Who’s Actually Getting Read in Objectivism (Online)

Editor’s Note: Thank you to those publications who’ve reached out with concerns about the accuracy of these numbers.  The source for this data is compete.com which is free and public, and while I think this offers reasonable relative positioning (who is getting more traffic than others), it doesn’t provide great absolute numbers.  I’m looking into better sources for a future list (Alexa, DoubleClick Ad Planner, Quantcast etc.).

If you would like to provide Google Analytics data on your unique traffic for August 2010, you can email [email protected]  I am adding changes as I get them.

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Today I’m taking a look at publications containing content about Objectivism, to see just how much they’re being read online.  This idea of ranking websites by traffic comes from Marcelo Calbucci, the creator of Seattle 2.0 and the Seattle Startup Index, where I was Editor in Chief while in Seattle.

Some of these sites are about Objectivism with a capital “O”, endorsed and aligned with the Ayn Rand Institute, while others are not.  What I’m interested in here is finding out who is most effectively reaching the Objectivist audience, whether aligned with ARI or not.  Like them?  Hate them?  Take note, these are the facts — these are the people winning the hearts and minds of those who take interest in the philosophy of Ayn Rand and related ideas.

All stats below are provided by compete.com and are for the month of August 2010.  I did not include any site with less than 1,000 monthly uniques and were not able to get stats for blogs hosted on wordpress, blogspot, etc.

Popular Objectivism Related Websites

  1. Ayn Rand Institute – 48,886 uniques (this is down 43% from a year ago)
  2. Capitalism Magazine – 21,807 uniques
  3. The Objective Standard – 19,076 uniques *provided by author
  4. Diana Hsieh – 15,272 uniques
  5. Sense of Life Objectivists – 13,097 uniques *provided by author
  6. NobleSoul.com – 11,983 uniques
  7. Ayn Rand Lexicon – 9,691 uniques
  8. The Atlas Society (The Objectivist Center) – 8,800 uniques
  9. RebirthofReason.com – 7,937 uniques
  10. Ayn Rand Bookstore – 6,846 uniques
  11. The Atlasphere (the dating site) – 6,684
  12. ObjectivismOnline – 6,647 uniques
  13. Forum 4AynRandFans.com (Betsey Speicher)- 6,110 uniques
  14. Leonard Peikoff – 6,002 uniques
  15. Paul Hsieh – 5,344 uniques
  16. Mudita Journal – 4,954 uniques
  17. ObjectivistLiving.com – 4,708 uniques
  18. The Undercurrent – 4,040 uniques
  19. The Ayn Rand Center – 3,721 uniques
  20. Ayn Rand Center TV – 2,679 uniques
  21. The New Clarion – 2,471 uniques *provided by author
  22. Nathaniel Branden – 2,430 uniques
  23. Trey Givens – 1,815 uniques *provided in comments
  24. Erosophia by Jason Stotts – 1,584 uniques *provided by author
  25. Randex.org – 1,512 uniques *provided by author
  26. Free Colorado by Ari Armstrong – 1,440 uniques
  27. The Intellectual Activist – 1,424 uniques
  28. Capitalism.net (George Reisman) – 1,191 uniques
  29. Danielle Morrill (this site) – 1,081 uniques *provided by author

Interesting People/Sites who don’t make the cut (but we hope you will next time): HBList.comAndrewBerstein.net, Yaron Brook, The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism, Anthem Foundation, Amy Mossoff, John McCaskey, The Objectivist, ARI Watch, Ellen Kenner, Objectivist Answers

Some comparison sites (suggested by various people as having similar target audiences):

  • Huffington Post – 13,631,093 uniques
  • Daily KOS – 1,068,820 uniques
  • Heritage Foundation – 523,361 uniques
  • Michelle Malkin – 488,281
  • Von Mises Institute – 337,278 uniques
  • Cato Institute – 200,254 uniques
  • Ann Coulter – 190,400 uniques

Efficient Distribution of Ideas

I’ve talked a lot privately about my frustration with Objectivism’s lack of penetration into the mainstream, especially online where the barrier to entry is a lot lower than in traditional mainstream media.  My gut told me we could be doing more than a bunch of rarely updated blogs, websites that look like they were designed in the early 1990s, the press releases.  Where’s the discussion, the punditry, the passion?  I hadn’t actually looked at the numbers, but they bear out what I expected… the early adopters and core supporters of Objectivism are reading… but where is everyone else.  Assuming there is a lot of crossover in the readership of the sites I listed above, the total audience is probably less than 100,000 uniques a month.

