Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blog: Lessons from the First 200 Posts

TORONTO, ONTARIO - The blogger software has been nice enough to inform me that this is the 200th post to this blog. Amongst other things, this means that I have spent approximately 200 hours writing at a computer for public consumption since 8-September-2008.

So what have I learned in the past five months or so?

* Most new readers to the blog are attracted because they are using RSS feeds for the keywords that a given blog entry cites. While I have made no effort to track reader behavior, I suspect most people read at most the given entry that came up via RSS, discover that this blog is varied in topic, and never return unless their key word comes up again.

* A surprising number of people have RSS feeds for their own names, and actually read at least one entry in this blog as a result of those feeds. Undoubtedly, there have been people cited in this blog that have read at least that entry without my ever knowing it, while others have posted comments or took other actions that caused me to find out. The message here: If you want to reach a public figure, write about them in a blog. They just might read it!

* If one writes about the band sometimes known as BNL, but using the full form of their name, it will attract spam. Furthermore, it won't just be run-of-the-mill spam, but really explicit spam of a sexual nature. So, it's best just to refer to them as BNL.

* Conservatives (that would be a lower case "c" were it not at the beginning of the sentence) are far more organized than liberals in responding to material on blogs. Look back at the few political comments that have been made on this blog. Every single one has come from a clearly conservative viewpoint (the only possible exception would be the comments on rank-order voting, which while hard to place exactly on the political spectrum, were probably to the left of my perspective--that was a better example of a RSS feed for a topic again more than political standpoint). I have criticized liberals, in particular the Liberal Party in Canada, and not one comment has resulted. This was not a particular surprise, but it was interesting to see this impression of the blogosphere confirmed.

* It's hard to predict what kinds of posts will get a positive response. Some, like the recent post on modern art, felt like they would get a positive response when written. Yet, some posts that I did essentially on a lark, like Glitch's razor and From Chemical Statistics drew rather surprising levels of responses both privately and publicly. On the other hand, I never received a direct response to Help with the Best Music of 2008, which I thought would at least draw some of my friends into private e-mails.

I still have nine topics back-logged on my scratch pad, so I think I'll keep writing on most days. We'll see what I learn in the next 200 posts.

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