How November 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


A couple months back I switched to looking at comparing monthly readership figures to a twelve-month running average. Running averages offer some advantages in looking for any signal. They make statistics less sensitive to fluke events. The cost, of course, is that they take longer to recognize trends starting. But in October I had a singular freak event, with the A to Z essay on linear programming getting liked to from some forum vastly larger than mine. So that got an extra 4,900 page views in one day, and an extra six hundred or so the next, and so on. Can’t expect that to be regular, though.

There were a “mere” 2,333 page views around here in November. That’s small only compared to October’s spike. It’s a little down from September, but still, it’s above the twelve-month running average of 1,996.9 views in a month. Those views came from 1,568 unique visitors, which compares nicely to the running average of 1,330.3 views per month.

Bar chart of monthly views and visitors for the past two years. There's a spike to a bit under 9000 views from over 5000 visitors in October; it's fallen back to 2,333 views and 1,568 visitors for November.
As with my humor blog this month, I was so delighted that I was able to get the statistics at exactly the start of December, WordPress server time, that I forgot to do the URL hacking to get like five years’ data at once. Ah well.

There were 95 likes given to things around here in November, which is also above the running average of 68.8 likes in a month. And 23 comments, once again above the running average of 17.5 comments. So, posting stuff every single day works; who would have guessed, apart from everyone who knows anything about attracting audiences?

Well, more about posting to a predictable schedule, and stuff that people are interested in. But “just post a lot” can work too.

Or can it? November saw 77.8 views per posting, which is close to what September offered. But both are below the twelve-month running average of 114.0 views per posting. There were 52.3 visitors per posting, down from the average of 75.4 visitors per post. It’s back to around September’s 46.2 visitors per post though. There were 3.2 likes per post, down from the running average of 4.4. And there were 0.8 comments per posting, below the average of 1.1. It all implies there’s a best rate for these things. Or that filling out Fridays and Saturdays with mentions of older posts is not all that engaging.

Counting my home page there were 300 pages that got any views at all in November. There’d been 311 in October and 296 in September. 160 of them got more than one view, a bit undre the 187 of October and 172 of September. 42 posts got at least ten views, down from October’s 52 but comparable to September’s 37. The most popular pieces, meanwhile, were:

Nice to see trapezoids back again. Also I’m happy that the versine’s been liked. I’m coming to enjoy this obscure trig function, although not so much as to use it for anything I care about.

Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in darkest red, India in a less-dark red, and much of the Americas, Europe, and Pacific Asia in a roughly uniform pink. Not much from Africa, though, nor an arc from Syria through Iran and up to Kazakhstan.
I’m a touch surprised to learn I haven’t had a single page view from Madagascar all this year. Less surprised that I can’t tell whether I’ve had any page views from Comoros. (It’s several islands between Africa and Madagascar and is invisible at WordPress’s mapsize.)

94 countries or country-like entities sent me any page views in November. That’s down from October’s 116, and even September’s 69. 24 of these were single-reader countries, the same count as in October and above September’s 19. Here’s the roster of reading lands:

Country Readers
United States 1,205
India 172
Philippines 91
Canada 89
United Kingdom 72
Australia 55
Germany 50
Finland 36
Spain 33
Singapore 28
France 25
Hong Kong SAR China 23
Latvia 22
Mexico 21
Malaysia 20
South Africa 19
Ireland 16
Italy 16
Pakistan 16
Brazil 15
Sweden 14
Turkey 14
Poland 13
Netherlands 12
Bangladesh 11
Indonesia 10
Norway 10
Vietnam 10
Austria 9
Belgium 9
Greece 9
Japan 8
Ukraine 8
Israel 7
Nigeria 7
Bulgaria 6
China 6
Malta 6
Romania 6
Switzerland 6
Thailand 6
Belarus 5
Colombia 5
Ecuador 5
Kenya 5
New Zealand 5
Portugal 5
Taiwan 5
Egypt 4
Morocco 4
Myanmar (Burma) 4
Russia 4
Serbia 4
South Korea 4
United Arab Emirates 4
Croatia 3
Czech Republic 3
Hungary 3
Slovakia 3
Tanzania 3
Algeria 2
Cyprus 2
El Salvador 2
European Union 2
Ghana 2
Luxembourg 2
Mongolia 2
Saudi Arabia 2
Slovenia 2
Uganda 2
Albania 1 (*)
Argentina 1
Azerbaijan 1 (*)
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1
Botswana 1
Brunei 1
Chile 1
Denmark 1
Estonia 1
Jordan 1
Laos 1
Lithuania 1
Macedonia 1
Marshall Islands 1
Mauritius 1
Moldova 1
Nicaragua 1
Palestinian Territories 1
Papua New Guinea 1
Puerto Rico 1
Rwanda 1 (*)
Somalia 1
Sri Lanka 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1 (*)

Albania, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, and Trinidad & Tobago were single-view countries in October too. No countries are on a two-month single-view streak. The Philippines are back to being among the three countries sending me the greatest number of page views. Hi, whoever there finds me interesting.

From the start of this blog through the start of December I’ve posted 1,385 things. These have drawn a total of 96,191 page views, from 52,069 logged unique visitors, which does not count people from the earliest couple years.

From the start of 2019 to the start of December I’d posted 183 things, putting me one up over all of 2018 already. Only 2015 (188 posts) and 2016 (213 posts) have had more, to date. I’ve had 164,245 words published so far this year, which is also already my third most verbose year on record. 24,185 of these words were posted in November, for an average post of 808 and one-sixth words per posting in November. That’s below the year’s average of 898 words per post. October’s posts averaged 803.8 words, by the way, so apparently I’ve stabilized some.

Tomorrow I hope to post thoughts on what I learned doing the Fall 2019 A to Z sequence, the traditional close of that sort of project. And I do hope to keep up at least one Reading the Comics post per week. Past that, who can say what I’ll do?

If you’d like to know, you can follow me regularly. The easiest way is to add https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/feed/ to your RSS reader. If you don’t have an RSS reader, a free account at Dreamwidth or Livejournal will serve as one: you can add it RSS feeds to your Friends page. If you’ve already got a WordPress account, you can use “Follow Nebusresearch”, a button on the upper right corner of this page. My Twitter account as @Nebusj remains fallow, but still posts announcements, so that hasn’t broken at least.

In any case, thank you for reading, however it is you do it.

How October 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


Well.

Um.

So, somebody linked to me from somewhere.

And it drew a lot of people who came over, read one or two essays, and then vanished again. Such is the fickleness of fame. But on the 16th of October something drew 4,089 visitors to this site. They looked at 5,003 pages. The next day it was badly faded, 720 views from 570 visitors. Then 228 views from 166 visitors. Two or three days after that I was back to something like the normal number of views per day, for a high-volume era like an A to Z sequence. Still, this is going to throw all my twelve-month running averages off for … a year … or possibly more. Here’s how things looked, though.

Bar chart of three and a half years of readership, ending in an enormous peak about four times any other month's readership and unique visitors.
So, two thoughts: first, I’m so glad that on the peak day of all this, I got just above five thousand views, since coming in at, say, 4,997 would drive me crazy. Second: boy, this really drives home how huge the Internet is, and how tiny a piece I have of it.

So, yeah, some 8,667 page views, from 6,362 unique visitors. This far blows away every readership statistic I’ve ever had. The twelve-month running average is a relatively feeble 1,442.2 page views from 888.7 unique visitors, for example. I’ll be plummeting back to that soon enough. There were 107 things liked in October, well above the average of 67.8. Still, there were only 17 comments, down from the average of 21.1. Clearly I got people reading without feeling like they were free to say something. For the record, though, I’m grateful to anyone who writes any comment on anything. I do read it promptly. I try to write a response, but will often end up in that sort of faintly anxious productivity death-spiral of figuring I need to make a better reply, which I’ll do better later in the day or maybe tomorrow. It’s not you; it’s me not living up to my resolution to answer things right after lunch each day.

Anyway there were 279.6 views per posting in October, way above the twelve-month average of 98.0. There were 205.2 unique visitors per posting, although really almost all of them went to a single posting. The average is 62.1. Those numbers are gibberish and are going to be gibberish for the next year or so now, unless somebody links to me from somewhere regularly. More meaningful: the number of likes per post, 3.5, comparable yet below the running average of 4.5. Or the comments per posting, 0.5, comparable yet below the running average of 1.3.

Counting my home page there were 311 essays that got any views in October, a bit more than September’s 296. There were 187 that got more than one page view, barely above September’s 172. 51 got at least ten page views, a good bit over September’s 37. And the most popular pieces? Well, there’s the one that got linked to. Besides my home page the top five were:

There were 5,317 views of the linear programming essay. So it won’t surprise you that I had a new most popular day ever: the 16th of October, which was actually the Wednesday after the linear programming essay published.

Mercator-style map of countries of the world, with the United States in darkest red, and great swaths of the rest of the world in pink. Not offering any readers are places like Saharan Africa, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. And, of course, Greenland.
So, like, I don’t want to obsess about even more petty things but could someone check whether, like, Greenland even has the Internet? Because if I’m not reading WordPress’s statistics wrong, I have not once ever gotten a page view from Greenland and that seems improbable. I know, there are like 26 people in Greenland, but still, it’s been nearly a decade. Somebody would have to hit something just by accident.

116 countries or the equivalent sent me readers in October, way above September’s 69 and August’s 65. 24 of them were single-view countries, above the 19 of September and 17 of August. The roster of countries:

Country Readers
United States 4,314
United Kingdom 488
Canada 396
India 396
Germany 356
France 218
Netherlands 155
Australia 143
Philippines 130
Italy 123
Sweden 116
Brazil 111
Finland 87
Switzerland 85
Poland 81
Spain 76
Japan 75
Singapore 73
South Africa 67
Russia 59
Norway 56
Belgium 54
Ireland 54
Portugal 47
Czech Republic 43
Mexico 38
Turkey 36
Austria 35
China 35
Hong Kong SAR China 34
New Zealand 33
Romania 33
Denmark 31
Slovenia 29
Argentina 28
Colombia 25
Israel 24
Taiwan 24
Greece 22
South Korea 21
Thailand 21
Slovakia 20
Ukraine 19
Hungary 18
Indonesia 18
Serbia 18
Vietnam 16
European Union 15
Croatia 14
Lithuania 14
Chile 11
Peru 11
United Arab Emirates 10
Sri Lanka 9
Bulgaria 8
Ecuador 8
Jordan 8
Kenya 8
Saudi Arabia 8
Uruguay 8
Iceland 7
Lebanon 7
Pakistan 7
Bangladesh 6
Latvia 6
Macedonia 6
Malaysia 6
Tunisia 6
Cape Verde 5
Egypt 5
Guatemala 5
Nigeria 5
Belarus 4
Costa Rica 4
Nepal 4
Puerto Rico 4
Uganda 4
Bahrain 3
Bosnia & Herzegovina 3
Cyprus 3
Georgia 3
Luxembourg 3
Morocco 3
Venezuela 3
Armenia 2
Bolivia 2
Dominican Republic 2
Estonia 2
Malta 2
Myanmar (Burma) 2
Namibia 2
Paraguay 2
Zimbabwe 2
Albania 1
Algeria 1
American Samoa 1
Angola 1
Azerbaijan 1
Cambodia 1
Cameroon 1
Congo – Kinshasa 1
Ghana 1
Guyana 1
Honduras 1
Iran 1
Kuwait 1
Martinique 1
Montenegro 1
Panama 1
Qatar 1
Réunion 1
Rwanda 1
Senegal 1
Sudan 1
Tanzania 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1
Uzbekistan 1 (*)

Uzbekistan was the only country to also get a single page view in September. The Philippines, after several months in a row being the country that sent me the second largest number of readers, fell to ninth. It didn’t have that many fewer readers in September; it’s just that countries like Canada and India leapt way ahead. Again, somebody linked to me.

From the dawn of time through the start of November 2019 I’d posted 1,355 things. These drew a total 93,862 views from 50,505 logged unique visitors. (The number of unique visitors from the earliest years of this blog were not kept in any way that I know how to access.)

In October, despite publishing 31 pieces, I had a relatively laconic month. I published 24,917 words, an average 803.8 words per posting in October. It’s reduced the average length of a post this year to 915, down from 944 for the year to the start of October. I don’t know.

