In a vain attempt to figure out what you, dear visitors, are most interested in when bothering to visit my blog, I have been collecting blog stats over the last 4 months (with a sampling once a month) of the blog posts I made in the past two years. The hope is to figure out
1) What’s hot and what not?
a. Are readers interested in posts about my research output (or about other topics)?
b. Is there a correlation between amount of visits and comments (barring me and pingbacks)?
2) Given the assumed short attention span of blog readers, do visits to older posts (age > 4 months) stagnate?
The raw data set (xls) can be viewed here; 32 posts are included that were posted since April 2006, with an overall amount of 3254 page visits by 18-6-2008 according to the sum of individual post visits. This is different than the wordpress graph for monthly aggregates, shown here that counts more visits (6674 as of today).
Visitors care little about my main research topics (granularity, part-whole relations, formal conceptual data modelling), but there is slightly more interest in the side-topics with bio & reasoning. Topics that are not (or not yet) part of my research or are not about research at all but were fun writing about receive much more traffic.
There is no correlation between amount of visits and comments.
The answer to question 2 is inconclusive: some posts stagnate, some keep on being visited and steadily increasing in amount of hits. They generate about 51 % of the monthly page hits.
Possible explanations are that I have not been able to write in an accessible manner about my research, or that, indeed, there are very few people can get excited about those topics, or, given the somewhat higher visits for bio & reasoning, the blog is not in the ‘right’ network for those topics (maybe there is none?) but it is at least to some extent linked with the bioinformaticians and therefore has relatively more visits in that area. As far as the visits to the, in my opinion, “fun topics” concerned: are you here to slack? Or maybe the general assumption of blogs is more about diversions and networking; but if it were, then why is there no correlation between visits and comments? Maybe my “fun topics” are another person’s daily research (e.g., sudokus, AI and cultural heritage).
The posts that stagnate are clearly out-of-sight-out-of-mind. For the posts that keep on being visited, my informed guess – based on random checks of the search terms – is that there has been a critical mass of visitors so that those pages made into the search engine rankings. An alternative explanation is that they are cross-linked on other blogs (such as Women in Science and Computational Biology News, and I made it once into the BioBlogs), which is only partially true, given that the ones about multitasking and that we are what we repeatedly do are not linked by other blogs, yet score among the top three.
Last, there may be problems with the data: (i) the data set may be too small with infrequent postings and/or (ii) the existence of the blog is too short, and/or (iii) the total amount of hits is insignificant anyway.
Based on post visits, posts about my research are deemed comparatively uninteresting. Older posts still can generate substantial traffic compared to the overall amount of visits.
Future work on deciding what to write about depends on the value system in place, and maybe other bloggers can do a similar analysis so as to obtain statistically significant conclusions. In a different light: the same does not hold for my home page visits (the causes of terrorism scores best by a large margin, but I actually did my MA thesis on terrorism, and several research papers are being accessed more than the “random topics”); why does this discrepancy between blog and homepage visits exist?