First: this page isn't intended to be pretty.
Second: I did the best I could not to play silly head games ... yes, I stopped pulling in radio weblogs, but only because they very usually had equivalent layouts.
Third: I drew from 4 groups ...commercial news/magazine sites, my daily reads, blogs I read often (with mine in that mix), and a random selection from blogs I've bookmarked.

The point of this excercise: to explore usage of horizontal space in text-intensive applications, with an eye to design of effect 3-column layouts. (Long / short, after e-mail with eric meyer ... to flow? or to maintain vertical boundaries [my phrasing]) I peeked a bunch of pages at about 75% way down their length.

I've place my conclusions at the end. I can even quote from the section of The Integral Management of Tao that I was reading this afternoon ... not kidding!

The following shows two transitions:
The first (my page) uses what might be called a fluid approach, where I've had text flow into space vacated by the short column. (This might lead to a main column that's wider than optimal ... for future development.)

The second shows a "no flow" transition; I could live with this, but the second PNG in this series shows the arbitrarily narrow column that has caught my attention:



Series 1 ... commercial sites

Series 2 ... daily reads (in no particular order)

Series 3 ... other reads

Series 4 ... 10 quasi random blogs

I feel comfortable making the following assertion: However we might handle the boundary where a column ends, and whether the layout is 2 column or three, and whether the main text column is center, right, or left, and whatever combination of width and font is settled on as near optimal, there is nary a single "credible" blog where it is choked (what I'd call "absurdly and arbitrarily narrow", constrained by the other column/s width/s). And that was what I was seeking to substantiate.

In Chapter 8 The Tao of Complete Resolution, Dr. Chang writes that there are five basis for decision making: law, custom, intuition, inference, and rational confirmation. I'll let you judge which I've fulfilled here; it's emminently obvious from the works illustrated above that trust is justified.

Bernard D. Tremblay
aka hfx_ben / WillowBear / Karma Chöpal