November should see the conclusion of the Fall 2019 A-to-Z sequence, trusting that my Tuesday and Thursday schedule keps up. If you have thoughts for the last several letters, please add them to the roster here. I’ve been given several great ideas already, but am always happy to have … more … blog friends to disappoint by turning down their topics. Um. Well, I also plan to keep publishing at least one Reading the Comics post each week.

I’d lke to have you as a regular reader, too, even if you just came here to read the one thing. You can use the “Follow Nebusresearch” button on the upper right corner of this page. If you use an RSS reader, https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/feed/ is the feed for all my posts. If you need an RSS reader, you can use a free Livejournal or Dreamwidth account and add it to your Friends page there. And while I have a Twitter account as @Nebusj, it’s gone fallow after a couple months where Safari would just freeze up rather than let me see anything. I keep thinking to go back and check if that nonsense is still going on. We’ll see if I do.

How September 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


I enjoyed a very busy September 2019 around here. This in several senses. For one, I had a posting every day through September. This is a state I sometimes achieve during A-to-Z months. This time around I’m helped by making two days of the week “Exploiting My Archives” posts. All they do is point to older posts. But that still counts as a new post. And I continue to believe without checking that the number of times I post is the one thing within my control that affects my readership. So let’s dig in to the details of that readership, mm? Thanks.

69 countries or country-like polities sent me readers in September. That’s up from the 65 of August and 64 of July. 19 of these were single-page-view countries. That’s up from the 17 of the past two months. Which countries were these all?

Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in darkest red. India and the Philippines are nearly equally dark red also. Much of the rest of the Americas, Europe, Russia, and Oceana are about uniformly light pink. Few African countries have any non-grey color to them.
I’m putting the map of the countries first because that way it shows up in the Twitter announcement of this post, and I’d like to have more interesting pictures there when that’s possible.
Country Readers
United States 1,416
Philippines 164
India 162
United Kingdom 149
Canada 94
Australia 51
Singapore 46
Sweden 31
Germany 25
Ireland 21
Denmark 18
Russia 17
Belgium 16
Finland 16
France 16
Italy 9
Japan 9
Norway 9
Pakistan 9
South Africa 9
Jamaica 8
New Zealand 8
Poland 8
Spain 8
Switzerland 8
United Arab Emirates 7
Brazil 6
European Union 6
Hong Kong SAR China 6
Israel 6
Malaysia 6
Slovenia 6
Mexico 5
Taiwan 5
Thailand 5
Greece 4
Austria 3
China 3
Czech Republic 3
Netherlands 3
Serbia 3
South Korea 3
Trinidad & Tobago 3
Turkey 3
American Samoa 2
Belize 2
Ghana 2
Indonesia 2
Saudi Arabia 2
Zimbabwe 2
Argentina 1
Bolivia 1
Colombia 1
Costa Rica 1
Curaçao 1
Faroe Islands 1
Hungary 1 (*)
Iceland 1
Iraq 1
Jordan 1
Maldives 1
Nigeria 1
Portugal 1 (*)
Puerto Rico 1
Romania 1
Ukraine 1 (*)
Uzbekistan 1
Vietnam 1 (****)
Zambia 1

Hungary, Portugal, and Ukraine had a single page view in August too. Vietnam has settled for one page view a month for five months now. Yes, I’d love to know what the post is.

It’s another month in a row that the Philippines have sent me the second-greatest number of page views. I don’t know why. I’m curious if, like, some teacher found I had a good reference for something and a couple classes have gone looking that up reliably.

But if I were to guess what anyone was reading? Well, 296 pages besides my home page got at least one page view in September. 172 of them got more than one page view. 37 got at least ten views. The most popular pieces? That selection slightly defied my expectations.

It’s the first time a Reading the Comics post hasn’t made the top five since, well, August. The first Reading the Comics post to appear was in ninth place, though. At least record grooves and the real number system diagram are staying popular.

Bar chart showing about four years worth of readership, steadily growing but with a great peak in September 2019.
The heck of it is that I was home September 30 at 7 pm Eastern Time, which is when the month rolls over for WordPress and I could have gotten statistics for exactly September. But I forgot and didn’t think of it for a couple hours, so that’s why it has the update time of 8:58 pm.

So this was a popular month around here, as mentioned. I logged 2,444 page views from 1,387 unique visitors. This is well above the twelve-month running average of 1363.9 views from 845.9 unique visitors. Both figures are my new record highs. And the views-per-visitor average of 1.76 is the highest I’ve logged since November of 2018.

There were 110 things given likes in September, nearly double the twelve-month running average of 64.0. And there were 36 comments, again nearly double the twelve-month running average of 21.1. Which, combined with the fact there were 30 posts, more than double the twelve-month running average of 14.2 in the month, implies …

Well, if we look at things per post, the implication is clear: daily is too much me. There were 81.5 views per posting, compared to the running average of 99.6. There were 46.2 unique visitors per posting, compared to the running average of 63.1. 3.7 likes per posting, compared to the 4.6 running average. 1.2 comments per posting, below the average of 1.4. It does suggest that while posting a lot is good, posting every day is not. Or at least it’s not necessary, if I want to maximize views per posting.

As of the start of October I’d published 122 things this year, for a total of 115,143 words. This was 27,695 words published in September. That’s an average of 923.2 words per post in September, still somehow below the 944 average words per post all this year. I credit the “Exploiting my Archives” posts, which are a couple of sentences each.

From the start of the blog to the start of October 2019 I’d posted 1,324 things. This collected 85,194 page views in total, from 44,139 logged unique visitors.

And I had a new record busiest day. The 6th of September saw 249 page views from 162 unique visitors. I have to suspect that I got mentioned in some online forum.

I do expect to keep publishing at least one Reading the Comics post each week. I also should continue the Fall 2019 A-to-Z, which has settled into a Tuesday and Thursday posting.

If you’d like to be a regular reader, please do. You can use the “Follow Nebusresearch” button in the upper right corner of the page to add my essays to your WordPress reader. If you’d rather read without my ability to detect you, try using the https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/feed/ RSS feed. If you need an RSS reader, you can still get a free Livejournal or Dreamwidth account and add any RSS feeds you like through that.

How August 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


And to interrupt all my other writing is the usual review of my readership the past month. I keep this up in confident hope that someday I will learn something that helps me write better. So far what I’ve learned is that posting stuff more often gets me read more often. But this requires me writing more, so plainly that’s out of the question.

Still. In August I posted 13 essays, most of them Reading the Comics and a few that were appeals for A to Z topics. That’s the greatest number of posts I’ve had since March. What did it do for my readership?

There were 1,523 page views recorded here in August. That’s comfortably above the twelve-month running average of 1,355.4. These views came from 993 logged unique visitors, which is also above the twelve-month running average, in this case of 839.3. Don’t think it doesn’t burn me up seven more visitors didn’t come around.

Box chart showing the generally increasing trend of readership over the last four and a half years.
I’m not positive but I think this bar chart has reproduced the skyline of Philadelphia.

There were 70 things liked over the course of August. This, too, was above the twelve-month running average, of 62.9 likes. The number of comments was down, though, with only ten received over the month. The twelve-month running average was 22.5. And it’s oddly low since the start of an A to Z sequence usually brings out comments from people who hope I can explain elliptic integrals or something like that.

There were 117.2 views recorded per posting in August. This is not only of things that got published in August. I can sort of see how to calculate that average but it seems like a great bother to do. My working hypothesis is that my publishing anything encourages my pages to be read. Or viewed, which is as much as anyone makes promises for anymore. 117.2 is above the twelve-month average of 98.3 views per post, anyway. There were 76.4 unique visitors per posting, which is also above the twelve-month average of 62.2. And this worked out to 5.4 likes per posting, above the average of 4.4. The year-to-date average has been 4.5 likes per posting. The comments were dire, with only 0.8 comments per posting on average, about half of the 1.5 comments per posting twelve-month average. The year-to-date average has been 1.7 comments per posting.

` So what was popular around here in August? … One essay that always is, and one that often is. And then some recent posts, to my gratification. … Incidentally there doesn’t seem to be a way to find which posts got the greatest number of likes, as opposed to page views. So I will decide not to worry about those for now. The most popular essays in August were:

Those bottom three were all August postings. There were 231 pages that got at least one view in August, counting the home page which draws the vast majority of views. There were 128 pages that got only a single view. One of them was a page linked to by that check-in on the roller coaster, so, hrm. All right. I won’t take that personally, I tell myself.

WordPress tells me 65 countries or things like countries sent me any readers in August. There’d been 64 in July and 54 in June. 19 of them were single-viewer countries. There were 17 single-view countries the previous two months. And what were they all?

Mercator-style map of the world with the United States in dark red, the Philippines and India in slightly less dark red, and then a wide swath of hte world, including much of the Americas, most of Europe and Pacific Asia, in light pink.
That’s me: as popular in Spain as I am in Malaysia.
Country Readers
United States 901
Philippines 176
India 61
Canada 48
United Kingdom 33
Brazil 27
Australia 24
Denmark 23
South Africa 19
Sweden 18
European Union 14
Singapore 13
Germany 12
France 10
United Arab Emirates 10
Norway 9
Thailand 8
Poland 7
Kenya 6
Indonesia 5
Malaysia 5
Pakistan 5
Russia 5
Spain 5
Greece 4
Hong Kong SAR China 4
Italy 4
Netherlands 4
New Zealand 4
Belgium 3
Colombia 3
Mexico 3
South Korea 3
Switzerland 3
Taiwan 3
Argentina 2
Armenia 2
Austria 2
Croatia 2
Finland 2
Japan 2
Lebanon 2
Morocco 2
Nigeria 2
Puerto Rico 2
Slovenia 2
Chile 1
China 1
Egypt 1 (**)
Estonia 1
Hungary 1
Ireland 1
Israel 1 (*)
Macedonia 1
Panama 1
Portugal 1
Saudi Arabia 1 (*)
Sint Maarten 1
Slovakia 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1
Turkey 1
Turks & Caicos Islands 1
Ukraine 1
Vietnam 1 (***)
Zimbabwe 1

Israel and Saudi Arabia were single-view countries last month too. Egypt’s been a single-view country three months running. Vietnam’s been a single-view country for four months. And once again somehow the Philippines is the country sending me the second greatest number of readers.


As of the start of September I’d published 92 things in the year. That had 87,448 words in total however WordPress calculates that. That’s 10,340 words published in August, or an average 795.4 words in each of the thirteen posts. I like this trend: my average post for the year, to date, has been 951 words per post.

From this blog’s start, sometime three weeks before the invention of dirt, through the start of September I’ve posted 1,294 things here. They attracted a total 82,747 page views from a recorded 42,752 unique visitors. But the first couple years WordPress was too primitive to record unique visitors.

I’d like to have you as a regular reader. You can read posts on any RSS reader through the feed https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/feed/. If you haven’t got an RSS reader, it turns out that Livejournal still exists and will let you add RSS feeds as friends pages. Dreamwidth does that too. If you like reading through WordPress, and thus giving me statistics to read, you can use the “Follow Nebusresearch” button at the upper right corner of this page.

Historically, I’ve been on Twitter as @Nebusj and announce every post there. But a couple weeks ago Twitter decided it had better things to do than let me connect to it. And I’ve had better things to do than deal with this by, like, logging in using a different web browser or something. I’m still getting announcements posted, since I can see my recent Twitter feed as one of the columns on the right-hand-side of the page here. I don’t know when that will break. But this is your chance to watch and see when it happens! Please someone tell me when it does. Not on Twitter.

I hope tomorrow to be back to the A to Z posts, and to get back to the comics for Sunday.

The Fall 2019 Mathematics A To Z Is Looking Good


I’m happy to say the most important part of preparing an A To Z sequence has come in. I have my banner art. It’s by Thomas K Dye, creator of the Projection Edge and Newshounds web comics. He keeps up a Patreon at this account.

The A To Z is about my most successful tradition. In it I write essays that are never as short as I think they should be, one for a concept from each letter of the alphabet. And I take nominations from readers for these concepts. If there’s more than one nomination I’ll go for whatever I think I can write the most interesting piece about. But if several things seem interesting I might try rephrasing them, which is how I got into the whole continued fractions trouble.

Before I take nominations I’ll post indexes to the past A to Z’s. I’m willing to revisit a topic I’ve already written about, since I hope I’m getting better at both mathematics and writing. But I’m inclined more to try new stuff where I can. Also the end of the alphabet, the X’s and Y’s and such, tend to be pretty dire. It’s not too soon to start thinking up possibilities.

