How 2020 Treated My Mathematics Blog


I like starting the year with a look at the past year’s readership. Really what I like is sitting around waiting to see if WordPress is going to provide any automatically generated reports on this. The first few years I was here it did, this nice animated video with fireworks corresponding to posts and how they were received. That’s been gone for years and I suppose isn’t ever coming back. WordPress is run by a bunch of cowards.

But I can still do a look back the old-fashioned way, like I do with the monthly recaps. There’s just fewer years to look back on, and less reliable trends to examine.

2020 was my ninth full year of mathematics blogging. (I reach my tenth anniversary in September and no, I haven’t any idea what I’ll do for that. Most likely forget.) It was an unusual one in that I set aside what’s been my largest gimmick, the Reading the Comics essays, in favor of my second-largest gimmick, the A-to-Z. It’s the first year I’ve done an A-to-Z that didn’t have a month or two with a posting every day. Also along the way I slid from having a post every Sunday come what may to having a post every Wednesday, although usually also a Monday and a Friday also. Everyone claims it helps a blog to have a regular schedule, although I don’t know whether the particular day of the week counts for much. But how did all that work out for me?

Bar chart of annual readership figures. After rising for several years both readership and unique visitor counts stabilized in 2020 to about the same numbers they'd been the year before.
I find it interesting that apparently my readership is just a couple of plateaus and if the trend of the last decade points to anything, it’s another year at about this level before doubling again, if I can hold out that long.

So, I had a year that nearly duplicated 2019. There were 24,474 page views in 2020, down insignificantly from 2019’s 24,662. There were 16,870 unique visitors in 2020, up but also insignificantly from the 16,718 visiting in 2019. The number of likes continued to drift downward, from 798 in 2019 to 662 in 2020. My likes peaked in 2015 (over 3200!) and have fallen off ever since in what sure looks like a Poisson distribution to my eye. But the number of comments — which also peaked in 2015 (at 822) — actually rose, from 181 in 2019 to 198 in 2020.

There’s two big factors in my own control. One is when I post and, as noted, I moved away from Sunday posts midway through the year. The other is how much I post. And that dropped: in 2019 I had 201 posts published. In 2020 I posed only 178.

I thought of 2020 as a particularly longwinded year for me. WordPress says I published only 118,941 words, though, for an average of 672 words per posting. That’s my fewest number of words since 2014, though, and my shortest words-per-posting for the year going since 2013. Apparently throwing things off is all those posts that just point to earlier posts.


And what was popular among posts this year? Rather than give even more attention to how many kinds of trapezoid I can think of, I’ll focus just on what were the most popular things posted in 2020. Those were:

I am, first, surprised that so many Reading the Comics posts were among the most-read pieces. I like them, sure, but how many of them say anything that’s relevant one you’ve forgotten whether you read today’s Scary Gary? And yes, I am going to be bothered until the end of time that I was inconsistent about including the # symbol in the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival posts.


I fell off checking what countries sent me readers, month by month. I got bored writing an image alt-text of “Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and most of the New World, western Europe, South and Pacific Rim Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink” over and over and over again. But it’s a new year, it’s worth putting some fuss into things. And then, hey, what’s this?

Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and most of the New World, western Europe, South and Pacific Rim Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink.
Now that I’ve had readers from Greenland I just have to try getting a reader from … that bunch of islands north of Scandinavia. Svalbard, I guess? They’ve got upwards of eight people on them, one of them might turn up here by accident someday.

Yeah! I finally got a reader from Greenland! Two page views, it looks like. Here’s the whole list, for the whole world.

