Research on Malaysian Bloggers

The Survey for Blog Readers and Bloggers is closed. Thanks for your participation!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blogging Asia: A Windows Live Report

Seems that research on blogs are plentiful these few days. First we had Universal McCann doing the survey on netizens with marketing and branding, with focus on blogs in particular, and now we have an international online survey, Blogging Asia: A Windows Live Report by MSN Live Spaces, analyzed by Harris Interactive. Not that I'm complaining, of course ^^.

According to full report in The Star (30 November 2006) Page N33:

If you are a Malaysian and you have your own blog, the odds are that you're a woman, aged 25 or under.

Sixty-four percent of local bloggers are female and 74% of them are in that age group.

This is a finding of an international online survey involving more than 25,000 Microsoft MSN web portal visitors in August and September.

The survey, Blogging Asia: A Windows Live Report, was conducted in Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

It is found that 41% of Malaysians who went online also blogged.

Malaysia's bloggers primarily do it for entertainment and to share their lives with family and friends.

"Blogging has moved into the mainstream in Asia and Malaysia, and has become a popular way to stay in touch with family and friends," said Grant Watts, Microsoft South-East Asia general manager for online services group.

The survey found that 56% of Malaysians blogged to express passionately held views, while 49% blogged to keep friends and family updated.

Some 34% just like having a little corner of cyberspace to call their own.

Only a small number, about 3%, said they were practising "citizen journalism".

As for blog-reading habits, 63% of respondents said that they read blogs for entertainment, while technology, travel and music were the most widely read blog topics across Asia and in Malaysia.

The majority of blog readers, 81%, are most interested in blogs written by friends or family.

Far behind in popularity are blogs by business leaders and politicians garner the least interest.

Blog readers said they looked for good writing and plenty of pictures. picked it up here, with a more holistic perspective, covering other countries participating in the survey as well. I am not sure whether it is first or second hand, since PRNewswire has the same report. Anyway, let's proceed:
Stat: Nearly half of those online in Asia have a blog, 74% find blogs by friends/family to be most interesting
Stat: Young people and women dominate (except India where it is overwhelmingly a male domain)
Stat: 50% believe blog content to be as trustworthy as traditional media
Stat: 41% spend more than three hours a week blogging
Stat: More than 40% have less than 10 visitors per week
Stat: 55% of bloggers in Asia were found to be female and 45% male.
Stat: 20% of Malaysians voted for Blogs focusing on politics, compared to 14% on average across Asia

It is interesting that the second report highlighted this whilst The Star did not:
Politicians fared poorly across the region with only 14% interested in reading their blogs except in Malaysia where they were quite popular with 20% listing this type of blog as being of interest.

Note of caution though: the sample involves only Microsoft MSN web portal visitors and may not be representative of the whole Malaysian blogosphere.

The Online Survey is Out!!

This is the URL to the survey:

This is the preamble:
I am a Master's student studying in University of Malaya. This survey is part of my thesis, titled "Is blogging an effective tool to democratize Malaysia?"

The questionnaire is composed mostly of Multiple Choice Questions, and is divided into three parts:
Part I: General Demography (12 questions)
Part II: For Blog Readers (14 questions)
Part III: For Bloggers (11 questions)
(*Respondents without a blog can skip Part III)

Important: Please fill in this questionnaire only if you are a blog reader/blogger residing in Malaysia, or a blog reader/blogger of Malaysian nationality residing abroad.

My blog on research is at =) You can also reach me at my email: I will try to reply all mails as soon as possible.

Your participation means a lot to my research and the Malaysian blogosphere at large. Thanks for your time!

I would really appreciate it if you took some time to answer this survey. It will take you 15 minutes at most, because most of the questions are MCQs, and I took into account the comments from the pre-launch and cut some questions off, so this is the slimmed down version.

The major goals of this questionnaire are to gage the demography of blog readers and bloggers - and also to supply evidence to my thesis question: "Is blogging an effective tool for democratizing Malaysia?"

This survey is open for one month, i.e. until 30 December 2006. My thesis is due mid January, so those interested in the analysis can contact me at that time. You are also welcome to link this post (and I would be super grateful) and spread the word about this survey.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Universal McCann does a study on netizens and bloggers

Excerpts from "Internet no longer niche media" (29 November 2006) B11, StarBiz Section of The Star:

With 10 million active users in Malaysia, the Internet can no longer be considered a niche media, said Universal McCann managing director Gaurav Bhasin.

"The scope and influence of the net now offers fresh opportunities for advertisers," he said in a statement. "There's an exciting dynamism in advertising, with bloggers, gamers, social networkers, and podcasters charting a new reality for brand building."

A recent research study conducted by Universal McCann, based on a sample size of 4670 respondents, revealed that 40% of Malaysian netizens (regular Internet users) spent more than three hours daily on the Net.

Specifically on blogs -

The survey also revealed that 35% of Malaysian netizens are active bloggers with about one-quarter responding of writing about brands and services experienced.