I Plan To Do A Fall 2019 Mathematics A To Z


Long-time readers may have felt like something’s missing from my 2019 writing around here. It is an A To Z. This is one of my traditions, to write essays explaining some mathematical concept or related term, one for each letter of the alphabet. I’ve traditionally taken nominations from readers for this, and I plan to do so again.

I’m not taking nominations just yet. I’d like people to have the chance to think about stuff they’d like to see explained. This is how we get things like people asking me what the Ricci tensor is and why we need it. I’m still not perfectly sure I know why we need it, but the essay is out there, so that’s something.

Anyway I have banner art commissioned, again from Thomas K Dye of the Projection Edge and Newshounds web comics, and whose Patreon is here. When I have that I’ll open up at least part of the alphabet to subject nominations.


Also I continue to have the problem where Twitter won’t load on my web browser, Safari. I’m getting close to desperate measures, such as restarting my computer or trying to load it on a different web browser. If you wonder why I am even more quiet on Twitter than usual, this is one reason why.

I Got Arithmetic Wrong, And Learned Something About Writing


I’ll get to the comics soon enough. Interesting me right now is that I made a mistake in my review of the July reading statistics around here. Naturally I want to fix my mistake. But I also thought some about why I thought this an interesting mistake to make. This got me to think a bit about story.

I had made a spreadsheet to work out twelve-month running averages. This for things like the number of page views, number of comments, and number of posts, and all that. Since it was easy to calculate, I also worked out the number of page views per posting. I’m convinced that the number of things I post is the factor I can most control in how well my stuff gets read. And then went on to the number of unique visitors per posting, comments per posting, and number of likes per posting. Fine enough, but I set up the spreadsheet wrong. Instead of dividing the number of unique visitors by the number-of-posts column, it divided by the views-per-post column. And the likes-per-post column divided the number of likes by the number of unique-visitors-per-post. And so on.

I’d like to say I noticed this failed a sanity check. 870 unique visitors for 11 posts, and I claim this to be 7.1 unique visitors per post? Not likely. And then left it in to see if anybody noticed, which of course they did not. No, I didn’t do that; I don’t do that sort of stunt except as a marked joke. Or after warning my class that the story problems might contain unreliable data and they’re expected to ask questions. I did notice the numbers made no sense while writing the statistics-review post for my humor blog, though.

So what do I find interesting about this? Not that I made the mistake. Everyone who works makes mistakes. That I did not notice the mistake is interesting. I can make excuses which of course I find reasonable and justifiable. They all amount to that I chose to do things besides think about what numbers I should expect, and that I did not edit my copy enough before publishing.

Why did nobody notice the mistake? One answer is that nobody read the post, which is plausible enough. WordPress claims the page has gotten 17 views (as of my writing this). My home page, which has the article at its top, has gotten 42 views as well. But a view and perusal are different things. Even if people read my outstanding prose for comprehension, were they reading the numbers? Close enough to notice the claimed numbers didn’t make sense?

My guess is they didn’t. I know when I read for pleasure I tend to accept numbers as things which are present but which don’t need my immediate attention. If the presented argument needs the numbers, I’ll go back and pay attention to whether they’re 7.1 or 79.1. I suspect many people are the same way.

Elmore Leonard famously offered the writing advice to leave out the parts people skip. But people seem to skip these numbers. One might say I skipped them too and I wrote them. This did not make the post unpopular, though. I don’t know why the WordPress readership blog is always a popular post, but it is.

It’s easy to suppose the post would be more popular if it had no numbers. But a readership statistics post without readership statistics? That’s obviously daft. Maybe the box charts and map of countries would be appreciated. Pictures are the other thing besides number of posts that’s within my control and that brings readers.

I think there’s something in the nature of stories going on here. A (nonfiction) narrative builds on facts. If you have none, you may have some fine writing, but you have no story. But a mere fact? We have a word for a bare fact isolated from any narrative, any story about its value: trivia. No one could ever care about the average number of unique viewers per posting around here over the past twelve months. Someone could care about whether this viewers-per-posting is rising or falling, or how fast. The exact numbers, the trivia, are nothing. And we notice this in reading, and accept that we will never care about them. It is the story which uses them that’s of interest, and that people are happy to see. It’s easy, even for a pop mathematics writer, to think that of course numbers are what matters. And they matter, but only a tiny bit. The numbers are there so that the words around them have something to be about. It’s a neat lesson to myself about what mathematics writing means to do.


The correct calculations by the way change the story a little. Not much. This seems weird at first. It supports my contention that the number of page views and unique visitors and comments and likes all scale with the number of posts made, though. A month with twice as many posts probably got about twice as many unique visitors.

I had thought the number of unique visitors per posting rose slightly. Not too much. This is right in kind, but wrong in scale. The twelve-month running average was 60.2 unique visitors per posting and in July there were 79.1. That’s above average enough to matter. I had thought the number of likes per posting went from a twelve-month average of 8.8 down to 6.4. In fact the average was 4.4 and it drifted down to 4.1, still a decline but less sharp of one. One that might not be significant at all. The number of comments per posting I thought had dropped from 3.6 on average to 3.3. In fact the average number of comments per posting had been 1.5, and in July it rose to 1.9. This is the only change in direction of any of these trends. But my suspicion is this is so slight a change that it’s indistinguishable from random fluctuations. Noise, as they say.

How July 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


If I had regular readers, one might notice it’s pretty late in the month without my having reviewed readership around here for the past month. This is so. There’s good reason: the first week of August was mostly wiped out by my attending Pinburgh, the world’s largest pinball tournament, and related activities. This included four(!) amusement park visits in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, for some reason, has many amusement parks and they’re all worth a visit.

That’s all time-consuming stuff, though. And it’s not stuff that I can write ahead of time. This offends me, since so much of the structure of these reviews is imposed by the list of what data I have available. I suppose I could do a fill-in-the-blanks template but … why?

Well, here’s the most basic stuff: how many things got views, and how many people came around, in July 2019?

Bar chart showing monthly readership for the last three and a half years. After several months of decline the views has leapt up again.
I know it’s dangerous for me to start making spreadsheets, but I’m confident it will be all right. There are times I’ve gotten over some statistic or other. For example, do you ever see me going on about views per visitor these days? I mean apart from this, right here. I’m sure I have better things to worry about, probably.

That’s … surprising. I had 11 posts in July, most of them Reading the Comics pieces. But this brought 1,356 page views, above a thousand for the first time since April, and the greatest number of page views since March. It’s even slightly above the twelve-month running average of 1330.6 views per month. There were 870 unique visitors in July, which is almost more than the total number of pages viewed in June. The 870 unique visitors are a fair bit above the twelve-month running average of 822.4 unique visitors per month. By the way, I put together a spreadsheet so I can more easily track twelve-month running averages, as well as averages-per-post.

This offers some information I find interesting. By this I mean it’s information I don’t know how to understand. In July there were 11 posts and, on average, 123.3 views per posting. This is not to say each July post got viewed, on average, 123.3 times. It’s that, roughly, every three days there were about 123 pages viewed from my whole catalogue. This average is in line with the twelve-month running average of 121.0 views per posting. It works out to an average 7.1 unique visitors per posting. That’s probably not significantly greater than the 6.7 unique visitors per posting over the previous twelve months.

There were 45 likes given to things in July. That’s down from the previous twelve-month average of 62.3 per month. There were 21 comments in July, basically the twelve-month average of 23.1 comments per month. This is 6.4 likes per posting, compared to the twelve-month average of 8.8. It’s also 3.3 comments per posting, which is basically the twelve-month average of 3.6. Incidentally, my twelve-month average had been 14.3 posts per month. This is helped by some A to Z sequences, which I haven’t yet done this year.

There may be something else helping my readership. Because of scheduling needs I’d put some of my big Reading the Comics posts to publish on Tuesday, rather than Sunday. I did read a site claiming that WordPress posts got the most readership when posted Tuesday through Thursday. I do not know the methodology of this research. Nor whether it’s still valid, since the post also talked about when Google+ posts were most effective. But this is the only thing I did all that different in July. Maybe I’ll keep that going another month or two and see if it makes a noticeable difference.

192 different posts got at least one page view in July. That’s up from the 158 in June and 163 in May. I don’t have twelve-month running averages for this. But here were the most popular posts:

I’d had 99 posts get a single view each, by the way.

Mercator-style map of the world with the United States in darkest red, and pink regions for most of North America, Europe, and South Asia, plus Australia and a about half of South America.
I admit I’m disappointed to not have any Iceland readers, but since my dad visited Iceland in June and not July I suppose that’s to be expected.

WordPress tells me that 64 countries or country-like entities sent me at least a single reader in July. 54 had in June and 61 in May. There were 17 single-reader countries for the second month in a row. There had been 16 in May. The roster of countries? It’s this:

Country Readers
United States 791
Philippines 103
United Kingdom 75
India 64
Canada 37
Australia 34
Italy 18
Brazil 16
Germany 16
Singapore 15
South Africa 15
France 10
Hong Kong SAR China 9
Malaysia 9
Denmark 8
Colombia 7
Ireland 7
Hungary 6
Mexico 6
Pakistan 6
Taiwan 6
Thailand 6
Argentina 5
Spain 5
Sweden 5
Puerto Rico 4
Switzerland 4
United Arab Emirates 4
Finland 3
Greece 3
Kenya 3
Netherlands 3
Nigeria 3
Poland 3
Russia 3
Slovenia 3
Tanzania 3
Ukraine 3
Bangladesh 2
Belgium 2
Ethiopia 2
Japan 2
Norway 2
Slovakia 2
South Korea 2
Sri Lanka 2
Turkey 2
Botswana 1
Burundi 1
China 1
Costa Rica 1
Czech Republic 1
Egypt 1 (*)
European Union 1
Fiji 1
Guam 1
Israel 1 (*)
Latvia 1
Macedonia 1
Nepal 1
New Zealand 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Serbia 1
Vietnam 1 (**)

Egypt and Israel were single-reader countries in June. Vietnam’s been a single-reader country two months running. I’m surprised to have so few New Zealand readers. And I continue to wonder if the Philippines aren’t reading me by some mistake. Again, I’m not one to turn away readers. It’s just that I write a blog here that’s very steeped in contemporary United States culture and I’m surprised anyone else would me relevant.


By the start of August I had published 79 posts on the year, with a total of 77,108 words. 9,656 of those words were published in July. That’s an average of 878 words per post in July. It’s an average 976 words per post for all of 2019 so far. At the start of July my average post for the year had been 992 words.

For 2019 through the start of August I’d recorded 348 likes, an average of 4.4 likes per posting. That’s slightly down from the start of July’s 4.5 likes per posting. There’d been 136 comments recorded, an average of 1.7 comments per posting. That’s an increase from the average 1.5 comments per posting logged at the start of July. But that count includes some pingbacks, the bits where one post refers to another.

As of the start of August I’ve posted 1,281 things to this blog. They had recorded 81,223 page views, from a logged 41,759 unique visitors.

If you’d like to be a regular reader I’d be glad to have you. There’s a “Follow Nebusresearch” button in the upper right corner of this page. Clicking it will add my posts to your WordPress Reader. If you don’t want to read through WordPress, you can use any RSS reader you like. The feed is https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/feed/ and please use it.

I’m @nebusj on Twitter, and each post gets an announcement there. It also gets announcements of my humor blog’s posts. Those might not be to your taste, but, you don’t know for sure until you read some. And I do at least try to start the month with rabbit pictures.

How June 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


The amazing thing to consider is that anyone had anything to do with my mathematics blog in June. Apart from last month’s review-of-my-readership and a post pointing out some stuff I’d written about counting goldfish, all my posts were Reading the Comics. Those are fine, of course. They’re popular and they keep me writing even when I’m feeling burned out. But they’re also reactive pieces; I feel a certain passivity when I write them. What I’m saying is I’m gathering the energies to do a new A To Z sequence and so I’ll be bothering my art supplier soon for some fresh banners and the like.

So in June 2019 I posted nine things, my lowest in a long while. I’m of the unshakable belief that the number of things I post is the biggest factor I can control regarding how much anyone reads my writings. So how did that affect my readership?

