Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Screen capture 28th January; text figures updated 30th January


“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” — Benjamin Disraeli (attributed)

Do you look at your blog’s statistics, as provided by the backroom boys and girls of WordPress? (Or, rather, merely thrown up due to some clever programming?) Perhaps you think it’s as infra dig as Googling™ your name? Well, I’m a reprobate and beyond succour because not only do I check up how easy it is to find out all my details online (frighteningly so — have you tried yours?) but I also give a more than cursory glance to WP’s stats (or as 19th-century wisdom has it, the third and worst kind of lie).

Now in amongst all the figures a couple of things struck me. Continue reading “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”

Don’t follow me if…


Social media is a funny thing when it comes to readership. For many it is a matter of numbers, about how many friends you can get on Facebook, how many followers on Tumblr. On Instagram it can reach ridiculous heights with desperate requests, often multiple, aimed at Instagrammers to FOLLOW ME?

On WordPress the atmosphere is different: no intrusive posts as on FB inviting you to befriend ‘people you may know’, no requests to become a ‘friend’ even if you’ve never heard of them, no despairing pleas to include in your social circle complete strangers posting selfies. And yet there are the bloggers who hope you will be their ersatz companion in their virtual world. Who are they, and how do I know whether they’re genuine or not?

Well, first they never ‘like’ a post, nor do they comment. (I’m not talking spammers here, by the way, but Crikey do they comment.) This is the first sign that they haven’t read your posts, and really don’t know the content of your blog.

Second, they have something to sell. It may be religion (“How to take Jesus/Thor/Gaia into your heart.”). It may be how to get more followers — for a fee. It may simply be someone hoping that you’ll think their novel, published in chapter-length posts, is just the thing to light up your world and give them that validation that they want; well, I understand that — we’re nearly all of us by posting looking for validation, are we not? — but surely this is not the way to go about it.

WordPress have useful advice on getting more traffic and, by extension, getting more followers if that’s what you want. If you want more views, they say, read and comment on other blogs. They suggest you “find the people that care about the same stuff that you do”. They then think you should “subscribe to their blog and get to know them a bit. When you see an article that interests you, click through to their site and leave a comment with your thoughts.” As Mr Punch says, that’s the way to do it.

Blogging is not just about you (though it’s tempting to think so). It’s about how you connect with other people, even if you don’t care whether you have a thousand, ten or zilch followers, otherwise you wouldn’t air your thoughts online. And it’s that connection that I’m interested in, not bigging up my legion of camp followers.

So, don’t follow me if you don’t read my blog, or if you’re not interested in my ideas. But then, hey, if you’ve read this far you probably are interested — in fact, you and I may have been conversing a long time. I really won’t be offended if you neither ‘like’ nor comment. But it would be nice if you did.

And now that reminds me, where are those blogs I’ve followed and neglected to read, like or respond to in a long time? Or indeed ever…