…that’s nearly enough for a fence!
Yes, loyal blog-readers, this is my 200th post. I know, it feels like I’ve been wittering on for longer than that to me as well. I don’t want to say a huge amount about this – these kinds of posts can end up being very narcissistic, I think – but these are a few of my thoughts on the subject, some of which may actually make sense.
First of all – thank you for reading. I started this blog with the assumption that nobody much apart from me would be reading it, but I’m not sure I’d have had the gumption to keep it up if that had actually turned out to be the case. My readership has fluctuated over time, as this graph shows.
Historically speaking, my numbers are at a fairly low ebb at the moment (although, given that we are only at the midpoint of the month, it seems likely that I may prove to be more popular in October than I was in September). I am not massively upset about this, partly because I have (thank god) managed to break my obsession with stats, and so no longer worry quite so much when they start to fall. The other reason I’m not too upset is that, back when I was getting a lot of hits, these were occurring mainly in the form of people searching for images of the various guys I owned up to having a crush on. As a general rule I don’t mind the idea of helping people to find these kinds of pics, but there was a period of time when it looked like that was all my blog was going to be for the overwhelming majority of people, so I wasn’t devastated when those kinds of searches began to fall back just a little.
In total, WordPress reports that I have had, at the time of writing, 40,409 individual hits on my blog, although this total doesn’t include those who read via RSS. A quick check of my David Cameron post (the most popular one of the last little while) shows that 32 people read it via RSS, taking the total number of views for that post (to date) from 199 to 231. If that was repeated across the board, it would mean that WordPress’ headline total might be underreporting the actual numbers by about a 6th (16.08%), which would push the true total to something over 46,000. This is just speculation, of course. Anyway, even taking the lower, RSS-not-included, figure, that still works out at a mean average of 203 views per post, which is just staggeringly high. Once again, all I can say is thank you.
I have been keeping this blog for 1 year, 7 months and 12 days (592 days), which means that I have, on average, posted slightly less than once every 3 days. (Or once every 71 hours, 2 minutes, and 24 seconds, if you like spurious precision.) This is not a bad average, all told, although it does show that I regularly fall short of my ambition to post once every two days.
So which of my posts have been most popular?
As you can see, my most-read post is, by quite some distance, the one about the Personal Capability Assessment for Incapacity Benefit. A number of people have left comments on the post about their experiences, and, in a few cases, saying that it has been of use, which I am very pleased about, especially as I wrote it in the hopes that it might be of practical help. The popularity of the two posts about my various crushes can be explained, I think, by Google Image Search, and the fact that the internet is full of people who are as shallow as me.
All in all it seems like quite a wide-ranging list, which I’m pleased about. It’s perhaps interesting to note, given that my initial intention that this blog would be mainly about mental health issues, that only three of the most popular posts deal directly with those subjects (although you could make a case for the IB post, and the review of the Horizon ‘How Mad are You?’ programme as well). Still, this really just reflects what I’ve done with the blog – I find it quite hard to write about MH issues in personal terms, and their appearance in the most popular list about reflects how common they are in the blog as a whole.
For the record, my least-read post to date is ‘Update city’, which was about nothing other than some minor tweaks to the appearance of the blog. As a general rule, the posts which appear lower down the list are those which are too short to have required a ‘Read More’, and so could have been read by some people on the homepage of the blog without having to click through, and therefore without appearing on the stats for the individual post. The median average post is “And THIS week I ‘ave bin mostly eatin’”, which dates from March this year, and is partly about my attempts to improve my diet (hmmm, that didn’t last long…), and partly just some general chat. On it’s summary page, WordPress reports that it had 79 hits; on clicking through, it becomes apparent that it’s actually been viewed 156 times, 77 times via RSS.
There have been a total of 1,656 comments left on the blog as a whole (though this includes comments that I have left replying to other people). This works out at an average of slightly over 8 comments per post, which is a truly extraordinary number. I am incredibly grateful that so many of you take the time and trouble to comment, especially as you usually have such interesting/ provocative/ funny/ sweet things to say – seriously, thank you. For purposes of comparison, over the same period of time I have received 2,973 spam comments, which works out very roughly at 1.8 spam comments to each genuine comment. Still, given that most of the spam is caught by the filter, and all I have to do is review it and say ‘yes – that’s garbage’, it’s not a huge headache dealing with it. And spam is the price one pays for moving up search engine ranks.
