Well, so far the statistics I reported last week are holding steady. More traffic in the first 4 hours of this fine Monday morning than I had all weekend.
Again, nothing Earth shaking, but I find it interesting on both a personal and professional level. One of my goals with this site was to learn more about how blogs and other general interest sites attract and maintain readership and how rapidly information propagates through the general data sphere without special effort (there may be a book on this subject in my future). As some of you may know, my professional background is in the field of Information Management and the Perception of Information, and I'm highly interested in how a single site grows and connects to the larger data sphere, how connections develop, strengthen and refresh or fade, attract new connections, decline new connections, and how information moves from one site to another. Specifically I'm interested in the information itself, independent of the site or platform, i.e. when does the information become an entity of its own, and not part of the site or database where it was created? Does this happen automatically? Does it always happen? Does it never happen? Can it be made to happen? Can it be prevented from happening? How does the information change? Etc. If this sounds like I'm talking about Information as if it is alive, I am in a way. It may help to think of how the human brain stores information, maintains it, changes and perceives it over time based on new information and experiences, and how information fades over time without refresh. Personally, though, I tend to think in terms of Object Orientated Programming, where Information and the code for manipulating it are considered to be a single object. The data object can inherit properties from parent objects, can spawn descendants, and can connect to other objects.
I use the stats from my blog as a basis for observation, but I also use a large number of other sites as data points. Both well traveled sites and those that aren't visited often. These are simple observations, not empirical data points, so take the below with a reasonable margin of error.
Couple things I've noticed:
1. To maximize data connections, a blog should post a wide range of topics.
2. To maintain data connections and provide for maximum refresh, a blog must post as often as possible - at a minimum of once per day. More than once per day is better.
3. Controversial topics may develop a momentary boost in connections, but do little to maintain or refresh long term connections. Connections developed from controversial topics tend to fade rapidly unless controversial topics are the norm. If controversial topics are the norm, connections tend to be confined to a specific interest group, and other general interest connections tend to fade rapidly.
4. Humorous content tends to propagate widely, becoming independent of source more quickly than other topics. Humorous content tends to attract, maintain, and refresh data connections more rapidly and reliably than other forms of information.
5. (Update, I had this in my outline [and yes, I do outline more serious posts], but somehow I overlooked it). Feedback. Blogs that tend to attract and hold readers are those blogs that are interactive - even if they don't interact with you in particular. In other words, blogs (and even news or topic specific sites in broadcast mode) that have active comment sections, and especially where the blogger and commenters maintain active dialog with each other, tend to attract and maintain readership. They also tend to generate spontaneous connections to other data nodes. This appears to be true even if the reader is not a commenter him/herself. It may indicate that people are more interested in conversation, instead of simple lecture formats. This is my experience in public speaking and teaching as well. When I taught military doctrine theory, I very much made my lectures interactive as well as dynamic and tied directly to the target audience. I think this is one of the major reasons I was so successful at it.
Tentative Summary: Talk about a number of different things, talk a lot, talk often, sensitive subjects attract new readers, but non-offensive humor keeps them. If you want to become immortal, be funny. Update: Engage in dialog, listen to your readers.
Question: What do you think makes a good blog. Design and layout. Topics. etc