On 16 February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence. On 20 February 2014, there were around 172 million Tumblr and 75.8 million WordPress blogs in existence worldwide. According to critics and other bloggers, Blogger is the most popular blogging service used today. However, Blogger does not offer public statistics. Technorati lists 1.3 million blogs as of February 22, 2014.
As of 2008, blogging had become such a mania that a new blog was created every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Researchers have actively analyzed the dynamics of how blogs become popular. There are essentially two measures of this: popularity through citations, as well as popularity through affiliation (i.e., blogroll). The basic conclusion from studies of the structure of blogs is that while it takes time for a blog to become popular through blogrolls, permalinks can boost popularity more quickly, and are perhaps more indicative of popularity and authority than blogrolls, since they denote that people are actually reading the blog’s content and deem it valuable or noteworthy in specific cases.
The blogdex project was launched by researchers in the MIT Media Lab to crawl the Web and gather data from thousands of blogs in order to investigate their social properties. Information was gathered by the tool for over four years, during which it autonomously tracked the most contagious information spreading in the blog community, ranking it by recency and popularity. It can, therefore, be considered the first instantiation of a memetracker. The project was replaced by tailrank.com which in turn has been replaced by spinn3r.com.
Blogs are given rankings by Alexa Internet (web hits of Alexa Toolbar users), and formerly by blog search engine Technorati based on the number of incoming links (Technorati stopped doing this in 2014). In August 2006, Technorati found that the most linked-to blog on the internet was that of Chinese actress Xu Jinglei. Chinese media Xinhua reported that this blog received more than 50 million page views, claiming it to be the most popular blog in the world. Technorati rated Boing Boing to be the most-read group-written blog.
Penelope Trunk wrote an upbeat article in the Boston Globe in 2006, entitled “Blogs ‘essential’ to a good career”. She was one of the first journalists to point out that a large portion of bloggers are professionals and that a well-written blog can help attract employers.
By 2004, the role of blogs became increasingly mainstream, as political consultants, news services, and candidates began using them as tools for outreach and opinion forming. Blogging was established by politicians and political candidates to express opinions on war and other issues and cemented blogs’ role as a news source. (See Howard Dean and Wesley Clark.) Even politicians not actively campaigning, such as the UK’s Labour Party’s MP Tom Watson, began to blog to bond with constituents. In January 2005, Fortune magazine listed eight bloggers whom business people “could not ignore”: Peter Rojas, Xeni Jardin, Ben Trott, Mena Trott, Jonathan Schwartz, Jason Goldman, Robert Scoble, and Jason Calacanis.
The impact of blogging upon the mainstream media has also been acknowledged by governments. In 2009, the presence of the American journalism industry had declined to the point that several newspaper corporations were filing for bankruptcy, resulting in less direct competition between newspapers within the same circulation area. Discussion emerged as to whether the newspaper industry would benefit from a stimulus package by the federal government. U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged the emerging influence of blogging upon society by saying “if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, then what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding”. Between 2009 and 2012, an Orwell Prize for blogging was awarded.