Top Ten Whatever Posts for 2015, Plus 2015 Social Media Stats

Every year about this time I do a review of posts and stats, because I’m a nerd like that. Are you ready for the countdown and nerdery? Then here we go!

Top Ten Whatever Posts: For 2015, here were the top ten posts on Whatever, by number of visits. The posts with asterisks are the ones that were written in previous years, i.e., posts from the archives.

1. Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is*
2. Eight Things About Donald Trump
3. Being Poor*
4. Paris
5. Apologies: What, When and How*
6. Frightened, Ignorant and Cowardly is No Way to Go Through Life, Son
7. Keeping Up With the Hugos, 4/20/15
8. A Note About the Hugo Nominations This Year
9. 10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing*
10. You Never Know Just How You Look Through Other People’s Eyes*

That’s an even mix of pieces from 2015 and pieces from previous years, and the archive pieces are not a surprise; each of them were in 2014’s roundup, too. They’re in there because they’re classics, that word here being defined as “pieces that show up very high in Google searches on that topic.” I don’t mind this at all; like any writer, I like that things that I’ve written have staying power.

If we take out the archive pieces, here are the five other pieces from 2015 that would have shown up on this list:

Obviously, for 2015 there was high interest in the Hugo Awards, because this was the year a bunch of petulant whiners joined forces with a narcissistic bigot to systematically jam a bunch of their pals’ work onto the award ballot, all the while going out of their way to insult everyone who was not them. Naturally this was a topic of conversation in my circles (also, and unsurprisingly, it didn’t work out for those involved very well; also unsurprisingly, they continue to think the problem is everyone else). But this is also the year in which I started writing more about politics and non-nerd-related social stuff, after a couple of relatively light years in the topics. It’s not surprising to see that back on the year-end menu as well. I expect 2016 will have more of the same (the political and social stuff, that is; hopefully not more Hugo nonsense).

Social Media Stats: Well, let’s start with Whatever, shall we? On this date in 2014, Whatever had 5.768 million visits for the year. As of today, for 2015, Whatever has 5,788,858 visits (I’m positing the whole number because I’m amused at how many eights are in that number), which is to say, essentially the same number of visits as last year. That’s just a smidgen under 16,000 visits a day to the blog.

Note I say to the blog, because the site also has 21,635 WordPress followers, up from 12,242 on this day last year, which is healthy growth for followers, but also is a number of people who don’t visit the blog because the entries get pushed to them instead. To get a little(!) fast and loose with the stats here, if we were to take the average of the WordPress follower numbers of the last couple years (which would be 16,938) and multiply that by the number of Whatever entries for the year so far (603, not counting this one), that would be another 10.2 million “visits” to stuff I’ve written here this year, for an aggregate average of 44,000-ish daily “visits” to material written here. This also doesn’t count the people who see it through RSS feeds (Feedly, etc) or via Tumblr and other sources. Or the 2.2 million visits in 2015 to the previous iteration of Whatever not tracked by my ISP stats package, but not by WordPress’s (on account those pages aren’t WordPress pages).

All of which is to continue a theme which I’ve noted for the past couple of years, to wit: It’s getting more difficult to track who, and how many, are reading things from here, thanks to the increasingly fragmented manner in which material from here gets to people out there. It’s fun for me to look at my stats on an annual basis — and fun to share them — but I’m aware that the reliability of those stats, as relates to this particular site, is more uncertain each year. Not that they were ever particularly certain, mind you.

(Which is also why I don’t get put out when someone wishes to brag they get more visitors to their Web site than I do. One, good for you! You must be proud. Two, it’s not actually a competition. Three, even if it were, see above. The site stats don’t tell the whole story.)

Regardless, what the site (and other stats) do tell me: People continue to read what I write here. Hooray!

Aside from Whatever, Twitter is where I spend most of my time, and as of this very moment I have 93,494 followers, up roughly 18.5k from last year. I also tweeted (again, as of this second) 21,753 times in 2015, which amongst them garnered 137.61 million impressions. Note that not every tweet is seen by every single one of my followers — people have lives and are not tethered to Twitter 24/7, I mean, hopefully they’re not — and that tweets that are replies are usually seen by exponentially fewer people than the more general ones. Twitter reach is a funny thing. That said, when a tweet hits, it hits big: several of my tweets this year were seen by hundreds of thousands of people, thanks to massive retweets, the top tweet (this one), reaching 587,000 people. It’s interesting.

I’m also active on Facebook, where my fan page has 14K likes, and on what remains of Google Plus, where 18K people follow me, but I don’t have any real stats for them, so, meh. Likewise, hey did you know I’m on Ello? A thousand people follow me there! Hello, Ello!

Coming back to Whatever, here’s how people came to the site from other sites in 2015: Google was by far the largest driver of visits, followed by Twitter and Facebook. Reddit, interestingly, sends only a fraction of traffic that either Twitter or Facebook does; the only people there who have an a real interest in me are either the odious dweebs of Gamergate or the Redditors who poke fun of the odious dweebs of Gamergate (Gamergate in general, I should note, seems to have gone past its sell-by date, which is, you know, nice).

In all: 2015 seems to have been a reasonably good year for this site and for me on social media in general. If you’re reading this, you’re part of the reason. Thank you for that. Let’s see where 2016 takes us from here.

24 Comments on “Top Ten Whatever Posts for 2015, Plus 2015 Social Media Stats”

  1. Quick note: Although I snark a bit about the Hugos, this comment thread should be about stats, posts and stuff like that, and not a place to generally rehash the nonsense around those awards this year. Please resist the temptation. Thanks.

