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.

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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.

How April 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


People were far less interested in the number of grooves on a record’s side this past month. That’s what I take away from the readership figures around here for April, as WordPress reports. There were, it appears, some 1,117 pages viewed in April, from 731 unique visitors. That’s well down from March’s 1,779 views and 999 visitors. But March was clearly an outlier; February saw 1,062 page views from 611 visitors. This is four months in a row with at least a thousand page views, so everything seems consistent.

The number of likes fell to 73, down from 142. This seems like a lot of drop, but considering there were 102 likes in February and 112 in January … yeah, that’s a bit lower. Hm. Comments were down, too, with a mere 13 posted in April. There were 53 in March, 30 in February, those are much more engaged numbers. It’s my doing, I know; I had a month of mostly writing about comics and that’s fun, but it’s not much to discuss. What’s to say, “That wasn’t really a student making fun of the story problem!”? Nah. Also I’m abashed to realize I had only eleven posts in April; March had a healthier count of 16.

Statistics chart showing a big spike in March and a return to the roughly twelve-month normal for April 2018.
Definitely more normal than the March 2018 figures.

So what were people reading? One perennial and then a bunch of mostly new stuff:

The Insights panel tells me I’ve gotten to 44,841 total words published this year so far, with 135 total comments and 370 total likes. So, 8,494 words over the month. I’m currently averaging 830.4 words per post, 3.5 comments per post, and 6.9 likes per post. Words and likes are slightly up from March; comments are down a bit.

As I make it out 58 countries sent me readers this past month. That’s the same as March, and up from February’s 54. They’re these:

Country Readers
United States 687
United Kingdom 84
Canada 59
India 38
Australia 21
Singapore 18
Philippines 17
Brazil 16
South Africa 16
Ireland 11
Spain 11
Turkey 11
Puerto Rico 8
Denmark 7
France 7
Afghanistan 6
Italy 6
Netherlands 5
Peru 5
Slovenia 5
Sweden 5
Germany 4
Israel 4
New Zealand 4
Poland 4
Ukraine 4
Mongolia 3
Russia 3
South Korea 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Algeria 2
Argentina 2
Belgium 2
Bulgaria 2
Egypt 2
Hong Kong SAR China 2
Indonesia 2
Japan 2
Lebanon 2
Lithuania 2
Malaysia 2
Norway 2
Romania 2
Switzerland 2
Armenia 1
Czech Republic 1
Finland 1
Gibraltar 1
Iraq 1
Kenya 1
Luxembourg 1
Nigeria 1
Palestinian Territories 1
Senegal 1
Serbia 1 (*)
St. Kitts & Nevis 1
Tunisia 1
Vietnam 1

That’s 14 single-reader countries, down one from March and down two from February. Serbia was a single-reader country in March; nowhere else was. May starts with 61,549 pages viewed from 29,502 admitted unique visitors.

I’d appreciate it if you did follow NebusResearch regularly. I haven’t restored the e-mail postings, although if I go another month or two without anything suspicious turning up in the comments I might try it. But you can follow on your WordPress Reader, by using the button at the upper right corner of the page. Here’s the RSS feed, if you’d rather read the way you like without WordPress being able to trace you. And if you don’t mind Twitter you can follow me as @Nebusj there. Watch as I give the tally of how many goldfish we’re getting back out to the backyard pond!

How March 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


Well, one thing I know to post this week is my review of what my readership was like in March. Let me go see what WordPress will tell me about that.

Huh.

Not at all sure what happened there but it looks like I might’ve just had my best month ever. WordPress tells me there were 1,779 page views in March, way up from February’s 1,062 and January’s 1,274. Also it tells me this came from what I’m sure is a record 999 unique visitors and now that’s going to drive me crazy for like ever. There were 611 unique visitors in February and 670 in January. I am not positive but think my previous records were in March 2016 (1,557 views) and April 2016 (757 visitors). That’s on 16 essays posted, up from the 13 in February and 14 in January.

A bar chart showing the 1,779 page views and 999 visitors from March 2018, and lower numbers for other months going back to November 2015.
Is this self-indulgent? No; I’ve learned that people are much more interested in posts when there’s any picture, however unimportant, attached. This is self-serving, an important difference.

