Wednesday 1 October 2008

Stats, Blogging- A Bit of Objective Reflection

We passed five hundred posts a long time back and never noticed. In fact, we're fast approaching six hundred.

When I started this blog I'll be honest, I had no clear sense of what I was doing with it.
To be honest, I still don't always.

But I suppose the best way to put it- I think- is this.

There is a lot in my life that will almost certainly never happen now. You could say I kind of wrote it off. I ain't never gonna be respectable.

I'm not disreputable particularly, but I am what I am now, a drifting salesman with a reputation for fast living and a shady past.

All there is perhaps, is to settle for a life of mediocrity, aspiring to one day own a semi-detached house, settle down with someone for the sake of it and lead a normal, tedious, suburban life.
And lie there on your deathbed thinking 'I wasted it. I gave nothing. There is nothing of me, nothing, passed on to survive in the world I am leaving'.

And I guess after I'd passed through the trials and tribulations of my early twenties, that series of misfortunes that were at least in part of my own making, that was the hard fact I had to face, that that MIGHT be the case.

That you'd be lieing there on your deathbed thinking 'I changed nothing. I leave nothing to the world'.

Because yes, I'm vain. Yes, I'm arrogant. And I'm going to prove it simply by saying I firmly believe I have every right to be.

Because I do not believe I have nothing to give the world. It's about contribution. It's about the fact that I do not believe the thoughts in my head and the theories I develop are valueless- quite the reverse. I DO believe I have something to give the world, and that is the main reason I blog.

Because I believe firmly that through this blog and perhaps ONLY through this blog I can ensure that my mother didn't go through nine months of labour for nothing.

The child she produced was never going to be a pillar of respectable society. Never going to quite achieve solvency. Never really going to make 'someone a very happy woman one day'. Never going to one day make their parents proud. And probably never really be content and happy themselves.


It is that in itself which fuels my dedication.
It is in myself that I see the most poignant failing of the current order.

For me, it's personal.

It's war.

And it's very simple. Who's my side? The people.
Who's the enemy? The system.

But not just the system. This is a matrix world. And like in the matrix, most people just aren't ready to be told they're in the matrix.

It's not just the easily identifiable supporters of the worst elements of the power structure; Racism, Sexism and Homophobia.
It's the honey fed docile acceptors of the matrix, supporting its more acceptable pillars. Defenders of the 'free market', monarchists, conservative Christians, campaigners for the family, the anti-drugs lobby, the enemies of change, the enemies of true freedom, the covert defenders of keeping something in place because it suits them Ok...

So they don't want to wake up and see Sion...

I like getting to the bottom of things, I like trying to get closer to ultimate reality. I believe the whole point of life is experience and gaining further understanding.

So I guess in part, this blog is almost a Will and Testament in some ways. It's me. I'm putting my mind and soul somewhere. I'm putting it in a place that every thought I've ever had that I believe worth having is there, in the public domain. I'm donating it.
That is how I've come to see it.

It's already undoubtedly got more words in it than many books. And no doubt by the time I die, it will contain more words than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Posterity will know the innermost workings of my mind and be able to judge the value of what was in it.
And I guess that is actually how I want to be judged.

Because it won't matter then whether some deranged stalker got her knickers in a twist over a public rejection she brought on herself, it won't matter what proportion of these posts were conceived under the influence of stimulants of one form or another, it won't matter who I was, or what I did.
And it won't matter much that I died of liver failure a week shy of fifty, passed out on the sofa next to a half eaten kebab.

What matters is already happening.
What matters is, even now, this blog is doing the most important thing a blog can do.

And I suppose this brings me to a few observations on stats.

When I started, as I said I had a few ideas on blogging I've now revised. I think I just saw it much as anyone else does.
I guess part of that was wishful thinking. I guess if you write some of the stuff I do, you're bound to find people who find you to be the devil incarnate. And there are a fair few who think that and whisper it furtively behind the scenes in e-mails too. Good on you. Glad you find me so fascinating.

