I like starting the year with a look at the past year’s readership. Really what I like is sitting around waiting to see if WordPress is going to provide any automatically generated reports on this. The first few years I was here it did, this nice animated video with fireworks corresponding to posts and how they were received. That’s been gone for years and I suppose isn’t ever coming back. WordPress is run by a bunch of cowards.
But I can still do a look back the old-fashioned way, like I do with the monthly recaps. There’s just fewer years to look back on, and less reliable trends to examine.
2020 was my ninth full year of mathematics blogging. (I reach my tenth anniversary in September and no, I haven’t any idea what I’ll do for that. Most likely forget.) It was an unusual one in that I set aside what’s been my largest gimmick, the Reading the Comics essays, in favor of my second-largest gimmick, the A-to-Z. It’s the first year I’ve done an A-to-Z that didn’t have a month or two with a posting every day. Also along the way I slid from having a post every Sunday come what may to having a post every Wednesday, although usually also a Monday and a Friday also. Everyone claims it helps a blog to have a regular schedule, although I don’t know whether the particular day of the week counts for much. But how did all that work out for me?
So, I had a year that nearly duplicated 2019. There were 24,474 page views in 2020, down insignificantly from 2019’s 24,662. There were 16,870 unique visitors in 2020, up but also insignificantly from the 16,718 visiting in 2019. The number of likes continued to drift downward, from 798 in 2019 to 662 in 2020. My likes peaked in 2015 (over 3200!) and have fallen off ever since in what sure looks like a Poisson distribution to my eye. But the number of comments — which also peaked in 2015 (at 822) — actually rose, from 181 in 2019 to 198 in 2020.
There’s two big factors in my own control. One is when I post and, as noted, I moved away from Sunday posts midway through the year. The other is how much I post. And that dropped: in 2019 I had 201 posts published. In 2020 I posed only 178.
I thought of 2020 as a particularly longwinded year for me. WordPress says I published only 118,941 words, though, for an average of 672 words per posting. That’s my fewest number of words since 2014, though, and my shortest words-per-posting for the year going since 2013. Apparently throwing things off is all those posts that just point to earlier posts.
And what was popular among posts this year? Rather than give even more attention to how many kinds of trapezoid I can think of, I’ll focus just on what were the most popular things posted in 2020. Those were:
- Reading the Comics, March 11, 2020: Half Week Edition
- Rjlipton’s thoughts on the possible ABC Conjecture proof
- The Playful Math Education Blog Carnival #136
- Reading the Comics, February 19, 2020: 90s Doonesbury Edition
- Playful Math Education Blog Carnival 141
- My All 2020 Mathematics A to Z: Fibonacci
- Reading the Comics, May 15, 2020: Squared Away Edition
- Who’s most likely to win The Price Is Right Showcase Showdown?
- Reading the Comics, March 14, 2020: Pi Day Edition
- Reading the Comics, February 1, 2020: I Never Talk About Marvin Edition
I am, first, surprised that so many Reading the Comics posts were among the most-read pieces. I like them, sure, but how many of them say anything that’s relevant one you’ve forgotten whether you read today’s Scary Gary? And yes, I am going to be bothered until the end of time that I was inconsistent about including the # symbol in the Playful Math Education Blog Carnival posts.
I fell off checking what countries sent me readers, month by month. I got bored writing an image alt-text of “Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and most of the New World, western Europe, South and Pacific Rim Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink” over and over and over again. But it’s a new year, it’s worth putting some fuss into things. And then, hey, what’s this?
Yeah! I finally got a reader from Greenland! Two page views, it looks like. Here’s the whole list, for the whole world.
|United Arab Emirates||86|
|Hong Kong SAR China||81|
|Macau SAR China||19|
|Trinidad & Tobago||11|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||4|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||2|
|Northern Mariana Islands||1|
This is 141 countries, or country-like constructs, all together. I don’t know how that compares to previous years but I’m sure it’s the first time I’ve had five different countries send me a thousand page views each. That’s all gratifying to see.
So what plans have I got for 2021? And when am I going to get back to Reading the Comics posts? Good questions and I don’t know. I suppose I will pick up that series again, although since I took no notes last week, it isn’t going to be this week. At some time this year I want to do another A-to-Z, but I am still recovering from the workload of the last. Anything else? We’ll see. I am open to suggestions of things people think I should try, though.