The Web publishing phenomenon known as the blogsphere has millions of sites but only a small number gain significant audiences, according to data released on Friday.
"Blogging is the fastest growing form of content on the Web," said Jim Lanzone, senior vice president of search at AskJeeves, a unit of IAC/InterActiveCorp and a major Web search site. "But the number of sites that really matter is narrow."
"The rest of the sites are like a tree falling in the forest," he said.
Just 60 sites are "hot," defined as attracting more than 5,000 subscriber links, Lanzone said.
Sites that attract 1,000 or more subscriber links number only 437, according to AskJeeves' Bloglines, the most popular system among Web users for actively monitoring other sites.
Blogs are easy-to-publish Web sites that are periodically updated. The universe of Weblogs or blog-related Web sites -- various estimates put the number of such sites between 14 million and 20 million -- is referred to as the blogsphere or blogosphere.
Syndicated sites that "really matter" -- classified as sites that have at least 20 other sites linking to them -- number 36,930, according to September data from Bloglines.
Sites "that matter" -- defined as having at least one link from another site -- number nearly 1.4 million sites.
Only one site -- popular geek programmer site Slashdot (http://slashdot.org/) -- has drawn more than 50,000 subscribers, according to Bloglines data.
Lanzone presented the findings to an audience of Internet industry leaders at the annual Web 2.0 conference sponsored by computer manual publisher O'Reilly and taking place in San Francisco this week.
Mena Trott, a co-founder of Six Apart, the software company that is behind two of the most popular blog publishing tools -- Live Journal and Movable Type -- said the Bloglines numbers do not account for the many bloggers who never bother to link to other sites.