Survey Results: Who reads FP2P? What jobs do you do? How would you like to improve it?

Late last year, 350 or so of you were kind enough to fill in an FP2P reader survey, so it’s time to feed back the results (big thanks to Amy Moran for doing the leg work).

Just to annoy the people who keep count of how often I use this cartoon
Just to annoy the people who keep count of how often I use this cartoon

As well as being a useful snapshot, it’s also interesting to compare it to the previous reader survey from 2012 (I know how many of these things there are out there, and try not to do it too often).

Where do you live? Still overwhelmingly Northern, although within that, there’s been a shift from Europe to North America. This is one of the blog’s biggest challenges over the next couple of years, and we have some very exciting ideas – watch this space. The geographical spread of readers (rather than survey respondents) is not quite so bad, according to Google Analytics: 41% European; 27% Americas; 15% Asia and 10% Africa. On the other hand, how many of the readers in the South are actually expats?

What jobs do you do? Getting on for half of you are NGOers and/or activists (although I seem to be losing the attention of Oxfam colleagues – a lot more readers from other NGOs these days). The bulk of the rest are from academia or official aid sector – not much change there.

How old are you? The blogging audience seems to be maturing along with the medium. The biggest cohort of readers is still 25-34, but there has been a striking shift towards older readers in the last 5 years. I think that is probably accounted for largely by people themselves ageing, rather than young’uns dropping out, or oldies joining, but if more stats-literate people than me want to check that conclusion, that would be great (e.g the evolving subject matter of the blog could also affect the demographics)

What’s the gender breakdown? A small, but worrying shift in gender balance from slightly tilted towards women in 2012 (55%) to the reverse in 2017 (45%). Will feed it into the post #sausagefestgate reflection.

What do you like to read? Huge changes since 2012, and I am not at all sure what to make of the results. The top 3 areas now are original articles, links I liked and reporting on other organizations’ research. In 2012 they were less about Oxfam, more about Oxfam (!) and videos. That suggests the readership has become more wonky, but I’d be interested in other interpretations.

Couple of surprises:

  • Given my tendency to verbosity and weird English humour, I was relieved that a sizeable proportion of the readership (27%) do not have English as a first language, a third of whom (9%) occasionally struggle with my (ab)use of the language. Will try and remember that in future.
  • Only 10% of you read the blog on your phones (laptops/PCs = 50%). Also surprised by importance of email subscription accounts – nearly 30% of readers.

Your Comments and Impressions. I’ve read through the hundreds of additional comments, and (massive selection bias, I know), readers seem very happy with the way the blog is currently working. If anything, the tone feels more positive than in 2012 – maybe the blog and its audience are settling down together, and those who didn’t really like it have found better alternatives?

and another
and another

As for what to change, reading through the 230 suggestions reminded me of sitting in an Oxfam policy paper discussion – everyone wants to add a new issue, while cutting the length (or in this case, reducing the number of posts). Generally, people like the magpie scatter of themes, but a few requests emerged – more posts on development practice ‘from the field’; more diverse voices, especially from the South (we’re working on that). There’s also a request for more non-text content and easier ways to access the archive of past FP2P posts (we’re working on those too).

And thanks to whoever said they wanted to hear more about my ‘sense of nagging inadequacy on multiple levels’. Don’t encourage me! I also appreciated ‘Please make Duncan use pronouns!’ Once I’ve worked out what a pronoun is, I’ll come back to you.

Finally, do those of you who said ‘please write fewer posts, we can’t keep up’, I’ve been trying, I really have, but I just can’t do it. Sorry.

Huge thanks to everyone – really appreciate both the affirmation and the advice. There are loads of other good suggestions which I haven’t been able to include here – we’ll be mulling them over in the coming months.

FP2P hits its 10th anniversary this year (so far, over 2.200 posts, 1.6 million words and 11,000 comments – jeez). The readership seems to have levelled out at about 300,000 ‘unique visitors’ per year, according to Google Analytics, and judging from this survey, I’m deeply glad that it has such devoted and thoughtful readers.

And for the truly geeky/obsessive, here are the results spreadsheet and summary of (anonymised) comments. Let me know if you dig up things we’ve missed.

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7 Responses to “Survey Results: Who reads FP2P? What jobs do you do? How would you like to improve it?”
  1. Priyanthi

    Hello Duncan. Thanks for sharing. I guess for you to use the results you need to check what you are aiming your blog to do. Do you want to influence development thinking? in NGOs? among global north government and multilateral ‘thought leaders’ (not the one who necessarily write the books but who disperse the money!) Or do ou just want to rant (IMHO that would be a waste!) I know that you have a good standing in sphere of UK development discourse, and often researchers (if not devleopment workers) would be chuffed if they got their ideas into your blog as part of their DFID funded ‘research uptake’.
    I would say that for me, as an avid follower of FP2FP, what the survey does is confirm my thinking of the blog as global-north-centric with a strong male bias. I am not surprised. Perhaps that is even why I follow the blog, just to know how this influential demographic goes about thinking about development! But if its about changing the world – then maybe you need to work on those two issues at a minimum! Good luck!

  2. Steve Golub

    Duncan, as someone relatively new to this blog and who didn’t participate in this survey, I’ll add my voice to those who are largely happy with this well-written addition to development discourse and thinking. I’m a bit surprised and disappointed by the relatively low percentage of readers who work for government and multilateral agencies, but so it goes.

    If I could belatedly add one focus to your table on “What respondents like to read,” it would be pieces that scrutinize how aid agencies (particularly the big bilateral and multilateral ones) operate, not least including whether and how policies, practices, reforms and innovations discussed in the halls of London, Paris, DC or Oxford are implemented in practice.

    In any event, keep up the great work!

  3. Daniel Bassill

    Thank you for sharing this readership. A group that I don’t see among your readers, unless they fall into “other” are donors, policy makers and business leaders. Having led a NPO in the US for 20 years I’m convinced that if we can’t get this group into our conversations, reading our blogs, and thinking with us, we’ll always find huge challenges in attracting and retaining the resources needed to do our work. Not certain how you think about this.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Your blog is a great smorgasbord of interesting ideas and debates that almost always surprises me with new ideas and connections. You shouldn’t be discouraged by the Northern readership if we think of development as a global matter, rather than just something that the North does to the South. Perhaps it is time to write more about the pathways from poverty to power in the North?

  5. Stephanie Alexandra Lux

    Dear Duncan,

    Thank you for sharing the results and also providing a comparison to the 2012 results (I was not a reader back then). As one of the survey respondents who is probably in the category of expat reader (currently reading and writing from Zimbabwe), I think it would be good to do a bit of thinking on why readership in the South is lower.

    From my own observations of the development and INGO sector, there is still a large divide between what gets done by INGOs in the global North and what gets done in the Global South. Colleagues in the North always seem to have more time to think, reflect and write whereas in the South, we are often still dedicating most of our time to actual implementation without having the luxury of dedicating more time toward reflecting on the work we do (- and read). I guess that is also reflected in the kind of positions you find in offices in the North versus those in the South.