Speaking of search engines, I am astonished, having just investigated, to be able to report that a google search for aethelread now returns this blog as the top hit. It should be pointed out that this high profile results partly from the fact that ‘Aethelread’ is actually a fairly unorthodox spelling of that name – go for one of the more common spellings (like Ethelred/ Aethelred) and it’s the old, dead king who dominates things again. But still, I am pretty chuffed about this, not least because I haven’t ever deliberately tried to boost my google rating. (I am aware that some of the things I habitually do, like linking to other blogs/ sites that pick up a lot of traffic, will help to boost the ranking of the blog, but it’s not a strategy I pursue deliberately.)
Across all 200 posts appearing on this blog (including this one), I’ve written a total of 290,625 words, which works out at an average of 1,453 words per post. This is, clearly, an awful lot, and I’m pleased and more than a little surprised that people actually bother to wade through them. I realise you may not be inclined to believe me, but I do actually try to keep these posts as short as possible – it’s a rare post that I won’t have cut at least a couple of paragraphs out of when I read it back, and it’s often a lot more than that. The truth is I’m just a very wordy person when it comes to blog writing, which is strange since, in real life, I’m one of the least talkative people you’re ever likely to meet.
In fact, there are quite a lot of other differences between Aethelread and [real person who hides behind the pseudonym]. The two personas are probably a little closer than they were when I first started this blog, thanks mainly to a recognition that I just can’t be bothered doing all the things I would need to do – like disguising my IP address – in order to keep myself completely hidden, and that if that’s the case then I might as well relax a little bit more about the other things. That said, I do still do a number of things – delay posts relating to my real life so they appear days or weeks after the events, change genders and the claimed relationship to me when I write about people I know personally, and so on – in order to make it not entirely straightforward even for people who know me in real life to identify that Aethelread is me. This is partly because my extreme guardedness is one of the emotional/ behavioural traits that Aethelread and [real me] have in common, and is related to my always-vaguely-twitching paranoia.
I do worry about disguising things. I’m aware that I come across in the blog as a fairly poised and well-sorted person who has occasional lapses into less well-functioning behaviour. In fact, I’m on the verge of not coping a lot of the time – and I’m about as un-poised as it’s possible to be – which means that I do worry that, when the weirdness leaks out a little, it seems like more of a dramatic shift than it actually is. I take quite a lot of trouble to make sure I don’t actively lie about things in this blog, but these kinds of differences in emphasis do sometimes feel not all that different to me.
I’m very conscious that one of the dangers for me in blogging is that I will create a character who becomes increasingly detached from reality. I have always had a bit of a tendency to get carried away in flights of fancy, and in particular to think that I have actually done things I’ve only thought I’d like to do. This is not unconnected to mentalism, I think – things inside my head starting to seem more real than things outside it – which is why the thought that I may inadvertently slide into it on the blog bothers me. Alternatively, I just need to stop obsessively second guessing myself.
In any case, there are other things that are definitely positive. The blog has made me (in the online world) more outgoing. It’s had a definite impact on my self-esteem too – I wouldn’t claim to be any more than average at this, but I can do it, and I can keep it going (after a fashion…) even through some fairly tough experiences. After years of falling back and back and back from what was once a fairly normal life, it’s been good for me to find out that the fall isn’t into a bottomless pit, and that I am not wholly useless as a person.
Keeping this blog has also made me more analytical about things, often painfully so – I’m very aware how much like Mr Logic I can come across sometimes. Still, it’s a useful antidote to what my mind would get up to if I let it follow its own inclinations. And, as I’ve said many times before, it also provides me with a structure, which is very useful at points when I’m struggling a little. One final benefit is that keeping the blog has taught me a certain amount of discipline – the necessity of, whatever I feel like, just sitting down and writing.
As well, of course, as the necessity of stopping writing before you bore the arse off your readers. I think I may still have some work to do on this aspect…