Had 53 comments made around here in March, my best since the glory days of early 2016. February saw 30 and January 39 comments and oh I did my best to keep caught up, but it’s hard. There were 143 things liked over the month; that’s up from February’s 102 and January’s 112. Greatest number since August 2017 and my last round of A To Z work.

I don’t know precisely what drew so many readers in, as in, why many people were looking for this. But I know what they were looking for. The most popular, by far, essay this month drew 279 page views. I have to guess some forum found the answer to years of argument and posted a link to settle the issue. The top five:

Insights for the year tell me that (as of the 3rd of April, anyway) I’ve had 44 total posts, with 120 total comments and 301 total likes. There’s 36,347 words posted so far in the year, and an average of 826 words per post. I’m averaging 2.7 comments per post, and averaging 6.8 likes per post. This is dangerous stuff to consider: at the start of March I averaged 2.8 comments per post, but a mere 6.7 likes. In fairness, there’s some comments I need to respond to and just haven’t had the chance; Easter and a pinball event ate up a lot of time.

So what countries are sending me readers, suspecting or otherwise? This bunch:

Country Readers
United States 1,278
Canada 72
United Kingdom 52
India 42
Philippines 37
Singapore 28
Austria 24
Switzerland 21
Brazil 20
Hong Kong SAR China 20
Sweden 20
South Africa 18
Australia 16
Denmark 14
Romania 11
Italy 7
Norway 7
Germany 5
South Korea 5
Algeria 4
Belgium 4
Ireland 4
Spain 4
Thailand 4
Argentina 3
Czech Republic 3
Malaysia 3
New Zealand 3
Poland 3
Puerto Rico 3
Saudi Arabia 3
Egypt 2
Estonia 2
European Union 2
Finland 2
Kenya 2
Kuwait 2
Netherlands 2
Pakistan 2
Portugal 2
Qatar 2
Russia 2
Turkey 2
United Arab Emirates 2
Belize 1
Croatia 1
Ecuador 1
France 1
Greece 1
Israel 1 (*)
Japan 1
Kyrgyzstan 1
Laos 1
Latvia 1
Lebanon 1
Mexico 1
Serbia 1
Ukraine 1
Venezuela 1

That’s 58 countries, up from February’s 54. There’s 15 single-reader countries, down one from February. Israel’s keeps me from having a clean break in the single-reader country streak; there was just the one reader from there in February too. April starts with a logged 60,445 visits, from an admitted 28,781 unique visitors.

If you’d like to follow NebusResearch regularly, please do. There’s a button at the upper-right of the page to add this to your WordPress Reader page. You can also follow me as @Nebusj on Twitter, where I routinely post announcements of new essays here and on my humor blog. (The humor blog normally posts between 7 and 9 pm Eastern Time; the mathematics blog, typically, between 1 and 3 pm Eastern Time.) If you’d rather use your RSS reader here’s the feed for that.

If you’d like posts e-mailed to you as they’re made … I’m sorry, I can’t take signups for that just now. I noticed a weird and large number of signups from people, from addresses that were a bunch of random words followed by four digits and all from outlook.com. I don’t know what angle they’re working but that’s got to be some spammer nonsense going on. So that’s turned off for a while at least. If you’re one of the nearly four people who’ve taken out e-mail subscriptions hold on to those accounts! They’re sure to be worth something someday. It’s not necessary to bag them in mylar just yet, but feel free to do that if you think it’ll be fun.

How February 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


It was a less riotously popular month here in February than it was in January. I’d like to blame the shortness of February, but that isn’t it. I know. I’ve got statistics.

The big one that I worry excessively over: total page views. 1,062 of them in February, down from January’s 1,274 but up from December 2017’s 899. And hey, anything above a thousand feels gratifying enough. The count of unique visitors dropped to 611. It had been at 670 in January, but then it was at 599 in December. I’m working on stuff that might affect this. We’ll see. I’d wondered if the readership drop might entirely represent February being such a short month. But WordPress’s insights page lets me know the average number of pages viewed per day. 41 in January (part of a three-way tie for third-highest, alongside September 2017 and November 2015). 38 in February. Still, not bad for a month that went by without a major overarching theme to pull people back in.

