no-account accounting 2006-12-08

This is the first of an occasional series of posts prompted by looking at the blog stats, prompted in part by the observation that a post about an aircraft carrier and open-source somehow caught the attention of some folks on Wall Street. (High-fliers no doubt, or would that be rats on a sinking ship?)

As the author of this blog I have a dual role of being both an editor and a reader. Yes, I admit it, I often go back just to read my earlier posts, I admire them so.

As an editor, I get to see the readership statistics reported by WordPress. (Why only I can look at them and you can’t is the subject of a forthcoming post.)

That is one of the most addictive aspects of blogging. WordPress, as well as other related tools such as Technorati, give you some sense of who is reading your blog, but the coverage is sketchy, and in some cases inconsistent. But though they may be be accurate, the stats can be fun, and sometimes can give you surprising insight into things of probably no value at all.

For example, I wrote a post Intrepid open-source last week. It was prompted by seeing a picture in the New York Times of the U.S.S. Intrepid, on its way to drydock from its home on NYC’s West Side. [1] As it happens I had written about the same ship in the first post on this blog, and I managed to make some comments about open-source. Near the end, to remark on the maturity, of open-source, I wrote of some work I knew IBM was involved in about Linux and Java, but since I didn’t have the details at hand, I used google to find a couple of press articles and put links to the articles into the post to back up my statements.

That post sat there for several days, with only a handful of reads. But on Tuesday it shot right up to the top. WordPress happens to provide a list called “referrers” that tells you how people got to your blog. Tuesday’s list include the entry:

http://ragingbull.quote.com/mboard/boards.cgi?board=ANTS&read=90312

If you track this down you’ll find that this site is a stock-related site and someone noticed my post, probably because of a blog search, and mentioned my post with the comment, “Write-up about Open Source and the Defense Establishment. But mentions ANTs.”

That post got 96 views yesterday, and there were 89 views via Ragingbull. There had only been one view in the several days that elapsed since I first wrote the post, so essentially all traffic is due to this one referral.

The post even drew a comment, from Roberta Murphy. Turns out ANTS is a software company. I investigated and learned that Don Haderle, a former IBMer, recently joined ANTS. I was involved, albeit indirectly, with Haderle during the Cloudscape/Derby project, as he was one of the folks we had to convince as part of our pitch that the code should go to Apache.

By the way, you never know which posts will get some traction. Two successive posts, On Ferrara Cafe, and Leigh Anne Tuohy – “God gives people money to see how you’re going to handle it”. have proven quite durable.

One post — for which I had great hopes — has as best I can tell not even been read once. I wrote a whole series on open-source and forking, taking Yogi Berra as my mentor, almost solely for the purpose of being able to write my own variation on a Yoga-ism, “If you come to a fork in the road, pick it up.” Sigh…

The posts on binary search have had a small but steady audience. I had great fun writing these posts and I am pleased some folks have found some pleasure in them.

If you take a look at “http://technorati.com/search/daveshields.wordpress.com” you will see this blog has been linked to by a couple of sex sites. As best as I can tell this was due to my using the words “open” and “adult” in the same post, not because of the post Open-source is sexy. Writing a post about James Bond also added to this. Go figure.

Tuesday was also a milestone in that the WordPress running-graph of views-per-day for a month finally took my best-day-ever, 451, off the chart. 451 was I think related to the Sun/FSF post.

Readership has been picking up. Here as the daily-view totals for the last month or so, seven per row, with the first being for Monday. I’ve included row and column totals?


Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Tot
451 183 122 105 127 067 128  1183
145 107 192 133 059 083 089  0808
138 179 168 109 144 127 104  0969
177 129 199 264 299 204 140  1403

911 589 681 611 629 481 461 (column totals)

The spurt last week is due to the postings about Eben Moglen’s presentations at the Sixth Sakai Conference.

Readership has indeed grown lately. The counts for the last two days were 227 and 276, each among the best days ever.

Total views just passed 9000, with almost half of them coming in the last month. The total should pass 10,000 by the end of the year. My guess it takes close to 100,000 views for a blog to really escape from obscurity into notoriety, so there is still quite a bit of blogging on our trail up the long tail to be done.

Notes.

1. I have a very special place in my heart for NYC’s West Side. Every new Manhattan resident of a certain ilk makes a fundamental statement about themselves by their choice of first residence in Manhattan. East Side or West Side? Uptown or Downtown? East Village or West Village. Those who may or may not have ilk but do have almost no money wind up on the West Side, as did I. Two years on West 95th between Broadway and Ammsterdam, followed by 19 years on West 93rd between Columbus and Amsterdam.

I also have a strong attachment to the area in which the U.S.S. Intrepid is normally docked, West 47th Street and the Hudson River. It is the part of Manhattan known as “Hell’s Kitchen.” My wife was director of an after-school day-care center at West 42nd and 12th for much of the 1970’s, and during that time if I walked with her anythwere between 36th and 56th, West of Eighth Avenue to the river, we could not go more than a block before someone said hello to her, usually in Spanish.

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