How December 2021, The Month I Crashed, Treated My Mathematics Blog

On my humor blog I joked I was holding off on my monthly statistics recaps waiting for December 2021 to get better. What held me back here is more attention- and energy-draining nonsense going on last week. It’s passed without lasting harm, that I know about, though. So I can get back to looking at how things looked here in December.

December was, technically, my most prolific month in the sorry year of 2021. I had twelve articles posted, in a year that mostly saw around five to seven posts a year. But more than half of them were repeats, copying the text of old A-to-Z’s, with a small introduction added. I’ve observed how much my readership seems to depend on the number of posts made, more than anything else. How did this sudden surge affect my statistics? … Here’s how.

Bar chart showing two and a half year's worth of monthly readership totals. The last several months have shown a slow but steady decline.
I can’t wait for the number of followers to roll over to 1,000, so that it’s easy to consider how many people hit ‘follow’ and then never read a word of my writing ever again.

This was another declining month, with the fewest number of page views — 1,946 — and unique visitors — 1,351 — since July 2021. As you’d expect, this was also below the twelve-month running means, of 2,437.7 views from 1,727.8 unique visitors. It’s also below the twelve-month running medians, of 2,436.5 views from 1,742 unique visitors.

I notice, looking at the years going back to 2018, that I’ve seen a readership drop in December each of the last several years. In 2019 my December readership was barely three-fifths the November readership, for example. In 2018 and 2020 readership fell by one-tenth to one-fifth. But those are also years where my A-to-Z was going regularly, and filling whole weeks with publication, in November, with only a few pieces in December. Having December be busier than November is novel.

So I’m curious whether other blogs see a similar November-to-December dropoff. I’m also curious if they have a publishing schedule that makes it easier to find actual patterns through the chaos.

There were 46 things liked in December, which is above the running mean of 40.5 and median of 38.5. There were nine comments given, below that mean of 15.3 and median of 11.5. On the other hand, what much was there to say? (And I appreciate each comment, particularly those of moral support.)

The per-posting numbers, of views and visitors and such, collapsed. I had expected that, since the laconic publishing schedule I settled on drove the per-posting averages way up. The twelve-month running mean of views per posting was 323.4, and median 307.4, for example. December saw 162.2 views per posting. There were a running mean of 228.4 visitors per posting, and median of 219.2 per posting, for the twelve months ending with November 2021. December 2021 saw 112.6 visitors per posting. So those numbers are way down. But they aren’t far off the figures I had in, say, the end of 2020, when I was doing 18 or 19 posts per month.

Might as well list all twelve posts of December, in their descending order of popularity. I’m not surprised the original A-to-Z stuff was most popular. Besides being least familiar, it also came first in the month, so had time to attract page views. Here’s the roster of how the month’s postings ranked.

WordPress credits me with publishing 16,789 words in December, an average of 1,399.1 words per post. That’s not only my most talkative month for 2021; that’s two of my most talkative months. There’s a whole third of the year I didn’t publish that much. This is all inflated by my reposting old articles in their entirety, of course. In past years I would include a pointer to an old A-to-Z essay, but not the whole thing.

This all brings my blog to a total 67,218 words posted for the year. It’s not the second-least-talkative year after all, although I’ll keep its comparisons to other years for a separate post.

At the closing of the year, WordPress figures I’ve posted 1,675 things here. They drew a total 150,883 page views from 90,187 visitors. This isn’t much compared to the first-tier pop-mathematics blogs. But it’s still more people than I could expect to meet in my life. So that’s nice to know about.

And now let’s look ahead to what 2022 is going to bring on all of this. I still intend to finish the Little 2021 Mathematics A-to-Z. Those essays should be at this link when I post them. I may get back to my Reading the Comics posts, as well. We’ll see.


Author: Joseph Nebus

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

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