Bar chart showing slightly over four years of monthly readership totals, which were generally growing above a thousand readers per month until the last three months when things started declining.
I’m glad I worked out how to look at several years’ worth of statistics at one time, rather than the maybe two years WordPress wants to show by default. It gives such a greater sense of the sweep of history of readership around here, which encourages me to panic that my most popular days are behind me and all I have to look forward to is burnout and the evaporation of my few remaining intersted readers.

911 page views for June, from a reported 595 unique visitors. This is down from May’s 981 page views and 721 visitors for ten posts. And April’s 1,020 views and 668 visitors for twelve posts. This actually implies a slightly improved view-per-post ratio as I publish less stuff. I think this is an artifact of my having a couple things in the back catalogue that always get read, though, regardless of any new material I have.

Still, this is appreciably below the twelve-month average of 1344.4 views. And way below the twelve-month average of 829.6 unique visitors. It’s a bit above the mean views-per-post, at least. Also the mean viewers-per-post. That’s, again, probably an artifact of older posts.

Because, after all, look at what the most popular posts were in June. This includes a three-way-tie for the fifth-most-popular post:

There were 40 ‘likes’ given in June, down from May’s 43 and back to April’s 40. It’s below the twelve-month average of 66.8, though. It’s even below the twelve-month average of likes-per-posting, too. There were eleven comments in June, under May’s twelve and April’s 14. The twelve-month average is 24.7, so, there we go. At least an A To Z offering typically gets people eager to suggest topics.

Incidentally there were 158 posts that got at least one view in June. This apart from the front page which is what the greatest number of people or people-like Internet objects look at. There were 163 posts that got at least one view in May.

54 countries or things like countries. 61 did in May. In June? 57. So that all seems to be holding steady. There were 17 single-reader countries in June, one more than in April and in May. Which all countries were they? These all:

Mercator-style map of the world with the United States in the darkest red, reflecting my readership being greatest in that country. Most of the Americas and Western Europe are in a lighter red, as are India, New Zealand, and Australia. Plus Russia and Japan, somehow, as well as a smattering of other nations.
Victoria II challenge: create this sphere of influence for the United States. Expert level: by 1870.
Country Readers
United States 551
India 50
Philippines 39
United Kingdom 38
Canada 30
Australia 16
Germany 14
Netherlands 14
Singapore 11
Hong Kong SAR China 10
Brazil 9
Malaysia 9
France 7
Italy 7
Finland 6
Spain 6
Sweden 6
Switzerland 6
Denmark 5
Norway 5
Pakistan 5
South Africa 5
Japan 4
Nepal 4
Estonia 3
Indonesia 3
New Zealand 3
Poland 3
Puerto Rico 3
Greece 2
Guam 2
Hungary 2
Ireland 2
Mexico 2
Peru 2
Portugal 2
Russia 2
Slovenia 2
Turkey 2
Ukraine 2
Argentina 1
Bangladesh 1 (*)
Belize 1
Bermuda 1
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1
Chile 1
Côte d’Ivoire 1
Czech Republic 1
Egypt 1
Iraq 1
Israel 1
Mongolia 1
Sri Lanka 1
Taiwan 1 (*)
United Arab Emirates 1
Venezuela 1
Vietnam 1 (*)

Bangladesh, Taiwan, and Venezuela were single-reader countries in May. No other place is on a single-reader streak like that. I seem to be back to being ignored by Scandinavian countries.

The start of July saw my having made 68 posts here this year, for a collective 67,452 words. This is an average of 992 words per post. This was 9,581 words in June. I’m averaging, so far this year, 992 words per post. At the start of June my average was 981 words per post. My average was 953 words per post at the start of May. I, too, would be interested when this implies my average post will exceed all finite numbers of words. I’m not figuring that mess out.

Through the start of July there’ve been a total of 304 likes, an average of 4.5 likes per posting this year. That’s the same number of average likes per posting as the last two months had seen. There were a total of 105 comments recorded, an average of 1.5 comments per posting, once again the same as at the start of June and of May. This means the Insight panel tells me there were 14 comments on the month, while the statistics panel claims there were 11. There was a similar discrepancy in May, when one panel claimed I had 17 comments and another claimed 12. I think this has to reflect pingbacks, one post referencing another.

As of the start of July I’ve posted 1,270 items to this blog. They’ve attracted a total 79,855 page views — I just passed 80,000 hours ago — from 40,879 acknowledged unique visitors. There are probably more unique visitors, but WordPress did not gather those statistics for us the first years of this blog.

If you’d like to be a regular reader of my writings, please add my blog to your RSS reader. Your reading won’t show up in any data I’m able to track. If you would like to follow my writing in a way that I know happens, use the “Follow Nebusresearch” button at the upper right corner of this page.

And on Twitter I’m @Nebusj, and there I post links to every new essay as it gets published. Also I try at the start of each month to post pairs of rabbit pictures. It’s not much of a thing, but it is a thing. I think that well explains what to expect from me as a writer.

How May 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


It’s two days past when I wanted to do my self-inspection, but that’s all right. Better to have a thing done than not. I had another month of decline on the mathematics blog, inexplicable except for my going and vanishing for a week at a time without notice or much interesting content.

I published ten things in May, my quietest month in years. And the number of things I post seems to be the most important thing I can control to encourage readers. Well, I could change the time of day that I post. For several years now I’ve posted everything at 18:00 Universal Time. That’s about 2 pm Eastern Daylight Time, in my home time zone. It’s possible another hour might serve my interests in being read better.

There were 981 page views in May, down from 1,020 in April (twelve posts) and 1,391 in March (fourteen posts). It’s the first time I didn’t break a thousand since December 2017 (another eleven-post month). The number of unique visitors rose slightly, though: 721 unique visitors in May, compared to 668 in April and 954 in March. (December 2017 had 599 unique visitors.) There is probably a great deal of fluctuation in all this.

Bar chart showing about four and a half years of readership figures which are fairly constant, with a few peaks in the spring and summer of last year.
What’s fun about looking over this many months at once is trying to spot where I was running A To Z sequences. You can actually see people responding to sudden, two- and three-month stretches of regularly-published high-quality articles. It’s almost a lesson or something.

The number of likes continued to be erratic. 43 things were liked here in May, up from April’s 40, down from March’s 97. For what it’s worth the twelve-month running average leading up to May was 72 likes per month. This was an unliked month. The number of comments had one of its sporadic upticks, with 12 comments. There’d been 14 in April and a near-record-low four in March. Again for what it’s worth the twelve-month running average is 25 comments per month. That range does include some of the A To Z months, which invite comments in a way I don’t seem to be able to do normally.

163 different posts got at least one view in May. The ones that got the most were a couple perennials and one that I figured to be liked, for how many words I put into it:

The record grooves and the trapezoids people always ask about. I figured a nice meaty question like the continuity of a familiar function would get readers. What’s always a bit of a surprise is which Reading the Comics post gets the most readers in a month. Generically I’d expect something posted early in the month. For it to be one that posted the 19th? A bunch of people really like Frank and Ernest. That’s the only explanation.

Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in the darkest pink and most of the Americas in a soft pink. Western Europe, Russia, India, China, and a fair bit of southeast Asia an Australia and New Zealand are also that uniform pink. Africa and the Middle East are grey, lacking readers.
You wouldn’t believe how long I spent trying to clean off the bit of monitor dust that was sitting there in the South Pacific before I worked out that it was Fiji. Well, you probably would; it was just a couple seconds and I worked it out by moving the window with the map on it.

There were 61 countries or country-like organizations to send me readers in May. There had been 54 countries for April and 59 for March. This past month 16 of them were single-reader countries. In April there were also 16 single-reader countries; in March, 17. Here’s the full roster:

Country Readers
United States 665
India 34
Canada 33
United Kingdom 31
Australia 19
Hong Kong SAR China 14
Germany 13
Mexico 10
France 8
South Korea 8
Nepal 7
New Zealand 7
Poland 7
Singapore 7
South Africa 7
Sweden 7
Chile 6
Denmark 6
Italy 6
Pakistan 5
Spain 5
Colombia 4
Panama 4
Slovenia 4
Algeria 3
Belize 3
Brazil 3
Egypt 3
Malaysia 3
Netherlands 3
Argentina 2
Bosnia & Herzegovina 2
China 2
Finland 2
Greece 2
Guam 2
Hungary 2
Ireland 2
Israel 2
Jamaica 2
Morocco 2
Norway 2
Peru 2
Thailand 2
Turkey 2
Austria 1
Bangladesh 1
Croatia 1
European Union 1 (*)
Fiji 1
Guatemala 1
Indonesia 1
Japan 1
Kuwait 1
Nigeria 1
Philippines 1
Puerto Rico 1
Russia 1
Taiwan 1
Uruguay 1
Vietnam 1

The European Union was the only single-reader country-like structure in May to have also been a single-reader place in April. None of the other countries have a streak going. Whoever my lone reader was in Jordan left after five months. The block of readers from Sweden has also dissipated but not disappeared altogether.

This year through the start of June I published 59 posts. This had a total of 57,871 words. This was 11,194 words published in May alone, for an average 1,119 words per post that month. My year-to-date average is 981 words per post. I’d been averaging 953 words per post at the start of May.

Through the start of June there’ve been 264 total likes of posts around here, an average of 4.5 likes per posting. That’s the same average likes per posting as the start of May saw. There’ve been a total of 91 comments, an average of 1.5 comments per posting. I notice, too, that this implies 17 comments in May, while the statistics panel I get claimed there were 12 comments in May. I think the discrepancy reflects pingbacks, one of my own posts referencing another. To verify this would need minutes of looking over the comments received here, though. So it’s sad to think of how this will never be done.

As of the start of June I’d posted 1,261 things here. They had a total of 78,957 page views from a 40,294 recorded unique visitors.

If you’d like to be a regular reader, there’s many ways to do it. One is to add my essays to your RSS reader, whatever that may be. If you do that, I will receive no statistics or logs or anything about your readership. It’ll be your secret. For a less-secret way, you can use the “Follow Nebusresearch” button, at the upper right corner of this page.

And if you follow me on Twitter as @Nebusj months will start with quality content like the above, of a couple pictures of a rabbit I saw from a parking lot. Thought you might like that.

How March 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


So, I did something dangerous in March. I try not paying attention to the day-to-day statistics. But there’s a little graphic that shows the last several hours of views. And it’s easy to see while doing administrative stuff. And I happened to see a surge in readers. I couldn’t find an obvious cause for it. There’s some data available about where readers are coming from, but not much. I never did figure out why several hundred people wanted to read my mathematics blog all at once. But it did make me go back and check and re-check what my readership was like. And that’s dangerous stuff, especially since I had a quite variable month. Like, the day before a 113-views day there were 19 views. And that wasn’t the least-read day of the month. Watching the readership statistics, day-by-day, is a terrible habit. It’s even worse for a blog like this with relatively low, irregular readership volume.

So that’s what I did to drive myself mad this past month. And how well did that work?

A box chart showing, for the last several months, fairly uniform numbers of views and visitors. For march, 1,391 views from 954 visitors, 1.46 views per visitor, and 14 posts published.
Yes but I’ve learned how to fiddle with the date range that these figures show so next month I should have an amazing box plot to show you.

For all those slow days I had an uptick in pages viewed: 1,391 in March, up from February’s 1,275 and January’s 1,375. But is that significant? Not really; there were 45 views per day on average in March, 46 in February, and 44 in January. So this is all keeping to the level I’ve been at since about October 2018. There were 14 posts published in March, up from February’s 11 and January’s 12.

The number of unique visitors was up, noticeably: 954 in March. So I’m still holding at only one thousand-visitor month so far. (March 2018 saw 999 visitors, though. It almost makes me think there’s some event or other in the middle of March which attracts people to pop mathematics blogs.) Well, February 2019 had 835 unique visitors, and January 856, and I’d been around 850 per month going back through November 2018. There’s a level there.

Reader engagement is a more erratic thing. One measure was positive, as I see things: there were 97 likes given to my writing in March. That’s the greatest number in twelve months. February only saw 44 likes; January, 63. But that’s a surprisingly variable measure. But the other side of things? Comments? There were four in all March. Comments are always erratic, yes. February had 10 comments, and January 22, and there’ve been as many as 60 in the past year. But four comments? If I haven’t missed anything I haven’t had a month that sparse since November 2012, which, just … wow.

I can explain some of this. I’ve been doing a lot of Reading the Comics posts, which are fun to write but have almost nothing to respond to. I’ve gotten some comments on Twitter. This has to be the first month I’ve seen more comments on Twitter than on WordPress. And I haven’t been in the midst of an A-To-Z or similar themed event that’s really open to comments. Still, mm. I should do more things that are open to comments, but how would I learn what those are?