It was still a pretty likable month: 102 things clicked on over the course of the month. Down from January’s 112, but still, well ahead of December’s 71. It’s still in the range of liked-essays that I haven’t seen since the last A To Z project. There were 30 comments, once more down from January’s total (39) but up from December’s (24). It seems obvious that all these three data points should track together, although I’ve never tested that and maybe I could have some fun rambling about curve-fitting with it.

Oh, for the one data point wholly within my control: I posted 13 things in February. 14 in January. 11 in December, which was an awful month. (We haven’t found our next rabbit yet. I’ve been gently calling this one rescue every couple days to mention how the person fostering a Flemish Giant we find appealing hasn’t called us back to set a time when we might meet. I have a suspicion the person fostering has decided to quietly adopt the rabbit. And that’s fine, but not being told that gets in the emotional way of looking elsewhere.)

So what all was popular? … Pretty much what I would have guessed without knowing anything about the month:

I’m kind of seriously thinking to take some time off this month and just improve the graphics of the Record Grooves and the Trapezoids articles. And I’m always tickled when what amounts to a self-reblog, like the buy-a-theorem post, comes out more popular than the original post it references. I’m also thinking about setting some day aside to just reblog something from my archives.

What countries sent me readers? This bunch, says WordPress.

Country Readers
United States 703
Canada 47
United Kingdom 44
India 42
Philippines 42
Australia 14
Sweden 14
Singapore 12
France 9
Germany 9
Mexico 8
Pakistan 8
Brazil 6
Puerto Rico 6
Slovenia 6
Netherlands 5
Turkey 5
Algeria 4
Hungary 4
Italy 4
Spain 4
Bulgaria 3
Finland 3
Greece 3
Indonesia 3
Nepal 3
New Zealand 3
Portugal 3
South Africa 3
Switzerland 3
Belgium 2
Hong Kong SAR China 2
Japan 2
Mongolia 2
Romania 2
South Korea 2
Taiwan 2
Uruguay 2
Bahamas 1
Bangladesh 1
Barbados 1
Costa Rica 1
Cyprus 1
Denmark 1
Egypt 1
European Union 1
Ireland 1 (*)
Israel 1
Kenya 1
Lebanon 1
Mozambique 1
Poland 1
Russia 1 (**)
United Arab Emirates 1

That’s 54 countries altogether, if we don’t ask serious questions about the European Union and, for that matter, Hong Kong or Puerto Rico. There’d been 50 countries give or take in January, and 53 in December. There were 16 single-reader countries in February, up from the 14 in January and 15 in December. Ireland was a single-reader country in January too. Russia’s been a single-reader country two months running. And otherwise there’s been a turnover in single-readership countries.

The Insights panel says March started with 58,654 page views here, from an admitted 27,772 unique viewers and aw, isn’t that sweet number? The insights panel is also threatening to ruin me as a person by giving me some new interesting year-to-date statistics. According to these, as of the 5th of March (I didn’t have the chance to check on the 1st, and I don’t know how to find a year-to-specified date) I’ve published 25,359 total words, at an average 845 words per post. 30 posts to date for the year. 207 total likes, 77 total comments. And an average of 2.6 comments and 6.9 likes per post. I just know I’m going to obsess on these, what with how they’re numbers that have decimal points. But this is way more interesting than tracking the most popular day and hour.

If you’d like to be among my readers, congratulations: you’re doing it now. You can follow in your WordPress reader by using the ‘Follow nebusresearch in Reader’ button near the center-right of this page. Or you can get the less-adequately-copy-edited versions delivered in e-mail, using the “follow blog via e-mail” button just underneath that. I’m @Nebusj on Twitter, and I’m closing in on my 10,000th tweet! So this is your chance to be there as it happens. Probably not this month. I’m not that chatty. But sometime.

Were Story Problems Ever Any Good?


I have been reading Mapping In Michigan and the Great Lakes Region, edited by David I Macleod, because — look, I understand that I have a problem. I just live with it. The book is about exactly what you might imagine from the title. And it features lots of those charming old maps where, you know, there wasn’t so very much hard data available and everyone did the best with what they had. So you get these maps with spot-on perfect Lake Eries and the eastern shore of Lake Huron looking like you pulled it off of Open Street Maps. And then Michigan looks like a kid’s drawing of a Thanksgiving turkey. Also sometimes they drop a mountain range in the middle of the state because I guess it seemed a little empty without.

The first chapter, by Mary Sponberg Pedley, is a biography and work-history of Louis Charles Karpinski, 1878-1956. Karpinski did a lot to bring scholastic attention to maps of the Great Lakes area. He was a professor of mathematics for the University of Michigan. And he commented a good bit about the problems of teaching mathematics. Pedley quoted this bit that I thought was too good not to share. It’s from Arithmetic For The Farm. It’s about the failure of textbooks to provide examples that actually reflected anything anyone might want to know. I quote here Pedley’s endnote:

Karpinski disparaged the typical “story problems” found in contemporary textbooks, such as the following: “How many sacks, holding 2 bushels, 3 pecks and 2 quarts each can be filled from a bin containing 366 bushels, 3 pecks, 4 quarts of what?” Karpinski comments: “How carefully would you have to fill a sack to make it hold 3 pecks 2 quarts of anything? And who filled the bin so marvelously that the capacity is known with an accuracy of one-25th of 1% of the total?” He recommended an easier, more practical means of doing such problems, noting that a bushel is about 1 & 1/4 or 5/4 cubic feet. Therefore the number of bushels in the bin is the length times width times 4/5; the easiest way to get 4/5 of anything is to take away one-fifth of it.

This does read to me like Pedley jumped a track somewhere. It seems to go from the demolition of the plausibility of one problem’s setup to demolishing the plausibility of how to answer a problem. Still, the core complaint is with us yet. It’s hard to frame problems that might actually come up in ways that clearly test specific mathematical skills.


And on another note. This is the 1,000th mathematical piece that I’ve published since I started in September of 2011. If I’m not misunderstanding this authorship statistic on WordPress, which is never a safe bet. I’m surprised that it has taken as long as this to get to a thousand posts. Also I’m surprised that I should be surprised. I know roughly how many days there are in a year. And I know I need special circumstances to post something more often than every other day. Still, I’m glad to reach this milestone, and gratified that there’s anyone interested in what I have to say. In my next thousand posts I hope to say something.

How January 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog


First of all, I would like to say this about this tweet:

And that is: I don’t feel threatened at all so nyah.

(And if you want to help them out, please, do send any Calvin and Hobbes strips with mathematical themes over their way.)

Back to my usual self-preening. January 2018 was a successful month around here, in terms of people reading stuff I write. According to WordPress, there were some 1,274 pages viewed from 670 unique visitors. That’s the largest number of pages viewed since March and April 2016, when I had a particularly successful A To Z going. It’s the greatest number of unique visitors since September 2017 when I had a less successful but still pretty good A To Z going. The page views were well above December 2017’s 899, and November’s 1,052. The unique visitors were well above December’s 599 and November’s 604.

I don’t have any real explanation for this. I suspect it’s spillover from my humor blog, which had its most popular month since the comic strip Apartment 3-G died a sad, slow, baffling death. Long story. I think my humor blog was popular because people don’t know what happened to the guy who writes Gasoline Alley. I don’t know either, but I tell people if I do find out anything I’ll tell them, and that’s almost as good as knowing something.

Still, this popularity was accompanied by readers actually liking stuff. There were 112 pages liked in January, beating out the 71 in December and 70 in November by literally dozens of clicks. It’s the highest count since August of 2017 and summer’s A To Z sequence. There were more comments, too, 39 of them. December saw 24 and November 28 and, you see this coming, that’s the largest number of comments since summer 2017’s A To Z sequence.

The popular articles for January were two of the ones I expected, one of the Reading the Comics posts, and then two surprises. What were they? These.

Yes, it’s clickbait-y to talk about weird tricks for limits that mathematicians use. In my defense: mathematicians really do rely on these tricks all the time. So if it’s getting people stuff that’s useful then my conscience is as clear as it is for asking “How many grooves are on a record’s side?” and (implicitly) “How many kinds of trapezoid are there?”

