Aftonbladet also shuts down blogs

I had barely posted my latest blog post about how Expressen had decided to stop hosting blogs, before I read on that the other Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet is doing the same. Aftonbladet has two types of blogs – blogs by the editorial staff and blogs that readers publish. It is the latter group that is being shut down because they are unprofitable.

Reader blogs will be taken offline on June 30, so bloggers will have to move their content elsewhere if they want to keep it online. As noted in my previous post, Aftonbladet recently added the ability to export the content to WordPress.

In other words, three large Swedish newspapers have either decided to shut down our outsource the hosting of readers blogs, in the last three months. What will that mean for blogging in Sweden? Not much, I guess. There are plenty of good options and I would suspect that many of the active “newspaper bloggers” will continue to blog, either take their content to a new platform or start fresh with a new blog.

Expressen stops hosting blogs

expressen-blogIn February, the free Swedish daily Metro said it would shut down all of the thousands of blogs they hade been hosting since 2007. Metro eventually found a solution to keep the blogs running and move them to a new platform (WordPress). Today another Swedish newspaper, the tabloid Expressen, announced they would stop hosting blogs. All blogs except a few reader blogs Expressen considered “worth keeping”, and the blogs of its own journalists, will be shut down.

– Our blogging platform is lacking in functionality, we have been focusing on other things and we are now offering our bloggers to move over to other platforms. We do not have the resources to keep the blogging platform running, says Mattias Carlsson, editor in chief, digital media at Expressen (my translation).

It’s not surprising that newspapers have a hard time competing with other blogging platforms and the question is how long Aftonbladet will continue to host blogs. Since April 2011, bloggers have the ability to export their Aftonbladet blogs to WordPress. Maybe it is a sign of what’s to come?

Footnote: Here’s how Expressen presented the initiative as a success after it launched (in Swedish).

Google displays incorrect dates from news sites

I first became aware of the fact that Google displays dates in the search results after reading a blog post (in Swedish) by Simon Sundén. He also described how Google sometimes misinterprets the date an article or blog post is published. For example, this article was published on Newsmill in February 2009, but Google thinks it was published in December 1999 (see screen shot at Sundén’s blog) because it has the date 18 Dec, 1999 in the headline.

But there may be more to this story. Today I found that Google was displaying search results with the date 27 May, 2010 on articles that were in some cases several years old. Here are a few examples from Swedish dailies online.

– Dagens Nyheter, 29 Oct, 2003 – “Aftonbladet driver populismens journalistik”

– Aftonbladet, 8 Feb, 2007 – “Här är Bloggsverige!”

– Aftonbladet, 7 Oct, 2008 – “Välstajlad profilbild avslöjar dig”

– Aftonbladet, 3 Dec, 2008 – “Moderaterna ense efter krismöte”

– Ålandstidningen, 9 Dec, 2009 – “Zandra lämnar Xit – blir nöjesreporter på Aftonbladet”

– Expressen, 10 Dec, 2009 – “Moderaterna backar i ny mätning”

But Google thinks all these articles were published yesterday, 27 May, 2010. A few screen shots below:




The immediate effect of this is that search results that aren’t very relevant to you may end up being ranked extremely high in the search results in Google. The article in Aftonbladet about my blog survey “Bloggsverige” is ranked #4 in Google on a search for Bloggsverige, when I know that previously it has not shown up in the top results.

It is also quite possible, as Simon Sundén also concludes, that it may be possible to game the system by fooling Google into thinking your blog post or article has been published more recently than it actually has.

I still haven’t quite sorted out exactly why Google misinterprets the dates of the articles listed above, but one thing is clear. All these articles have a more recent date in the code at one place or another, probably all of them have 28 May or 27 May 2010 somewhere. Once I or someone else figures this out, I will update this post. I would also like to know if this flaw is something that mostly benefits major news sites like the ones listed above.

Update:  James Royal-Lawson and I discussed this matter briefly on Twitter this evening and James posted his thoughts a few minutes ago. His conclusion is that Google takes the first date it finds, or at least the first date it finds reliable, and uses it to determine when the article has been pulblished. Since many online dailies have a number of different dates for different parts of each page, Google misinterprets the publication date. And if I look at for example the article in Dagens Nyheter above, from way back in 2003, that is exactly the case. The date 28 May, 2010 comes a few hundred lines of code before the actual publication date.

Update 2: Some more info here from Michael Gray.

Aftonbladet accidentally reveals winner of blog award

The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet and the blog portal are hosting the “Stora Bloggpriset” gala event tonight in Stockholm (“the Grand Blog Award”). A series of awards were handed out to the most popular blogs in categories like fashion, politics and technology. Many prominent Swedish bloggers were present at Nalen tonight to find out who won the different awards. But one winner had already been known during the day when Aftonbladet accidentally published the winner in the sports category at lunch time. The story that Marcus Birro won the award showed up in Google News and in RSS readers several hours before the event even started.

Screendump found here.

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Aftonbladet has Sweden’s top fashion blog – not!

In his bestselling book The Long Tail, Chris Anderson writes that the U.S. is a country obsessed with watching top lists, a culture which basically is one big popularity contest. In many aspects, Sweden is not much different. Bloggers like to compete and just this morning I had to check my ranking among Europe’s top marketing bloggers (#49 based on traffic) so I’m as guilty as the next guy. In other words, it is not surprising that when a blog or newspaper rank high on a list, they want to share that information with others. But the least you can ask for is that the ‘bragging’ is based on the truth.

I probably shouldn’t have given this article any attention, but it is hard to resist. The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet today writes that one of their blogs is the most visited Swedish fashion blog.

“Sofi writes the largest Swedish fashion blog.”

That can only be true if you don’t consider Blondinbella, Kenza and Stina-Lee’s blogs to be fashion blogs. All three, by most people and themselves labelled fashion blogs, have more visitors than Aftonbladet’s Sofi Fahrman.

fashion blogs

Much can be said about the editiorial quality of blogs, but today a couple of teenage girls are more accurate than one of the largest Swedish mainstream media.

Footnote: Numbers in the graph are from and states the number of visits per IP address and hour during the last 7 days.

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Aftonbladet launches Snack – a new community

The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet yesterday quietly launched Snack (“chit-chat”), a new community for sharing opinions, videos and photos. Kalle Jungkvist, editor-in-chief of, told Medievärlden that a reason behind the lauch was to move the power from anonymous whiners to people who contribute under their own name (also see blog post from yesterday). Another reason was to stimulate loyalty among readers.

Users will shortly be able to interact with the editorial content at through article comments for example. This feature has not yet been launched.

Martin Jönsson writes that there initially seems to be a very high proportion of Aftonbladet employees among the recently registered profiles. No need yet for Facebook to get worried. Then again, Snack has just been launched and from what I can tell there has not been much marketing of the site either.

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