How September 2015 Treated My Mathematics Blog

So, well, that was disappointing. My readership was off in September. The month saw the fewest page views since November of 2014. The number of unique visitors was only back to about what it was in June of 2015, though, which is less alarming. Still, I can’t fault WordPress’s suspect statistics, not without inconsistency. My humor blog saw its highest readership on record and if I accept that, I have to accept the other.

The humor blog readership I understand. I started explaining what the heck was going on in Apartment 3-G and it’s been really baffling for a long while now because nothing has been going on since February, maybe March at the latest. You can see how that attracts eager readers.

But here’s the sad numbers count: there were 708 views on the mathematics blog in September, down from 909 in August and 863 in July. And well done from June’s record of 1,051.

The number of unique visitors was 381, down from August’s 506 and July’s 415. June had only 367 unique visitors, but that was part of the big Summer 2015 Mathematics A To Z project. That’s probably why more people were reading, too.

I can’t even point to signs of reader engagement. The number of likes was down to 188, compared to August’s 282 and July’s 381. Extrapolating, November should see me get a negative number of likes. Comments are even worse: after three months in a row of about a hundred comments each there were only 25 in September.

So as I say, disappointing. I can think of a few things I did differently in September. The most obvious is that I didn’t have the time I needed to go around to other mathematics blogs and pay visits. I can’t fault people not coming around to me when I don’t come around to them. And I can admit that September didn’t have the richest diversity of postings. A lot of it was Reading the Comics posts, which are fun but I admit also prone to sameness. On the other hand, those are the most popular posts too. I haven’t found a new project that engages my imagination the way the A To Z did, although I think the Set Tour has promise.

I would also put some blame on WordPress’s Publicize, which they keep making worse and worse. See, Publicize announces new posts to Twitter and whatever other social media networks you have linked to it. And in the old days of, like, May, it just worked. By default it posted the name of the article and a shortened link. If you wanted to customize this you could hit an ‘edit’ button and the article name and shortened link were there at the start, and it was easy to add a short sentence to tell people what’s happening.

But in June they stopped with the shortened links; instead it shows as much of the full URL as fits in the Twitter 140-character limit after whatever text you enter. And last month they made it worse. It’ll give the article name as a suggested default publicity post, but you have to copy-paste or retype the name to get even that. The message WordPress is sending is, clearly, ‘stop using Publicize’, although what they have as a substitue is unclear.

I suspect what they mean for us to do is use the new modernized article-entry page. The trouble is, the page is awful. It might be salvageable, or something I could get used to, in time. But it’s also this very watery and Ajax-dependent thing that assumes you have fast, reliable Internet. And I don’t. I have AT&T, which has no interest in providing high-speed Internet to my neighborhood and possibly my city. They aren’t even willing to pretend they mean to bring it in anytime soon. We’d dump them happily but the only alternative right now is Kabletown and goodness knows that’s a recipe for disaster. I suspect AT&T and Kabletown have decided not to compete for the Lansing, Michigan, market and we’re stuck between awful we know and awful we know we’d flee to.

Anyway, my suspicion is that the equivalent of Publicize for the newfangled WordPress add-a-post page works better. But that is blaming WordPress for my own laziness; there’s no reason I couldn’t put in the post and link and a clear #math tag so people know what they’re getting into. It just seemed like too much work. I suppose for a week or two I should try changing just that and see if there’s an appreciable difference.

I’m sorry to turn all this into a round of crankiness, especially when I can think of easy things I should be doing to get better results. I’m just sulking. It’ll pass.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

14 thoughts on “How September 2015 Treated My Mathematics Blog”

  1. haha I like that – “Extrapolating should see a negative number of likes!”
    I have (almost) given up on WP stats. My unique visitors and views are down, but I have the same number of likes per post, so someone is reading it, even if it no longer registers.
    Last year, December and January peaked – Holiday bloggers I guess – so if you hang on, your stats ought to increase again :)
    As someone who is not on fb or twitter and who persists in using the Old Dashboard to write posts, I can’t really comment on your other problems.
    I just think, post what you feel like and enjoy the whole blogging experience, and let the numbers fall where they may! :)


    1. I did see a marked rise in readership the last couple months of 2014, although that doesn’t seem to have been the pattern in 2013. Well, maybe Holiday Bloggers will come to my rescue after all.

      I am writing primarily for the pleasure of it, and secondarily to be a better writer. But I have to admit it would be a good bit more pleasurable if I could believe that a great number of people were looking forward to my essays, and were talking about ideas they were inspired to have from them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I agree. It is great to get feedback and feel you’ve made someone think a bit about your topic. However, I often find posts I’ve spent weeks perfecting, with added mines of info and links to click, pass by hardly noticed, whereas the photo of a flower I’ve rustled up because pushed for time, with the amazing caption of “Here is a flower!” gets many likes and comments!
        Oh well, the vagaries of the blogging world I guess! :)


        1. That’s always been the most baffling thing, the utter disconnect between the amount of time spent on an essay, the amount you feel an essay represents your best work, and how much people like the essay. My big type case is over on my humor blog where I try to do a major, 700-word piece every Friday. Some of them I really love. Occasionally they’re liked, but mostly, reading about Apartment 3-G or else the little Statistics Saturday or Caption This one-shot jokes that take three sentences are the most popular. I understand the Apartment 3-G explanations being liked, since the comic strip has got really baffling, but otherwise …

          Well, if I didn’t love the mysteries I wouldn’t be here still. I think.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been having problems with the new publicize too. Sometimes my blog posts are posting as images rather than card tweets, which turns into a lot of Br Monday pics getting in the way. I had a similar drop off in August when I was too busy with the move and I’m just starting to get readership back.


    1. I have wondered what’s been going on with Publicize. I haven’t seen any explanations for what the changes are supposed to do or how they’re supposed to be better. I don’t believe they are, but usually there’s at least a press release announcing vague reasons we should think they’re better.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This is true. More, it’s a transitional sort of month that spoils people’s patterns. That can be a chance to pick up people who’re looking for new things to read, although I suspect the average person has nearly as much as they can handle as it is and really needs chances to drop stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I realized, too, that I’ve read quite a few of your posts in part, but struggle to get back to finish. Your series on sets I need to point out to a friend who asked about set theory, as it has intersected some of his work in another field.


        1. Aw, I’m sorry if you’re having trouble finishing essays. I worry a lot about writing so much that I’m unreadable. But that’s balanced by wanting to write enough people don’t notice when I spin one essay’s worth of thought into five pieces.

          When I first thought of the set tour I thought it might be two or three pieces long, and somewhere about 600 words into the first I realized that was ridiculous.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m just a bit too busy right now… my problem, not yours. So far, the math classes this term are very basic, and it is nice to read something of yours which can go a bit deeper. ( no rumbling chorus of whining first years who still think they are the smartest creatures to arrive at the university to send up a riot when anything beyond kidergarten-style teaching is brought into the lecture theatre ;) ).


            1. Aw, all right. Glad I can be a refreshing touch, then, when there’s time for it.

              I’ve had a little experience with first-year students shocked to find out college is actually hard, although not so much. My love, teaching philosophy, gets it much worse as students come in not wanting to take required classes (something mathematics gets too) and assuming philosophy is aimless navel-gazing with no real standards (something nobody thinks about mathematics) and they’re pained when they learn otherwise.


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