update monitor.
21. I read most posts, but skip or skim-read the ones which are less interesting to me.
22. I read between 10 and 25 weblogs on a regular basis.
23. I do not particularly mind either way about this year’s increase in music-related posts.
24. I have never bought any Troubled Diva merchandise.
25. I have never bought a CD as a result of a recommendation on this site.
26. I have discovered at least one blog through this site, which I have then gone on to read regularly.
27. One of my favourite pieces on this site is the 40 In 40 Days Project.
28. I have used the links on the sidebar to read old posts on this site.
29. This site has made me laugh out loud, but it has never made me cry, and it has never made me angry.
30. There is nothing in the world that I would like more than a FREE Troubled Diva coffee mug.

Good luck!

Update: At the time of writing, Lyle leads the Typicals with a score of 26, while John leads the Atypicals with 11.

However, as the comments box will reveal, Anna is mounting a bold (and some might say “nit-picking”) challenge for the lead, with all manner of “Yes, but if you count this, then…” provisos and sub-clauses. In recognition of such crazed Mug Lust, I have therefore set her a challenge, to be completed by midnight tonight (Thursday). Watch this space, as they always say in corporate newsletters.

Readership Survey Results: Part 7.

(With apologies for the break in service; this was occasioned by my retiring to my sick bed for a couple of days, in a heat-induced swoon.)

Right then – let’s knock this tired old warhorse on the head once and for all, shall we?

23. Have you ever used the links on my sidebar to read old posts on this site?

I’ve often wondered whether it was worth the effort of providing a “best of TD” section on the sidebar – because surely no-one actually reads the old stuff, do they? It therefore came as an immense surprise to discover that 92% of you answered “yes” to this question – proving that, with a bit of strategic thought and some artfully seductive post titles, weblog archives don’t have to disappear into obscurity after all.

24. Excluding the comments boxes: Has Troubled Diva ever made you laugh out loud? Has it ever made you cry? Has it ever made you angry?

He wants bleeding emotions now? How many more f**ing questions are there.

Look mate, you provide a product. I read it. Don’t expect me to read it with _insert_ emotion.

You know, I was almost tempted to count this one as a “yes” to the third part of the question. But in the end, 58 people went Ha Ha, 9 people went Boo Hoo, and just 7 went Grr Grr.

Personally, I think I’ve got off way too lightly with the Grr Grrs, as there are times when I look through the archives and think: get over yourself, Mary. But then there’s no greater critic than oneself, is there?

If only I’d had the nerve to add “Has it ever made you horny?” We’ll never know now!

25. Do you have any other comments?

“A faster comments system!”, you cried. “Another blogging management system!”, you implored. To which I say: nay and nay. My comments boxes may be slow at times – but the amazing body of content which they have accrued over the years is just too valuable to chuck away. Also, I neverget spammed. Never.

A large number of people were worried that I might use the results of this survey to change the future direction of the blog. Nope, that was never the idea. However, the survey has been the springboard for an awful lot of reflection over the past couple of weeks. Don’t worry: I’ll spare you the gory details. However, I’ll just say that the period of reflection was much needed.

And then lots of you said lots of very nice things, which made me blush and simper, and cross my legs, and duck my head, Lady Di style, below my long-vanished floppy fringe. For which much thanks.

To reward you for helping me with this survey, I’ll be running a small competition tomorrow. Because it’s been, ooh, weeks since I last offered a prize on this site, and it’s high time I did something to promote the merchandise.

Oh, and by the way. If you’ve been having trouble accessing the RSS feed via Bloglines, I’ve now added a second feed via Feedburner. Both links are up on the top right hand corner of the sidebar, just above the search box. Hope this helps.

Readership Survey Results: Part 6.

Note: For an interesting discussion on commenting and blogrolling etiquette, take a look at this comments box, as originally attached to Part 4 of the survey results.

19. Have you ever bought any Troubled Diva merchandise?

3 people said yes; 69 people said no. Which is slightly unexpected, as something like 20 to 25 people have bought merchandise from this site in the past. Conclusion: that merchandising tie-ins do not necessarily build brand loyalty.