  2. It’s interesting watching your stats grow each year and the increase in available delivery channels along with the commensurate loss of firm data. What won’t be fun is Vox & Co. kvetching, dissecting, and arguing about these numbers to whomever is silly enough to listen.

  3. A typical day on my blog is from 200-400 visitors depending on what month it is, but I had over 200,000 pageviews this year because of one particular post that blew up a bit and got nearly half of them. I wasn’t aware that people who view your site through the Reader don’t show up on your stats; I have nearly 10,000 followers on WP so presumably that would add a fair number of daily reads (at least by my standards) even if only a few percent of those people are checking in on any given day.


  4. It’s pretty amazing that the post about Glaghghee was so high in the stats. Once again, RIP, Bacon Cat.

  5. Luther M. Siler:

    Yup, my understanding is that you’ll see them only if they click through to the particular piece.

    Note well also that I suspect a non-trivial number of my WordPress followers are likely to be bogus sites that are created for spam-like purposes, perhaps on the idea that if they follow you, you’ll follow them, and thus see spam, etc. If so, their purpose is defeated since I follow only WP accounts of people I know (and/or can verify as actual humans). So that’s another factor in the fudginess of stats.

  6. So did I, Sooz, so did I.

    While the stats themselves are interesting, I have a different reason for appreciating a post like this one. It becomes a handy reference point to share with others as a good collection of worthwhile reading on many subjects, as well as reminding me about some of my favorite pieces in the archives.

  7. “People continue to read what I write here. Hooray!”

    Not only do I enjoy reading what you write here, but the blog is sufficiently well organized that I can find and reread pieces that appeal to me, or that I want to share with others. More than once this year, I had the thought, “Didn’t Scalzi write something interesting on this topic?” and was able to come here, search around a bit, and find what I remembered.

    You provide a public service, sir! Thanks, and do keep it up!

  8. JADP, but I use the RSS feed in Sage in Firefox (and thank you for including a full feed), but when I read it takes me to the full page on your site so I =think= that my visits would be included in your stats.

    I sometimes use Feedly on my tablet and that pulls up full articles, but only if I click ‘see on website’ does it take me to your full page.

    So RSS is a bit ghostly in some ways, not in others.

  9. Peter, thanks — I’d forgotten that one and it’s wonderful. I bought a couple of the “I hate your politics” mugs but gave them both away — are those still available anywhere?

  10. As I think I’d already posted once, ages ago, I first discovered you and Whatever via a rather circuitous routing. I normally check Amazon’s recommendations twice a week, and on one occasion “Your Hate Mail” was included and I ordered (and quite enjoyed) a copy of it. In its appendix/afterword/whatever (no intentional wordplay there) it mentioned the blog, including URL, and I found the rest of your biblography here and have been hooked ever since. Obviously the original 4-volume OMW set was my starting point (which I’m now re-reading for about the 4th or 5th time), and I’ve kept pretty well up to date with later stuff as and if it becomes available in paperback in Canada. So I’ve bookmarked the site as part of my “morning rounds” folder, and tend to skip visits only on Sundays since that seems to be your most common day off, your 48-hour-a-day schedule permitting. I guess that puts me into your “normal” visitor stats.

    Only one minor quibble … I don’t have access to Twitter (or most other social-media), so anything there you embed or link to, without accompanying transliteration into text, is simply blank.

    I might also add as a footnote that my two favorites among your non-OMW fictional works have always been “Fuzzy Nation” and “Agent to the Stars”.

  11. I’ve used Google a number of times to find specific posts you’ve written when I’m having a discussion. Several of your top 10 from previous years are ones I have bookmarked and share when similar topics come up elsewhere. They really are classics.

  12. That 2015 should have so many obnoxious puppies and no Radiant She of cats is very bad. The Scamperbeasts are filling in admirably, though.

    I’ve bookmarked “Standard Responses”.

  13. For the WordPress stats, I do follow you, but I usually come here straight from my bookmark. So that’s double-counting me and I doubt I’m the only one.

  14. To throw some more data about other readers:

    I follow via RSS on Feedly. Feedly says there are 11K subscribers to Whatever.

    Personally, I read nearly every piece. I probably only click through on a handful (single-digits) per year, when I want a clean link to share or I am curious about the comments a post has engendered. So that at least is how this RSS user ingests Whatever

  15. All the hits on everything I’ve ever written don’t come close to one day of Scalzi’s hits.

    But that’s okay because I’m not a writer and also my self-worth doesn’t come from statistics.

  16. I have a blog so that when I want to shout things to the universe I have a place to do so. Sometimes it is something I don’t want to get into arguments about on Reddit, sometimes a thing I said on Reddit turns out really well and I want to save it for myself for later.

    Each post reliably gets two hits. I have no idea who these two people are. One thing I do know, and think is kind of sad, is that neither of them is my mother. (Wonderful woman, talk to her regularly. Not a blog person.)

    I admire your confidence in who you are and what you think. I have found it sort of rubbing off. If someone doesn’t agree with me on the internet, or thinks I’m stupid, oh well, it changes my actual life not at all.

    Thank you.

  17. John,
    I am to teach my English 8th graders this spring term nonfiction. Do I need to pay you a royalty fee to use several of your blogs which I mean to download and copy for my 120 students? I am perfectly willing to do so. Just let me know. You have got my email address.
    Gary Willis
    Midland, Texas

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