Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Blogging About Blogging

I try to avoid blogging about blogging, although I'm not sure why, since I generally enjoy reading other people's posts about the mechanics of keeping a blog up and running. Anyway, I was doing a bit of much-needed maintenance and background stuff this morning and several things came together that I thought might be worth either sharing or recording.

  • Half a million page views. 

Later today or possibly tomorrow Inventory Full will rack up it's 500,000th page read according to Blogger's in-house statistics. These vary wildly from the stats on Google Analytics, which, since they both come out of Google, is disconcerting. Google Analytics has lifetime views at 378k but it's the internal Blogger stats that I pay attention to day by day so this is quite a landmark.

Visitors consistently come in at a roughly even split between new and returning readers, the average number of pages read per session is heading towards three, a visit tends to last almost a minute and a half and my bounce rate (those people who leave from the page they arrived on without "interacting" with it at all) is under 1%. I think all that means more real readers than bots, although I certainly get my share of those. I hope it does, anyway.

Month by month the figures vary but over the lifetime of the blog the line on the graph is still on a vaguely upward trajectory. The highest month ever for page views was August 2013, which entirely un-coincidentally coincides with the period where I was posting mainly about FFXIV:ARR as it launched.

The most-viewed post ever came a week after that red-letter month. I titled that post quite cynically and it had exactly the result I expected. If you want page views, put "Review" or "Guide" in the post title and write something, anything really, about whatever game has the zeitgeist at the time.

Looking back, 2013 seems to have been something of a golden year. All five of the top five posts by page views came in that 12 month period. That said, the second-highest month was August 2014 so maybe people just run out of things to do in the dog days of summer and find themselves reduced to reading blogs.

February 2015 was the third-highest month and March should run it close, though, so here's hoping for August 2015 - could be a record-breaker, especially if ANet co-operate and release Heart of Thorns around the anniversary of the launch of GW2. I feel a review coming on...





  • Backing Up Your Blog

It goes without saying that you should do this if you want to be able to re-read your words of wisdom through the long, dark nights of your elder years. Even if you run with Blogger and believe Google will be around forever the example of Google Reader set a huge red warning flag.

You can and should use Google's own Takeout service regularly as well as using Blogger's Export function to keep an atom format file that can be migrated to another blogging platform should Google decide to get out of the blogging business. Also, naturally, use the  Template backup every time you change something.

All that's pretty boring though. Much, much more interesting is the option to turn your entire blog into a book. You can do that, literally, but it's rather expensive if you post as much as I do. Unfeasibly so in fact. 

For the extremely affordable cost of "free", however, the same company will make your entire blog into a PDF file, comments, links and pictures included. I just did it. It only took just a few minutes and I was so pleased with the result that I kicked in a donation of 10 Euros, for which generosity I was rewarded with the option to re-compile it using high-resolution illustrations.

The revised version is compiling as I type. I noticed there's an option to interface with Amazon's self-publishing operation. It's tempting to explore that further but the potential copyright issues over all those in-game screenshots gives me the shivers just thinking about it so maybe not...


  • Comments Awaiting Moderation
I have never had any problem with open commenting here, touch wood, fingers crossed, spit three times. Blogger's spam filter is superb at catching bot comments and everyone who is kind enough to leave a comment acts like a responsible adult even through the veil of anonymity allowed.

One thing I did a long time back was set a time limit on how long comment threads remain open. I set it at seven days and that worked fine but it does seem a little short so I've upped it to three weeks. Any comment made after that goes into Moderation.

 Which would be fine if I remembered to look every few days and see if anything was caught in that net. But I don't.

This morning, because I was rootling around down the back of Blogger, I happened to notice half a dozen lost comments "awaiting moderation". All but one were genuine and should have been authorized immediately.

Apologies to everyone concerned. If you posted a comment in the last few weeks and it never appeared, well it might be there now. If it isn't then the internet ate it because I've nothing left to moderate. Or possibly it got caught in the spam filter. If so, it's gone. I just deleted 300+ comments and there were no genuine ones in the first hundred, after which I lost the will to carry on looking.

I'll do my best to keep on top of late comments in the future but I'm not promising anything.


16 comments:

  1. Some very interesting points. To be honest after four years of blogging I'd not really considered backups - it's a free site so I'd not really thought about it as a permanent thing. Wordpress has a free XML export which covers all the text content but not uploaded media. I may have to consider a paid plan in future to get rid of adverts and offer a more comprehensive backup solution.