Country Readers
United States 13,527
Philippines 1,756
India 1,390
Canada 1,123
United Kingdom 1,040
Australia 506
Germany 410
Singapore 407
Italy 244
Brazil 232
South Africa 173
Thailand 157
Austria 153
Sweden 143
Japan 142
Finland 138
Netherlands 138
Indonesia 134
France 131
Spain 118
Malaysia 108
Denmark 91
Turkey 88
United Arab Emirates 86
European Union 82
Hong Kong SAR China 81
Argentina 73
Mexico 68
Poland 66
Russia 65
Taiwan 63
New Zealand 60
Belgium 59
Switzerland 59
Norway 58
Pakistan 57
South Korea 57
Romania 51
China 49
Saudi Arabia 49
Colombia 47
Israel 47
Greece 45
Ireland 43
Hungary 40
Portugal 39
Puerto Rico 33
Vietnam 32
Croatia 31
Kenya 30
Egypt 28
Nigeria 25
Oman 24
Chile 23
Czech Republic 22
Jamaica 20
Bangladesh 19
Macau SAR China 19
Qatar 19
Peru 18
Serbia 18
Costa Rica 16
Zimbabwe 16
Albania 15
Bahrain 14
American Samoa 13
Slovenia 13
Sri Lanka 13
Bulgaria 12
Ghana 12
Nepal 12
Ukraine 12
Kazakhstan 11
Trinidad & Tobago 11
El Salvador 10
Lebanon 9
Uganda 9
Cyprus 8
Dominican Republic 8
Ecuador 8
Estonia 8
Honduras 8
Iceland 8
Jordan 8
Belize 7
Brunei 7
Lithuania 7
Slovakia 7
Algeria 6
Iraq 6
Azerbaijan 5
Cameroon 5
Guyana 5
Kuwait 5
Morocco 5
Bahamas 4
Cayman Islands 4
Georgia 4
Luxembourg 4
Macedonia 4
U.S. Virgin Islands 4
Uruguay 4
Venezuela 4
Belarus 3
Bolivia 3
Cambodia 3
Guam 3
Guatemala 3
Laos 3
Latvia 3
Myanmar (Burma) 3
Palestinian Territories 3
Panama 3
Sierra Leone 3
Tanzania 3
Afghanistan 2
Benin 2
Bosnia & Herzegovina 2
Fiji 2
Greenland 2
Tunisia 2
Uzbekistan 2
Barbados 1
Bermuda 1
Bhutan 1
Côte d’Ivoire 1
Cuba 1
Faroe Islands 1
Kyrgyzstan 1
Libya 1
Malawi 1
Malta 1
Mauritius 1
Mongolia 1
Nicaragua 1
Northern Mariana Islands 1
Rwanda 1
Seychelles 1
St. Lucia 1
St. Martin 1
Yemen 1

This is 141 countries, or country-like constructs, all together. I don’t know how that compares to previous years but I’m sure it’s the first time I’ve had five different countries send me a thousand page views each. That’s all gratifying to see.

So what plans have I got for 2021? And when am I going to get back to Reading the Comics posts? Good questions and I don’t know. I suppose I will pick up that series again, although since I took no notes last week, it isn’t going to be this week. At some time this year I want to do another A-to-Z, but I am still recovering from the workload of the last. Anything else? We’ll see. I am open to suggestions of things people think I should try, though.

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 2020 Treated My Mathematics Blog”

  1. Very cool: I’ve been trying to Follow you, Joseph, but WP only seems to be letting me follow people who like my comments, today, for some odd reason. Maybe I did something wrong on the WP app, but anyway, there you are, and here I am, or trying to be, as I appreciate your posts.
    Best,
    Shira

    Like

    1. Huh; and that is peculiar. I’m afraid I don’t know enough about the workings of WordPress to offer advice. I know I’ve had trouble figuring how to get someone who’s bought a custom domain (like MoviesSilently.com) into my reader, and I’m still not sure how they appear, but I wouldn’t expect trouble from my little standard-free-account.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve noticed that there are two different links on the reader Notification: one is black and leads to the site, the other is blue, and leads to the full post within your reader, so that you can still keep clicking on the Notices bell when you’re done reading that post.

        Like

        1. Oh, yes, that’s right. It’s one of the confusing things about the WordPress Reader. There’s also that there are some sites where I know I can click like, or make a comment, from the Reader, but not from the original site. I assume this is some interaction between a theme I don’t know and something on my Safari browser, but I haven’t any idea what. … There was a time I had the enthusiasm to figure out why this sort of thing happened, but it’s been ages. I’m content now to live wrapped up in mysteries.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I get that! I’m often so tired that I can just get a few no-brainer things done, and then hope to work on a bit of my re-watch post write-ups, since working on either book is often just too much in gray matter requirement these days.

            Like

              1. Ha! Low effort and blog, at least for me, don’t go in the same sentence! :-) I don’t think you are getting anything wrong, Joseph: like your Biblical namesake, it’s not an easy thing that you are trying to do, giving out the grain of knowledge from the storehouses of the past.

                Like

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