Thursday, December 30, 2010

The 2010 (Navel-Gazing, TL:DR-bait) Cryptonaut-in-Exile Year In Review

As the clock runs down on 2010, please bear with me as I take a moment to look back on my life as a blogger this past year. 2010 is the year that will forever (in my mind) be The Year Triptych Cryptic Faded Away. During TC's death throes, I started cryptonaut-in-exile to give myself a place to land when TC finally folded. For this new blog, I decided to focus on roughly three main areas: my life as a transplanted New Englander making a home in the South, promoting secularism and progressivism, and the usual mix pop/geek culture with an emphasis on Doctor Who and Kim Stanley Robinson. Of course, atheist blogs are a dime a dozen, and I'm not exactly the second coming of Atrios, so I decided I needed to make liberal use of the "Fuquay Lens," to provide regional perspective and carve out a niche for myself. My town has a funny name. If nothing else, I figured I'd be one of the few people saying "Fuquay" a lot.

Without wanting to pander, I do want to understand which posts -- to the extent it can be measured with blogger's native tools -- have resonated, so I can continue to explore those areas of widest interest. With an eye to that, here are my most viewed posts since blogger introduced tracking sometime back in July:
  1. NC Man Curses Out, Spits On Muslim Woman In Wal-Mart
  2. Louisiana man's deer stand camera captures mysterious "human-like" figure
  3. Heath Shuler told to grab a clipboard and take a knee
  4. The Parson's Gambit
  5. Ashkirii the Mother-man?
  6. Winona Ryder tried to warn the world about drunken, anti-Semitic, homophobe Mel Gibson 15 years ago.
  7. I should have seen it coming. (Bush Plagiarism Edition)
  8. RIP Aaron Shannon, Jr.
  9. O Come All Ye Faithful And Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them
  10. Western Harnett teacher charged with having sex with student
Number one on the list was, for several weeks after posting, far and away the most read post, almost doubling the numbers of the second most read; however, the Louisiana mystery figure has been drawing google searchers more consistently since posting and looks like it may take the top spot soon. The relative popularity of the Shuler post surprised me; I must have got caught up in the slipstream of backlash against Shuler's doomed attempt to oust Nancy Pelosi from her leadership position. A couple of the most popular were just link teases for Achewood comics. (I'm trying not to take it personally that rants I pounded the keyboard furiously over, then had to edit and rewrite (to remove excessive profanity) before submitting get blown out by "hey, look, this guy drew something funny" posts. So it goes.) Well, I'm not sure what lessons to learn from these except that most of my top ten posts were in line with my three stated areas of focus; so, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and see how it goes.

Trends are interesting. Here's a peek at how this site's audience has grown since tracking started. Don't mistake this for an indication of wide popularity. The numbers even at the apex are small enough that they'd be rounded off by the blogging big boys if they were to do this same exercise. While the actual numbers may be small potatoes, the trend at least tells a pretty good story.

cryptonaut-in-exile pageview trend 2010

Where do the visitors come from? My traffic started out being largely driven by google search results, with the occasional boost from stumbleupon, current, and reddit -- the NC racist guy post got big bumps from reddit and current users in particular. I used to segregate my FriendFeed and facebook activity a bit more than I do these days, but eventually decided to stop being so shy about being atheist, so I shared the blog fully with FriendFeed and started pushing the odd post to facebook. (Yes, family members, I have a foul mouth. It's not that my parents didn't raise me right, I'm just incorrigible.) Once I opened up a bit, those two sources brought a few more eyeballs to the blog, although I'm sure I alienated some old elementary school friends along the way by also not being shy about communicating how morally bankrupt and cowardly the evidence indicates you have to be to vote Republican these days. (By "these days," I mean, "since Eisenhower.")

While I've made the blog my primary outlet for public expression on the web, I'm still active on FriendFeed and slightly active on twitter. I don't actually care much for twitter, frankly, but it plays the nicest with my phone, and there are a few tweeters out there who make the experience enjoyable.

I've tried posterous, looked at tumblr, I think I've also got Amplify and possibly some other accounts languishing out there. I've stuck with blogger though, partly out of laziness, partly because it's where TC started and I haven't had a compelling reason to change. Also, as part of google, I don't anticipate it will go away anytime soon. I'm not as sold on the relative permanence of the other platforms. I'm also accustomed to blogger's UI; I can share a link, put an image in, pull a quote, make my comment, and move on, usually in just a few seconds.

I've moved away from just posting links because, as part of importing my posts from TC, I deleted scores of old posts because they were nothing but dead links. By pulling in a bit of the content though, at least there's some inkling as to what I thought was interesting and worth sharing about the link in the first place even after the link dies. You'll also notice I tend not to quote more than a paragraph or two, or in the case of webcomics, to tease a few panels or a detail from a single panel cartoon; I do that because I want to support the content creator by, hopefully, driving people to the original link, not showing the whole thing on my site. This is an issue I have with many blogs and sites like the Daily What -- which I enjoy, but guiltily because I never click through anything they link. Why bother? They've shared it all. I'm not exactly with comfortable with the fact that they are getting the eyes (and, I imagine, the ad revenue that goes along with pageviews) that should belong to the content creator. (Steps off soapbox. I'd guess I'm something like 90 percent links and quotes, 10 percent original material, so this is a bit like a remora calling leeches freeloaders.)

One goal I have going forward is to step up the production of original fiction content. I'd also like to attend the FFRF conference in 2011 to network with other secularists and visit some old friends in Madison, WI. Otherwise, it's not likely much will change around here.

Thank you for hanging with me this year. I hope to see more of you in the year to come. And, hey, leave a comment when something here ticks you off or makes you say, "frak yeah!" It makes my day. I'm not doing this professionally, it's a hobby;  the only payment I receive is in links back or comments. (Full disclosure: I am experimenting with allowing ads in my RSS feed. Haven't seen a penny yet as a result of doing that, nor do I realistically expect to; I don't think I've ever clicked on an ad myself.)  Anytime you use the sharing options at the bottom of a post, that's also much appreciated. One thing a I got a kick out of this year was seeing the young lady who was the subject of a post here after winning a local election share that post on her facebook wall along with the real media coverage.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year to you all.
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