Posts of note

Welcome to Posts of  Note. This is a survey of my traffic, between 1 March 2010 and 31 May 2011, including my top ten most popular posts. I chose that date range because it was about the end of February last year that I got google analytics working and because May was the last full month of posting and thus seems like a decent point to draw the line.

In that time, I received 5,319 visits from 3,644 visitors. Each visit was on average two minutes and thirty-eight seconds. New visitors made up 61% of my audience, so my “regular readers” number about 1,600, although obviously the vast majority of them probably only came back once at most, perhaps by mistake like hitting the wrong site in their history and ending up with me instead of donkey fucking, badger fancy or whatever depraved crap people who aren't interested in me get up to.

Actually, there's a measure for “visitor loyalty” and this shows that an astonishing 256 people have visited my blog more than 200 times! I don't know if I've even been here 200 times! This must be some kind of web bots or something, right? Cataloguers and that?

Well, I've still got about 430 readers who have been back between 50 and two hundred times, and maybe that represents more regular traffic? I don't really know what to expect in terms of numbers, or who all these visitors could be, but I'm cautiously pleased by those numbers!

In terms of time spent on the page, 73% of visits – 4000 or so – fall into the 0-10 seconds category! Ouch! About seven hundred visitors stayed more than three minutes, although that's got to include at least the number of posts I've written, and perhaps more, so the real figure there could be as low as 350.

Firefox was the browser of choice of 47% of my visitors. I use Firefox myself, so I don't know how many of them I make up. I suppose all the stuff about connection speeds is useful for people who want to think about streaming media and that but well, not me!

About 28% of my hits came from search engines, from about 900 search terms. The tenth-most popular search term - nicholas goodricke-clarke - got me 11 hits. The second most popular search term – nemesis the warlock – got me 44 hits. But the most popular search term on blog, generating 245 hits, is priapus, a victory, suppose, of eros over nemesis. This of course has a big influence on my highest rated posts, as we shall see!

Top of the Posts! 
(Top ten posts Counting The Home Page, Which Is The Most Visited At 2,157)

I'll make a confession. I was once a pro-SF zealot of the worst sort. I thought “literature” was over-rated and complained to my English tutor that there was no SF on the syllabus of English 101. I disparaged Margaret Atwood. I wrote an angry introduction to an anthology. I knew no shame.

The linked review in this entry is the culmination of a conversion that started in the nineties. I'd pretty much read all the Dick and Vonnegut there was and was getting in Sterling and Greg Egan, but there didn't seem much else to interest me in the immediate genre vicinity. So, I started on Will Self and Pynchon and late Ballard and then further out into the literary sphere.

I'm still not big on the literary blockbusters by and large (although I guess I loved hype-monsters Wolf Hall and Freedom) but there is a quality I recognise as literary, just as there are qualities I recognise as “art film” and “classical music”. The superiority of one category over the other is less important, but I think that the quality of individual works and personal preference clearly play a role in what we might actually enjoy.

This is one of my earliest posts! I actually wrote it before I officially got going, just so I could have something meaty to read early on. It still gets hits from search engines, and the average time on page is five minutes, so people even seem to be reading it. I love Jack Vance and I should do more posts about his books, but... well, the pile! In the meantime, I follow this excellent thread on The Great Jack Vance Re-Read by the Phantom Grunweasel.

6 2000AD part 2: Strontium Dog and Judge Dredd (237)
4 The Complete Nemesis the Warlock (258)
Having a blog gives me a bit more freedom to write about the things that interest me, and I've long been curious about the quality that resonated so much with me in 2000AD, and I started reading it again to if it still had that same effect on me. I don't think it did, and the reasons are partly about me and partly about the stories.