And I guess it was naive of me to think that negative facts about myself wouldn't come out. I suppose it was wildly unlikely I was going to blog for what will probably be at least twenty years- perhaps more- without all my sordid little secrets coming out.
They have. But at least the average person googling this site can't identify me and the lives and careers of my friends and family are still secure.

As am I. I am aware one day that could change. And though I don't relish it, I'm kind of prepared for it. That one day my entire life really could be totally ruined as a result of this blog. It has already come close and one day, I have a feeling it will. But that's the price you have to pay sometimes. I don't want to have to pay it, but I'm aware the worst really could happen. I don't entirely know what I CAN do when it does, but the odds against that day NOT coming aren't good, I realise that.

Anyway. Where we've come. We came 174th in Iain Dale's little political guide last year which was good. We didn't make it in the top 200 after this little annus horribilis, but let's face it I'm surprised we survived the barrage of crap thrown this way at all. Fact is, we're still in the guide, though quite why Iain Dale thinks this is a Labour supporting blog, I'm not sure.

Anyway. Stats.

What stats matter?

Profile views? I know one blogger got really excited about hitting 10,000 profile views. I'm not sure why. Getting a lot of profile views simple shows a lot of people go THROUGH your profile to see who this person is commenting on THEIR blog. It doesn't prove that much. You don't need to have a blog at all to get profile views. Indeed, generally after your first few months blogging, you profile views probably won't creep up overmuch, because most of the blogs you comment at get to your blog via the-er-blogroll on their site.

Same with bloglog and other such things. They give me at a quick glance an idea of people who've read, but I tend to see it as the blogging equivalent of leaving a visiting card. It's a bloggers thing, it doesn't mean much.

Comments, comments are good. They at least suggest the post has been read. Yes, I do treat comments as a valuable insight into how well a post has been received. I do genuinely value comments.

But I've started also to write posts I know will receive few comments. I know damn well that they're too involved and too complex for most readers, expecting short, snappy posts to read.
In a way, the number of posts which are written to a view beyond the blogosphere is something I'm increasing.

Because the stats that really matter, the only ones perhaps that matter, are the actual site hits.
And oddly, as I realised recently, THE EXACT ONES NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE ABOUT.
Apart, perhaps, from me.

The 26,000 hits registered by sitemeter in just over a year aren't perhaps, the most impressive in the world of blogging.
But the page views, that's enheartening.

The fact is, the average reader doesn't just come and go. Even if they did come by accident, the average reader here had read three posts before they go. It fluctuates- today I notice it's down to 2.6, but that's still good going bearing in mind I only post once a day.
And it's the point of entry as well that interests me. An increasing number of readers, several on a daily basis who do not come from links elsewhere. They come from googling this site. They come from putting 'Crushed by Ingsoc' into the search box on Google.

And long term...Isn't that the whole POINT?

Those are the ones who matter. I don't care who they are, or where they come from. I don't much care they don't comment. They don't comment because they probably aren't bloggers, but I'm starting to recognise some of them.

And I know that many of them are coming here due to the ONLY stats that really matter.
The ones that prove that even if you were killed tomorrow, your blog would continue getting hits, day in, day out, for eternity.

Are you conquering the search engines?

Because that's the only stat that matters.

And I smile when I look at the following first page rankings. Because really, that's all that REALLY matters.

Inner Reptile- We're number one. Not Inner Monkey though. We're a way behind on that.
Nietzcheist- Yes, we win that one too. This really is the internet's first choice for 'Nietzscheist'.
United People of Earth- Third. Not bad though. That post, one of my best I feel, still gets at least one hit a day.
Ingsoc- Fourth. But we'd expect Wikipedia to beat us on that.
Life Scientific definition- Definitely the one I'm proudest of. Holding fourth slot on Google for that really is an achievement I'm damn proud of.

I know these ones because they come up every day, so I notice them. But I'm aware there are probably numerous other fairly significant and important concepts where ALREADY this blog gets a first page ranking.

And it's that that matters. That this blog is able to do that, to be in a position where someone who goes on what is now the most commonly used tool in the world for finding answers to things, is increasingly coming across this little blog. And in a small way, my thoughts are entering the collective consciousness.

And I guess that's what really matters.