For all that people read without commenting, they did still read things. The most popular posts in March were:

So, two perennials, and a bunch of comics. I’m curious why the 2016 Pi Day comics was so much more popular than the 2019. There were more strips for the 2016 version, but the 2015 Pi Day comics were even more robust than that. Also now that I’m reminded I’d had a Barely Mathematics Edition I realize I should have named Sunday’s Reading the Comics, with all those Bear With Me strips, the Bearly Mathematics Edition. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get to use that one sometime.

59 countries sent me readers in March. That’s down from 73 in February and equal to the 59 in January. There were 17 single-reader countries, down from February’s 20 and from January’s 19. Here’s where readers were:

It's just the one view from China for the month, which isn't much per capita, I admit. But it's still, like, fourteen times more readers than I usually see from China. The real curious thing is that it shows 51 views from Sweden, while six from Norway and from Denmark, and four from Finland. I'd have expected those countries to be a bit closer together.
A Mecator-style map of the world, showing the United States in dark red; Canada, Mexico, Australia, and western and central Europe, plus Russia, in light red, and a surprising number of readers from Pakistan through China. Also several in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil.
Country Readers
United States 902
United Kingdom 65
Sweden 51
Canada 45
Philippines 45
India 40
France 21
Germany 17
Brazil 15
Singapore 14
South Africa 11
Nepal 10
Pakistan 10
Spain 10
Australia 9
Slovenia 9
Netherlands 8
Turkey 8
Mexico 7
Denmark 6
Italy 6
Norway 6
Ireland 5
Thailand 5
Austria 4
Finland 4
Malaysia 4
South Korea 4
American Samoa 3
Belgium 3
Hungary 3
Sri Lanka 3
Switzerland 3
Croatia 2
Ecuador 2
Hong Kong SAR China 2
Israel 2
Latvia 2
Poland 2
Portugal 2
United Arab Emirates 2
Vietnam 2
Bahrain 1
Bangladesh 1
China 1
Colombia 1
Czech Republic 1 (*)
Ethiopia 1
Indonesia 1
Jamaica 1
Japan 1 (***)
Jordan 1 (***)
Lithuania 1 (**)
Myanmar (Burma) 1
Peru 1 (*)
Puerto Rico 1 (*)
Russia 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Slovakia 1

Czech, Peru, and Puerto Rico have sent a single page view two months running now. Lithuania’s been a single view a month for three months. Japan and Jordan have four-month streaks going.

In 37 posts through the start of April I’ve put up 36,734 in 2019. This is 15,984 words in March. My average post length this year has been 993 words, up from the 902 at the end of February and even the 966 at the end of January. Hm. Well, that’s what fourteen posts at 1,142 words per post will do. I’ve reached 52 comments on the whole year, an average of 1.4 comments per posting. That’s down from the start of March’s 1.5 comments per post. There’ve been 182 total likes this year to date, for an average of 4.9 likes per post. That’s an increase, at least. At the start of March there had been an average 4.3 likes per post.

The month started with my having made 1,239 posts in total. They’ve attracted in total 76,956 page views from an acknowledged 38,905 unique visitors.

If you’d like to not miss any posts, you can add my work to your RSS reader, using this link. Or you can use the “Follow Nebusresearch” button in the upper right corner of the page. And I am on Twitter as @nebusj, so it should be easy enough to spot me somewhere. Thank you for being around.

How February 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


February offered an interesting casual experiment for my mathematics blog. I didn’t actually leave it completely fallow. But I also didn’t do very much with it. I’d had an idea for a nice little project for it, but kept finding other things consuming the time.

So the short month ended up having a mere 11 posts. That’s on the low end of what I usually post around here. I’ve done as few as this several times in the roughly two years that WordPress makes it easy to find statistics for. But it hasn’t been common.

What did this do to my readership?

February 2019: 11 posts. 1,275 views. 835 visitors. 1.53 views per visitor.
1.53 views per visitor is the lowest that ratio’s been since May 2018 (1.52).

So I had a mere 1,275 views over the month, down from January’s 1,375 and December’s 1,409. What fascinates me is that this is an average of 46 views per day. In January there were an average 44 views per day; in December, 45. There were 835 unique visitors in February, down a touch from January’s 856 and December’s 875. That’s an average of 30 per day in February, 28 per day in January, and 28 per day in December. This suggests my blog may have reached the point that I don’t actually need to have stuff on it anymore. This would be quite the load off my schedule. It certainly suggests I’m improving my views-per-things-posted ratio.

My ‘likes’ continue to fall from the October 2018 local peak. There were 44 in February, my lowest total since July. Down from 63 in January and 82 in December. That’s rather more than can be accounted for by the shortness of February. Even per-post it’s still a drop, but not from much of a height. Comments plummeted even farther; there were ten in February, and one of those was about how there aren’t a lot of comments around here. There’d been 22 in January and 17 in December, numbers that seem more robust now. February was my lowest-comment month going back to May 2017, when there were eight comments.

The most popular posts this past month include a couple old reliables, and then one that I expect to be a steadily read one. The top five were:

There were 73 countries sending me readers in February. That’s well up from January’s 59, and even higher than December’s 68. Twenty of these were single-reader countries. That’s up from January’s 19 and December’s 17. I seem to have Europe pretty well-covered, apart from the Balkan, the Baltics, Bulgaria, and Belarus. I’m glad I have readers in Belgium at least. And how many?

A Mercator-style map of the world. The United States is the darkest pink on it; most of the Americas and Eurasia are a fairly uniform pink. Only a few African countries have any pink to them.
And ooh, hey! A reader from China. That like never happens.
Country Readers
United States 729
United Kingdom 67
Canada 50
Russia 42
Philippines 41
Denmark 39
India 38
Australia 28
Indonesia 13
Italy 13
Netherlands 13
Singapore 13
South Africa 12
Hong Kong SAR China 11
American Samoa 10
Germany 8
France 7
Poland 7
Austria 6
Belgium 6
Switzerland 6
China 5
Nepal 5
New Zealand 5
Pakistan 5
Sweden 5
Turkey 5
European Union 4
Slovenia 4
Spain 4
Thailand 4
Algeria 3
Iraq 3
Macedonia 3
Romania 3
Slovakia 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Brazil 2
Colombia 2
Finland 2
Greece 2
Guatemala 2
Ireland 2
Lebanon 2
Mexico 2
Nigeria 2
Norway 2
Panama 2
Saudi Arabia 2
Serbia 2
Taiwan 2
Uganda 2
Ukraine 2
Argentina 1 (**)
Cambodia 1
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 1
Egypt 1
Hungary 1
Israel 1
Japan 1 (**)
Jordan 1 (**)
Kenya 1
Lithuania 1 (*)
Malaysia 1
Martinique 1
Mauritius 1
Papua New Guinea 1
Peru 1
Portugal 1
Puerto Rico 1
South Korea 1
Vietnam 1

Lithuania has been a single-reader country two months running now. Argentina, Japan, and Jordan have been single-reader countries three months now. Colombia ends its single-reader streak at six months as someone else came in to see what all the fuss was about. This spoils their chance to beat the European Union’s seven-month single reader streak, from December 2015 through June 2016. Sorry. Colombia still has the single-country streak record, though.

If I learn anything from the Insights panel, it’s that I write very long articles. They’re growing less so! According to Insights this year, to date, I’ve posted 20,750 words over 23 posts. This is an average 902 words per post. At the end of January I averaged 966 words per post. I posted a total of 9,162 words over February, or a mere 833 words each of those. I’m imposing less of a crushing workload on myself! Anyway, there were a total of 35 comments so far this year, an average of 1.5 comments per post, down from 1.9 at the start of February. There were 100 total likes, for an average of 4.3 likes per post, down from 4.8. Hm.

I start March with having made 1,225 total posts. They’ve attracted 75,565 views, from an acknowledged 37,951 unique visitors. So far.

I’d be glad to have you as a regular reader. You can have this blog added to your WordPress reader by using the “Follow nebusresearch” button in the upper right of the page. All these posts are also available by RSS, if you’d like to be read without being tracked. On Twitter I’m @Nebusj. And on Sundays and often another day of the week I go Reading the Comics for their mathematics topics. Thanks for reading this. I’m glad you’re there, trusting that you are there. And that it is you. You looked like you from a distance, anyway.

How January 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog


It seems like about fifteen minutes ago I was looking over how 2018 treated my mathematics blog. But who am I to argue with the calendar? I have a hard enough time convincing the calendar that 1998 was at most eight years ago. My arguments are useless. Look, I clearly remember watching Star Trek Nemesis, opening weekend, alone except for the friend I talked into seeing this with, and there is no possible way that this was one minute more than six years ago. Well, here’s what I can say about my readership and how much blame I can take for it, within the scope of the first month of 2019.

January 2019: 1,375 views, 856 visitors, 1.61 views per visitor, and 12 posts published.
I’m sure someday I’ll reach the heights of 2,000 page views in a month again, if I can find a way to write the how-many-grooves-are-on-a-record’s-side article again.

I posted twelve things in January, and two of them were looks at what was popular previously. Considering that, though, people were interested. I suspect it’s spillover of the A-To-Z posts. There were 1,375 pages viewed, down a little from December’s 1,409 and November’s 1,611. Considering how much less effort January was, this seems like a great tradeoff. There were 856 unique visitors, compared to December’s 875 and November’s 847. In November I had 23 posts and December 17, so I’m at least being very efficient, per post, at drawing readers. I hadn’t had a 12-post month since July, when there were 1,058 page views and 668 unique visitors. Probably people were hanging around hoping to see more A-To-Z grade stuff.

The number of items liked dropped to 63. There had been 82 in December and 85 in November. Again, per post, that’s a pretty good rate of growth. There were 22 comments, up from December’s 17, down from November’s 36, and still pretty close to nothing when you consider I try to answer every comment, so half of all that writing is just me.

There was an outright surprise among the most popular posts of the month. Do you see which one doesn’t seem to belong here? And can you spot in which one I originally wrote ‘2018’ in the subject line, and corrected it, but it’s too much trouble to correct a WordPress URL for me to bother with?

Well, I’m delighted to see interest in the Five-Color Map theorem. It’s not so famous as the (correct) Four-Color Map theorem. But it’s one with a proof a normal mortal can follow.

The Insights panel tells me there were an average of 1.9 comments per post, through the end of January. 4.8 average likes per post, too. There were a meager 11,588 words posted in January, but that still averages to 966 words per post. That’s down from the 2018 average. It’s still my second-highest word count, though. It’s all right. I’ve thought of some things I could post that would be amusing and quite short to write, and that require I do calculations that might be fun in my spare time. This supposes that I have spare time.

How about the running of the countries?

Mercator-style projection of the world. The United States is the most darkly red-colored country, with Canada, the United Kingdom, and India faintly darker. There are almost no African countries with any pink in them; nor are most of the countries along the Silk Road, somehow.
Really the most startling part to me are the eighteen page views each from Macedonia and American Samoa. This seems like more per-capita readers than I might expect.
Country Readers
United States 835
Canada 84
United Kingdom 61
India 60
Philippines 54
Denmark 26
Italy 21
American Samoa 18
Macedonia 18
Slovenia 18
Germany 17
Australia 13
Poland 11
Netherlands 10
Ireland 9
Singapore 9
South Africa 7
Brazil 6
Croatia 6
Sweden 6
United Arab Emirates 6
France 5
Malaysia 5
New Zealand 5
Czech Republic 4
Indonesia 4
Israel 4
Mexico 4
Turkey 4
European Union 3
Pakistan 3
Romania 3
Russia 3
Spain 3
Taiwan 3
Bangladesh 2
Nepal 2
Norway 2
Argentina 1 (*)
Austria 1
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1
Chile 1
Colombia 1 (*****)
Ecuador 1
Finland 1
Georgia 1
Greece 1
Hong Kong SAR China 1
Iraq 1 (*)
Jamaica 1
Japan 1 (*)
Jordan 1 (*)
Kazakhstan 1
Lithuania 1
Morocco 1
Saudi Arabia 1 (**)
Switzerland 1
Thailand 1
Ukraine 1

There were 59 countries listed as sending me any readers in January. That’s way down from December’s 68 and November’s 70. 19 of them were single-reader countries, up from December’s 17 and November’s 13. Argentina, Iraq, Japan, and Jordan were single-reader countries last month too. Saudi Arabia’s been a single-reader country for three months now. Colombia’s on a six-month streak now. I could swear Colombia has done this before, too, although good luck my finding the time when. Searching for ‘Colombia’ in my archives is not as helpful as you might imagine. Oh, I can find a time in late 2015 through early 2016 when I had a single European Union reader each month, six months in a row. Maybe that’s what I was thinking of.

