The Top Ten Whatever Entries for 2014, Plus 2014 Traffic

So, which entries on Whatever were the most popular in 2014, how was traffic to the site, and how was my general online reach? These all have interesting answers, or at least interesting to me. Let’s delve, shall we.

First, here are the top ten most-visited posts on Whatever in 2014, according to the WordPress stats package (caveats on that stats package to come). The entries with the asterisks are ones that were written before 2014.

  1. Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is*
  2. Being Poor*
  3. Amazon Gets Increasingly Nervous
  4. Apologies: What, When and How*
  5. The Four Levels of Discrimination (and You) (and Me, Too)
  6. An Anti-Feminist Walks Into a Bar: A Play in Five Acts
  7. 10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing*
  8. You Never Know Just How You Look Through Other People’s Eyes*
  9. How to Boycott Me, I Mean, REALLY Boycott Me
  10. An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping*

This year’s top ten entries result is interesting to me, as I think this year is the first when the majority of the most visited posts were from previous years. “Being Poor” and “10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know” are perennially popular pieces, but most of the others are newish as repeats.

I think the particular archive pieces that made the list reflect that for internet culture generally, 2014 was a year where sexism and other bigotries were a thing. This hypothesis is augmented by the 2014-native popular entries as well, as well as reflecting my own personal writing interests this year. It also suggests that a lot of the power of Whatever, and the scalzi.com site in general, resides in its archives. More on this in a bit.

If I included only the pieces written in 2014, here are the six other pieces that would have made the top ten:

Again, a lot about sexism, and/or writing and publishing. It was that kind of year, it seems.

Moving along to general traffic statistics, the WordPress stats package notes that (minus the last three days and 18 hours, which have not happened yet), Whatever received 5.768 million visits, or roughly 15,971 visits a day. This is down rather a bit from 2013, in which the site got 7.572 million visits, averaging about 20,700 visits a day.

Additionally my 1&1 stats package, which tracks everything on scalzi.com that’s not on WordPress (including archived versions of Whatever that were on Moveable Type, etc), and which has no real overlaps with the WP stats package, recorded 4.188 million visits, which is also down from 2013, when it noted 6.13 million visits (The 1&1 stats, incidentally, are why you should take anyone else’s estimation of the traffic to this site with a fairly large grain of salt).

Some of this decrease I chalk up to me posting a bit less here this year, primarily due to travel schedules, and writing less about certain clicky subjects like politics, about which I wrote almost nothing this year at all. And some of it might be ascribed to blogs generally declining. And, of course, more specifically, maybe I’m just less popular as a blog writer than I used to be.

That said, there are other things to note here, not the least of which is that it appears that more of the reading of the content of the site is done off the site proper. A large portion of Whatever’s readership has always been through RSS, which is not noted by the WP daily reports (although if you dig you can find that information — for now, anyway, as the newly updated iteration of the WP stats package doesn’t seem to list that information anymore).

(Update: In the comments, it’s noted that Feedly, a leading RSS service, lists 8,000 Whatever subscribers. Which goes to my point nicely.)

The new WordPress stats package also notes something I didn’t know before, which is that that Whatever has (as of this moment) 12,242 WordPress followers, i.e., people for whom Whatever content is pushed to via WordPress, so they don’t have to visit the site to read it, which means they’re not recorded in the WP site stats. I also push Whatever content to Tumblr and Facebook, so people can read it there. I even have email subscribers (768 at last count).

Without discounting the decrease in visits to the site in 2014, it’s interesting to me that the decline of visits to the site does not necessarily mean that the posts themselves are not being as widely (or even more widely) read. If the decline in visits to the site proper is being compensated for by people following me via WordPress or other outposts, then I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m not like I’m pushing advertising on the site and losing money if people don’t show up there.

But it does also suggest that my Web site stats are becoming increasingly like my Bookscan stats. Bookscan, for those of you who don’t know, is a book sales monitoring service that tracks how many books get sold — but only at specific retailers, and only in specific formats. So, for example, Bookscan captured only about 20% of the total sales of Redshirts in its hardcover run. Bookscan, in other words, isn’t the whole story of a book’s sales, it just points in the direction of the whole story.

Shorter version of the above: Remember how I always note caveats when talking about site stats here? Those caveats have become even more caveat-y. It’s clear to me that the site states don’t offer a clear picture of how things of mine get read online, or by how many people. This is something I’ve already noted this year, mind you. Whatever is the starting place for much of my online presence. It’s clearly not the ending point.

Outside of Whatever, my primary social media presence is on Twitter, and it was a pretty good year there; I started the year with 55.2k followers and ended up with 76.1k, most of them, as far as I can tell, real live humans. According to ThinkUp, a service which tracks this stuff, I tweeted roughly 22,400 times, the most popular tweet of which was this:

Which got about 216,000 impressions, that being the Twitter term for views. It should be noted that most tweets I write get seen by less than the number of people who follow me, which makes sense if you think about it, since no one is on Twitter all the time, including me, and not everyone sees everything I tweet when they are online — they might be below the scroll, as it were.

Anecdotally, and not counting the tweets in which I am replying to someone (which tend to be seen by exponentially fewer people), a typical tweet of mine tends to garner about 15,000 impressions over the course of a day, with the especially retweetable ones pulling in 25k – 50k or so, and with occasional spikes of over 100,000 impressions (this one, from the other day, got 167k). I’d need a more complete set of data then I have to get more granular about it.

All told, an interesting year for me online. Let’s see what 2015 holds.

19 thoughts on “The Top Ten Whatever Entries for 2014, Plus 2014 Traffic

  1. I follow Whatever through an RSS feed imbedded in Chrome, which just links me to the site proper, which I like because it saves me the time of having to visit sites, and it actually sends me to said sites (it’s great for tumblr).

