the weird things year in review, third edition
Another year, another peek under the hood of Weird Things.
Well ladies and germs, as 2010 ticks away and we prepare for another year, it’s time to once again open the analytics for Weird Things and show you how this year went down, how many views the blog received, what was popular and where, and of course, answer the question most of you may have had when you first found yourself here; who reads this thing anyway? As mentioned yesterday, on the surface, traffic remained steady and grew at a pretty unimpressive 3% for a grand total of almost 1.2 million views with this year’s tally adding just about 600,000 hits. However, a deeper look at the numbers says that there’s been some major churn in the background, and it’s all good news. Links from sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon account for nearly 10% less traffic than they did in 2009 while the number of visitors from web searches almost doubled, and regular readers who get here by either typing the URL into their address bars or clicking on a browser bookmark are making up a notably larger portion of all visitors, growing by almost 30% since last year. Basically, there’s the blog gets less fleeting visits and is acquiring more readers on a mission, and likely to stick around.
And of course, there have also been a few changes in readership as the UK unseated Canada from its perch as the second top country for incoming views, and Germany’s number five position in that tally now belongs to India. Likewise, on a city level, London retains its dominance as the city with the most Weird Things readers, but in place of Los Angeles’ third spot in this statistic is now Sydney, Australia, which moved up two spots this year. Another surprise is the top city for the members of Weird Things’ Facebook page. If you think it’s London or New York, you’re wrong because its actually Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This is not to say that my U.S. audience has been slipping because it actually stayed roughly the same, but it now makes up just over half of all visits rather than the two thirds it did last year because more international readers are coming across Weird Things and joining in via social media tools like Twitter and Facebook. Ok, so now that we know who the readers are, where they’re from, and how they get here, let’s take a look at what captures their attention…
- top five viewed posts: the forgotten warp drive, if it’s catchy, why bother with the science?, oh wait, you’re serious?, newsflash: most of missing universe found, are insects the first step in creating ai?
- most syndicated, searched, and commented post: why is global warming so cold, redux (60 replies)
- top 2010 post on reddit: if it’s catchy, why bother with the science? (with some 320 final upvotes)
- top 2010 post on stumbleupon: looking for the aliens among us (with just about 10,000 views)
- most shared and liked on facebook: the gallery of anti-skepticism and anti-science (via FB’s analytics)
- most tweeted post: why millions of deaths can be “just” a statistic… (thanks to @boraz’s feed)
Unlike last year, the top five posts don’t represent a major percentage of all traffic, accounting for less than a tenth of all views. As you can see, global warming was definitely a big subject in 2010, and yes, there’s a big and nasty debate in the comments because having civil discussions about anything where politics sticks its nose seems to be nigh impossible nowadays, especially if you dare to tell a hardcore disciple of a particular political affiliation that he’s wrong. I’m not looking towards what appears to be an annual chore of explaining why there’s snow and ice in winter to conspiracy theorists, doomsayers, and denialists hell-bent on giving me their best Glenn Beck audition. But that’s for another day. Right now, I’d rather present a random list of posts from the outgoing year I wanted to highlight, or as a professional blogger might say, the editor’s selections for 2010, touching on everything from blogging, to computer science, to a dangerous and often under-estimated strain of quackery, to stellar phenomena which produce enough energy to bend space and time…
- sex, drugs, and a clinical case of denial (tackling an under-reported and deadly breed of denialism)
- pepsi’s misguided foray into science blogging (why corporate science blogs will go down in flames)
- the pursuit of intelligence in computer science (exploring the “intelligence” in artificial intelligence)
- didn’t anyone ever tell you not to talk to aliens? (a skeptical take on Hawking’s dire warnings)
- where to find the energy for a warp drive (building rockets? consider cosmic fury as a power source)
So this is how 2010 broke down for Weird Things. There was less media experimentation than I wanted and less impressive totals to post, but thanks to a number of subtle changes in visitors and traffic, this was a very good year in my humble opinion. Last year was a dizzying climb from obscurity with tumultuous ups, downs, and everything in between, but this year was one of solid, consistent performance, and I’m definitely looking forward to 2011 and what it will bring. Two and a quarter years might be getting old for a blog, but this one is not about to go anywhere soon. Expect more offbeat and bleeding edge science, more skeptical teardowns, and more musings on the current events that impact us all. Stay tuned folks, we’re still just getting started…