I began the month having ever had 74,290 page views, from an acknowledged 37,119 unique readers. I’m glad you’re one of them, at least right now. You can put my posts in your RSS reader and enjoy them at your convenience. If you do that, you won’t show up in any of my statistics. I’ll never know you read any of this unless you comment. And that’s fine by me. I’m happy with people keeping their privacy. If you’re using WordPress regularly you can also add me to your WordPress Reader. That’s from the button at the upper-right corner of the page. On Twitter I’m @Nebusj. and at least once a week I go around Reading the Comics for the mathematics stuff. Thanks for being here.

What I Learned Doing My 2018 Mathematics A To Z


I have a tradition at the end of an A To Z sequence of looking back and considering what I learned doing it. Sometimes this is mathematics I’ve learned. At the risk of spoiling the magic, I don’t know as much as I present myself as knowing. I’ll often take an essay topic and study up before writing, and hope that I look competent enough that nobody seriously questions me. Yes, I thought I was a pretty good student journalist back in the day, and harbored fantasies of doing that for a career. This before I went on to fantasize about doing mathematics. Still; I also learn things about writing in doing a big writing project like this. And now I’ve had some breathing space to sit and think. I can try finding out what I thought.

Cartoon of a thinking coati (it's a raccoon-like animal from Latin America); beside him are spelled out on Scrabble titles, 'MATHEMATICS A TO Z', on a starry background. Various arithmetic symbols are constellations in the background.
Art by Thomas K Dye, creator of the web comics Newshounds, Something Happens, and Infinity Refugees. His current project is Projection Edge. And you can get Projection Edge six months ahead of public publication by subscribing to his Patreon. And he’s on Twitter as @Newshoundscomic.

The major differences between this A To Z and those of past years was scheduling. Through 2017 I’d done A To Z’s posted three days a week. This is a thrilling schedule. It makes it easy to have full weeks, even full months, with some original posting every day. I can tell myself that the number of posts doesn’t matter. It’s the quality that does. It doesn’t work. I tend toward compulsive behavior and a-post-a-day is so gratifying.

But I also knew that the last quarter of 2018 would be busy and I had to cut something down. Some of that is Reading the Comics posts. Including pictures of each comic I discuss adds considerably to the production time. This is not least because I feel I can’t reasonably claim Fair Use of the comics without writing something of more substance. Moving files around and writing alt-text for the images also takes time. But the time can be worth it. Doing that has sometimes made me think longer, or even better, about the comics.

So switching to two-a-week seemed the thing to do. It would spread the A To Z over three months, but that’s not bad. I figured to prove out whether that schedule worked. If I could find one that let me do possibly several A To Z sequences in a year that’d be wonderful too. I’ve only done that once, so far, in 2016, but I think the exercise is always good if exhausting for me.

This completely failed to save time. I had fewer things to write, but somehow, I only wrote more. All my writing’s getting longer as I go on, yes. Last year my average post exceeded a thousand words, though, and that counts Reading the Comics and pointers to things I’ve been reading and all that. There’s a similar steady expansion going on in my humor blog. Possibly having more time between essays encouraged me to write longer for each. Work famously expands to fit the time available, and having as many as three full days to write, rather than one, might be dangerous. For the first time in an A To Z I never got ahead of myself. I would, at best, be researching and making notes for the next essay while waiting for the current one to post. There’s value in dangerous writing. But I don’t like that as a habit.

Another scheduling change was in how I took topic suggestions. In the past I’d thrown the whole alphabet open at once. This time I broke the alphabet into a couple of pieces, and asked for about one-quarter at a time. This, overall, worked. For one, it gave me more chances to talk about the A To Z. Talking about something is one of the non-annoying ways to advertise a thing. And I think it helped a greater variety of people suggest topics. I did have more collisions this time around, letters for which several people suggested different ideas. That’s a happy situation to have. Thinking of what to write is the hard part; going on about a topic someone else named? That’s easy. So I’ll certainly keep that.

I did write some about maybe doing supplementary pieces, based on topics I didn’t use for the main line. Might yet do that, perhaps under rules where I do one a week, or limit myself to 700 words, or something like that. It might be worth doing a couple just to have a buffer against weeks that there’s no comic strips worth discussing. Or to head off gaps next time around, although that would spoil some letters for people.

Also I completely ran out of ‘X’ topics, and went with the 90s alternative of “extreme”. There are plenty of “extreme” things in mathematics I could write about. But that feels a bit chintzy to do too often.

This time around I changed focus on many of my essays. It wasn’t a conscious thing, not to start with. But I got to writing more about the meaning and significance and cultural import of topics, rather than definitions or descriptions of the use of things. This is a natural direction to go for a topic like Fermat’s Last Theorem, or the Infinite Monkey Theorem, or mathematics jokes. I liked the way those pieces turned out, though, and tried doing more of it. This likely helped the essays grow so long. Context demands space, after all. And more thinking. Thinking’s the hard part of writing, but it’s also fun, because when you’re thinking about a subject you aren’t typing any specific words.

But it’s probably a worthwhile shift. For a pop mathematics blog to describe what makes something a “smooth” function is all right. But it’s not a story unless it says why we should care. That’s more about context than about definitions, which anyone could get by typing ‘mathworld smooth’ into DuckDuckGo. For all the trouble this causes me, it’s the way to go.

Every good lesson carries its opposite along, though. One of the requests this time around was about Lord Kelvin. There’s no end of things you can write about him: he did important work in basically every field of science and mathematics as the 19th century knew it. It’s easy to start writing about his work and never stop. I did the opposite, taking one tiny and often-overlooked piece and focusing on that. I’m not sure it alone would convince anyone of Kelvin’s exhaustive greatness. But I don’t imagine anyone interested in reading a single essay on Kelvin would never read a second one. It seems to me a couple narrow-focus essays help in that context. Seeing more of one detail gives scale to the big picture.

I’ve done just the one A To Z the last two years. There’s surely an optimal rate for doing these. The sequences are usually good for my readership. My experience, tracking monthly readership figures, suggests that just posting more often is good for my readership. They’re also the thing I write that most directly solicits reader responses. They’re also exhausting. The last several letters are always a challenge. The weeks after a sequence is completed I collapse into a little recuperative bubble. So I want to do these as much as I can without burning out on the idea. Also without overloading Thomas Dye, who’s been so good as to make the snappy banners for these pieces. He has his own projects, including the web comic Projection Edge, to worry about. More than once a year is probably sustainable. I may also want to stack this with hosting the Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival again, if I’m able to this year.

Deep down, though, I think the best moment of my Fall 2018 A To Z might have been in the first. I wrote about asymptotes and realized I could put in ordinary words why they were a thing worth having. If I could have three insights like that a year I’d be a great mathematics writer.

I put a roster of things written up in this A To Z at this page. The Summer 2015 A To Z essays should be here. The essays from the Leap Day 2016 A To Z essays are at this link. The essays from the End 2016 A To Z essays are here. Those from the Summer 2017 A To Z sequence are at this link. And I should keep using the A-To-Z tag, so all of these, and any future A To Z essays, should appear at this link. Thank you for reading along.

How All Of 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


It’s looking as though WordPress has really and permanently discontinued its year-in-review posts. That’s a shame. They had this animation that presented your year as a set of fireworks, one for each post, paced the same way your posts for the year were. The size of the fireworks explosion corresponded to how much it was liked or drew comments or something. Great stuff. Haven’t seen it in a couple of years. The web washes away everything whimsical.

I can do it manually, at least, looking at the summaries for yearly readership and all that. It’s just a bit different from the monthly reviews. And then I can see what lessons I draw from that, and go on to ignore them all. My impression of 2018 had been that I’d had a mildly better-read year than I had in 2017, but that my comments and likes had cratered. That is, people might find something they wanted to read, but saw no reason to stick around and chat with me, which I understand. But here’s what the data says.

2018 statistics: 16,597 page views. 9,769 visitors. 1.70 views per visitor. 182 posts published.
Also I swear they’ve changed the color scheme on this statistics page. This is probably setting up to a complete redesign of the statistics page to make it into something that gives almost the same information but takes way more JavaScript to do. I’m being old again. Pay no mind.

And, for the sake of convenience, let me put things since 2012 — my first full year — in a coherent table.

Year Posts Published Page Views Unique Visitors Likes Comments
2012 6,094 180 275* 97 190
2013 106 5,729 2,905 262 161
2014 129 7,020 3,382 1,045 308
2015 188 11,241 5,159 3,273 822
2016 213 12,851 7,168 2,163 474
2017 164 12,214 7,602 1,094 301
2018 182 16,597 9,769 1,016 386

The 2012 visitors count doesn’t; they only started keeping track of those numbers (where they’d admit to us) partway through the year.

2015 you can see was a busy year. That’s the first year I did an A-To-Z sequence, and that got a fantastic response. In 2016 I tried two over the year and while neither was as well-received, it did turn out nicely. 2017 and 2018 had a single A-To-Z sequence each. I’m surprised how nearly I track to a post every other day over seven years straight. And I’m surprised that my page-view count grew by about one-third from 2017 to 2018. And that unique visitors grew by about the same amount, and has been except for 2016-to-2017. I’m certainly not doing much to be better about promoting myself, so something else is at work. The evaporating number of likes and comments I can’t explain. It’s looking like 2015 and 2016 were exceptional years, but what was the exception?

I can say what’s popular: posts that tell you how to do something. And, of course, my participation in the Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival. I hope to do that again this year. The ten most popular things from 2018 were:

Fascinating, to me, is that only one piece (the Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival) was posted in 2018. But overall it suggests I should start more pieces with the tag “How to … ”.

122 of the world’s countries sent me any readers at all in 2018. Here they are, and how many came from each, as WordPress organizes them and thinks dubious things like the “European Union” or the “United Kingdom” are countries:

Country Readers
United States 10,545
Philippines 803
United Kingdom 737
Canada 641
India 635
Australia 285
Singapore 246
Denmark 199
Turkey 148
Germany 122
South Africa 114
Sweden 106
Brazil 105
Slovenia 105
France 85
Italy 83
Netherlands 72
Spain 71
Hong Kong SAR China 70
Puerto Rico 67
European Union 66
Switzerland 63
Poland 62
Austria 53
Indonesia 53
New Zealand 50
Mexico 45
Ireland 44
Pakistan 43
Belgium 41
Norway 39
Malaysia 37
Greece 36
South Korea 35
Russia 29
Algeria 28
Romania 27
Israel 25
Argentina 24
Kenya 22
Japan 21
Czech Republic 20
Finland 20
United Arab Emirates 20
Thailand 19
Egypt 18
Vietnam 16
Ghana 15
Peru 15
Portugal 14
Bangladesh 13
Nigeria 13
Croatia 12
Lithuania 12
Ukraine 12
Taiwan 11
Bulgaria 10
Bhutan 9
Brunei 9
Chile 9
Serbia 9
Hungary 8
Nepal 8
Saudi Arabia 8
Slovakia 8
Belize 7
China 7
Kazakhstan 7
Venezuela 7
Afghanistan 6
Morocco 6
Qatar 6
Sri Lanka 6
American Samoa 5
Colombia 5
Iraq 5
Kuwait 5
Lebanon 5
Macau SAR China 5
Mongolia 5
Albania 4
Estonia 4
Georgia 4
Jamaica 4
Jordan 4
Uruguay 4
Barbados 3
Costa Rica 3
Guernsey 3
Iceland 3
Latvia 3
Mauritius 3
Palestinian Territories 3
Panama 3
Cambodia 2
Cyprus 2
Ecuador 2
Laos 2
Libya 2
Luxembourg 2
Namibia 2
St. Kitts & Nevis 2
Tanzania 2
Trinidad & Tobago 2
Armenia 1
Bahamas 1
Bahrain 1
Botswana 1
El Salvador 1
Ethiopia 1
Fiji 1
Gibraltar 1
Guam 1
Kyrgyzstan 1
Macedonia 1
Malta 1
Mozambique 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1
Oman 1
Senegal 1
Sint Maarten 1
Tunisia 1

I’m quite surprised to have so many readers from the Philippines and wonder if some peculiar event happened, like a teacher told the school to look at my piece about the number of grooves on a record. I figured to appeal more to countries where English is a primary language, and know I have a strong United States cultural bias. (Quick, name a non-American comic strip that’s ever got into a Reading The Comics post. Time’s up! You were trying to think of Sandra Bell-Lundy’s Between Friends.) But the gap in readers per capita between, say, the United States and Canada seems more than I should have expected.

