How “sorted” is the SA blogosphere?

I’ve been looking at the Amatomu Top 100 blogs in SA list a few times over the last week. It’s a bit like day-trading.. watching your blog stock move. I’m in the top 40 today.

“SA blogosphere, sorted.”
I was wondering how “sorted” things are behind the scenes.

Looking at the top 40 (a snapshot obviously).. a few comments:

  • True Blogs
    At first glance a few “blogs” did not strike me as blogs, but they have syndication feeds and they have comments. They seem to lack the personal angle. When is a news site with teams of sub-editors no longer a blog? The top 10 contains at least 3 sites which I don’t think are blogs. Is there some filter process for what is a blog and what is an SA blog.. or is it just “law of the jungle”?
  • Local Traffic Patterns
    I would like to know how much of the traffic/requests to these sites originate from within SA. I’m sure Amatomu can easily work this out.
  • Locally Hosted Content
    You would think that Web 2.0 and Consumer Generated Media would grow the content on the local (SA) Internet.. but, it seems out of the top 40 only 10 of the sites are hosted in South Africa.

    You don’t need a PhD in economics to work out that this is a sad thing. South Africans are building their “local” content at the cost of moving Rands into Dollars to pay for traffic. Triple negatives.. traffic to create the content overseas, traffic to host the content overseas and traffic to consume the content. Walking over the toll bridge three times.

    What’s even more depressing is that the faster this “local” content grows the faster SA is drowning in the triple billing cycle.

    I use the Sage feed reader plugin for Firefox to read my feeds. I’ve had to start sorting my feeds from quick response to slow response. Granted, the Sage reader is synchronous so it attempts to get one xml file after the other, but.. I often find it can take about a minute to do an update run on my feeds. Add ~300ms latency to every packet moving around to do the most trivial work of just fetching an xml file and you get this lame outcome.

  • The A-list
    There has been talk of A-List bloggers in SA. I was interested to see how the popularity of blogs compare. What is the cut-off point for A-List in the top 100? The A-list does not really jump out at me.

Good work MG people. Nice site, useful resource.

19 thoughts on “How “sorted” is the SA blogosphere?

  1. Locally Hosted Content: I kept all my sites on local ISPs untill about a year ago, the service was crap and it cost me per domain with with limeted functionality monthly what I now pay for an account with unlimeted domains, unlimeted databases, one-click installs etc etc, per year. Yup it’s sick and a nasty spiral and certainly not helping the digital divide issue. I dunno, are there local ISPs that can compete?

  2. Hi Andre

    Rafiq and I are working on the problem (-:

    I read “the service was crap” as.. local ISP’s do not have good service automation systems since I’m guessing you are not phoning up your overseas ISP’s for a chat that often.

    If you want good value with “as many domains and databases as you like” have a look at these virtual server packages.

    Also look at deals from WebAfrica and Hetzner.

  3. Yip, my preference is for automation, but international phone calls aren’t as problematic as they used to be :-).
    Will check the leads, thanx.
    Sounds like there’s something interesting to loow fwd to, c’mon say a bit more!

  4. Thanks for those comments, we’re definitely going to start releasing aggregated statistics as we get more data and understand it better.

    On the hosting thing, I have personally had shocking experiences with local ISPs, not only in terms of service and competence but also pricing. As a principle I would prefer to host my blog locally BUT financially it just doesn’t make sense. The cost of bandwidth is simply too high.

    It is very sad that this money leaves our shores but frankly Telkom’s massive profits more than compensate… isn’t that the problem, really?

  5. Hey Vincent

    Yes, those two little straws under the sea are a big problem. Especially since they are the perfect place to “create” scarcity.

    I still feel that hosting local content locally is the way to go.

    Hosting bandwidth pricing has dropped drastically in the last 24 months. 9c/MB for good quality hosting traffic is not bad I think this will go down to 8c/MB by the end of the year.

    My (personal) website uses about 1.5GB of traffic per month.. that’s R135/m.

    What would be cool is if the local ISP’s had better peering and they passed on the savings to the customers, making it much cheaper to host local content.. an incentive for people to create more local content.

    Lets say of that 1.5GB, 1GB is local.. I’d like to be spending about R55/m (500*.09 + 1000*.01).

    For that we need better hosting environments.. and ISP’s should bill on their border network, not their access network.. but I digress.

    Anybody interested in this topic, talk to me at the GeekDinner on Wednesday.

  6. Andre,
    Yeah, interesting things in the pipeline on all fronts.. but I can’t say much more right now (-:

  7. I was going to reply here, but it got too long, so I posted a reply here:

    Basically, “true blogs” is a hard-to-handle concept, and at best we can categorise more. “Local traffic patterns” is less hard-to-handle as a concept, but managing it in a way that adds value might be a challenge. And, finally, “locally-hosted content” is a great cause, but it’s not something that should be used to “sort” the South African blogosphere.

  8. Ian, hmm..

    I’m guessing you picked one of the high-end options.
    How did you work that out?

    I would guess the following would work..
    Xen128 (with 256MB swap) and 1GB traffic..
    R257 (incl VAT)

    ..this is pretty much exactly what the geekdinner and wapa sites run on.

  9. 1GB is not nearly enough – the scenario assumed 20GB (not unrealistic), which is what blows the local option out of the water.

  10. Guys, to put this in perspective, the M&G site serves over 2Tb a month, we host locally and it costs a fortune with no added advantage.

    Our new server (for things like Amatomu and News in Photos) is at Rackspace in the UK, gives us tons of bandwidth and a great server for R3300 per month (we could get it cheaper but Rackspace give us phenomenal service)

  11. Vincent:

    When I was at IOL, we had the same thing – it cost insane amounts of money to host locally, and the only reason to stay local was that international access then was so much slower (it’s less slow now, but probably still quite noticeable).

    Just after I left, they finally split international traffic to an international site, which cost a lot less (for beefier hardware too) and saved some money.


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