August 12, 2006

Atheist Blogs: Are We Just Preaching to the Choir?

There are a number of active atheist-oriented blogs which offer reality-based perspectives on church-state issues, religious extremism, politics, and countless other issues of relevance to non-believers. At the time I posted this, the Atheism Online directory listed 80 blogs whose primary focus is atheism. While this number would shrink if we excluded those bloggers who do not make at least one post per week, it appears that there are a growing number of atheist-oriented blogs springing up. I seem to run across a few more every week.

Most of us share at least some common motivation for why we started and now maintain our blogs. However, I expect that there are many individual differences as well. Some blog primarily for themselves and view their blogs as a kind of public diary. They may not pay much attention to the number of hits or comments they receive because they are doing this mostly for themselves. Others have more of an activist stance and blog to stimulate thought and action in others. They may seek to influence others through persuasive arguments and view their contribution as a needed voice of opposition.

Motives aside, one thing we all have in common is that our readers primarily consist of fellow non-believers. Not all our readers would identify themselves as atheists, and a brief examination of the comments any of us receive will reveal that we are visited by at least some believers. However, I think it is safe to say that most of those who find their way to our blogs and return are atheists.

This sort of "preaching to the choir" is not necessarily a bad thing. The comments I receive on this blog expand my thinking in unanticipated directions, offer new ideas I had not considered, and cause me to question many of my positions. The fact that most of these comments come from fellow atheists in no way minimizes their value. They remind me that there is a growing community of atheists seeking to connect. Through this blog, I have become familiar with several other atheist bloggers. Their work is a source of inspiration.

The limitation of this scenario is that there seems to be a cap of sorts on how much traffic an atheist blog can expect to receive. Depending on the blogger's motivation, this may or may not matter. Assuming that it does matter, the question becomes how one can attract a wider audience without compromising one's core message. I am interested to hear from those of you who blog (feel free to reply with a post on your own blog and connect here via trackback) and those who are regular blog readers. Am I wrong about this traffic cap? If not, does it bother you at all? Assuming that you would like to reach more people, what are you doing to expand your reach?

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