In all, in 2018, I posted 182 things. They came out to 186,612 words overall, for an average of 1,025 words per post. On average posts attracted 5.3 likes, and 2.8 comments. Seems as though I could do more. I don’t really know what.

How November 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


I knew that November 2018 was going to be a less busy month around here than October would. I didn’t have the benefit of hosting the Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival for it. I’m hoping to host the carnival again, though. Not until after the new year. Not until after I’ve finished the Fall 2018 A To Z and have had some time to recuperate. It’s a weird thing but writing two 1500-to-2000-word essays each week hasn’t lightened my workload the way I figured. If you’re interested in the current Blog Carnival, by the way, here it is. Anyway, as reversions to the norm go, November was not bad. Here’s what it looked like.

November 2018. Views: 1,611. Visitors: 846. Views per visitor 1.90. Total posts: 23.
WordPress readership figures around here for July 2016 through November 2018. I was able to capture this picture just before anyone visited me in December, which I’m going to say is because I had really good reflexes and not because nobody wanted to deal with me the first Saturday of the month.

So there were 1,611 pages viewed here in November. Down from the 2,010 of October, but noticeably higher than September’s 1,505. That’s still a third-highest month (March 2018 was busier still). But it’s weirdly gratifying. There were 847 unique visitors logged in November. That’s down from October’s 1,063, and even September’s 874. I make this out as my fifth-most-visitors month on record. All those months have been this year.

85 things got liked in November. That’s down from October’s 94, up from September’s 65, and overall part of a weird pattern. My likes are definitely declining over time. But there’s little local peaks. If there’s any pattern it’s kind of a sawtooth, with the height of the teeth dropping. I have no explanation for this phenomenon. There were 36 comments in November, well down from October’s 60, but equal to September’s. It’s above the running average of the last two months (28.5 comments per month) but it’s still well below, like, the average commentary you can expect on the Comics Curmudgeon. Granted, we serve different purposes.

Of the most popular essays this month the top two were perennials. Some A to Z stuff filled out the rest. I’m including the top six posts here there was a tie for fourth place, and sixth place was barely behind that. If this reason seems ad hoc, you understand it correctly. Read a lot around here were:

Mutt, hauling a Victrola in: 'Have I ever shown you these valuable records I have?' Jeff: 'No!' Mutt: 'These records are very valuable! They are the first records ever made!' Jeff: 'They sound scratchy!' Mutt: 'Yes, they have some scratches, but they are worth five dollars each!' [ Later that Day ... Jeff is sandpapering a record. ] Jeff: 'I'll surprise Mutt.' (To Mutt). Jeff: 'Now they don't have scratches any more! I sanded them until they were smooth!'
Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff rerun for the 1st of December, 2018. Clearly an attempt to get itself added to my page about how many grooves are on a record’s side. I have no information about when this strip first ran. My gut says the art dates to the 1940s. The word balloons are all recent, computer-assisted reletterings. (Look at the lower end of each letter ‘S’.) The relettering is certainly easier to read than the original cramped and shakily reproduced lettering. (Look at the record player’s ‘Come, Josephine’ text, or the sound effect of Jeff scratching the record clean in the fourth panel to see how bad it could be.) But the relettering is probably why the dialogue has that slightly over-edited, not-quite-human flow we’re used to from Funky Winkerbean.

And where were all these readers coming from? Here’s the roster of countries and their readership totals:

Country Readers
United States 1,038
United Kingdom 72
Philippines 66
Canada 63
India 46
Denmark 37
Singapore 32
Australia 26
Sweden 15
Slovenia 14
Italy 12
Netherlands 12
Spain 11
Hong Kong SAR China 9
Germany 8
Brazil 7
Croatia 7
United Arab Emirates 7
Romania 6
Thailand 6
France 5
Puerto Rico 5
South Africa 5
Venezuela 5
European Union 4
Indonesia 4
Mexico 4
Norway 4
Pakistan 4
Poland 4
Austria 3
Israel 3
Nepal 3
Russia 3
Switzerland 3
Turkey 3
Algeria 2
Argentina 2
Bangladesh 2
Belgium 2
Bulgaria 2
China 2
Finland 2
Georgia 2
Ghana 2
Greece 2
Japan 2
Jordan 2
Malaysia 2
New Zealand 2
Nigeria 2
Panama 2
Peru 2
Portugal 2
South Korea 2
Sri Lanka 2
Taiwan 2
Belize 1
Bhutan 1
Colombia 1 (***)
Costa Rica 1
Czech Republic 1 (**)
El Salvador 1
Guernsey 1
Kenya 1
Lebanon 1
Namibia 1
Palestinian Territories 1
Qatar 1
Saudi Arabia 1

70 countries sent me readers in November 2018. That’s down from October’s 74 but up from September’s 58. 13 of them were single-reader countries, down from October’s 23 and September’s 14. Czech Republic has been a single-reader country for three months. Colombia for four months now.

According to the Insights panel, I start the month at 71,506 total page views for the 1,185 posts I’ve done altogether. It also records 35,384 unique visitors, but I again have to defensively insist WordPress didn’t count unique visitors for the first couple months I was around here. I swear.

I published 23 posts in October. A to Z months tend to be busy ones. These posts held something like 26,644 words in total. For the 165 things I had posted this year, through to the start of December, I averaged 1,108 words per post. That’s up from the start of November’s 996 words per post, but still. I’m averaging 5.3 likes per post, and 2.7 comments per post. At the start of last month I was averaging 5.5 likes and 2.8 comments per post. This is probably not any important kind of variation. There’ve been 450 total comments and 870 total likes this year, as of the start of December.

Are you interested in reading me more regularly? You can put my posts in your RSS reader and enjoy them at your convenience. You can also add me to your WordPress Reader, using the button at the upper-right corner of the page. Also possibly a pop-up menu from the lower-right corner. On Twitter I’m @Nebusj. Through the end of the year I’ll keep working on the Fall 2018 A To Z. And every Sunday plus, usually, some other day of the week I’ll be Reading the Comics for the mathematics stuff. Thanks for considering any of this.

How October 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


I expected there to be a fair number of readers here in October. The A to Z project, particularly, implied that. A To Z months are exhausting, but they give me a lot of posts. And I’m as sure as I can be without actually checking that the number of posts is the biggest determining factor in how many readers I attract. There were 23 posts in October, compared to September’s 15 and my summertime usual of 12 to 14.

Then there’s the Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival. This posted in September — by six hours — but it was destined to bring new and, I hope, happy readers in. And that happened also. Here’s what the WordPress statistics showed me for the month:

October 2018: 2,010 views from 1,063 visitors. 1.89 views per visitor. 23 posts published.
I’m so looking forward to seeing how big my faceplant back to normal is for November. No, really, nobody put references to me on some high-volume blog that tells people of cool stuff they might be reading. I couldn’t bear it.

So this was my highest-readership month since the blog started seven years ago. 2,010 page views, from 1,063 unique visitors. That’s also the greatest number of unique visitors I’ve had in one month, and the first time I’ve broken a thousand visitors. September had 1,505 page views from 874 unique visitors; August, 1,421 page views from 913 unique visitors.

There was a bit of an upswing in the number of likes: 94 of them issued in October, compared to September’s 65 and August’s 57. This is on the higher side for this year, but it is down a good bit from the comparable month two or three years ago. In June 2015, for my first A to Z, I drew over 500 likes; I don’t know where likers have gone.

There were 60 comments on the blog in October, partly people who liked or wanted to talk about A To Z topics, partly people suggesting others. It’s the greatest number of comments I’ve had in one month in two years now. September had 36 commenters; August, 27. Have to go back to March 2016 to find a month when more people said anything around here. That, too, was an A-to-Z month, and one of the handful of months when I posted something every single day.

There were a lot of popular posts this month, naturally. This might be the first time in years that none of the top five were Reading the Comics posts. The A to Z and the Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival squeezed out very nearly everything:

52 countries sent me any readers in August. 58 did so in September. There were 16 single-reader countries in August and 14 in September. For busy October?

Country Readers
United States 1,172
Philippines 99
United Kingdom 94
Denmark 82
Canada 65
India 59
Singapore 53
Australia 50
Poland 27
Slovenia 24
Brazil 20
South Africa 16
Turkey 15
European Union 13
Greece 13
Germany 12
France 11
Mexico 11
Puerto Rico 11
Spain 10
Ireland 8
Malaysia 8
Italy 7
New Zealand 7
Russia 6
Switzerland 6
Argentina 5
Netherlands 5
Nigeria 5
Norway 5
China 4
Hong Kong SAR China 4
Indonesia 4
Pakistan 4
Belgium 3
Belize 3
Chile 3
Kenya 3
South Korea 3
Algeria 2
Austria 2
Barbados 2
Croatia 2
Ghana 2
Japan 2
Morocco 2
Qatar 2
Romania 2
Slovakia 2
Sweden 2
Ukraine 2
Albania 1
Bahrain 1
Bangladesh 1
Bulgaria 1
Cambodia 1
Colombia 1 (**)
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 1 (*)
Georgia 1
Jamaica 1
Jordan 1
Kazakhstan 1
Macau SAR China 1
Macedonia 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1
Oman 1
Peru 1
Portugal 1
Serbia 1
Sri Lanka 1
Taiwan 1
Uruguay 1
Vietnam 1

74 countries sending me any readers at all. 23 countries sent me a single reader for the month. Czech republic has sent me a single reader two months in a row now; Columbia, three months in a row.

Insights tells me that I started November with a total of 69,895 page views, from a logged 34,538 unique visitors. As ever, please recall the first couple years WordPress didn’t tell us anything about the unique visitor count, so for all I know there “should” be more.

In October I published 28,733 words, which is nearly double September’s total. Whew. I’d posted 142 things this year by the start of November, and gathered a total of 391 comments and 787 likes for the year to date. This averaged to 3.1 comments per post on average, up from 2.6 at the start of October. And 5.5 likes per posting, down from 5.8 at the start of October. The 142 posts through the start of November averaged 996 words each. That’s up from 946 words per post at the start of October. I’m going to crush myself beneath a pile of words that I meant to be less deep.

If you’d like to add this blog to your WordPress Reader, there should be a button to do so at the upper right corner of this page. It should also be an option in this pop-up menu from the lower right corner. Or you can add this blog to your RSS reader, and read it in any format you like and without me or WordPress being able to track you. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, I am @Nebusj. Still thinking seriously about getting a Mathstodon account. And if you’re interested in my two biggest projects here, all of my Fall 2018 Mathematics A-To-Z should appear at this link. My biggest ongoing project is Reading the Comics, and its many posts are here. Thank you for reading.

How September 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog, Finally


I like to do my monthly recap of my readership, like, at the start of the month. It’s just that between the Carnival, the A-to-Z, Reading the Comics, and my being busy on Friday I didn’t have the time before now. I’d say that it doesn’t matter because these statistics-review posts are mostly for my own entertainment. But I do feel there’s something untidy in my being a week late.

It was a well-read month! My second-most-read month, if I’m not missing something. WordPress reports 1,505 page views, up from August’s 1,421 and July’s 1,058. (The highest I have on record is March’s 1,779 page views.) Third-highest number of unique visitors, as well: 874 of them. August had 913 unique visitors. July a mere 668, but that was a more normal month. (March had 999 unique visitors and yes, it still burns me up that I didn’t have just the one more.)

Yes, I’m excited by what I see for October’s views already. I should have made this chart sooner in the month. Now I’m going to be all disappointed when it doesn’t stay this riotously popular on, like, the 28th of October.

The number of ‘likes’ around here rose, to 65. Had been 57 in August and 37 in July. That’s still tiny, though, compared to what was normal around here even a year ago (98 in September 2017, and that was down from all of 2016). The number of comments was up, to 36 from August’s 27 and July’s 28. But the number of comments around here is so erratic that I’ve mostly given up on figuring any kind of pattern.

