How February 2021 Treated My Mathematics Blog


I hadn’t quite intended it, but February was another low-power month here. No big A-to-Z project and no resumption of Reading the Comics. The high points were sharing things that I’d seen elsewhere, and a mathematics problem that occurred to me while making tea. Very low-scale stuff. Still, I like to check on how that’s received.

I did put together seven posts for February — the same as January — and here’s a list of them in descending order of popularity:

I assume the essay setting out the tea question was more popular than the answer because it had a week more to pick up readers. That or people reading the answer checked back on what the question was. It couldn’t be that people are that uninterested in my actually explaining a mathematics thing.

That’s it for relative popularity. How about for total readership?

Bar chart of monthly readership statistics for two and a half years worth of blogging. After a rise in late 2020 the readership's been dwindling the last several months, though not precipitously.
Oh, WordPress has given up on that little window promising a strategy to make money while blogging. I’m gratified they admitted it so swiftly.

I had expected readership to continue declining, since I’m publishing fewer things and having my name out there seems to matter. But the decline’s less drastic than I expected. There were 2,167 page views here in February. But in the twelve months from February 2020 through January 2021? I had a mean of 2,137.4 page views, and a median of 2,044.5. That is, I’m still on the high side of my popularity.

There were 1,576 logged unique visitors in February. In the twelve months leading up to that the mean was 1,480.7 unique visitors, and the median 1,395.5.

The figures look more impressive if you rate them by number of postings. In that case in February I gathered 309.6 views per posting, way above the mean of 157.9 and median of 135.6. There were also 225.1 unique visitors per posting, again way above the running mean of 109.9 and median of 90.7.

I’ll dig unpopularity out of any set of numbers, though. There were only 47 likes granted here in February, down from the running mean of 55.8 and median of 55.5. That is still 6.7 likes per posting, above the mean of 3.9 and median of 4.0, but it’s still sparse likings. There were a hearty 39 comments given — my highest number since October 2018 — and that’s well above the mean of 17.0 and median of 18. Per posting, that’s 5.6 comments per posting, the highest I have since I started calculating this figure back in July of 2018. The mean and median comments per posting, for the twelve months leading up to this, were both 1.2.

WordPress’s insights panel tells me I published seven things in February, which matches my experience. I still can’t explain the discrepancy back in January. It says also that I published 3,440 words over February, my quietest month since I started tracking those numbers. It put my average post at 590 words for February, and 573.3 words for the whole year to date.

I start March, if WordPress is reliable, having gathered 126,829 views from 73,273 logged unique visitors. This after 1,595 posts in total.

If you’d like to be a regular reader, I’d be glad to have you. You can read without showing up in my statistics by adding my RSS feed to whatever your RSS reader is. If you don’t have an RSS reader, you can make one by signing up for a free account at Dreamwidth or Livejournal. Then you can add feeds from here, or any web site with an RSS feed. Use https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ for Dreamwidth or at https://www.livejournal.com/syn for Livejournal. More blogs than you think have RSS feeds, even if they’re not advertised. Try adding /feed or /?feed=atom to the end of a blog’s URL. It may work!

If you have a WordPress account you can add me to your Reader by clicking the “Follow Nebusresearch” button on this page. I’ve also re-enabled the “Follow NebusResearch By E-mail” option, for people who want to see posts before I’ve fixed the typos. The typos will never be fixed. Every time an author looks at an old blog post there are three more typos, even if they’ve corrected the typos before.

My Twitter account is still feral; it announces posts but I don’t read it. If you want to social-media-engage me the way to go is @nebusj@mathstodon.xyz on the Mastodon microblogging network.

Thank you all for reading, whatever way you do that.

How January 2021 Treated My Mathematics Blog


I did not abandon my mathematics blog in January. I felt like I did, yes. But I posted seven essays, by my count. Six, by the WordPress statistics “Insight” panel. I have no idea what post it thinks doesn’t count, but this does shake my faith in whatever Insights it’s supposed to give me. On my humor blog, which had a post a day, it correctly logs 31. I haven’t noticed other discrepancies either. And it’s not like any of my seven January posts was a reblog which might count differently. One quoted a tweet, but that’s nothing unusual.

I’ve observed that my views-per-post tend to be pretty uniform. The implication then is that the more I write, the more I’m read, which seems reasonable. So what would I expect from the most short-winded month I’ve had in at least two and a half years?

Bar chart of about 30 months' worth of readership figures. January 2021 sees a slight rise in views and visitors from December 2020, though the number's below that of October and December 2020.
It’s exciting to think what this implies for the month when I publish nothing at all.

