Lies damn lies and statistics


“Lies damn lies and statistics” (with some punctuation that I’ve conveniently removed for SEO purposes) is of course a famous saying attributed to Mark Twain when describing the persuasive power of numbers. With the installation of the new server and the hubris of having something that ran well with relatively little latency, I got curious to see exactly how I was doing. In a word: fugly.

The graphic really is an accurate representation of yearly unique pageviews.

This site has been online for slightly over five years, coming online on January 01 2009. I didn’t do a whole lot in terms of content because I was relearning the command line on a variant of BSD in an attempt to configure the original machine to do basic things but I was making the odd post here and there.

While a real human did occasionally stumble here (and recoiled quickly) from time to time, I did do three things right which really started to draw readership and accounted for most of the 8700 unique views that year: I blogged about dim sum (posts currently set to private pending revamp of photos), blogged about asparagus and crab soup, and made a bacon explosion (also set to private pending revamp of photos). I would have thought that anything related to “barbecue” or “bacon” would be the major drivers but it turns out that on the Big Croissant, there are way more people interested in finding a place to have dim sum. Those dim sum posts are going to get priority once the rest of the configuration is complete and I finish with a little bit of performance tuning.

Pontiac Fiero GT2010 was actually unfolding as a meh kind of year as well, with a lot of meh writing while I was being crushed by moldy apples just outside of Paris (hah – “launching in January” my a$$), but I snapped a particular photo for a throwaway joke referencing CSI (the good one based in Vegas) and was suddenly inundated with hits.

The lesson learned was “don’t make fun of the Fiero” because the Fiero has been what people came to this site to see until late last year, when British visitors desperate for innovative ways to serve prawn cocktail for their The-Former-Religious-Holiday-in-December-That-is-Now-a-Civic-Holiday-Openly-Embraced-and-Enjoyed-by-All-Denominations-and-Faiths dinners suddenly made cube-shaped prawns with Marie Rose sauce the most popular post.

ClockwiseThe Fiero continued its strong draw into 2011, but August 2011 generated double the monthly number of pageviews thanks to yet another quickie throwaway post about my pal Ronny dealing with flying monkeys, and a post on how to peel grapes.

I sort-of understand the relationship to flying monkeys because it’s illustrated with a photo of blue nitrile gloves and people still driving Fieros are probably of an age where there’s that annual “relax and cough” with the proctologist. But the grapes? Maybe it was the fruitiness of the year as a whole, but I recall it was fruit in not a good way.

Pageviews did a spectacular crash-and-burn in 2012 and I have yet to recover from that.

The catastrophic RAID-5 failure knocked the blog offline until I could find replacement drives and rebuild the array (propellerhead note: RAID-5 isn’t good enough; you really want either ZFS on RAID-6 or Btrfs on RAID-10), but I really made a spectacularly idiotic decision to split the blog over a multisite array thinking it would better differentiate content. First of all, I don’t generate that much content to begin with, multisite blogs have the same administrative work but just multiplied by the number of sites, and the old server was too pokey to handle so much overhead. People don’t look at sites they can’t load and the timeouts were killing me. It got so bad that I pulled the plug 10 months into the experiment and reverted back into a single site.

I should have also pulled the plug on my phone as well, because simultaneous to this I was getting robocalled by the RNC because I was somehow listed as a part of Mitt’s 53%. But I digress…

Mistake number two perpetrated in 2013: because of the rise of business-oriented social media, I figured that I could transform the URL into a static semi-pro with a menu link to the blog. People don’t like unclear menus to access content; they read the placeholder image and move one, and generally don’t come back. Big lesson learned. This site will continue to be a personal blogsite and the business stuff will spin out over here. I haven’t decided whether or not to keep the wordle.

So, bringing up the new server and transferring things over couldn’t have happened at a better time. Responsiveness makes me feel like scribbling again and I did say that new hardware + new server software => faster reading experience => more snark per second. I don’t think anything I put out will be anywhere close to this when it comes to interest or raising eyebrows, but I might yet hit another one out.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply