candid thoughts on the issues of the day.
A look back at the past year
Published on December 22, 2004 By Robert Guinness In Just Hanging Out
Today is my one year anniversary of blogging on, so I thought it would be appropriate to look back on what I may or may not have accomplished in my many hours of time spent on JoeUser over the past year.

First, I have posted a total of 120 articles. Now I don’t claim all of these to be gems exactly—some have just been random musings of the mind. Others though have been significant exercises in writing and argument. I have written on a wide variety of subjects, from politics to space exploration to the politics of space exploration; from soccer and baseball to art, music, and poetry; from just boring things from my daily life to even fictional writing of things that never actually happened.

My readers have come from a variety of sources. Many are regular members of the JoeUser blogging community. Others have randomly come across my site thanks largely to the rather good PageRank rankings that JU scores in google. Most of these search engine drop-bys have been strangers, but as I’ve mentioned some are family members or friends from far off places. Still others, I have tried to cull towards JU via email and word of mouth.

It is difficult to gauge exactly how many people have read some part of my blog at some point, mostly because I don’t really understand the point system that is intended to give the user some sense of how popular his or her site is. Apparently one-tenth of a point is given towards an article that is displayed when a person comes to the “home” page of my blog ( A full point is given if someone actually clicks on the article so that it is displayed exclusively (or for example if someone followed a link that points towards a specific article). I believe points are also given if someone posts a comment to an article, and if an article gets a referral from another site, such as a search engine.

Looking specifically at the top five articles (in terms of points…by far not my five best articles) that I have contributed to JU, it is still difficult to translate the number of points into number of readers:

1. Freddy Adu: Teenage Soccer Sensation?:

Home: 499 Selected: 1797
Replies: 4 Points: 1875

Assuming all the people that selected the article actually read the article, this means at least 1797 people read the article (We should probably lower this number people a certain number of people probably clicked the article two or more times.). Then, we can also assume that a certain number of the 499 people that came to the “home” page read this article. The one-tenth point paradigm is probably a decent to slightly conservative guess of how many of those people actually read this article, meaning 49.9, or 50 rounding to the nearest reader. Again, a certain number of those are probably double-clickers and what not. Let’s combine the two figures, 1797+50=1847. Then, let’s subtract, say, a conservative 15% of those readers being double (or more) clickers. That leaves 1570 readers for this article, or 84% of the total “point value” corresponding to actual readers.

2. National Political Players Read

Home: 10547 Selected: 532
Replies: 18 Points: 1680

It seems strange, but this article far more people viewed via the “home page”. I’m not exactly sure why there would be such a huge difference. But using the same method, we get 1586 readers, minus the double clickers, we get 1348, or a whopping 80% of the total point value. (This article had more points corresponding to replies.)

3. Prosecutors Targeting Democrats?:

Home: 7752 Selected: 550
Replies: 33 Points: 1483

More or less the same situation: Using the same method, we get 1126, or 76% of the point value.

4. What do you think of this image?

Home: 855 Selected: 1273
Replies: 9 Points: 1407

On this one, we go back to people actually selecting the article at a fairly high rate. 1155 readers, or 82% of point value.

5. My Day Today, That's It!

Home: 3446 Selected: 934
Replies 0 Points: 1298

Blah, blah, blah…1087 readers, 84% of points.

Totaling these figures up, in my top five articles I had theoretically 6286 readers, which corresponds to 81% of the total point value for these articles. In theory, we could then apply this percentage to all the articles, which racked up 43,853 points in total. That would mean I had over 35,000 theoretic readers.

I should mention that there could be some systematic error, due to the fact that I chose to look at the top five articles. A better method to approximate the number of readers as a percentage of total points would to be to randomly select 10 or so articles and apply the method I described above. I’m feeling to lazy to do that right now, and I feel satisfied to say that around 80% of my points might reasonably correspond to actual readers.

Actually though, I should be careful with my terminology. When I say “reader”, it might imply that those are 35,000 different people. I highly doubt that to be the case. Obviously many of these “readers” correspond to the same person. It would perhaps be better to refer to this figure as the total number of “reads” which is the actual figure I’m looking for, that is, the number of times that a person read one of my articles.

So enough of the quasi-scientific stuff, as I said I want to look back at what I accomplished, or failed to accomplish over the last year.

As I said, I published 120 “articles”, which corresponds to about one article every three days, which I think is a fairly prolific number. Maybe prolific is too strong of a word. For an amateur “writer”, or blogger, or what have you, I think it’s fairly consistent and verbose to be writing something once every three days. Also, to have had on average *possibly* close to 300 people read each of those articles (292 per article, to be more precise), is, in my opinion, a pretty decent amateur readership.