(Christ knows what that last sentence is going to look like to a first-time reader, but never mind. One of these days, I might learn to express myself without the aid of implied inverted commas. But it won’t be any time soon.)

20. Have you ever bought a CD as a result of a recommendation on this site? (If so, and if you can remember, then please specify.)

For some reason, this was the least answered question in the survey. However, out of the 51 people who replied, 11 (22%) said “yes”. The Scissor Sisters were mentioned 7 times, Lemon Jelly 3 times, the excellent Ulrich Schnauss twice, and there was one mention each for the Hidden Cameras (hooray!), Chungking, Basement Jaxx, Gwen Stefani, the White Stripes, Cristina (woo!), Hot Chip, Fiona Apple and Tinawiren (word!).

21. Have you ever discovered a blog through this site, which you have then gone on to read regularly? (If so, and if you can remember, then please specify.)

Now, this is what it’s all about! To my genuine delight, 67% of you replied in the affirmative, with 28 different blogs being mentioned by name. The most frequently mentioned blog was Little Red Boat, which has picked up 7 new readers via this site. Bouquets also go to Joe.My.God, My Boyfriend Is A Twat, Wherever You Are, JonnyB’s Private Secret Diary, Naked Blog, Mimi In New York and The Search For Love In Manhattan. Always happy to spread the love!

22. Do you have any favourite posts or “moments” on this site? If so, then please name them, up to a maximum of five.

There was quite a range of opinion here, with 37 different posts/moments mentioned. Inevitably, the 40 In 40 Days Project emerged as the favourite by a big margin, being mentioned in 16 replies. Meaning that, yes, the best piece of writing on this site is now well over three years old. Which is something I came to terms with a long time ago. (I think that the source material might have had something to do with it.)

Runners-up: the annual Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? project (9 mentions) – always the highlight of my blogging year. Eurovision stuff in general was mentioned 7 times, the notorious Shirt Off My Back project 5 times (I cringe to this day at that one), and another all-time favourite, the Boutique Hotel mp3, 4 times. These were followed by 3 mentions each for the annual Christmas cards, the “stuck inside a Care Bear” debacle (you cruel bastards!), the recent “Write Like A Diva” contest, and music reviews in general. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to work out which post was the “holiday party snog”, as mentioned by one reader. Holiday party snog, you say? Wish I’d been there!

Readership Survey Results: Part 5.

14a. How frequently do you read Troubled Diva?

A seriously flawed question, as infrequent readers were a) much less likely to spend time answering the survey, and b) less likely to have stumbled across it in the two days that it was open. So, bearing this in mind:

38 people (or 48%) read TD daily, or (for those who make use of the RSS feed) whenever it is updated.
22 people (or 28%) read TD almost daily.
14% read it at least once a week.
10% read it less than once a week. (5% fortnightly; 5% less often than that.)

To which I say: nah, that can’t be right – because the percentage of “less than once a week” readers must surely be a good deal higher than that. That’s assuming that other people’s blog-reading habits resemble my own, of course: namely, a minority which I follow closely, and a larger number which I dip into once in a while. But we all do that, don’t we?

14b. Long-term readers only: Compared with this time a year ago, do you read the site more frequently, less frequently, or is it about the same?

Excluding the don’t knows:

More often – 17%
Less often – 19% (Including some who have switched to RSS, and so spend less time visiting on the off-chance that I’ve updated.)
The same – 64%

How terribly reassuring! Thank you for clearing that one up! Fragile ego, moi?

15. Do you track updates to Troubled Diva using Bloglines, or the Updated UK Weblogs list, or any other RSS reader – or do you just come here on the off-chance that I will have updated?

For all the fuss that has been made over the wonders of RSS, you remain a resolutely traditional bunch: 65% still come here on the off-chance, while 24% use some form of RSS reader and 11% use other methods.

