Blaugust Day 11: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Traffic and Love the Comments

Ysharros over at Stylish Corpse has been wondering about Blaugust’s impact on everybody’s blog traffic.

It seems the general consensus is that there has been an uptick in traffic from Blaugust, if only from posting every day and getting those daily views as a result.

As usual, our well-loved blogosphere contrarian Bhagpuss pops in with the diametrically opposite finding that his traffic has taken a hit the moment Blaugust started (whereupon we can surmise that he’s been hogging the eyes for most of the rest of the year. Yarrr. Do share. Kidding.)

It seems therefore fitting that I should turn up with the absolutely bland, neutral, middle-of-the-road conclusion that Blaugust has had very little effect on my traffic as a whole.

I am a fairly visual person, so I need to post supporting diagrams and such.

Since I don’t want to make anyone, especially during Blaugust, feel inadequate (or conversely, feel extra bolstered in ego at my expense 🙂 ), I have excised the numbers and only want to deal with trends and patterns.

(I post actual numbers only once a year, when WordPress provides their handy yearly summary, if anyone is curious on that front.)

Here’s the recent weekly graph:

weeklystats

If anything, the most startling thing is the fact that my pageviews have remained fairly constant, even through my dead silence in July.

Well, ok, you can see a dip there and a stable plateau, which suggests my actual regulars haven’t checked in when I stopped writing.

On the whole, regardless of if I write daily or every few days or sporadically or not at all, I’ve been getting a constant stream of traffic from elsewhere, that pretty much drowns out any day to day trends.

Honestly, I think three quarters of them are probably bots.

The last quarter are probably some poor souls who typed in a phrase into Google, and saw one of my clickbait headings look interesting and click through, to either read that page only, or have their eyes glaze over with the wall of text and just as hastily leave. (I’ll count it as a win.)

The good news is that I don’t feel compelled to do anything, one way or the other. I’ll write what I want to write, when I want to write it, and let the stats fall as they may. (They’re probably still all bots anyway.)

Well, no, there’s one type of reader that I’m fairly confident are human, and come in very high quantities. The guide-seeker. The walkthrough hunter. The “Let Your Fingers and Google Do the Gaming For You” subset.

stats2015

Here’s my current 2015 blog stats, and the top ten most popular “posts.”

I apologize for those that hate algebra, but this was the best way to mask actual numbers and still show trends and popularity that I could think of, bright and early in the morning.

Let X be some number. You can pretend X = 10, or X = 100, or X = 500, whatever. (It’s not as high as 500. For sure.)

Posts about the GW2 jumping puzzle in the Silverwastes, getting better at WvW, Heart of Thorns beta screenshots and a random humorous Don’t Starve list scored about the same amount of views.

A post about my sinister necromancer build experiments and early days in Dry Top getting to Tier 4 scored 1.5X views, which suggests that people have been googling for sinister necromancer builds and dry top tiers (and probably getting rather disappointed when they hit my rambling musings, rather than a clear cut guide.)

Minecraft: Agrarian Skies – The Fires of Industry is also somewhat popular – I suspect that the release of Agrarian Skies 2 probably contributed to a sudden spate of Googling for tips. Admittedly, the post goes into quite some detail about all the simple machines I was building, so -maybe- it was a little helpful.

For guaranteed evergreen success though, I would advise blogging about how MMOs are dead.

Super duper popular topic. There’s TONS of people convinced the demise of the genre has already happened / is happening right now / will happen any day now and looking for echo chamber posts to support their point of view. Really, I don’t have to write a thing for the next year, and I think they will still come in droves to this post.

And yes, despite its slightly outdated nature (and the nagging voice in the back of my head that says I need to update it… someday), views are coming in, landing on, and hopefully staying on my magnum opus – a guide that took me ages to write, but felt had to be done. If only it helped just one person enjoy and appreciate GW2’s combat a little more, it would have been successful.

Admittedly, there was some calculated ulterior motive at work when I kept it as one gigantic page, instead of breaking it up into separate page subsections. Besides making it easier for people to save and read offline, I kinda wanted to encourage repeated visits and the channeling of all interested pageviews into this one guide page so that I would have an idea of total visitors, and accumulate pageview score into this one massive clunker of a post.

Working as intended.

The last interesting fact about 2015 is that very little of the popular posts were actually -written- in 2015. (The orange bar next to it indicates a post written in the year.)

I’ve been resting on my laurels and doing whatever the hell I want, really.

statsyearly

It is therefore entirely possible that my annual stats may not match last year’s peak, and I’m perfectly ok with that.

Over the past few years, I’ve gathered that most of my popular posts coincide with GW2’s Living Story updates (which we’ve been rather short of, in the year 2015, *coughs*) or updates in some other game that I happened to write about, and are usually guide posts of some sort.

