Stats, stats and more stats: The Half Life of Fame

My WordPress stats for May 4th, 2012.

So, here are the stats for my blog, at time of writing. You can see a steady increase in hits over the last few weeks. What does this mean? Have I somehow hit a sweet spot in my L&T discussions? Has my secret advertising campaign paid off (no, not seriously). Well, there are a couple of things in there that are both informative… and humbling.

Firstly, two of the most popular searches that find my blog are “London 2012 tube” and “alone in a crowd”. These hits have probably accounted for about 16% of my traffic for the past three weeks. What does that tell me? Well, firstly, the Olympics aren’t too far away and people are looking for how convenient their hotels are. The second is a bit sadder.

The second search “alone in a crowd” is coming in across two languages – English and Russian. I have picked up a reasonable presence in Russia and Ukraine, mostly from that search term. It seems to contribute a lot to my (Australian) Monday morning feed, which means that a lot of people seem to search for this on Sundays.

But let me show you another graph, and talk about the half life of fame:

My WordPress stats, by week, on 4th of May, 2012.

That’s since the beginning my blogging activities. That spike at Week 9? That’s when I started blogging SIGCSE and also includes the day when over 100 people jumped on my blog because of a referral from Mark Guzdial. That was also the conference at which Hal Abelson referred to a concept of the Half Life of fame – the inevitable drop away after succeeding at something, if you don’t contribute more. And you can see that pretty clearly in the data. After SIGCSE, I was happily on my way back to being read by about 20-30 people a day, tops, most of whom I knew, because I wasn’t providing much more information to the people who scanned me at SIGCSE.

Without consciously doing it, I’ve managed to put out some articles that appear to have wider appeal and that are now showing up elsewhere. But these stats, showing improvement, are meaningless unless I really know what people are looking at. So, right now I’m pulling apart all of my log data to see what people are actually reading – whether I have an increasing L&T presence and readership, or a lot of sad Russian speakers or lost people on the London Underground system. I’m expecting to see another fall-away very soon now and drop down to the comfortable zone of my little corner of the Internet. I’m not interested in widespread distribution – I’m interesting in getting an inspiring or helpful message to the people who need it. Only one person needs to read this blog for it to be useful. It just has to the right one person. 🙂

One of the most interesting things about doing this, every day, is that you start wondering about whether your effort is worth it. Are people seeking it out? Are people taking the time to read it or just clicking through? Are there a growing number of frustrated Tube travellers thinking “To heck with Korzybski!” Time to go into the data and look. I’m going to keep writing regardless but I’d like to get an idea of where all of this is going.

4 Comments on “Stats, stats and more stats: The Half Life of Fame”

  1. Mark Guzdial says:

    My most popular post is the one on Apple rejecting Scratch from the iTunes store, so we can’t run Scratch on iPad or iPhone. But people mostly find it by googling for “my iPad has a scratch.” I get between 400-600 page views a day, but that’s in my fourth year. It takes a while to build an audience.


  2. Darlena says:

    It’s eerie how similar my stats look to yours–even with the spike early on because someone famous tweeted about a post of mine. The slow-but-upward swing keeps me optimistic about the future though (which is perhaps a tad unrealistic 🙂 ).


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