The top most popular articles for September were one perennial, one that I’d have expected to be a perennial (and was the number-two post last month), comics, and the carnival:

I have the suspicion that the Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival #121 post will be most popular next month too. And that only my publishing it the last day of September kept it from being on top for that month too.

52 countries sent me any readers at all in August. 16 of them were single-reader countries. The same numbers accurately described countries and single-reader countries for July. And for September? … Here’s the roster.

Country Readers
United States 885
Philippines 149
United Kingdom 64
India 63
Canada 51
Australia 34
Turkey 23
Singapore 22
Germany 21
Denmark 16
Slovenia 16
European Union 12
France 8
South Africa 8
Switzerland 8
Brazil 7
Netherlands 7
Pakistan 7
Brunei 6
Kazakhstan 6
Ghana 5
Puerto Rico 5
Russia 5
Spain 5
Egypt 4
Ireland 4
Malaysia 4
Sweden 4
Taiwan 4
Thailand 4
Austria 3
Finland 3
Morocco 3
Norway 3
Poland 3
South Korea 3
Belize 2
Greece 2
Iceland 2
Indonesia 2
Jamaica 2
Kenya 2
Mexico 2
Vietnam 2
Algeria 1
Argentina 1 (*)
Belgium 1
Chile 1 (*)
Colombia 1 (*)
Croatia 1
Czech Republic 1
Guam 1
Israel 1
Kuwait 1
New Zealand 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Slovakia 1
United Arab Emirates 1

So that’s 58 countries total, with only 14 of them single-readers. Argentina, Chile, and Colombia were single-reader countries in August; nobody else was. No countries are on a longer than two-month streak. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a hundred readers from the Philippines. Also 12 readers listed as from the European Union, distinct from the countries participating in it, seems unusually many.

According to the Insights panel I’d had 119 posts this year, right before October began. And had gathered 67,885 page views. This would be from a total of 33,475 acknowledged unique visitors. (My blog started before WordPress told us anything about unique visitors.) As of the start of October, there had been 313 total comments. This makes an average of 2.6 comments per post on average. At the start of August there had been 2.6 comments per post on average. But remember that was fifteen fewer posts. At the end of September I’d gotten 696 total likes, for an average of 5.8 likes per post. That’s down from 6.0 at the end of August. By the end of September I’d had a total of 112,648 words posted around here. 15,014 of them were posted in September. Since there were fifteen posts altogether that’s an average of 1000.1 words per post in September. For the year, through the end of September, that’s 946.6 words per post this year. At the end of August that had been 930 words per post. So as ever, my attempts to write more quick, simple, short things that don’t wear me out has failed. And I have the rest of an A to Z to write, too! I’m so doomed.

If you’d like to watch my continuing logorrheic doom, please follow along. You can add me to your WordPress Reader by using the button at the upper right corner of the page. If you’d rather read without my having the ability to track, you can follow me by RSS here. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, try adding me as @Nebusj. Thanks for being here, in whatever form you are.

How July 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


July 2018 was another month in which stuff got in the way of my plans. I know it seems like I’m always apologizing for that. But I tell you truly: stuff keeps getting in the way of my plans. I could keep up the most essential stuff, the Reading the Comics posts. But bigger projects — I may as well stop being coy; I’m hoping to do another A to Z this year — kept getting lost under daily stuff. This includes pet health problems. I’ll leave it at that because they were sad ones.

But let’s see what these strained circumstances did for my readership, such as it was.

July 2018, views: 1,058. Visitors: 668. Views per visitor: 1.58. Posts published: 12.
My WordPress.com statistics report for July 2018 and the months leading up to that.

OK. Spent another month at above a thousand page views, which is a nice threshold. There were 1,058 pages looked at around here in July, down from June’s 1,077 and May’s 1,274. This is three months in a row I’ve had twelve posts, most of them Reading the Comics stuff. This goes to support the hypothesis that the thing most in my control that affects my readership is the number of things I write. There were 668 unique visitors, down a little from June’s 681 and a fair bit from May’s 837. The number of likes plummeted once again, to a mere 37. It had been 94 in June and 73 in May. But that’s still a drop.

And it hurts a bit. I think I’m doing much better Reading the Comics posts than I used to. I credit the discovery that GoComics.com links aren’t as secure as I had thought. If I’m going to include the image of every comic strip I talk about, I want to have a more substantive discussion. Reprinting strips that I don’t have the copyright to is fair use, of course, in that I’m using them for educational purpose. But making sure that I have a deeper discussion based on the strip makes me feel more secure in my use.

At least the comments held steady, with 28 of them over the month. That’s down from June’s 30, but that’s not a real difference. May saw only 17 comments. And it’s pretty good to have that many comments. Pet issues and other obligations had me spend a week and a half just checking that nothing had exploded. (It didn’t. I’ve never had something explode around here.)

And what was popular around here? One perennial, some comic strip stuff, and a post I am delighted got some attention:

There were a large number of views of the record-grooves post. But they weren’t particularly concentrated any one day or week. I think it might have reached that point where it’s Google-ranked highly enough to turn up as an answer to people’s query. I’m always embarrassed when my self-examination posts are among the most popular stuff I write. But if I view them as concentrating the stuff my readers think is particularly important, well, that’s all right then. Maybe I should do more regular recaps of what’s been popular lately. Could fill that late-in-the-week content hole.

But the important thing is I’m delighted people are reading about my prosthaphaeretic rule for finding square roots. I’m sure that it’s an old trick. And it’s not at all practical, not anymore. But I did notice it sitting there, waiting for me to uncover. That was fun.

Now to the list of countries sending me readers: will it include the United States up top?

Country Readers
United States 669
United Kingdom 110
India 49
Philippines 42
Australia 25
Canada 23
Slovenia 10
South Africa 10
Germany 9
France 7
Hong Kong SAR China 6
Kenya 6
Brazil 5
Mexico 5
Netherlands 5
New Zealand 5
Spain 5
Macau SAR China 4
Malaysia 4
Pakistan 4
Puerto Rico 4
Argentina 3
Belgium 3
Italy 3
Japan 3
Singapore 3
Chile 2
Guernsey 2
Indonesia 2
Mauritius 2
Norway 2
Poland 2
Portugal 2
Sweden 2
Tanzania 2
Turkey 2
Austria 1
Bangladesh 1
Brunei 1 (**)
Bulgaria 1
Denmark 1
Hungary 1
Ireland 1
Israel 1
Laos 1
Peru 1
Romania 1
Serbia 1 (****)
Slovakia 1 (*)
South Korea 1 (**)
Venezuela 1
Vietnam 1

There were 52 countries sending me readers in July, down from 55 in June and 58 in May. There were 16 single-reader countries, down from 19 in June and 22 in May. Slovakia’s been on that list two months in a row. Brunei and South Korea three months now. Serbia’s on its fifth month in a row on the single-reader list. I hope they like me a little bit enough. It’s a rare month to have no countries with an & in their name, like Trinidad & Tobago. Hm.

If the Insights panel is correct, I started August viewed 64,958 times by 31,688 logged unique visitors. I’d finished with 90 posts on the year, gathering a total of 232 comments and 572 likes. That’s an average of 2.6 comments and 6.4 likes per post. I reached 83,083 total words published, an average of 923.1 words per post. At the end of June I was averaging 885.3 words per post. I don’t know how I got so much more longwinded so fast. But it does credit me with 14,032 words published in July, and that over only twelve posts. No wonder I’m tired.

Thanks as ever for reading my posts. You can add this page to your RSS reader by using this address. If you’d rather add it to your WordPress reader, you can use the button at the upper-right corner of the page. And if you’d rather see me on Twitter, please do add me @Nebusj. Thank you.

How June 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


I’ve broken the habit of watching my WordPress readership statistics day-to-day. This is good. It’s too easy to read random fluctuations as significant changes. And to go from that to supposing that everyone’s decided they hate me now. I do still check monthly. And I try to think what I can learn from that data. Not too hard, and not enough to change what I do. But to where I might think I learned something.

I had another 12-post month. As seems to keep happening I started out with an ambitious program of the weekly Reading the Comics posts, finishing up a couple of open-ended essay threads, and then a few drop-ins as I ran across something interesting. And then my days got all busy and stuff demanded my attention and all I had time for was the comics posts after all. It turned out mostly all right, though. Here’s just how all right:

June 2018, Views: 1,077. Visitors: 681. Views per visitor: 1.58. There should also be a listing that there were 12 posts.
Meanwhile in the world’s dullest domino chain.

So for the sixth month running I beat a thousand page views. Came in at 1,077. It’s my thinnest margin since back in February when there were a mere 1,062 page views. Still, I had a more than this large comfortable round number of page views. The number of unique visitors dropped also, to 681. That’s my lowest number of visitors since February again. But that just seems to reflect there being less traffic overall in June; the number of views per visitor was 1.58, basically the same as May’s 1.52 and April’s 1.53. No archive-divers here, seems.

There were 94 things liked in June; that’s up from April’s and May’s 73, and down from March’s 142. There were 30 comments posted in June, up from May’s 17 and April’s 13, but down from March’s 53. All respectable enough; none exactly suggesting I know how to write stuff people love to share or comment on. Which is on me, of course; no reader’s got the job of responding to stuff they don’t care to.

The popular posts were nearly what I would have guessed: the Buggles and some comics stuff. But there were surprises even in the top five:

So I’m surprised that last month’s readership review post would be among the most popular. I guess it shows the value of having any picture at all, however marginally interesting, in a post. Still seems dangerously self-absorbed. The non-Euclidean geometry one also surprises me, since it was only up for two days and still got as many readers as anything else posted in June. The lesson here, I suppose, is that people love seeing me not know stuff that’s obvious to people familiar with a topic. This is promising for future essays, though, since there are so many obvious things I don’t know.

Then there’s the list of countries that sent me readers to include, since that’s apparently a thing people like:

Country Readers
United States 698
India 62
United Kingdom 45
Canada 44
Germany 19
Philippines 19
Singapore 15
Australia 14
Italy 14
Sweden 14
Poland 11
South Africa 9
Austria 8
France 7
Indonesia 7
Puerto Rico 7
Belgium 4
Brazil 4
Denmark 4
Hong Kong SAR China 4
Mexico 4
Netherlands 4
Norway 4
Spain 4
Czech Republic 3
Egypt 3
Kenya 3
Switzerland 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Argentina 2
Ireland 2
Japan 2
Lithuania 2
Malaysia 2
Nepal 2
Vietnam 2
Brunei 1 (*)
Cambodia 1
Croatia 1
Ecuador 1
Estonia 1
Fiji 1
Georgia 1
Ghana 1
Greece 1
Iraq 1
Malta 1
New Zealand 1
Nigeria 1
Serbia 1 (***)
Slovakia 1
Slovenia 1
South Korea 1 (*)
Thailand 1
Turkey 1

There were 55 countries sending me any readers, down from 58 for three months in a row. There were 19 single-reader countries, down from 22 in May, up from 14 in April. Brunei and South Korea were single-reader countries two months in a row. Serbia’s had a single reader for me four months in a row now.

The Insights panel tells me July started with this blog having had 63,897 total page views, from an admitted 31,020 unique visitors. It logs for the year 2018 a total of 78 posts that attracted, to that point, 196 comments. And that there had been 535 total likes given to something over the year so far. This comes to an average of 2.5 comments per post, and 6.8 likes per posting. By the end of May I had gotten only 2.4 comments and 6.7 likes per post, so, at least I’ve got something figured out.

By the end of June I had posted 69,051 words as WordPress logs things; that’s 13,374 words over June, a bit more than I posted over May despite June being the shorter month. I’m up to an average of 885.3 words per post; at the end of May I was at a mere 843.6 words per post. The trend is obvious; by the end of the year I’ll just never stop writing things. You’ll just see a continuous feed of me putting more heaps of words onto this pile. You’ll be shocked how many times and how many different ways I can type ‘that’ wrong and correct it. Or how often an ‘of course’ creeps into my writing and I have to edit that out.

As ever, I encourage you to read this post and more like it. You can add this page to your WordPress reader by using the button at the upper-right corner of this page. This link is the RSS feed, which gets all my posts as they’re posted, and which you can add to your RSS reader without my ever knowing about. I’m @Nebusj on Twitter. If you see me on Tumblr you’ve found a hoax, since I’m not on Tumblr and every time I look at it I feel helpless and confused.