The most popular RSS reader is, unsurprisingly, the excellent Bloglines, which I recommend wholeheartedly. Although it does take a while to set up your initial list of feeds, the process has been made as painless as possible – and maintaining the list from that point onwards is an absolute doddle.

Other observations: usage of the Updated UK Weblogs list is significantly lower (a victim of RSS no doubt), the once-fashionable Kinja is barely used at all, and neither (amazingly) is blogrolling.com.

16. Which of the following statements most closely describes your Troubled Diva reading habits?

a) I read every word of every post, more or less without fail.
b) I read most posts, but skip or skim-read the ones which are less interesting to me.
c) I read less than half of the posts, only picking out the ones that look interesting.

A gratifying 19% hang upon my every last utterance, whilst 72% read most posts (usually skipping some of the music-related stuff, it would seem) and 9% read less than half.

17. Which of the following statements most closely describes your blog-reading habits?

a) I don’t read any weblogs on a regular basis.
b) Troubled Diva is the only weblog which I read on a regular basis.
c) I read less than 10 weblogs on a regular basis.
d) I read between 10 and 25 weblogs on a regular basis.
e) I read more than 25 weblogs on a regular basis.

Whilst nobody at all answered to a), just one dear, sweet, solitary soul admitted that TD was the only blog which they regularly read. 27% read less than 10, 24% read more than 25 – but the most common answer was “between 10 and 25”, which accounted for a sensible and moderate 47% of you. If only I was one of them.

18. During the course of 2005, I have written proportionately more about music than in previous years. Speaking purely in terms of your own enjoyment of the site, do you find this a positive or a negative development, or do you not particularly mind either way?

For me, this was a key question – and, to some extent, a troubling one. (And before you all start: yes, I know that this is my blog, my rules, up to me what I write, etc etc etc. Sheesh, you guys!) However, a frankly astonishing 30% of you find the increase in music coverage a positive development, with an additional 36% not minding either way. However, a further 13% qualified their “don’t mind” answers in some sort of negatively inclined way (however slight), and a long-suffering 22% went straight for “negative”.

Lots to think about there – but for once, I’ll spare you the meta-meta-meta navel-gazing. Instead, I’ll simply reproduce this comment, which was possibly my favourite of the entire exercise.

Er… well possibly less enjoyable if it’s music I don’t have a great knowledge of. But it’s like the famous story about why they have Law Reports in the Independent newspaper, innit? Nobody reads them, but it makes the readers comfortable that they’re buying a quality paper. Ditto with the music in TD. Makes me feel trendy and that.

“Troubled Diva: the weblog which makes you feel trendy and that.”

Yep, I like that one. That’s right up there with:

“Troubled Diva: the gay blog that straight blokes read.”

If nothing else, this survey could keep me in fresh straplines for weeks.

Readership Survey Results: Part 4.

9. Do you have your own active weblog? (“Active” = at least one entry since January 1st 2005.)

As several pointed out, this was a fairly generous definition of an “active” weblog, which bumped up the “yes” vote by about 7 percentage points. This resulted in a final tally of 70% bloggers and 30% non-bloggers.

10. Active bloggers only: Have I ever linked to your weblog?
11. Active bloggers only: Have I ever left a comment on your weblog?

These two figures came out roughly the same: I have linked to 57%, and have commented on 55%. Both figures are unexpectedly low – particularly the latter, as I like to think that I pop in to say hello to most bloggers who link, even if it’s only the once. Conclusion: that I’m a little more aloof than I thought. Never mind: a little mystique-building aloofness never went amiss.

12. When did you first start reading Troubled Diva?

Oops, someone’s getting narky…

“Why in God’s name would anyone remember something like that? I’ve no idea. About two years ago or something? How long have you been reading every blog you read?”

The awful truth? I could probably give you a reasonably accurate answer for most of them. It’s just the way my mind works.

Happily, it also seems to be the way that most of your minds work, as only 9% of you couldn’t remember. Since all of that 9% said “two or three years ago”, I then split the vote evenly between 2002 and 2003, giving the following percentage breakdown:

2001: 5% (I started blogging at the end of October.)
2002: 26%
2003: 21%
2004: 24%
2005: 25% (January to May only.)