It’s not like we’re reaching new heights either.  The Ayn Rand Institute has seen sufficient decline in traffic over the past year.

There are a lot of tactics available online to build awareness for ideas, start conversations, educate, spread content, etc. I hope you find this information interesting, and maybe see this as an opportunity to promote ideas yourself through popular channels like your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  If you know of any Objectivist oriented sites/blogs you like to read let me know, I’ll add them to the list.

Other Writing About Objectivism

Staying the Course: ARI 25 Years Later

Simple Tactics to Get Started with Activism

Tips for Asking Good Questions After a Lecture at OCON

What the Heck is This #OCON Thing

Be Sociable, Share!

A new site with some potential is ObjectivistAnswers.com. It’s a “Stack Overflow”-like site for Objectivist Q&A. I’ve been answering questions there and encourage folks to check it out.

Awesome thanks, there’s no traffic data on the site yet on compete.com — but if I make this list again (could be an ongoing thing) I’ll include it (if it makes the 1,000 uniques cut)

Well, a website containing just news is a thing in the past. Nowadays, online users access social network, blog feeds, and twitter more often because it is easier to get the most updated content that fits their own individual interests.

Most Objectivist websites still use the old ways to distribute information, i.e. forums and news articles. They are efficient enough.

The problem with trying to get into the mainstream is Objectivism itself is against second-handedness. Trying to spread Objectivism just to appeal the mainstream masses is too pragmatic and can cause backfires. People can end up misunderstanding the philosophy and twist ideas of Objectivism.

The average mainstream people aren’t intelligent enough to understand the philosophy, so if you try to sell them ideas, you’ll not get anything through. I’ve tried it several times on people in real life. What I find out is that they often just want to follow their leaders and don’t want to do the thinking themselves. So, the only way to get their attention and choose to think for themselves is for them to suffer the consequences of non-thinking.

I’m not convinced that these ideas and the world as it ought to be are so impossible to bring to the mainstream, but I do think we don’t see many people choosing to do this. Maybe it is a thankless task… it seems like it could be an immensely frustrating way to spend time.

I’m not an activist, by conscious choice, but I can’t help but see how effective online marketing channels are for business and wonder whether they could be used for cultural change as well.

I’m not saying it is impossible to bring Objectivism to the mainstream. It is just harder for an average person to accept the ideas. According to my experience with people, the majority of them are living in denial. They often find ways to evade reality and prefer mindless activities and look cool among their peers, instead of trying to learn to be rational and live consciously. To sell Objectivism to them won’t be effective.

The key to successfully sell Objectivism to people is to find the right segments of the population and then focus on them instead of selling ideas to the general public which has no brain to understand and do not want to accept rationality as virtue. The right segments, in my opinion, are chess players, atheists, agnostic/non-religious people, doctors, psychologists, business owners and managers, judges, lawyers, IT professionals, ex-communists, ex-socialists, ex-religious workers/preachers/priests,… These are the people who have natural affinity to rationality and logic or hate their past irrational experience and will see values in Objectivism.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Danielle Morrill, OCON2010. OCON2010 said: RT @DanielleMORRILL: Who's Actually Getting Read in Objectivism (Online) http://bit.ly/by7un6 [...]

Great stuff! It is the time of a changing of the guard; a shift in strategy. Too much is at stake to let it fade without a fight. Thank you for pulling this together, Danielle.