If I have any goals for the next year of writing, I wouldn’t say I really need to increase my rate of publishing an article that much. I don’t expect myself to get to a point where I’m writing one article a day, unless I go into doing this professionally, or if I was really working towards eventually going into writing as a profession. At that point, it would be good to write at least something every day. But with my travel schedule, and with my floating around from one profession or interest to another, I don’t expect to write one article a day for the upcoming year. In fact, I don’t even expect to get up to one article every other day. But if I were trying to improve, I think it would be reasonable to set a goal of one article every 2.5 days, which would correspond to just under 150 articles. I think I could reach that goal, and I think it would be about what I want to be at: That is, every week write about three articles, with some weeks expecting to be a little slower and writing only two (The average would be 2.8 per week.)

Another issue besides total output of number articles is consistency of publishing. I’m sure there are some times that I published a lot of articles over a short period of time, and other times where I lapsed for a good month or so without publishing anything. I’m sure I could go back and quantify my consistency in some way, but I don’t really feel like doing that either. It is suffice to say, I would like to try to write at least something every single week. I’m sure this will be difficult as sometimes I will be traveling, or sick, or busy, or just interested in other things. But most places of the world now have internet, and unless I’m literally dying, I can stomach to sit in front of a computer and write a few lines. I’m also never truly too busy to spend 10 minutes of a week writing something, and lastly, it would be good to me to keep a consistent interest of writing over the next year, at least at the minimum crack of one article a week.

Lastly, the rate and consistency of publishing something is one issue, but it completely ignores the question of HOW MUCH I actually wrote. For instance, I could write 5 words a day, and still not really be writing all that much. So what I did is copy all my articles into a word document, and used the Word Count function to count up all the words I’ve typed. At first, this returned a result of 102,595, which I was quite surprised by. But I knew it was going to be too high.

First of all, when you copy a JU webpage, there are a lot of words copied that are not actual text from the articles. I corrected for this by counting up how many extra words there are per page for three separate pages, averaging this number, then multiplied this by the total number of pages. This should be the total number of extra words from the whole document, which should be about 10,000 words. Next, I realized that many of the articles I had published on JU were actually just excerpts from other articles I found on the web. So I went through and deleted all these. So with these deletions, it looks like the total number of words of original content that I produced over the last year is about 54,542. This does not include the many comments I posted to mine and other articles (About 320 comments…no idea how many total words).

This figure corresponds to about 450 words per article (454.51), which I think is a pretty good average size for these types of articles. You should want to keep things down to below 500 words on average, because that is generally people’s attention span (prob actually much less for most people).

In the word document, these words took up 177 pages, but the formatting is not like a normal word document. I was curious how many pages this would be in a normal college-type essay format. By my estimate, there are about 315 words per page in this format (double-spaced, twelve point font, 1 inch margins). That means, I typed about 173 pages of college-spaced text over the last year. Of course, I should point out, this isn’t all polished text that I would turn in for a college course. Also, you could estimate how many pages this would be in a standard paperback book. Apparently this figure varies quite a bit, but a reasonable range is 400-450 words. (more for academic minded books). This means, I would have a written a paperback book of around 130 pages, again though , only in rough draft form.

OK, so thus far we talked quantitatively, albeit loosely, about HOW GOOD of writing it is. This, I can only judge from my own personal opinion, and from the comments I’ve received. I’ve received plenty of nice comments on some of my pieces. Other’s I have not received any comments, or no comments on style and quality of writing. Mostly people like to comment on whether or not they agree with your ideas.

Anyways, this was just intended to be a brief look back over what I have done over the past year on JU. It’s getting a bit long (and late at night), so I’ll just wrap it up here.

on Dec 22, 2004

congratulations.  you may or may not count me as one of your semi-regular readers (but please dont feel you need to do any more stats...that analytical thing can get outta control ); i consider myself a fan.  while i haven't read everything youve posted, ive been impressed by everything ive read.  looking forward to more.

(btw, i thought of you the other day while reading an article in the la times about an effort to rehabilitate the bolivian coffee industry in order to profit small grower collectives.) 

on Dec 22, 2004
Holy crap, I forgot to post my one year anniversary article!!! I guess I'd better finish the thing.

It seems strange, but this article far more people viewed via the “home page”. I’m not exactly sure why there would be such a huge difference.

It was featured on the front page ( A viewing there counts for a "home page" viewing just the same as if someone saw the article by clicking on to your main blog page ( earning the same 1/10th point.

Congratulations on making it a year.