Ever read a posting about the blog you are reading? This is one, now. (Blog writers frequently indulge in mental masturbation.)
Back when this blog first started in 2005 for our high school news, I would get something like 5 views a day, but it varied wildly from day-to-day. Five was just a round number. If it was less than 5, I would consider it a down day, more than 5, an up day. Now, the daily balance point is 500 views, more or less, and seems to depend on external factors, such as holidays and TV football championships. The numbers have grown to about 13,000 views per month by 10,000 visitors in 10 countries.
But that big growth in readership has nothing to do with a new appreciation of my writing style, or interest in our high school. I just happened to fall into a popular topic.
It began with a posting on a Verizon commercial, what I called the “Go back! go back!” commercial (August 7). I mentioned the girl in it was exceptionally pretty and I had found her name was Rashida Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones. Never heard of her before then. To flesh out the story, I added a picture of them together, along with Rashida’s white mother, Peggy Lipton, who just happened to be in the photo, too.
I had never heard of Peggy Lipton, either, but many others had. She was a much-loved young actress in the old TV series, the Mod Squad, who later dialed back on her acting career to successfully fight colon cancer and to divorce Quincy. There was a flood of views on that posting, and I wrote another on a second Verizon commercial where both she and Rashida, mother and daughter, appear together (posted 10/7/2015). This raised the viewer count still more.
Rashida’s career is taking off, and everyone will soon know of her. She has a starring role in a new TV comedy series, Angie Tribeca, so the interest in this blog will continue from that alone.
But it will only last as long as she does. Earlier, I found a posting about a TV commercial would boost the visitor count as long as the commercial ran, but when the commercial stopped running, interest quickly dropped off. The popularity of this blog is only a reflection of Rashida’s career, which is why I do not take it seriously. It does, however, expose the blog to a wide audience, and some may hang around long enough to appreciate the other postings.
As the blog administrator, I can see how many visit the blog each day, how many “views” each posting gets (I am not clear on what counts as a “view”), and what countries the visitors come from. These statistics are what WordPress offers for free. If I were running it as a business, I could pay about $20 per month for a third-party service that would give me far more details, such as how long each viewer stayed on a page and if they were new or a repeat viewer. I would like to know if the frequent views in Sweden are from the same person, or Swedes just need something to read during the long winter nights, but that is just my own idle curiosity and is information I can do without.
There is a lag of perhaps two weeks from the date of a posting to when it catches on (or not). What becomes popular is always an unpredictable surprise, and I could not play the popularity game even if I wanted to. I suspect a posting of wide interest has to first be indexed by Google, which must take a day or two. Then, all sorts of things can go viral simply because of the way Google operates, which is ranking references by their popularity. If there are, say, a hundred references on a given topic, those references that receive the most views float to the top. These are the ones that have the information most people are looking for. No one is going to wade through all hundred references. Good idea, and Google has prospered with this non-judgmental, automatic ranking of the references, all done by giant computers humming away in the wee hours of the night.
But this means the more popular postings become even more popular. Sure enough, when I Googled “Rashida Jones,” there were my postings among the first. Even the photos I had used were highlighted in the displayed images. Rashida herself probably has read it.
My top positions have since been displaced by references to Wikipedia and popular entertainment sites, but that is how it should be.