Blog traffic to aim for?

A few New Zealand bloggers pay attention to their traffic statistics. Some are even interested in how they do in the local blog ratings (NZ blog ranks – March β€˜09, nz blogosphere rankings: February 2009 & Half March Half Done Stats).

But here’s something to aspire to.

US scientific blogger PZ Myers reports that his blog, Pharyngula) recorded 2,296,911 visits in March! (See What are all you people doing here?). My detectors show Pharyngula has almost 6000 Google Reader subscriptions! It also comes number 1 in the international Atheist Blog Ratings and anecdotally is known to be the most popular science blog.

It’s great to see that a blog promoting science and reason, (and opposing hatred, superstition and ignorance) gets so many readers.


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17 responses to “Blog traffic to aim for?

  1. “Richard Dawkins did it again, clearly stating his opinion of the Pope’s policy on birth control and AIDS prevention. One problem: he left out another possibility. The Pope could be evil.

    I tend to favor a combination of all of the above….

    What he actually said was,

    The Pope is either stupid, ignorant or wicked.”

    So this is opposing hatred and ignorance?

    Sounds more like promotion to me.


  2. While it’s great to see the readership he is getting, I think it also has a down side. I was reading a comment on another blog to the effect that the writer no longer reads the comments on PZ’s blog posts. The implication was that this took something away from PZ’s blog, and I agree. I meant to reply to the effect that I think there is a happy medium, where you can converse. If there are too many comments, it’s too time consuming and too difficult to converse. (Especially as no blogs I know of use the hierarchial threaded “trees” I am used to from the more traditional newgroups. Among other things these let you skip a line of conversation if the top post in a line of conversation suggests it wouldn’t interest you. If you know of blog software that does this, I wouldn’t mind hearing of it. It’s a bit more than simple nesting of comments, though.) Personally, I think more than, say, 30-40 comments on an article in a days is too much work for readers interested in the issue at hand unless there is some structure to the comments.


  3. Scrubone – I guess Dawkins is being charitable – people often do bad things out of ignorance rather than malice.

    But, considering the Pope must be surrounded by advisors who know the science of the matter one is tempted to conclude that his claim the use of condoms promotes the spread of aids is actually wicked.

    At least that is the conclusion many are coming to – including many Catholics who are criticising the Pope’s statement on this.

    Heraclides – Yes the comments are daunting. Must admit although I usually try to read PZ’s posts (which are often great) I don’t usually pay much attention to the comments. I agree about threaded comments. Perhaps someone should drop a line to PZ or Science Blogs. It must be easy enough to incorporate this feature.


  4. @1: Isn’t ‘wicked’ just a lighter way of saying ‘evil’? It also avoids an specific meanings a Catholic might place on ‘evil’.


  5. Much as I hate defending the Pope, I think he may have been referring to the end outcome. Sure, condoms are ‘good’ protection against HIV, but if this encourages an increase in sexual liasons, the net effect may be an increase in infections. That is the statistical finding in some cases.


  6. “That is the statistical finding in some cases.”

    OK Ross – give us a reference or link to the stats showing this for Africa (which Pope Benny was referring to). Sexual liaisons seem to be pretty widespread without the use of condoms.

    I think we are pretty familiar with the stats and results of the scourge of aids in that continent. Surely it’s immoral to stand by, or work against a solution.


  7. I am new to WordPress, after three years of using the incompetent Blogger platform.

    However, I used to like using Google’s analytics software. Is there anything like that for WordPress that’s free?

    I have to upgrade my wordpress in order to edit the CSS, at least I think so.


  8. Ross,

    Sexual liaisons in Africa are very wide-spread with or without condom use, partly for “cultural” reasons. (And before they were in widespread use.)


    Putting my programmer’s hat on for a moment… I suspect to “thread” comments needs a little more tracking, in that the database would need to track the comment replied to, rather than just the article. It shouldn’t be hard to add, but it would require internal modifications. ‘d like to think it’d be justified, as then you could skip over “idiots” have a tiff if you wanted to πŸ™‚ , but I worry that in PZ’s case the structure of the posts might remain too “flat” for users to benefit much.

    No-one in particular πŸ™‚ ,

    My second post crossed over Ken’s.


  9. [off-topic]

    You’d like this:

    “There has been a sharp rise in the number of New Zealanders with no religious affiliation, new research shows.”


  10. Replying to Ken re: source for condoms and end results:
    “There is,” Green added, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”


  11. Ross, thank you for linking to that article. I’ve glanced through some of the studies that link off that article and there seems to be some good science behind the concept of the potential dangers of ‘risk-reduction’ as well as the proven benefits of education.

    I think that this should be a multi-pronged approach however. Rather relying on education-only or just a mass condom-fest I think it important to combine good education with the means to practice safe sex.

    The danger I see with the Catholic approach is that they are dogmatically bound to discourage contraceptive use regardless of any scientific findings that support it and, conversely, it is also dangerous for quick-fix NGOs who want to simply distribute condoms without the necessary education around the dangers of sexually transmitted disease.

    Once again, cheers for the link.


  12. “But, considering the Pope must be surrounded by advisors who know the science of the matter one is tempted to conclude that his claim the use of condoms promotes the spread of aids is actually wicked. ”

    I notice that there is some discussion here on that topic – I won’t bother to read it all as I’ve already read how the pope has been backed by people in the know.

    My point however was that they’ve just bashed the pope, not discussed his science. Clearly his remarks are not necessarily wrong, but the post just abused him.

    Hardly “promoting science and reason”. (I think I covered the rest above πŸ™‚


  13. Would have liked a link to the actual statistical study for Africa. My experience is that journalist quotes very often distort stats.

    However, I agree with Damian that a multi-pronged approach is necessary and a component warning against casual, unknown liaisons should be, and is, a part of this. After all we do that here too. Wouldn’t it have nice if Pope Benny had been able to get past religious dogma and promote a multi-pronged approach instead of speaking against one important component.

    I visited South Africa 12 years ago when the aids epidemic was smaller but still of concern. People I spoke to then said that the basic problem amongst Africans was the macho attitudes. Men considered condom use was somehow unmanly. Unfortunately the Pope’s message will reinforce that superstitious attitude.

    Of course the Catholic Church has interfered not only with casual sexual relations but with monogamous ones. Condom use is condemned (but widely practised) amongst Catholics in monogamous relationships. In the African situation even monogamous sexual liaisons can be very risky.


  14. WordPress now offers threaded comments. This is certainly true for WP2.7 self installs, not sure about sites.

    I do know a few high profile bloggers who prefer not to allow comments: No Right Turn gave ’em up because moderating was too much work, but Mark Bernstein thinks they are awrong in principle. Me, I like the community aspect… if not the trolls. πŸ˜‰


  15. And you’d think I might notice… ;-(


  16. Now I feel silly. That ‘Reply’ is a little too subtle at first glance.

    When I meant nested threads like the traditional newsgoups, they’re a slightly different thing. Each new “top-level” comment has it’s own “subject” line. Usually only the subject lines are displayed, or perhaps only the top-level posts, or a few other variants, but not all of the comments. They cope with large numbers of posts in a compact way, etc. Probably those that are already familiar with them will get what I mean and those that aren’t won’t, so I’m guessing my explanation is pointless!


  17. But Ken’s got nesting set to only three levels, I think, because I can’t reply to your reply…

    It is possible to integrate WordPress (self-hosted, not .com) with a full “forum”-type backend fro comments. There are a couple of solutions, but bbPress is the best known, and under active development. Not exactly plug and play at the moment…


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