4 Years of Blogging

by Benjamin Studebaker

August 4 is the blog’s birthday. Once a year, I permit myself to write a self-indulgent post about the state of the blog on or near the blog birthday. To date, I have maintained my promise to only do this once annually. I have no intention of regularly subjecting my readers to my banal self-reflections.

This series serves two purposes:

  1. Record Keeping–it allows me to record precisely how much the blog has progressed to this point, what posts did well or poorly this year, and so on.
  2. Sharing–it allows me to share a few of the best (and worst) posts of the last year with regular readers, in the hope that some of them might see renewed interest.

If you are particularly interested in the history of this blog, please check out the previous iterations in this series:

Let’s start with statistics.

Year over Year Changes:

The blog gained 5,227 followers in the last year, up from 4,058 in Year 3. That’s a gain of 28.8%:

Blog Followers Per Year

The blog received 1,469,160 views in the last year, up from 1,127,358 in Year 3. That’s a gain of 30.3%:

Blog Views Per Year

This blog received 1,772 comments in the last year, down from 2,713. This is a decline of 34.6%:

Blog Comments Per Year

I ended on-site blog comments on February 20, 2016 because I increasingly found them distracting, though I still sometimes respond to messages on my public Facebook page and Twitter, which you can find at the bottom of any page on this site. My Facebook followers still often have lively discussions about posts. I try not to weigh in too much, but every now and then I get sucked in.

The blog averaged 4,025 hits per day this past year, up from 2,844 in Year 3. There are peaks and troughs–in February 2016 I averaged 28,459 per day, but in September 2015 I averaged just 544. Since February 2016 every month has managed at least 1,274 per day, a 7-month streak of averages over 1,000. Before February I only exceeded 1,000 per day twice, in May and November 2015.

Despite the hit increases, I am not as prolific as I used to be–before starting my PhD, I used to write many more posts. I came out with 85 new posts this year, down from 115 a year ago. That’s a decrease of 26%:

Blog Posts Per Year

I hope what I’ve lost in quantity I’ve made up for with improvements in quality.

All-Time Totals:

I now have a total of 10,623 followers. They follow through WordPress, E-Mail, Facebook, and Twitter.

Blog Followers All-Time

I have 2,673,136 hits:

Blog Views All-Time

I have 6,900 comments:

Blog Comments All-Time

And I have 640 posts, including this one:

Blog Posts All-Time

Over time, I write fewer posts, but the average post gets longer and more detailed. I now suspect that the average post is about 1,500 words–I rarely go above 2,000 or under 1,000. If that’s true, then I’ve written 960,000 words in the last four years on this blog. That’s nearly as long as the entire Harry Potter series (1,084,000 total).

The most popular day of blogging in blog history was May 6, 2015, during Year 3. On that date, I racked up 455,374 views in a single 24-hour period.

The five most popular blog posts written in the last year (between Aug 4, 2015 and Aug 4, 2016) were:

  1. Why Bernie vs Hillary Matters More Than People Think (February 5, 2016, 732,556 hits)
  2. Gary Johnson is Worse Than Donald Trump (July 29, 2016, 166,995 hits)
  3. Why Bernie Sanders is More Electable Than People Think (February 10, 2016, 67,588 hits)
  4. 4 Arguments Against Accepting Syrian Refugees and Why They All Fail (November 20, 2015, 40,397 hits)
  5. Clinton Supporters are Scaremongering about Donald Trump to Silence the Concerns of the Young and the Poor (March 25, 2016, 37,278 hits)

Of the five, I am proudest of the top post because it brought so many new people to the blog and helped so many other posts find a larger audience. It was also gratifying to write a second post that crossed the half million mark this year–it makes the first heavy hitter look less like a fluke.