    The PDF blog book is also a nice find. I may have to give that a whirl as that'd "backup" everything pictures included!

    My current peak of annual views is in 2013 all the views per visit have increased year on year. One difference from 2013 and 2014 is that I post half as often now - every other day instead of daily. Does post frequency factor at all in your stats, with reference to the 2013 peak for instance?

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    1. Post frequency has disturbingly little to do with page views as far as I can tell. Except for the odd post that takes off, usually because it gets linked somewhere with good traffic, each day seems to get very similar numbers whether I post or not. Even when I'm away for a week and don't post at all there isn't a huge difference. Makes me wonder if people just come to use the Blog Roll...

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    2. Based on the number of regular referrals I get from you, it's quite probable.

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    3. Sometimes, yes. But I always stop and read what's up if you've posted.

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  2. Congrats on the half million milestone when it hits!

    Backing up is an interesting item. Eight and a half years in my own blog is big enough that, while I can export it to an XML file, it is too large to be imported back into a WP.com blog (though it might be possible still with a self-hosted blog) as well as being too large to run through any of the conversion scripts to move the blog to another platform such as Blogger.

    My only real backup is an email archive. In addition to subscribing to my own RSS feeds in order to keep an eye on them, I am also subscribed to get each day's posts email to me. Those go to a folder on that account, so I have "all the words" backed up somewhere. But, then again, I am using a Yahoo email account for that, and who knows if they will be around forever either. The joys of the internet. At least the Internet Archive hits my site for a backup regularly.

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    1. Yes, I foresee size becoming a problem. The PDF "book" is nearly 3000 pages long. I just today set posts to come to my email - never occurred to me before. I guess I should send them to a couple of different emails really. It's easy to get too paranoid about this stuff though, especially for a hoarder like I am. I'm sure it'll all be there - somewhere - for longer than I am.

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  3. The Blogger graph had been screwed up for a while on dates (thinking that I'd started in ever-receding years), but seeing yours prompted me to check mine and it's gratifying accurate from when Blogger started tracking. I guess all those times I submitted feedback helped. Gratz on your near milestone, you've given me a couple blog maintenance things to think about.

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    1. Heh! That's kind of why I posted it. It's so easy to let this stuff slide and you never even think about it until something happens. My last full back-up before today was last year sometime which really isn't good enough.

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  4. Congrats! I haven't looked at analytics in over a year. I simply just want to write, and I know a few people read KTR... that's good enough. Still 1/2 million page views is pretty big, especially considering that doesn't take into account RSS feed readers.

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    1. Google Analytics I look at once in a blue moon. The Blogger stats, though, are there in front of me every day so it's hard not to be aware of them. In the end though, as Wilhelm often observes, the only real way to tell if anyone's reading is by the comments you get. And in any case the main person I'm writing for is myself - and I read me all the time!

      The thing about RSS readers is interesting. I always wondered if those were counted. I deliberately click through Feedly to the actual websites partly to be sure my view is counted. Seems rude just to read the whole thing in the reader somehow.

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  5. Archive.org aka the Wayback Machine can be remarkably good. I got around to submiting my own posts to it deliberately, but that might be a good thing to do. Don't know if there are any tools to automate that kind of thing. Regardless it's been great for getting back the content of an old blog I let die without backup, and for getting back at least some of my contributions to various sites that have bitten the dust.

    Even that might not be around forever so I guess it's always good to backup in multiple ways.

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    1. I just checked and the Wayback Machine is sampling me regularly. I vaguely remember filling out a form for it some time ago. That thing must be vast! I wonder where they back it up?

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  6. Less than 1% bounce rate! GA puts my own at nearly 85%... I guess that's what I get for giving my blog a name that's a bad pun...

    Congratulations on the milestone!

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    1. Thanks! I had to check what "bounce rate" actually meant before I wrote that bit. I wasn't sure if a low number was good or bad.

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  7. Congratulations =) I proudly own a few hundred of those views, no doubt =) Glad to share!

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    1. Thanks! You're right up there in the commenter stakes too. I was flipping through the PDF "Book" yesterday and it took me by surprise just how far back some of the regular commenters have been putting their two-pennyworth in here. Long may it continue!

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