I was reading it during a time when the old traditions in children's entertainment were breaking down, but odd relics of an older order were still in place. 2000AD was created from this tension of staid old fashioned kids entertainment, and a new desire for sensation fed by rock music and radical politics. The writers and artists had to work hard to be to produce the types of story they really wanted within the strictures of the project. As a result, they had to be subtle and playful to get their message across, hiding a lot of sly commentary in the margins of their stories. The master of this was probably Alan Moore, whose best work for 2000AD was, to my mind, his Future Shocks and related shorts. They were masterpieces of playful storytelling, teasing and funny and thoughtful.

There was a similar tension about being a kid back then, too, in a time when we were being asked, by strident 60s-bred teachers, take more responsibility for ourselves and opinions, while still suffering the (ultimately pragmatic, regardless of the rhetoric of empowerment) privations of childhood. 2000AD seemed like a twisted reflection of our concerns, revolving mostly around random violence and authority figures, most famously Judge Dredd.

The story that best captures 2000AD's appeal to the childhood me is possibly Ro-Busters. It's basically a slave narrative, with a bit of Black Beauty and Kevin O'Neill's crazy robot designs, but the robots have a child-like quality to them. The way they're bossed around and have no control over their lives is something I think that children identify strongly with, and as well as the more obvious themes, Ro-Busters' flight to the robot sanctuary was a kind of symbolic revolt against the parents, a quest for maturity.

You can only read that sort of story once, of coure, but even so I don't think 2000AD really does that sort of story any more. It seems an altogether more grown-up place than I recall, the sort of thing that belongs on the senior common room rather than the junior school bag. In fact, what it reminds me of is Heavy Metal – it's maybe not quite so thick, and there are no articles about sci fi movies or Devo, and of course they don't go for the more overt kind of soft porn that made Heavy Metal such a vital read for the adolescent male sci fi fan. However, the brand of violent, whacky, cynical sci fi and fantasy of the better Heavy Metal strips is very similar.

Man the 80s were great! 2000AD at it's height and Heavy Metal too! What a time it was to be a young nerd!

This one gets a lot of hits from search engines, too. A popular topic, I guess, although there's probably lots of copies of this around second hand and maybe folks are trying to find out about it. You should snag that second hand copy, folks, this is a classic!

Most of the hits here are a consequence of a bit of lucky timing on my part. The day after I posted this, there was a big (and excellent!) interview with Michael Moorcock in the Guardian, and got into the comments early. I don't know how much traffic the interview got – shit loads, I imagine – but I got a bit of a lift from that. I'm pleased, because I'm quite proud of that one.

I think this post is where I learned of the “The Guardian” effect. If you can get a link into a popular subject early, you'll get heaps of hits, even if the post is a bit crappy like this one.

Well, bad reviews are always more popular than good ones. It's possibly a bit more strident than I really feel, but I think it's a pretty effective example of the genre!

At number one, a mystery. I don't think this is an especially popular volume or that classical depictions of witchcraft and magic are really that hot a topic, even compared to, say, Jack Vance and 2000AD. So what's the big attraction here?

The clue is in the top search term because this entry features a story about this guy:

Now, I posted this in December, and the first time I got a hit from the “priapus” was 28 March. In fact, on 28 March I got thirteen hits, and then regular hits for a couple of week up until early April when it quietened down, then it got busy again around 11 May then gradually declined to the point where I've had no hits from it at all since 7 June.

I clicked through to the one- and two-hit searches and found quite a few variations on queries about the mythological and literary characters discussed in the post, so I surmise that a lot of those are students of classical literature researching essays and what have you. If so, then I would advise you guys to check a copy of the book out of the library rather than rely on my garbled re-telling of this stuff!

And on top of that, there's a few for variations on “nights black agents” and “david ogden”, too, but even taken together, they don't come close to priapus. What ever spring madness grips the northern hemisphere drove hundreds of hits to my blog! The average time on page is fifty-four second, implying that the searchers didn't find what they were looking for, or perhaps stayed just long enough to download the image for their orgy invitation.

Such are the vagaries of internet fame!