If I’m counting right there were 50 countries from which I drew readers, if “European Union” counts as a country and if “Trinidad and Tobago” don’t count as two. Plus there’s Hong Kong and when you get down to it, “country” is a hard concept to pin down exactly. There were 14 single-reader countries. Here’s the roster of them all:

Country Readers
United States 879
India 89
Philippines 59
United Kingdom 37
Canada 28
Singapore 15
Hong Kong SAR China 11
Netherlands 11
Sweden 11
Belgium 9
Algeria 8
Austria 8
Australia 7
France 7
Italy 7
Switzerland 7
South Africa 6
Brazil 5
Slovenia 5
Argentina 4
Germany 4
Japan 4
Pakistan 4
Indonesia 3
Spain 3
Denmark 2
Egypt 2
European Union 2
Greece 2
Iraq 2
New Zealand 2
Portugal 2
South Korea 2
Thailand 2
Ukraine 2
Bulgaria 1
Czech Republic 1
Ireland 1
Malaysia 1
Mexico 1 (**)
Namibia 1
Norway 1
Russia 1 (*)
Saudi Arabia 1
Sri Lanka 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1
Turkey 1
Uruguay 1 (*)
Vietnam 1

There were 53 countries sending me readers in December and 56 in November so I guess I’m concentrating? There were 15 single-reader countries in December and 22 in November. Russia and Uruguay were single-reader countries in December; Mexico’s been a single-reader country for three months now.

WordPress’s Insights panel says I started the month with 57,592 page views recorded, from 27,161 recorded unique visitors. It also shares with me the interesting statistics that, as I write this and before I post it, I’ve written 16 total posts this year, which have drawn an average two comments and seven likes per post. There’ve been 900 words per post, on average. Overall this year I’ve gotten 39 comments, 110 likes, and have published 14,398 words. I don’t know whether that counts image captions. But this also leads me to learn what previous year statistics were like; I’ve been averaging over 900 words per post since 2015. In 2015 I averaged about 750 words per post, and got three times as many likes and about twice as many comments per post. I’m sure that doesn’t teach me anything. At the least I won’t learn from it.

If all this has convinced you to read my posts, please, keep reading them. You can add them to a WordPress reader by way of the “Follow nebusresearch” sticker on the center-right of the page. Or you can get it delivered by e-mail using the “Follow Blog Via E-Mail” button underneath it. If you’ve got your own RSS reader, you can follow from this feed. There’s probably more ways to follow this, too. And if you want to follow me on Twitter, try @Nebusj, because that’s me and I like having company there.

What 2017 Looked Like To My Mathematics Blog


I do like doing a year-end recap of my readership. And WordPress seems not to be doing its annual little fireworks spectacular animated gif. This is a shame since this year, for the first time, I had two mathematics posts the same day and that would’ve been nice to see animated. (I had messed up the scheduled posting of one of the Summer 2017 A To Z, and had something else already planned to run that day, and it was either bump something too late or go ahead with two things on the same day.)

So what did readership look like for the whole year?

I published 164 posts in 2017, well down from 2016’s 213. 2016 had two A to Z sequences whereas 2017 had just the one. This was a median year for me. In 2015 I’d published 188 posts, and in 2014 a mere 129. In 2013 there were 106. (In 2012 there were 180, but that count is boosted by an experiment in also posting some space-history stuff that just didn’t fit the main content here.)

WordPress.com Traffic record for my blog in 2017. 12,214 views, 76,02 visitors, 1,094 likes, and 301 comments.
I started blogging here in late 2011. Sometime in late 2012 is when WordPress started tracking unique visitors so far as the let us know. 2018 is looking a bit flat but, you know, it’s got some promise of something or other, I like to think.

12,214 pages viewed over the 2017, which is down from 2016’s 12,851. Not very much, though, especially for how much less stuff I published. It’s a bit higher than 2015’s 11,241. I’m not sure what to make of basically flat numbers of page views over three years. Mostly I suspect, deep down, that not being able to easily read the Jumble puzzles, and occasionally include them in Reading the Comics posts, has hurt my readership and my engagement. If you know a good source for them, please, let me know.

The number of unique visitor has risen steadily, though. 2017 had the greatest number of distinct people stopping by, with 7,602 logged. In 2016 they were 7,168 in number, and in 2015 only 5,159. 2014 saw 3,382; 2013, 2,905 unique visitors. That’s a pretty dramatic growth in unique visitors per published post, a statistic that WordPress doesn’t keep and that’s of significance only because I can keep dividing things until I find some sort of trend line. Still, 2013 through 2015 it’s an almost constant 27 unique visitors per post, and then in 2016 that rose to 33 and then to 46.