"These bloggers can actually influence the fate of brands, and the growing number of passive bloggers who visit and read blogs of people they personally know is not small enough that they can be ignored," he said.

The Universal McCann study showed that 14% of bloggers trusted brand reviews they read and were positively inclined to try a brand with a positive review.

Also, Vijandren Ramadass posted more elaborately on on 22 November 2006, with these graphs (click to enlarge) for your convenient perusal:

On what blogs are:

On blogs:

On time spent on blogs:

Another strong implication highlighted was "The rise of 'blogethics'"
In the Malaysia blogosphere, UM uncovered Blogethics – ethical standards that apply to bloggers and their audiences.

1. Blogging is about Freedom of Expression: It has been called many names Consumer Generated Content (CGC), User Generated Content (UGC), citizen journalism but at its core, blogging for Netizens is all about the freedom to express oneself. This is agreed upon by almost 97% of the Malaysian Netizens.

2. Bloggers share a responsibility to their readers: Bloggers are expected by their peers to be responsible for what they write about. This aspect of the new Blogethics is so important that close to 72% of the Netizens bloggers and audiences alike agreewith it.

I have not found the full report online. I should probably contact Universal McCann.

Online Survey for Malaysian Blogs (Version 2)

I've updated the survey - took away some questions and amended the preamble. Please feel free to preview Version 2 of the survey here. The final survey will be launched tomorrow, and will be in the form of an online form. As always, comments are appreciated.

Previous version was here.

Pre-launch of the survey!

I am going to launch the online survey for Malaysian blog readers and bloggers latest by tomorrow morning. For now, feel free to have a sneak preview of the survey in Microsoft Word format and any comments would be very much appreciated.

The final survey will be in the form of an online form. It will rely on word-of-mouth for dissemination.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Blogger Movements (Updated)

I have been looking around for civil society movements - i.e. self-initiated movements from civilians, non-government and non-profit making, for certain causes.

(Please see the Updated section at the bottom of this article) From the information that I have collected, there seems to be only one big-scale activity which was held on August 6th, 2005. It is called "Bloggers are morons", which is a charity blogathon to raise funds for Hospice-at-Home Programme, Penang. Popular bloggers, such as Kenny Sia, Minishorts, Suanie, Peter Tan, Paul Tan and Shaolin Tiger blogged for a full 24 hours, passing the baton one after another. Apparently there was also 11 guest bloggers (buangmasa, Eyeris, Jaime Shun, Jean, JFE 8555, KY Speaks, Lucia Lai, Marita Paige, Sashi, Wingz, Wuan) too. No links for the guest bloggers because I got it a comment in ViewTru's blog and they were not hyperlinked.

The "Bloggers are morons" site was taken down after the event. According to Viewtru, only 1359.98 dollars (no indications to whether it is RM or USD) was collected at the time of his posting (9 August 2005). I will have to check with Suanie on the figures.

Other than the "Bloggers are morons" blogathon, I have not found any other movements of collective bloggers' effort, only the recent "Manuscripts don't burn" which is a group blog trying to raise awareness of banned books within Malaysia. A list of banned books were given. The blog was set up in early November 2006 and has not been updated for more than two weeks since.

Haze Haters in Malaysia was a unique use of Blogger to hold a picture petition against open burning in Indonesia, 2005. It even got a mention in The Star, if I remember correctly. But besides the fact that it is hosted by Blogger, it does not display any characteristics of a blog, but works more like a website instead. The attempt to resurrect it in the haze season, 2006 was not apparently successful.

Other efforts have been personal. Anti Lampe Berger is one, Anti Rempit is the other. Anti-Lampe Berger has had a much longer lifespan than "Manuscripts don't burn" and "Anti Rempit" (a campaign aimed at Mat Rempits). Individual bloggers also align themselves with activities that they feel strongly for, such as Suanie in TakeBackTheTech (for anti-violence against women) and Jeff Ooi and SKThew with Global Voices Online.

Will continue to scout around for more. The online survey will be launched sometime next week, after I get back from holidaying in Singapore. If you know of any other movements, please leave me a comment =) Thanks!

*Update on 29 Nov 2006*
I redid my research and found the perspective that I had missed (and would still have missed if it weren't for the heads-up by Cynical Idealist and Suanie at the comments section). Apparently, there is an annual world-wide blogathon movement initiated by And here's the most important rule:
Each participant must update every 30 minutes for the 24-hour period beginning on July 29, 2006, at 6:00 AM Pacific Time. Everyone blogs during the same 24-hour period. For example, if you are blogging from Paris, France, you would begin at 4:00 pm (1600). In Sydney, Australia, you would begin at 11:00 pm (2300). You need not update right on the half-hour, so don't panic about exactitude. Just be sure you're updating once about every 30 minutes.
Source: Rules of the Blogathon 2006

So, apparently, "Bloggers are Morons" was an initiative under the umbrella of As commented by Suanie and stated by this article - other "blogathoners" include Edrei, Yvonne Foong, Ee Yean and Serge, so it wasn't only "Bloggers Are Morons" after all. My bad! =P

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Of Interviews

I am having two interviews today, with James Wong at 1:30pm at Subang Parade, and Rockybru at 4pm at Bangsar Shopping Centre.