  2. I can state that you have 8K readers over on feedly’s RSS feed…

    Quoting from feedly:

    Whatever.Scalzi
    No unread articles — 8K readers — #writing #authors #books

  3. I have been reading your site since 2008? maybe? Anyway, I used to visit and comment and now I read by RSS and so I rarely comment. I wonder if you ever track the number of commenters?
    Also, side note – I first discovered you because of you had a quote on Quote a Day. It prompted me to look you up and then read your popular archive and then, of course, the rest is history.
    But it’s interesting that you got a reader/fan/and customer of books from quote of the day. The web is weird.

  4. Regarding the Twitter about Facebook: Luckily for the most part my friends and family kept their opinions out of the latest messes. I just wish that they had kept them out of Christmas. Glad all them Christians I know are so into love and peace. LOL.

    In other news, glad you have a diverse and well read set of medias goin’ on there. I look forward to seeing what the new year brings from ya.

    Essayons!

  5. I’m one of the 768 email subscribers, because then I know I won’t miss any posts. I can honestly say I rarely visit your actual site because the entire post is in the body of the email. There’s a setting in WP to change that so the reader will have to go to the site to finish reading. You know, in case you want to up your daily stats:-D

  6. I’ve been following your blog over the last year and one of the things I appreciate about it is the transparency in terms of you being a working writer and blogger. This post regarding your stats is a good example. Thanks and have a great 2015!

  7. Perhaps try something a bit more savvy (and site-global) than WP stats – gaug.es is a good example. You could probably then do away with two separate stats tools.

  8. Then there are Twitter followers like me. I *think* I’m still listed as a follower; I haven’t logged on to Twitter in over a year.

  9. Jamtur01:

    I could but there’s the question of utility. My visit stats have no impact on how the site is run (as noted, I have no advertising to worry about), and they’re primarily to suit my own curiosity about the site’s visitorship, and WP’s stat package is generally good enough for curiosity’s sake. There’s also the fact Whatever is hosted by WordPress’s VIP service, and I’d have to clear apps that affect the blog with them. More effort than it’s worth.

  10. All I have to say about Twitter is that it’s damned good at making sure the ‘national discourse’ continues to drop like an elevator with the cables cut and no brakes. It’s certainly not making Americans, at least, any smarter. Very good for those of us with ADHD though!

  11. Believe it or not, I consider this site a kind of internet oasis. I come here to get away from internet insanity and engage with other like minded folks. Usually I don’t comment because usually someone has already said what I would say and better than I could. Whatever has smart readers, and is generally troll free. I had a few Twitter exchanges with our host this year, which were fun.

  12. I’m one of the email readers, too – I only come to the site when I have something to say. (And half the time, leave without saying it anyway, because somebody else already did. Smart crowd you got here!) I finally (just now) followed you on Twitter, but I don’t go there much, so I”m likely to miss most of those.

    Oh, and what I came here to say? I wonder what the stats will look like for the last three days, since I suspect a lot of people went and read one or more of the top ten in the list, having missed them the first time around…

  13. As a statistics nerd, and someone who just did a very similar post for my own blog, this is fascinating to me. You’re reporting visitors numbers here, not page views, right? What would an average day’s page views look like?

    Also, you’re another data point in a debate that I’ve been having with several other WP bloggers– you get six months’ worth of my visitors in an average *day*, but you don’t quite have three times as many WP followers as I do. One would think that even if WP followers are “stealing” traffic, so to speak, if you had a bunch of them you’d have a bunch of people visiting for other reasons too, and so your numbers would scale up accordingly. But your followers numbers are way lower than I might expect given your volume of traffic.

    Like I said: statistics nerd.

  14. I think there are two factors in drop in readership here

    1) You posted here less often last year and posted less political/controversial stuff. Good for you. You were working on books and travelling.

    2) Anecdotally, blog readership appears to be declining in favor of twitter/facebook/instagram/snapchat. I don’t know anyone under 40 who writes a blog. Then again, my view may be skewed by the fact I’m an old fart with a teenage daughter.

    Slightly off topic, here’s a cartoon that you might like: http://amultiverse.com/comic/2014/12/29/last-date-2/

  15. That’s an interesting issue — does Twitter count as impressions views of your Twitter feed by people who are not on Twitter? I read quite a few authors and others’ Twitter feeds on a semi-regular basis (one of the things Twitter is quite good for is links to longer articles, including blog pieces,) but I’m not on Twitter. If they don’t count simple views of your Twitter page, then your Twitter readership is probably a lot larger than the stats.

  16. Indeed; I don’t have a Twitter account, but I do read John’s twitter feed through the Twitter webpage. I even click to read many of the conversations. I’m guessing that Twitter probably doesn’t count me (it certainly doesn’t count me as a “follower”, what with the not having an account thing and all).

  17. I’ve read some of the source documents you write about. I’ve enjoyed Sarah Hoyt’s books, but that discussion of politics and economics following the screed about Heinlein – wow, the level of wilfull ignorance was amazing. Facism is socialism is liberalism… amazing.

    The commons is doomed to be destroyed – well, yes, without government protection it will be destroyed, this is why the EPA was created, to protect the main commons of air and water… this is one primary role of government, to protect and care for the commons. Not to hear those guys talk about it.

    The idea that corporations are dangerous to health, pish tosh!! One guy says “Name one!” Union Carbide, Monsanto, really most of them are as dangerous as they can get away with, just look at historic damage to air, water and the ground around heavy industrial sites…

    Sad to see the feet of clay some of our authors have. At least I can read their books without having to subscribe to their politics – or avoid their books to keep from contributing money to RWNJs.

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