Blogs and Cultural Property Propaganda ...

There have been a couple of posts by Paul Barford and David Gill about how anti-collecting blogs are getting more hits, and therefor reflecting public opinion, than pro-collecting ones (dismissed as "coiney" types and the usual ruder language by Barford) ...

Gill in his post included this table below, presumably to make the point, because, gosh, his Looting Matters is the most popular.

He doesn't give exact figures - the bar sets his RSS subscriptions via Google Reader between 250 and 300, closer to 300, and up from his previous listing of 254 - but he does give Google Reader as the source of the figure. Although Google Reader is very popular, obviously people use other Readers, so this is a partial figure, and suggests many more readers of his blog.

As I've admitted before, I can be a bit OCD - my footnotes are always accurate, and I like to be thorough with my research. So, I thought I'd check. And the results were surprising - below are the screenshots.

Gill's Looting Matters, according to Google Reader today, has 68 subscribers (obviously these are just the subscribers subscribing via Google Reader). Not close to 300 ...


Gill's chart has his blog, Looting Matters, with a good 50 % more readers than Lee Rosenbaum's CultureGrrl (put at under 200 by Gill). But according to Google Reader she has 697 subscribers - or 629 more than Gill. Or over ten times the number of subscribers he has.

Gill's maths is looking odder and odder ...

Next comes the SAFE Corner blog. 118 subscribers according to Google Reader, and about the same amount given by Gill - clearly we're looking at the same figures from the same source.

Eureka - finally on the same page.

Gill's Blogging Pompeii has well over a hundred subscribers. According to Google Reader it has 22.


Next up, Illicit Cultural Property. Less than 100 subscribers according to Gill (or only about a third of the ones he gives himself). 240 according to Google Reader, or ... well, many, many more than Gill has.


Life's too short to go through Gill's whole list blog by blog - a number of them I've never heard of, most I don't read - but I think the point is made. What's that quote ...?  "Lies, damned lies, and statistics"

Just out of curiosity I looked at Paul Barford's blog figures, since he made such a point of gloating over his blog being more read than those of "coiney" types, and promoted Gill's table as proof to support his theory.

Gill gives him 75 to 80 readers, Google Reader 1.

What about Barford's nemesis, the butt of so many of his posts? Peter Tompa's Cultural Property Observer has 55 - 60 subscribers according to Gill, and 58 according to Google Reader.

Gill's figures are correct for Tompa; but Tompa has 58 times the subscribers of Barford, which does not tally with Gill's table ...

I think starting a blog devoted to Paul Barford was wrong, but ...
it has four times the subscribers of Barford's main blog (he has a number of blogs). And I admit that I do find that rather amusing.

Elginism is not on Gill's list, but it's run by the man who runs Marbles Reunited - the campaign funded by the Greek government and which employs a PR ... hmmm, I guess their campaign isn't all that popular.

I've unsubscribed from Looting Matters, as this sort of post by David Gill shows the type of propaganda that goes on in various blogs of it's ilk. And how frustrating it is trying to deal with people who'd argue black is white with a straight face ...

(I only have 173 subscribers with Google Reader as of today, but then again I don't boast about my readership numbers ...)

To be fair, there are huge difference in numbers of subscribers whether they come in using Atom or RSS feeds, and Google Reader's totals are in any way highly questionable and open to being tinkered with. I chose not to tinker with them, unlike some other people, but this post demonstrates the pitfalls of trying to blow one's own tumpet - and then being presented with images of opposite evidene.


  1. Interesting analysis. The comparisons also ignore the relative size of the respective audiences. For example, AIA claims some quarter of a million members while ACCG claims just over 700. One might expect that the "coineys" are outnumbered. If one were to factor in the ratio of subscribers to audience size, the pro-collecting blogs would be doing quite well, thank you. Oddly enough, I think that some of these subscriber figures include members of the opposition who just want to know (and record) what is being said about them. In truth, does the general public really care as much about cultural property as any of us do?

  2. But people subscribing just to keep an eye on the 'other' side can apply to blogs with both viewpoints ...

  3. Which makes my point that the general public who we both claim to represent, is not the voice we are hearing or measuring.

  4. "I looked at Paul Barford's blog figures, since he made such a point of gloating over his blog being more read than those of "coiney" types, and promoted Gill's table as proof to support his theory." No "theory", I was looking at page hits per day. I do not think I was "gloating".

    I really do not know which part of Google Reader you get these numbers from. On my screen when I checked and double checked yesterday, the numbers of subscribers of the blogs you quote are those given by Gill (as they were when I checked when I first saw Gill's histogram - I do check Dorothy, you are not the only one you know). In particular, I really do not see where you get "one" subscriber for my PACHI blog. Are you sure you have the right figures for the right blog?



    please explain why your figures differ. Thanks

    Paul Barford


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