That, or first impressions and opinions on (presumably fairly niche) games that I somehow managed to beat game journalism sites to the punch with (hurrah, timezones?), thus showing up in Google faster.

stats2014

If I get a sudden surge of unexpected traffic, it’s because someone somewhere popular Tweeted or Facebooked or somehow shared my post, and it contained a controversial opinion or a clickbait-style title, resulting in a sudden surge of Internet people burning with the desire to share just how I got it wrong. 🙂

(This usually results in me cackling to myself all the way to the stats bank instead.)

I also learned that the absolute best way for me to explode my usual pageviews is to write a useful ‘guide’ post and then shamelessly self-promote it to the GW2 Reddit.

stats2013

See? Nearly all ‘how to’ guides, with a few tongue-in-cheek or bitchy opinion posts or “accidentally stumbled on a Google search keyword without meaning to” ones.

Truth is, though, many of these accidentally popular posts are not the posts that have the most meaning to me, the ones that I’m proudest of.

(Well, a few I am happy with, if they fulfill their function and my intent as I was writing them.)

If I spent all my days catering to the whims of my traffic, my site would look and sound very very different. More impersonal. More ‘third-party’ guide information. And it wouldn’t at all make me happy.

I gain nothing with traffic and increasing pageviews anyway. This is a free WordPress blog. I pay zero cents. I get zero cents in return.

The possibly weird ads you may sometimes see at the bottom of each post are WordPress busy recouping their bandwidth lost through hits on my posts. I do not give one damn if you click them or block them or just put me in an RSS reader so that you never have to see them.

I find it a fair exchange for not having to worry about DDoS or hacking attempts or server upkeep and maintenance. WordPress can handle all that and just give me the space and tools to be creative and express myself.

-That- makes me happy.

I’m happiest sharing my screenshots of virtual places I find lovely: GW2’s Orr, Labyrinthine Cliffs, zone-defining screenshots, City of Heroes lookback, some from TSW, etc.

I’m proud of the verse and prose I sometimes find the occasion to write: “Love” Song for Tequatl, GW1’s Ozymandias, Missing the Magic of MMOs (and shamelessly stealing words from somebody else and rearranging them… kinda a good metaphor for MMO clones, come to think of it), Asura urban noir vignette, and the longest charr short story ever.

I’m content with the day-to-day rambling posts that fill the gaps in between the ‘masterpieces’ (intentional or otherwise) because waiting for inspiration to strike is a sure recipe for utter dead silence and a blank page.

And I’m cheered up when human readers to decide to leave a comment to let me know that they read and appreciated what I wrote.

Traffic? Pageviews?

Pshaw. They’re probably all bots anyway.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, Y for Ysharros and Yet-Again-I-Forget-To-Add-This-Line-Till-Later, and the number 11.

Whines and Cheese

aka a post on negative opinions and cheesy casual games

This post has been brewing (or should I say, fermenting, to massacre the metaphor) for a while now. Finally found the time in between RL stuff to write it.

Some time ago, Shintar from Going Commando and Psynister from Psynister’s Notebook mentioned that their enjoyment of a game they liked (SW: TOR in this case) were affected by the current Zeitgeist of negative opinion surrounding it.

Besides feeling like they need to make apologies or justifications for why they actually like something that is seemingly so unpopular, they perhaps get a little worried that this will affect the basic longevity of the MMO, such as the rate of new subscribers to it, the retention rate of existing subscribers, and the amount of developers that can be supported (cue news of Bioware layoffs.)

(I perfectly understand if what I’m going to say next makes you delete the automated linkback in your comments, so no hard feelings, guys.)

You know what? Screw all that.

There are 7 billion people in the world, many of whom don’t even have internet access, but of those who are on the World Wide Web, there is already plenty of diversity. Nobody will ever agree on anything.

Stop worrying about pageviews, stop worrying about perceived popularity or population in the game of your choice. It is okay to be unpopular. It is okay to like and play a game other people don’t like. Hell, SWTOR has a million subs. Most non-WoW MMOs are celebrating if they hit 400k, and most hover around 100-200k.

(Unless maximizing views is your goal, then by all means, find the most popular things to write about. Making gold, easy leveling, cheat codes, the meaning of life, and so on come to mind. And yeah, go for the games with the most mainstream appeal. Write about WoW, Starcraft, Diablo, LOL, DOTA, TF2, Minecraft – I guarantee you’ll get a ton of hits.)

Heck, I play a game with a population of 800 characters and declining, a good half of them probably alts. (No prizes for guessing which MMO that is.) Part of the reason why I write about it is to preserve its uniqueness for posterity.

In the final analysis, nothing lasts, but your memories and your love of game.

