Saturday, October 08, 2005

Thoughts on TB38 and BitN30

Tangled Bank was published on 5 October and
Birds in the News was published on 7 October.

This graph shows what happens when a low-traffic blog hosts the migratory Tangled Bank blog carnival, followed by the stationary Birds in the News link harvest (which appears to be catching on, finally). My blog averages approximately 225 visits per day, ranging from 100-800 or so per day for a weekly average between 1380-1500 visits per week. As expected, my usual stats were eclipsed by TB38, which provided almost 1600 hits and more than 2600 page views on the first day alone. Surprisingly, my visits for this issue of TB were less than the number of visits I received the first time I hosted TB. I wonder what the longer term trends will be?

Most bloggers value their blog based on the traffic they receive each day and, to a lesser extent, the number of page views and the time spent on-site by each visitor. Contributing to, and especially, hosting a blog carnival is one way for a blogger to expose her blog to a wider audience than what was previously enjoyed in the hopes of boosting the number of repeat visitors, thereby increasing the perceived "value" of the blog.

When I met PZ (author of Pharyngula) a few weeks ago, he mentioned that his politically-oriented commentaries generate more visits to his blog than anything else that he writes about, including evolution. I found this to be both surprising and curious because there are so many things to write/read/think about other than what the people in the White House are doing to screw up our lives and our world in their never-ending quest to reformulate the world to fit their narrowed -- and often unreal -- perception of reality.

At that time, I recalled that I had started my blog for reasons that were wholly separate from my propensity to rant about politics in real life. After a lifetime of grass-roots activism that began when I first stuffed envelopes as a 10 year old -- observing and listening while sitting (literally) at the feet of the masters of political debate -- followed by several decades of behind-the-scenes participation in various political candidates' campaigns and my election to be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I reasoned, had anything really changed, even just a teensy bit?

Even though it would be disingenuous to say that nothing has changed at all, I know for a fact that nothing has changed as a result of my personal efforts.

I remember responding to PZ's observation by saying that I should write about politics once in awhile.


© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

7 Peer Reviews:

Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

We have this strange notion that posting about birds, gardening, rainwater collection systems, and energy efficiency is writing about politics. Interestingly, we get the highest number of comments on our most personal posts. I actually don't like to look at site meter stats. I don't care how many people come to our blog. The part about site meter that I find interesting is how people find us. The counting feels too competitive and weird to me. We're not a business, so how many page views or whatever means nothing to me. I only care that we have something interesting to say, and maybe some good photos to go with it.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Nuthatch said...

Hits may increase when hosting a carnival, but at least from a "user" perspective, I am less likely to actually read the hosts blog than I am the blog of someone who submitted a carnival entry that I found particularly well-written or interesting. Hosts probably pick up some people who end up being return visitors, but perhaps not as many as bloggers who have submitted a really good post. Unfortunately, many carnivals are just link collections, because most don't have a good mechanism to weed out low-quality submissions. In the long run, this deflates the value of carnivals as resources for great topical blog writing.

Myself, I don't really value hits as much as I value the length of time people spend reading my blog. I'd rather have 100 people -- especially new visitors -- spend 10 minutes each going through my posts and reading them than 500 people who only stay 10 seconds. If people take the time to leave a comment, I know I've touched a some sort of nerve. Ultimately, though, I write when I have something I feel like saying. If I start to write things, post links, or host carnivals just so I get more hits, I am no longer blogging for my own satsifaction and pleasure, and I'll know it's time to stop.

11:51 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

DB; I initially shared your opinions regarding the blog .. I was doing it only for myself, and didn't care if anyone read it. But my opinion of my blog evolved as my blog itself changed. I have met so many people as the result of hosting blog carnivals, and also as the result of my blog, that I do care that people visit. I am also interested to know what it is that other people find interesting, and I make that determination partially based on the number of comments I find waiting for me, and also based partially on the number of hits that I get after publishing a particular piece.

I keep hoping that this blog will convince me that I really do have a book hiding inside me, struggling to be published, but alas, that is not the case at all.

Nuthatch; I make an effort to read the blog carnival host's blog, especially when it is well-laid out so I can easily find the contributor's articles. Having hosted a few of these things now, I know how much work they are, so I try to appreciate the host's efforts on more than the carnival itself.

Disappointingly, my hummingbirds and torpor article did not get much attention as the result of this blog carnival. I am really bummed about that. I had actually meant to write another article for TB38, but ran out of time (grading and teaching are such a waste of time) so could not pursue that.


1:46 PM  
Blogger John said...

When I read a blog carnival, I find that I am much less likely to click through links leading to blogs that I read regularly than I am to look for blogs I don't know about or haven't read in a while. If others do this as well, then blogs that have a large number of readers would probably get fewer 'extra' hits from a carnival than the smaller blogs.

By the way, the torpor and hummingbirds post was very good.

4:40 PM  
Blogger jamie said...

We have this strange notion that posting about birds, gardening, rainwater collection systems, and energy efficiency is writing about politics.

It is, and that's not a "strange notion"! Politics ain't an ethereal "out there" thing - the personal is political and vice-versa. Those things are why politics ultimately matter. Birds, though, are also an important and effective respite from the dog-and-pony show of current US politrix, imo (apologies to dogs and ponies).

And fwiw, I second John in saying that the hummer/ torpor article was riveting - as was the bumblebee essay which was well-deserving of comment. Really, and excuse my fawning, but good people like yourself, Dr. Myers, Coturnix, etc. are bringing science to the public. This is a great service, and we are most appreciative. Much of the readily available info on birds, especially pssitacines, is all cutesy-cuddly, but as you know, there's more to it than that. Ya'll are filling that gap. The world needs these things. Nothing in life makes sense without birds! Thanks!

9:44 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

It's interesting. When someone does host a carnival (particularly if they put something of mine in), I usually try and read through any posts that look like they may be interesting to me, along with looking through some of their own posts (as I'm doing this moment after seeing your link to me).

I must say, I have been surprised as to the effect carnivals and trackbacks have had on my own site - after hosting a carnival or being linked to in one, the retention of those readers has been high. While obviously the numbers spike that day, they seem to settle at a higher point than they were before. Perhaps people truly like my material, or at least they don't dislike it enough to skip over it the next time they see a link to me.

A few notes: Personal posts get a greater reaction, and hence more 'hits', because people (usually) like to help, give advice, etc. They feel a part of you or can relate to what you're going through. Political-type posts and the like tend to be read - and that's it. They've read your ideas, possibly agreed, and there isn't neccessarily much to say. It's frustrating as a blogger, because everyone wants feedback; but it's expected.

2:07 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

John and Jamie; thanks for your kind words regarding my hummingbirds and torpor article (and the bumblebees, too).

Ezzie; it appears that I have a fairly high level of new reader retention after this blog carnival. Possibly because I have a rather large body of essays here now, as compared to the last time that I hosted TB. Certainly, I am still enjoying residual traffic from this blog carnival, but at least some of that appears to be coming from people who are returning to visit me. I find this very satisfying.


11:13 AM  

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