This reveals both a good solid clump of long-term loyalists, and a healthy crop of new readers. Which is just as it should be.

13. How did you first find Troubled Diva?

Discounting the 11% who couldn’t remember, a massive 73% first came here via a link off someone else’s blog, whilst 7% first found me through Google. 3 people were referred by a friend, 3 came via the 2003 Guardian blog awards, and – another surprise here – just 3 got here via a comments box in another blog. Oh, and for all the hoo-hah, just one regular reader came here via the Bloggies.

Conclusions:

1) By far the strongest currency in blogging is inter-blog linking, be it on a main post, a linklog post or a blogroll. So spread the love, people.

2) Comment-whoring doesn’t work! (That’ll shock a few people, naming no names…)

3) The Bloggies ain’t all that!

Many referring blogs were mentioned: 19 in all. Of the top referrers, My Boyfriend Is A Twat has gifted me at least 7 readers, the late lamented Swish Cottage 6, and Naked Blog 5.

Readership Survey Results: Part 3.

3. Are you in full-time or part-time employment, or self-employed, or a student, or a quote-unquote “home maker”, or retired, or unemployed? (Or something else which I’ve forgotten about?)

We are but wage slaves: 75% of you work full time, with 18% self-employed and 57% employed by someone else. Of the remainder, 6% work part time, 2 people qualify as “home makers”, and there’s one apiece for unemployed, in between jobs, long-term disabled and “of independent means”. Also, although a couple of you are already in receipt of your pensions, no-one actually counts as “full time” retired just yet.

4. Are you reading this from your place of work/study, or from your home, or from a public internet access point?

Would this have been a better question if I had said “where do you usually read this site”? Arguably – but, rightly or wrongly, I opted to take a “snapshot” of where you were at the time.

The results make depressing news for employers everywhere: 57% of you were reading at home, but a whopping 42% of you were at work.

(Note: whenever someone explained that they worked from home, I counted this as a “from home” reply.)

Although nobody was reading from a library, internet café or other public access point, one person was sufficiently Rock & Roll enough to be reading Troubled Diva from a hotel, while “on tour”. We like that.

5. Are you a university graduate? If not, at what stage did you complete your education?

What a bunch of swots! 74% of Troubled Diva readers are graduates, as against 22% non-graduates and 4% “graduands”. And blimey, weren’t you all eager to tell me exactly what kind of graduates you are! BSc, BA (hons), MA, MBA, PhD, MSc, LL.B, B.Eng, PGCE, MPhil, MEng… I especially loved the way that so many of you felt the need to add the (hons) next to your BA. Particularly since I didn’t even ask you to list your type of degree in the first place! Whatever happened to “read the question carefully”, then?

One additional fact: of the 18 non-graduates, no less than 7 (or 8.5% of the readership) started university, but dropped out before completing their studies. That’s quite high, isn’t it? Hmm.

6. Have we ever spoken with each other via private e-mail?

32% said yes; 57% said no. Conclusion: that communication between blogger and reader frequently extends beyond the blog itself. Can you imagine the same thing happening with a newspaper columnist?

7. Have we ever met each other in real life?

15 people (17%) said yes; 83% said no. Which is a little bit surprising, as I’ve meant a good deal more than 15 readers of this site over the years. Conclusion: that we’re a fickle bunch. But then, like guests at a never-ending cocktail party, of course we move on, and circulate, and work the room. It would be boring not to. Which is something to bear in mind whenever someone you’ve enjoyed talking to in the past stops visiting you, or even de-links. As in life, so in blog.

I was particularly tickled by the two readers who claim to have brushed past me at gigs without introducing themselves: especially as I didn’t actually attend one of the gigs in question (The Dears). As for the other gig (British Sea Power): yup, that was probably me (probably bored out of my skull by then; it was an exceptionally dull night).