Last Saturday when I met SKThew, he very kindly hooked me up with Suanie, TVSmith and Fong Po Kuan. I am in the process of scheduling interviews with them.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Political culture and Bloggers

Political culture:
a set of values and orientations which determine and influence the public's perception of politics.

In determining whether blogging is an effective tool for democratization, it is probably important to have some idea of the current political culture of bloggers and blog readers.

Are they politically aware? Do they vote in the General Elections? Do they plan to vote? Do they frequent blogs with strong socio-political content or blogs which are primarily entertaining? In what manner do they blog about political content? (Critical and constructive, neutral and mainly reporting, ranting and whining?)

Political culture in Malaysia is fragmented across ethnic lines, education level, social classes and more. Are we able to come up with categories that would provide an idea of the heterogeneity of political culture in bloggers as well?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Weblogs and Power Law Distribution

Image from, from a post on Weblogs and Power Laws

Some observers have noticed that the popularity of blogs follows the power law distribution, i.e. the graph that you see above. This graph was plotted from the Top 100 most linked to weblogs in Technorati on 24 Jan 2003. As you can see, there is a vast difference between the #1 popular (at 6000 links) and the #8 (1000 links), for example. However, #50 doesn't show a lot of difference from #100. This concept is similar to the 80/20 rule, i.e. 20% of the population holding 80% of the wealth.

Here are some interesting quotes from Clay Shirky's article of Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality.
"Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality."

"In systems where many people are free to choose between many options, a small subset of the whole will get a disproportionate amount of traffic (or attention, or income), even if no members of the system actively work towards such an outcome. This has nothing to do with moral weakness, selling out, or any other psychological explanation. The very act of choosing, spread widely enough and freely enough, creates a power law distribution."

"We know that power law distributions tend to arise in social systems where many people express their preferences among many options. We also know that as the number of options rise, the curve becomes more extreme. This is a counter-intuitive finding - most of us would expect a rising number of choices to flatten the curve, but in fact, increasing the size of the system increases the gap between the #1 spot and the median spot."

"Perhaps some writing is simply better than average (a preference for quality), perhaps people want the recommendations of others (a preference for marketing), perhaps there is value in reading the same blogs as your friends (a preference for "solidarity goods", things best enjoyed by a group). It could be all three, or some other effect entirely, and it could be different for different readers and different writers. What matters is that any tendency towards agreement in diverse and free systems, however small and for whatever reason, can create power law distributions."

"Once a power law distribution exists, it can take on a certain amount of homeostasis, the tendency of a system to retain its form even against external pressures. Is the weblog world such a system? Are there people who are as talented or deserving as the current stars, but who are not getting anything like the traffic? Doubtless. Will this problem get worse in the future? Yes."

Clay Shirky predicts that in the future, the "head" of the graph, i.e. the #1 will become mainstream media, (he means media that we have gotten used to - and the communication done in these A-list blogs will be one-way because the bloggers will not be free enough to reply to all the comments) and the "tail", i.e. the much less popular will become conversational.

"The relatively egalitarian distribution of readers in the early years had nothing to do with the nature of weblogs or webloggers. There just weren't enough blogs to have really unequal distributions. Now there are."

I found this concept a couple of days earlier from the Internet, while I was browsing Technorati's State of the Blogosphere, October 2006.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

First post

I've decided to keep a separate blog for documenting findings and development of the thesis. It will probably serve me better than the crummy notebook with unintelligible scrawls all over, or lacing scraps of information along happenings and rants in my personal blog.

Firstly, today was a good day for soliciting interviews. I sent out 4 emails this morning and got 3 positive replies, from Rockybru, SKThew and James Wong. That's like a 75% success rate! Pretty encouraging. Therefore, the interview respondent count right now is 6 (Including Jeff Ooi, Tony Pua and Sharizal Shaarani whom I have already interviewed). I will need another 4, and those 4 will hopefully contain races other than Malay and Chinese, and a couple of women.

I discussed the online survey issue with Wiun and YKent just now. I am starting to realize that it is probably necessary for me to conduct two online surveys, one for the bloggers and one for blog readers. To rely on the same survey for bloggers to get statistics for their blog-reading habits will probably give me a half-baked picture of the overall blog-reader population. I will discuss this issue with Prof W.

I just found a survey done by Syed Syahrul Zarizi as recent as September 2006, which he has named Malaysia Blog Survey. He is the guy who did the 70 weblog paling popular di Malaysia ranking, which I had known of sometime ago. But I didn't know that he had also did a blogger demography survey! I will contact him to get permission for using his data and also for further information.