Here are the top five posts all-time (written since August 4, 2012):

  1. Britain: For the Love of God Please Stop David Cameron (May 2, 2015, 898,313 hits)
  2. Why Bernie vs Hillary Matters More Than People Think (February 5, 2016, 732,556 hits)
  3. Gary Johnson is Worse Than Donald Trump (July 29, 2016, 166,995 hits)
  4. 13 Terrible Tory Counterarguments (May 6, 2015, 73,589 hits)
  5. Why Bernie Sanders is More Electable Than People Think (February 10, 2016, 67,588 hits)

There are no longer any posts written before 2015 in the top 5, which is the first time that’s happened. The earlier posts lack the exposure my later material has on account of the Cameron and Bernie posts. So this year I’m also including the top 5 pre-viral posts, from before May 2, 2015:

  1. Stagflation: What Really Happened in the 70s (December 30, 2012, 18,028 hits)
  2. Why ISIS is Beheading Americans and What We Can Do About It (September 4, 2014, 17,312 hits)
  3. A Critique of Existentialism (September 5, 2012, 11,008 hits)
  4. The Starks are Not the Good Guys: Morality and Game of Thrones (April 21, 2015, 10,636 hits)
  5. Developing Countries Shouldn’t Host the Olympics (February 8, 2014, 10,221 hits)

Sometimes I really like one of my posts, but it doesn’t catch on. Here are five posts I love with less than 1,000 hits:

  1. Cecil the Lion and the 3 Pitfalls of Outrage Politics (August 1, 2015, 677 hits)
  2. Why American Families are Worse Off Now Than They Were in 1997 (December 10, 2015, 608 hits)
  3. This is Horrible, but it’s No Coup: Why the Greek Deal is Democratic (July 14, 2015, 591 hits)
  4. Michael Brown, Ferguson, and Implicit Racism in America (August 28, 2014, 506 hits)
  5. The 8 Political Types (February 7, 2014, 375 hits)

I also like to laugh at myself–here are the 5 biggest duds of the last year:

  1. Jeb Bush’s Plan to Privatize Medicare Would Be a Disaster (July 28, 2015, 178 hits)
  2. Why the Speaker of the House is a No-Win Situation for Republicans (October 11, 2015, 203 hits)
  3. Chicago Protesters Had Good Reason to be Upset Long Before Laquan McDonald (November 26, 2015, 214 hits)
  4. The Third Republican Debate and the Tale of the Terrible Tax Plans (November 2, 2015, 336 hits)
  5. Election.gov: How to Eliminate Political Money and Campaigning (September 3, 2015, 372 hits)

And finally, there are the all-time bombs, the posts that received so little attention I almost feel guilty for taking the time to write them. At this point I’ve written so many posts that WordPress does not even bother to put these posts in the all-time list. I have to go to a special dark place on WordPress where few tread to discover the shameful secret that are these five posts:

  1. Space Age Stimulus (August 26, 2012, 18 hits)
  2. The Core Goods Model (September 24, 19 hits)
  3. Republican Party Platform Part II: Constitutional and Energy Policy (September 4, 2012, 20 hits)
  4. Republican Party Platform Part III: Miscellaneous and Social Policy (September 2, 2012, 21 hits)
  5. The Immense Obstinacy of Ed DeMarco (August 13, 2012, 21 hits)

If the title doesn’t get people to click on the post and the content doesn’t get people to share it, posts die. It’s sad, but that’s how it works.

I’m continuing my PhD at Cambridge this year. I’ll be running supervisions for two undergraduate modules, which might make me a bit busier. But you never know with this stuff–the urge to write posts comes and goes. I am looking forward to the end of the US presidential election cycle. It’s easier to get hits when you write about major elections, but elections do distract us from other political issues and causes, and once the primaries are over the election coverage gets even shorter on substance and even more horse race oriented.

To my regulars out there, both new ones and old ones, I want to thank you all so much for continuing to read what I write. I consider it an honor that you choose not only to read to the end of my lengthy posts, but that you return to read me again and again. I respect that you have only so much time and energy to invest in reading political material, and it is immensely gratifying to me that you continue to deem me worthy of that time. I hope my future output continues to be a worthy investment.