12 Oct 2010, 3:11pm
by David Chayes

reply

I don’t think any website is going to get high readership numbers if it’s primary focus is philosophy. Only a small minority of people are interested in that (this is probably natural and not because of the present anti-intellectual cultural climate), whether it is good philosophy or bad philosophy. Only something with a different PRIMARY focus–some subject matter that people get excited about–will appeal to a greater number of people.

For example, I think the ARI website gets lots of readers because it’s primary focus is it’s MISSION. People get excited about seeing ARI fulfill it’s mission.

Yeah, I’m not suggesting it is the primary mission of philosophy or philosophers. But it ought to be the primary objective of activists.

12 Oct 2010, 3:16pm
by David Chayes

reply

You missed treygivens.com! 1815 unique visitors as of August 2010.

12 Oct 2010, 5:46pm
by Jack Crawford

reply

I think the people who primarily go for sound bites and tweets are not the same kind of people who will read an article on ethics. They would rather get an answer from Miss Manners or her younger equivalents.

12 Oct 2010, 5:49pm
by Jack Crawford

reply

So we need more readers (and writers) of novels. Sorry, this was supposed to be in with the last post.

The New Clarion http://www.newclarion.com/ had 2,471 visitors in August 2010. (3,075 in September when we actually started posting more.)

I’m honored that you mentioned me in the hopefuls. Thanks!

I’m a regular reader of your blog, looking forward to more in the future :)

Hi Danielle,

Your post asks “Who’s Actually Getting Read in Objectivism (Online),” but what you actually rely on for your numbers, and thence your conclusions, is something very unreliable indeed. Which is online readership stats.

Let me give you an example.

My own blog, NOT PC has the honour to be one of the most-read political blogs in New Zealand. Not bad, for what other bloggers recognise as “a stridently Objectivist blog.” [Scroll dowm the post for the comment.]

And depending on whether I use Google Analytics, StatCounter, or Blogger’s own Stats (which includes RSS readers as well), NOT PC’s unique visitors for the last month amounted, respectively, to either 37,767, 43,818 or 61,063.

Now that’s using figures for which I have widgets plugged into the blog!

But by the figures you’ve published here, which (like Alexa and other notoriously unreliable stats tools) simply use some new online estimating gizmo that makes up numbers, you’re ready to draw the conclusion that Ojectivism’s “total [online] audience is probably less than 100,000 uniques a month,” that the ARI’s main page attracts less that 50,000, and, therefore, that Objectivism is struggling to penetrate the mainstream.

I think this is what Robert Heinlein once called “making too much soup from one onion.”

A ranking of the Objectivist blogosphere would certainly be an intersting exrecise if someone wanted to pull it off, but might I politley suggest that you obtain more accurate measurements before going too far with this based on your current methodology, because — while I’d be very happy to learn otherwise — I’m willing to wager a lot of money that the Ayn Rand Institute, for one, has for more readers than I do. Fortunately. :)

I think ARI would need an order of magnitude more readers than compete.com reports to even be considered mainstream, and I don’t think it is quite that off. My conclusions, are still relatively founded… maybe I need to go into greater depth, but the bottom line is that other than ARI are are very very few blogs/sites about Objectivism that are getting really impressive amounts of traffic.That alone is not enough for cultural change, but it sets a benchmark. More thoughts on this, and maybe some actions too, in future posts. I’ve had a lot of people reach out with their own stats, which surprises me because in the tech world people don’t openly share their stats. Might be able to get people to contribute their stats, which would be very cool.Congrats btw on having such a well read blog! If you can tell me which numbers were for August I’ll add it to the list.

“I think ARI would need an order of magnitude more readers than compete.com reports to even be considered mainstream…”

I strongly suspect it is. And be truly astonished if it were not.

Sorry I’m confused, are you saying you strong suspect ARI gets 400,000+ unique visits (an order of magnitude greater than the current stats) in a month and is part of the mainstream? Or, something else?