8. Have you ever won a prize on this site?

13 of you (17%) said yes; 83% said no. As this is actually quite a high proportion of people who have won prizes, I can only conclude that prize-giving is a good seal of blog loyalty. In other words: bribe your readers with freebies, and they’ll stick around. A little tip for aspirational bloggers there!

(I jest, I jest. The other perspective is, of course, that regular loyal readers are the ones who are most likely to enter my occasional competitions in the first place.)

Which reminds me: there is going to be a prize at the end of this survey. More details once I’ve finished the full analysis.

Readership Survey Results: Part 2.

Let’s start by completing the last part of Question 1: your country of current residence.

Not surprisingly, most of my readers hail from the UK: 69% of them, to be precise. The USA counts for 15%, Europe for 9%, and there were also three Irish readers, two Australians and one lone Canadian. (Hi, asta!) As for Africa, Asia and South America: nichts, nada, nuffink. (Although this might have been different before the end of last week, when my sister returned to the UK after spending several months in the Sudan.)

The comparatively small proportion of US readers (there were 14 in all) comes as no surprise; in fact, I was expecting even fewer. In the early days of the blog, when there were far fewer of us to spread around, quite a lot of Americans came visiting – spurred on by some early support from a few of the better known US gay bloggers of the day. Accordingly, I made a conscious effort to avoid overdoing the unfamiliar Briticisms and obscure pop-cultural references, providing explanations and links whenever they were needed. But as British blogging picked up steam, and more British readers started visiting, so I grew weary of going the extra mile for the Yanks. It just didn’t seem worth the effort any longer. And so, gradually, the focus of the blog became more explicitly biased towards the UK.

However, I don’t think that’s the whole story. Looking at the readership of some of the other long-standing Britblogs, I’ve noticed a similar diaspora. Consequently, the Atlantic feels wider than ever these days. Is this simply due to the explosion in blogging that has taken place since the autumn of 2001? Or is it also due to other factors – also connected to the events of late 2001 – which have served to alienate us from our American cousins, cooling our natural friendly curiosity and replacing it with an icy – if not downright wary – indifference?

I think you know of what I speak. And don’t get me wrong: I’m not proud of this new, subtle, frequently unacknowledged prejudice, which has crept into the mindsets of many Brits of a more “liberal” persuasion over the last three years or so. But I think it’s there, and I think we shouldn’t be afraid of acknowledging that it’s there. Because once we acknowledge it, then maybe we can begin to find new ways of challenging it.

Goodness, but I’m rambling. Where were we?

2. UK readers only: please state your county of current residence (or major city, if applicable). US readers only: please state your state of current residence.

Of the 59 UK readers who replied:

  • 17 (29%) live in London.
  • 30 (51%) live in the rest of England.
  • 11 (19%) live in Scotland.

Just one reader lives in Wales, and there were no readers at all from Northern Ireland.

The percentage of London based readers is strikingly high; even when taken as a percentage of the entire readership, London still racks up 18%. Evidence of Troubled Diva’s cosmopolitan, metropolitan au courant-iness, perchance? As for the “local” brigade: the survey unearthed just six people from Nottinghamshire, and one from Derbyshire – further proof that the people who see me the most often in real life are the people least likely to be reading me on a regular basis. (It’s a commonly observed phenomenon.)

Other than that, the readership was fairly evenly spread throughout England and Scotland, with a little pocket of support in Lancashire, and notably less support in the South West. In fact, what with this and the absence of Welsh and Northern Irish appeal, there is a distinct Easterly slant to my readership. Nobody ever talks about East/West divides in this country, do they? Well, here’s one to chew over…

This strange Easterly bias is further borne out by my American readership, with six readers on the East coast, five in the middle, and just one on the West coast. But then I think we’ve always been more East Coast hip & edgy than West Coast laid-back & cool.

Sheesh, enough already. Isn’t it amazing what you can extrapolate from a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet, if you put your mind to it? And you thought this was just going to be a geeky stats-fest? Er, so did I. There’ll be more results as we get them. Don’t go changing!