If you like something, you like something. You’re a blogger, tell us why.

To me, this feels like WoW newbie to other MMOs syndrome, or can I use WoW tourist to describe this? WoW players have had the luck and fortune to start playing their game at a time when EVERYONE and their mother (except for me!) was singing the praises and playing the living daylights out of their game.

Me, I saw the raid grind and bait-and-switch coming a mile off and chose not to participate. Did anyone listen then? Haha, no. So yeah, I shrugged, having made my distinctly unpopular opinion known, and figured, folks have to undergo the burnout cycle to know it, I’ll give you guys four years and check back in then, and waited…

More people think like me now, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t people still deriving fun and enjoyment out of WoW and are happy to blog and share their experiences. That’s the whole point. It is okay to hold an unpopular opinion. It is also possible for something to be paradoxically good and bad at the same time, depending on your perspective and frame of reference.

And that’s what we want when we read your blog, your perspective and your frame of reference. Because only Tobold is Tobold, Zubon is Zubon, and so on. Syncaine, Bhagpuss, Melmoth, Gevlon, Spinks, Tesh, Sente, etc, etc. As I say these names, surely you’ll recognize at least some, and can link basic personalities and styles to their respective blogs.

So go ahead. Say it. My name is _____. I play ______. I like this game. And here’s why: ….

No apologies necessary.

My name is Jeromai. I think SWTOR is a steaming pile of generic WoW clone. I never hit max level in WoW, especially since they keep moving the goalposts. I refuse to put aside days of my life to raid for what is ultimately bytes and pixels. I want to form good memories and take beautiful screenshots with me when I move on from a game, and I believe that need/greed loot grinds and raid progression and the general community of the game would not contribute positive things towards those goals.

I also hate the Star Wars universe ever since I saw the trilogy, and the revamps and new episodes did not help that opinion at all, what with George Lucas’ ego and excessive CGI in every frame. The only guy I liked in the first movie, they killed at the end of it, leaving an oafish bumpkin as the main protagonist. Great.

I also liked the Ewoks, something most people who love the Star Wars universe detest. They made Return of the Jedi watchable, because all the other characters sucked. At least the walking teddy bears were funny and cute. Thankfully, I do not like the Gungans, so you can stop screaming now.

As much as I want to, this dislike of the setting makes it nigh impossible for me to play KOTOR, which is widely regarded as an excellent classic, let alone SWTOR, which is not. I tried and have barely got out of the intro sequence.

I also think light side, dark side choices are a lame prop and mechanic for so-called moral choices and roleplaying decisions. Are you truly doing anything meaningful by having decided beforehand, ok, this character is going to be the angelic Paragon and choosing all the good options by default (because that’s where the best loot and rewards come from, being one extreme or the other) vs the second run through of Ok, now it’s time to play the Evil Asshole and grabbing all the ‘evil’ options?

But you know what? These are all opinions. Mine, not yours. You are free to agree or disagree as you like. You can leave kudos or dissent in the comments, write about it in your blog or not read me at all because we are so diametrically dissimilar.

So go ahead. Tell us why you like or dislike something. Especially if you like something, tell us why.

Who knows, you may convince a few fence-sitters to try out your game, even if you may never sway the extremists.

And now for the cheese.

My name is Jeromai, and I have a very bad habit. When I’m procrastinating on RL deadlines, I stay away from MMOs because I cannot justify the amount of time spent just to log in, let alone play. But I have a not-so-secret-now love of cheesy casual games, that I buy for a buck fifty or so on Steam, which I am happy to fritter away small chunks of time with, in between attempting work.

During this recent Steam summer sale, I finally got around to buying the Popcap bundle after having dicked around with their demos and the full Plants vs Zombies on the iPad.

Yes, I deride SWTOR for being vapid mainstream crap, and I play even more vapid mainstream crap that only kids and housewives and people with no taste are supposed to enjoy.

There is no contradiction here.

Here’s why I like fooling around with cheesy casual games:

  • They (usually) take short amounts of time to play, meaning you can get a lot of gaming in for your time buck.
  • They focus on doing only one or a few things very well, leaving them a certain simplicity and elegance to their mechanics, which are also easily grasped.
  • Some of them are amazingly polished.
  • It’s extremely fun to find a diamond in the rough and go, hey, wow, these devs are on to something here.
  • All can be learned from, the bits I like, the parts I don’t, without much of the innate timesink grind of MMOs… though you have to watch out these days for timesinks put in to be skipped by paying (thanks, F2P model).
  • They don’t even make the excuse of having an endgame. When you’re done, you’re done. If you like it, buy the inevitable sequel, expansion or chapter 2.

My name is Jeromai. I play Bookworm Adventures Deluxe and I really love this game. Head on to the next post to find out why.