The number of likes plummeted to 1,094. 2016 had seen 2,163, and 2015 — the first year I did an A to Z — some 3,273 things were liked. Comments similarly plummeted; there were 301 in 2017. 2016 saw 474, and 2015 some 822. I am not sure what I did right that first A to Z that I haven’t quite recaptured, or built upon.

For all that the 2015 through 2017 were the most-read years of my little blog here, the most popular pieces were from before that. The top five most-read posts were … well, three are ones I would have guessed. The other two surprised me:

This at least implies what to do: more polygons and game show riddles. The most popular piece from 2017 was What Would You Like In The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z?, my appealing for enough topics to write about for two months straight. (Blogging is never easier than when someone else gives you topics to write about.)

I got visitors from 113 nations of the world, says WordPress, and here they are:

Country Readers
United States 6973
United Kingdom 784
India 547
Canada 450
Philippines 442
Singapore 243
Australia 194
Austria 187
Germany 172
Turkey 135
Hong Kong SAR China 126
France 108
Spain 108
Brazil 107
Slovenia 104
Italy 93
Puerto Rico 78
Sweden 72
South Africa 63
Netherlands 47
Denmark 43
New Zealand 40
Switzerland 40
Thailand 37
Ireland 36
Argentina 33
Mexico 31
Israel 30
Romania 30
Russia 30
Belgium 29
Indonesia 29
Malaysia 28
Norway 26
South Korea 26
Poland 25
Japan 24
Bangladesh 21
Taiwan 20
Greece 18
Oman 17
US Virgin Islands 17
European Union 15
Finland 15
Portugal 15
Croatia 14
Pakistan 14
Ukraine 14
China 12
Colombia 12
Saudi Arabia 12
Slovakia 12
United Arab Emirates 12
Chile 11
Czech Republic 10
Nigeria 10
Uruguay 10
Bulgaria 9
Hungary 9
Vietnam 9
Kuwait 8
Egypt 7
Estonia 7
Belarus 6
Lebanon 6
Iceland 5
Jamaica 5
Nepal 5
Paraguay 5
Peru 5
Serbia 5
Venezuela 5
Cambodia 4
Costa Rica 4
Iraq 4
Saint Kitts & Nevis 4
Albania 3
Algeria 3
Armenia 3
Bosnia & Herzegovina 3
Cyprus 3
Kenya 3
Lithuania 3
Macedonia 3
Azerbaijan 2
Bahrain 2
Barbados 2
Ecuador 2
Georgia 2
Ghana 2
Jordan 2
Kazakhstan 2
Latvia 2
Luxembourg 2
Morocco 2
Northern Mariana Islands 2
Qatar 2
Sri Lanka 2
Trinidad & Tobago 2
Angola 1
Bahamas 1
Bermuda 1
Bhutan 1
Cape Verde 1
Ethiopia 1
Guam 1
Madagascar 1
Maldives 1
Malta 1
Palestinian Territories 1
Tunisia 1
Uganda 1
Zimbabwe 1

I understand being more read in countries where English is the primary language. Still seems like I had fewer readers from China than should’ve expected. I remember ages ago someone else (Elke Stangl?) mentioning a curious absence of readers from China and I’m curious whether others have observed this and, if so, what might be going on.

On the insights page WordPress tells me I had a total of 441 comments and 1,043 likes, which does not match what the traffic page was telling me. I wonder if the discrepancy in comments is about whether to count links from one posting to another, which are regarded as comments on the linked page. No idea how to explain the discrepancy in likes, though.

Insights says I got an average of three comments per post in 2017, and an average of six likes per post. At 153,483 words, in total, published that’s 936 words per post, on average. I’m curious what the statistics for earlier years were. I feel like I’m getting more longwinded, at least. (Also with 201,692 words on my humor blog this gives me a bit more than a third of a million words published last year. Not a bad heap of words.)

I am considering getting a proper, individual domain for my blog here. I confess I’ve never quite understood how being off on my own name would encourage more visitors than having a subdomain nestled under the wordpress.com label, but it seems to work for folks like Iva Sallay’s findthefactors.com. (Sallay also has two great hooks, between the puzzles and the lists of factors of whole numbers.) Maybe I just need to poke around it some more until the whole matter becomes irrelevant, and then I can act, wrongly.