Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A hundred grand

A significant landmark was achieved by this Blog last night. With the help of our treasured readers, we clocked up 100,000 hits, just over eight months after we started operations on 23 April, following Tony Blair's announcement of a referendum on the EU constitution.

All right, by comparison with the circulation of the print media and their own websites, the meg-sites like the BBC, this is small beer. It is also tiny compared with some of the US Blogs, which are achieving hit rates in excess of 100,000 a day.

Nevertheless, political blogging in the UK is a relatively new phenomenon and, for a British site, this is a respectable performance. Furthermore, reaching our hundred grand was not the only landmark. Yesterday, for the first time, we took over 1000 "hits" on the day, unaided – this is without being linked to a bigger site.

This was no flash in the pan as the hit rate has been climbing steadily since we started, a slow, unspectacular, week-on-week increase that has brought us to the present position. Having invested in a sophisticated statistics package, we can see that, if the current trend continues, we will be well past half a million hits by the end of this year.

What is particularly encouraging is that we are not alone. The past year has seen an explosion of Eurosceptic sites, ranging from the admirable EU Serf, to Eurealist and Jonathan Lockhart to the more general and highly entertaining Blithering Bunny, and many, many more.

There is, in fact, a publishing revolution out there and it is encouraging to note that the Eurosceptic sites are dominating the high ground, displaying wit, humour and depth of coverage that is not matched by the Europhiles. And, with over eight million active internet users in the UK, there is plenty of scope for expansion.

We have said it before, but it bears repetition, that the coming EU referendum campaign will be the first internet campaign in our history and I remain convinced that the material on the net will have a decisive impact on the course of the campaign.

For some time now we have been considering whether to set up a “peoples’ campaign” to take a higher profile line against the constitution but gradually it has dawned on us that we already have one, in the proliferation of anti-constitution blogs on the net.

This is what I was getting at in my blog yesterday when I wrote that this Blog and others like it are showing, neither the Tories nor "Vote No" will have the monopoly when it comes to campaigning against the referendum. Independently of whatever becomes the official "No" campaign, the blogosphere will be fighting its own campaign in its own, anarchic way.

For this Blog in particular, this still costs money and I and my co-editor Helen are definitely putting our own "day jobs" at risk and the current situation cannot continue indefinitely. We have resisted the lure of advertising as a means of raising funds but, in the near future, will be looking for serious sponsorship to keep the Blog going.

That apart, what makes this Blog a success is its readers, many of whom enliven the site with often penetrating and valuable comments. They come from the UK, throughout Europe, Canada, the USA, Africa, Asia - with a number of Japanese "fans" - Australia and New Zealand and points beyond.

We thank you all and look forward to our half-million.

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