Sunday, 20 July 2008

Bon Anniversaire...

One year ago today, I sat down and wrote the first entry on this blog. There was no stated purpose to it, no niche to fill, no audience to satisfy - it was simply an attempt to develop a sustainable personal model for blogging. The ideal situation a year on (though I didn't specifically mention this in the original post) was that the blog would still exist and still be active. That people would be writing on it and people would be reading it. And in that sense, I am hugely pleased to have got this far.

I've been tracking the site since December on Google Analytics, and so I can give a run down of the trends from this year at least. The full report is a pdf, which you can have a look at here (it's not massive, and it's just the default report, but gives a good overview of the different things Google Analytics can track).

The basic visitor trend looks like this:
The spike near the beginning came just after Bambi wrote his review of the Chris Rock show, which brought in a ton of people over a couple of days. Reviews are the posts that bring in the most visitors in general (because they're the post titles that come up naturally in searches), with the most viewed post being my review of the Derren Brown show. It's difficult to pick out anything more complicated from the results, because the numbers are low enough that they could be thrown off by the writers visiting a couple of times a day to check comments.

Looking at visitor numbers is reasonably meaningless, in any case, because the point of the blog is not necessarily to attract random visitors, but to give a good central place for people who know each other to write about whatever they want. And in that sense the best period we went through was probably around April or May, where there was lots of posting activity on various topics, as well as comment thread discussions.

Since then things have died down somewhat, and I've felt myself slipping back into the old routine of trying to think up filler posts to keep the blog active and prompt others into writing. This is a pity, and I'd like to try to get back into the posting frequency and quality that we had earlier this year.

And so part of this post is to ask you what you think - whether you're a writer or not, and however you're reading this. What do you think of the first year? Is it interesting, are you enjoying reading what people write on here (and if you're writing, are you enjoying writing on here)? Are you writing as much as you would like, or is there anything I can do to help you write more (or write better)?

Are other people writing about the kind of things you want to read, or should there be more thematic elements? Do you comment on people's articles and do you check the comments of older articles to participate in discussions? What have you particularly liked or disliked about the posts in the last year?

Often when there are questions like this at the end of posts, they end up not getting answered by blog readers. If you don't comment (and there are people who are reading who don't, I can see you in the visitor logs :D), or don't comment often, is there any particular reason why not? Even if you're never going to comment again, please comment on this post and say why.

What should we be aiming for for the next year? More of the same? More writers? Fewer writers? A theme?

Regardless of the answers (or lack of answers) to these questions in the comments, I've very much enjoyed everything to do with this blog in the last year - and more and more so with each additional writer added to it - and I'm certainly going to make every effort to ensure that it will still be here in another 365 days time, whether exactly the same or unrecognisably different.

If there's nothing new to read at any point - try looking back over some of the older stuff. There's some good posts that I had forgotten about back there, that I definately enjoyed reading again a second time.

Hope you all have a good Sunday, and happy birthday to us!


happylittlecynic said...

Firstly, well done everyone. I have enjoyed reading the last few months of this. (Nothing wrong with the previous ones, I just wasn't a regular reader before that).

As far as a lack of comments goes, I guess there're a few reasons from my point of view. Sometimes it's just that I don't have anything particularly interesting to say, and I don't believe in commenting in that case. Other times, I need to think about something before I can form my thoughts properly, but then I forget or get distracted and so never quite get around to putting my thoughts down here. Still other times, the question posed at the end of an entry feels too much like a rather unsubtle prod to try and garner comments, which invokes a churlishness on my side and makes me less likely to say anything.

Anyway, just a few thoughts. Here's to the next year!

TheTelf said...

Cool - cheers for the feedback. In terms of forgetting or getting distracted, I would say that there's no problem in going back and commenting on an older entry if you think of something weeks or months later. With the comment sidebar and email alerts, it could even provoke discussion.

As to your point about questions being an unsubtle prod that provokes churlishness, are you saying that having previously been thinking about commenting on a post, the fact that it finished with a question encouraging you to do so would make you less likely to?

The questions at the end of posts are intended to act as a prompt for people who "have nothing interesting to say" by giving them something direct to answer. I'd be interested in what others thought about the usefulness of this tactic.

The Big LeBamski said...

What do I think of the first year? A triumph, and something of which I'm very proud to be a part. FOTSLJW (pronounced fotsul-je'wuh - I still love that acronym) has given me a true outlet for my writing, which my previous blog - and indeed many other writing pies I've had thumbs in - I feel never afforded me. Whether I have taken advantage of that outlet to its fullest is another matter. What I can say is that the times I've been posting here regularly - I mean two or three posts a week or more - have been fantastic. Then life comes up and I become inactive here for a week or two, and instead of helping to collate things to write it just makes writing something again that much harder. Hopefully once my life has some sort of order from September onwards I will be able to get back into that wonderful feeling of routine here.

I like the fact that we have as many contributors as we do, and I'd be happy to see more and more (and indeed see those who are here posting more - especially those who are more sporadic in their entries, including myself). I like reading the comment threads following entries, as they often contain the really interesting discussions built on the foundations of a single entry. I like the fact that I feel I know everyone here in some way even though I only know about half the contributors well in person, and haven't even met every single writer (yet). I like the feeling of active debate here, of friendly rivalry, of strong friendship interspersed with a wide spectrum of opinion, of an open forum for anyone to stand on their soapbox if they wish without being shouted down, but knowing they'll get a challenge if they do, and relishing that. I like the reviews. I like the links. I like the blog.

I don't want a theme. I think the looseness of the abstract at this blog's inauguration has helped it no end. Talking about anything and everything means that I'm constantly wondering what I'll be reading about next, and whether I'll have an opinion about something I didn't have one on before. As for the questions at the end of the entries, I'm not fussed either way about them. I'm just as likely to post a comment or a reply entry with them than without them. They may prove to be a good way of getting others to comment if they don't very often, so I'd keep them if you're happy with them.

My resolution for the next twelve months is to make sure I write here whenever I can about whatever has taken my interest - essentially what I've tried to do this past year, with mixed results. To paraphrase Armand Tamzarian, I'll make a game of it: see how many entries I can post in a year, then try to break that record. But never at the expense of quality, which is something FOTSLJW has managed to maintain very well.

Anyway, I'm rambling, so happy birthday PulpFact, thanks to all the contributors, and I look forward to continuing my writing and reading here.