the weird things year in review

A look at all the top stats of 2009 on the last day of the year.
Illustration by David Fuhrer

Twice is probably not a tradition by any stretch of the imagination, but we can pretend for a day and say that as the clock winds down to New Year’s Eve, it’s time for me to open up my dashboard to the readers and share a few interesting tidbits about what’s going on with Weird Things behind the scenes. From the traffic standpoint, over 2009 this blog gathered around 580,000 views. That’s a far cry from the several million views a month for a popular science titan like Bad Astronomy or Pharyngula, but hey, you have to start somewhere and for a new blog that grew from literally five posts and a wild shot in the dark, that’s not terribly bad. Average daily views are up from about 250 in January to roughly 1,600 today, though before the technical issues with the move to a big blogging network, daily averages peaked at 2,000 per day in June. So from where is the traffic coming?

Weird Things readers come from 165 nations across the world with top five countries they call home breaking down as follows: United States (66.6%), Canada (9%) UK, (6.6%), Australia (3%) and Germany (1.2%). When we drill down to the top five home cities of the blog’s readers, London, England easily takes top spot. The next top four cities are New York, NY (1.5%), Los Angeles, CA (1%), San Francisco, CA (1%) and finally, Sydney, Australia (0.9%). Just over two thirds find Weird Things from links on other blogs and sites as well as social bookmarking networks. In fact, StumbleUpon and Reddit drive just over a third and a quarter of all visitors respectively. Direct bookmarks are responsible for some 13% of all views and the rest of the visits come from search engines, by which I mean Google since it’s responsible for 87% of all search traffic.

The last set of data points comes with a little caveat. Since the Weird Things page on Facebook is still pretty fresh, it’s not quite in the top four list. However, it’s making a very strong showing and I expect it to be following Google Search in 2010. And having the Bad Astronomer direct almost as many visitors to this blog as the city of San Francisco was an interesting surprise. Thanks Phil! So that’s how we got to Weird Things. But where do all the readers go? What do they read? What do they share with others and on social bookmarking sites? What posts draw the most comments, criticism and drive the most debates?

Between themselves, the top five posts represent almost a third of the blog’s total traffic and help provide a bit of evidence that the Pareto Rule applies to blogs as well, albeit in a far more extreme form if we consider that Weird Things now has a library of some 616 posts. Probably the biggest surprise is how popular my quick and dirty overview of Burkhard Heim’s theories became, especially since it lacked the depth of the other warp drive related posts written over the year. So to the critics on StumbleUpon who rightfully complain about the lack of detail in this article, how come all the in depth posts never got more than a tenth of the views this short and breezy review received? But I digress. We have another short list to cover, one that has absolutely nothing to do with statistics or traffic patterns. Think of this as the editor selections for 2009.

And so, that’s is how the year broke down from a statistical and editorial standpoint. I wanted to get a solid mix of science, skepticism, critical thinking and exploration of new concepts in space travel, astrophysics and high tech with a good dash of biology on the side, especially as the theory of evolution applies to astrobiology and our biosphere on Earth. Next year, I’d like to continue what worked in 2009 and explore where this blog can go in the near future while promoting good science and debunking quackery and woo…

# tech // blogging / statistics / traffic / weird things

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