Well, maybe not quite an order of magnitude, but it appears from folk’s figures for their own website that Compete.Com significantly under-reports–at the lower levels it appears to be under-reporting by around one-fifth or one-sixth (you’ve got the figures there so you can work that one out.) But who knows how significant the under-reporting is at higher levels?

Seem to me that before going too far with this you’d want to at least try and correlate your Compete.Com figures with actual measured figures–at both high and low readership levels.

I should just say that the New Zealand blogosphere has been having all sorts of ongoing discussions for years about how to rank the local blogs, and after a lot of tooing and froing between bloggers and the folk who have been doing the unofficial rankings, it’s been fairly universally agreed that Alexa and all the other indirect measurement tools are pretty much worse than useless. So for the NZ top 20 and beyond, they’ve come to rely only on webmaster-supplied stats. Which has made their job of compiling regular stats very time-consuming indeed.
Just thought you’d like to know some on-the-ground experience of what it seems you’re contemplating. :^)

Thanks. I previously managed a ranked list of about 500 tech startups, based on traffic normalized across several sources and the method was constantly in debate. Hopefully this can continue to be refined, I’m considering a form next time so webmasters can submit their stats. Google Analytics can also be implemented incorrectly to report high numbers than the actual, so it is hard to complete validate those reports either.

Looking forward to seeing how this goes, and getting more feedback along the way. Obviously we want to try to make the stats/ranking as reliable as possibly so it will be credible.

SOLO had 13,097 uniques for Aug according to google analytics.

Missing in the above list of Popular Objectivism Related Websites is
ARI Watch
a critique of the Ayn Rand Institute — including its Ayn Rand Center (ARC).

I don’t know what compete.com has to say about it but according to the ARI Watch webhost, last month (September) it had 2,243 unique visitors.

This overstates its popularity among those interested in Objectivism because there are some other websites connected to it. To be (un)generous use half that number.

I wonder how much an effect Glenn Beck has on ARI’s home page numbers. Pure speculation, but my recollection is that more folks from ARI were on Beck and he was mentioning Atlas Shrugged more this time last year than in recent months. He drives insane numbers of eyeballs to websites.

Hey Larry! Yeah, I think he must have a significant impact.. which is great. What would be even better is to work on getting several different influencers to help drive spikes at different times… and to build off of those leaps in awareness with more outbound engagement online.

Someone reminded me of the old adage “what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done” — which makes me think perhaps having a more public discussion about who and what drive eyeballs might be really valuable for ARI and for all the people trying to make an impact online

Hi Mark, sorry your comment good removed by my spam filter (3+ links does that). If you can email me a screenshot of your stats for August 2010 for ARIwatch.com I’ll be happy to add the site to the list… compete.com shows less than 1000 uniques for that month. As soon as traffic numbers are out for September I’ll post a new list.

[...] Morrill has just put up a list of the top 27 blogs being read in Objectivism up on her blog.  Although Erosophia is not listed, in August I had 1,584 [...]

[...] Morrill presents Who’s Actually Getting Read in Objectivism (Online) posted at Danielle [...]

[...] Who’s Actually Getting Read in Objectivism (Online) [...]

[...] Who’s Actually Getting Read in Objectivism (Online) [...]

Being an Objectivist oldtimer, I would say it is not a question of attracting people, but of nurturing, training and supporting young intellectuals who are interested in the ideas of Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand has attracted admirers since the beginning and organized Objectivism has sent them rushing for the door at a much faster rate. In short, the product being marketed by Objectivism is not impressing a lot of people, especially the best and brightest of this time. During my days, Ayn Rand was alive and served in the media as an impressive example of her philosophy. After the break-up with the Nathaniel Branden things changed, and Objectivism started to become dogmatic and conservative, many times contradicting the very individualism it advocated. The Objectivism of Rand’s novels are the magnet for young people. The challenge thus becomes living Objectivism in the world. People must see positive examples and not the frozen, conservative, Randroids that are so common to the movement. The message is there. What has to done is to make it a reality in the world.  

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