Maybe I am being vain but do I think this blog is already on it's way to being something that will live on, long after I've gone?

I do, yes.

I am literally archiving my entire mind and soul and handing it to posterity to do what it will with them.

And so far, I think that's worth the effort.


Anonymous said...

And it won't matter much that I died of liver failure a week shy of fifty, passed out on the sofa next to a half eaten kebab.

Nah, I don't think it's going to happen to you - I think you've got more brains for that. :)

I have tried to install site meter three times on my blog - I just can't find one I can understand properly so I take them off. I'm a bit retarded like that.

You're blog is a good read - sometimes to be honest I can't handle reading a long, introspective or knowledgeable post so I usually skip over them until I'm 'in the mood'. And when I am in the mood and you've written a really strong post then you are definitely one of my favourite blog writers.
Go Crushed!

Anonymous said...

To me, the most important stats to look for on the site meter are the links directing people to the site, the time they spend on the site, and the number of pages they view. Since most of the people viewing my blog aren't regulars, it kinda gives me a more objective view of how effectively I'm explaining things.

Anonymous said...

Going to surpass the Encyclopoedia Britannica are you? Well on your way Buddy.

Interest analysis of your stats. I think many get dazzled by the numbers but one should definitely be realistic about them.

Then most of us aren't trying to change the world like you. Twenty years of this? I think that is pretty unlikely but who can say.

Anonymous said...

Impressive numbers - wow! I never really pais much mind to that sort of thing and I do read your blog because I love the content - now onto the sex post below thins one! Cat

Anonymous said...

Kate- That's as may be, I'm not sure it's that unrealstic.

One day, I keep thinking, I'm going to open the cupboard and see the picture and we're going to swap places again and all those years of self abuse will catch up with me. God knows how I've avoided it to date.

Sitemeter isn't 100% accurate. It doesn't pick up people who use Readers, unless they click through to comment. And I think it leaves out about 20% of those who don't as well. But it gives you a rough idea. I can't be arsed to look at every single one, but I do look at the ones that seem interesting. If you're being driven hits from a sex blog, it's interesting to know.

In fact I did get about 50 hits one day from a sex blog- the Ethical Slut, I think it was called.

I think I'm lucky in that I've always got three posts or so writing themselves in my head once. This kind of makes it easier to plan a bit.

Thanks for the compliment :)

X-Dell- I agree a hundred percent. Like yourself, a lot of my hits aten't regulars- or not regular bloggers- but I'm noticing quite a few are kind of regulars- ISPs that clearly do not match any blogger I can think of, because of the geographical locations, but read silently and regularly.

I once mentioned Grampian Country Foods in a post- next day there they were in the stats; Grampian Country Foods :) They must google themselves every morning.

Page views, yes. I think that's probably the one that matters. Not much point having loads of hits, if no one ever reads any pages is it? :)

jmb- Well, I was discussing this with another blogger recently and I said I thought I'd written more words on this blog than for my A-levels and degree combine. Assuming an average of 500 words a post and 600 posts, that's 300,000 words, but to be honest I'd say it's probably closer to 500,000. I think 500 words is below average in fact.

That's quite a thick volume, in fact. And I actually know someone who claims to have read the lot.

So times that by 20, and yes, you have something that if printed off, would be as long as the Brittannica.

I think its just knowing which ones matter.
Ironically, I looked in the stats today, and it's 'The Grand Vision- The Utopia I believe in' and 'Marx- What he REALLY said' that re busy getting read today. Guess its all the financial uncertainity. People want to know the truth about Marx.

But actually, my most successful post google hit wise is 'The Crushed Top Ten Women of All Time'.

Which is SO not an intellectual post...

Cat- I guess it was more of a sort of looking back post. I'm not one of these bloggers who feel they need to publish monthly piecharts or tell everyone what this that and the other statistic about their blog.

At the end of the day, stats about other people's blogs are generally pretty boring. Just kind of a bit of reflecting for myself, I guess.

I think this is still a new medium and I'm starting to see angles to it that I didn't when I started, but are now perhaps becoming more important.

Anonymous said...

*nodding* wow, i see....
yup, the stats prove it :-)