So, this might encourage some bad habits in me. There were 2,611 page views here in January 2021. That’s above December’s total, and comfortably above the twelve-month running mean of 2,039.5. It’s also above the twelve-month running median of 2,014.5. This came from 1,849 unique visitors. That’s also above the twelve-month running mean of 1,405.8 unique visitors, and the running median of 1,349 unique visitors.

Where things fell off a bit are in likes and comments. There were 41 likes given in January 2021, below the running mean of 55.2 and running median of 55.5. There were 13 comments received, below the running mean of 16.5 and running median of 18.

Looked at per-post, though, these are fantastic numbers. 373.0 views per posting, crushing the running mean of 138.8 and running median of 135.6 visitors per posting. (And I know these were not all views of January 2021-dated posts.) There were 264.1 unique visitors per posting, similarly crushing the running mean of 95.8 and running median of 90.7 unique visitors per posting.

Even the likes and comments look good, rated that way. There were 5.9 likes per posting in January, above the running mean and median of 3.7 likes per posting. There were 1.9 comments per posting, above the running mean of 1.1 and median of 1.0 per posting. The implication is clear: people like it when I write less.

It seems absurd to list the five most popular posts from January when there were seven total, and two of them were statistics reviews. So I’ll list them all, in descending order of popularity.

WordPress claims that I published 4,231 words in January. Since the Insights panel thinks I published six things, that’s an average of 705 words per post. Since I know I published seven things, that’s an average of 604.4 words per post. I don’t know how to reconcile all this. WordPress put my 2020 average at 672 words per posting, for what that’s worth.

If I can trust anything WordPress tells me, I started February 2021 with 1,588 posts written since I started this in 2011. They’d drawn a total of 124,662 views from 71,697 logged unique visitors.

If you’d like to be a regular reader, you can add the feed for these essays to whatever your RSS reader is. If you don’t have an RSS reader yet, sign up for a free account at Dreamwidth or Livejournal. You can add any RSS feed to your Reading/Friends page from https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ or https://www.livejournal.com/syn. And, if you have a WordPress account, you should be able to click the “Follow Nebusresearch” button on this page, and add this to your reader.

On Twitter I have an account that announces new posts; I guess I’m never going to work out what I have to do to access my account again. My actually slightly active social-media front is @nebusj@mathstodon.xyz on the Mastodon microblogging network. I’m still working out how to be talkative there.

Thank you all for reading. And, I hope to have a follow-up to that MLX post soon. I’m enjoying working towards it.

Breaking Andertoons News: Wavehead has a name


I will be late with this week’s A-to-Z essay. I’ve had more demands on my time and my ability to organize thoughts than I could manage and something had to yield. I’m sorry for that but figure to post on Friday something for the letter ‘Y’.

But there is some exciting news in one of my regular Reading the Comics features. It’s about the kid who shows up often in Mark Anderson’s Andertoons. At the nomination of — I want to say Ray Kassinger? — I’ve been calling him “Wavehead”. Last week, though, the strip gave his name. I don’t know if this is the first time we’ve seen it. It is the first time I’ve noticed. He turns out to be Tommy.

Wavehead meeting the substitute teacher: 'I'm Tommy. You're going to read all about me in the sub notes. I just wanted to say welcome, remember to breathe, and good luck. The game is afoot.'
Mark Anderson’s Andertoons for the 3rd of December, 2020. All the many times I write something about Andertoons and we get this news on a completely mathematics-free panel? It hardly seems fair.

And what about my Reading the Comics posts, which have been on suspension since the 2020 A-to-Z started? I’m not sure. I figure to resume them after the new year. I don’t know that it’ll be quite the same, though. A lot of mathematics mentions in comic strips are about the same couple themes. It is exhausting to write about the same thing every time. But I have, I trust, a rotating readership. Someone may not know, or know how to find, a decent 200-word piece about lotteries published four months in the past. I need to better balance not repeating myself.

Also a factor is lightening my overhead. Most of my strips come from Comics Kingdom or GoComics. Both of them also cull strips from their archives occasionally, leaving me with dead links. (GoComics particularly is dropping a lot of strips by the end of 2020. I understand them dumping, say, The Sunshine Club, which has been in reruns since 2007. But Dave Kellett’s Sheldon?)

The only way to make sure a strip I write about remains visible to my readers is to include it here. But to make my including the strip fair use requires that I offer meaningful commentary. I have to write something substantial, and something that’s worsened without the strip to look at. You see how this builds to a workload spiral, especially for strips where all there is to say is it’s a funny story problem. (If any cartoonists are up for me being another, unofficial archive for their mathematics-themed strips? Drop me a comment, Bill Amend, we can work something out if it doesn’t involve me sending more money than I’m taking in.)

So I don’t know how I’ll resolve all this. Key will be remembering that I can just not do the stuff I find tedious here. I will not, in fact, remember that.