Maternal Tchotchke Inventory Hits The Charts

Spike In Blog Views Caused By StumbleUpon Finding Mom's Collectibles

Thanks, Mom

Because my ongoing bandwidth problems have caused delays in several projects, I spent much of yesterday afternoon glomming onto Border’s Wi-Fi.  To complete one of those deferred chores, I directed my browser to Google Analytics to check my blogs’ stats, only to be greeted by the Heck of a Guy Daily Site Visits chart on display above.

Viewers might note the blip in number of visits on October 18, 2007 – especially since I’ve circled it in red and labeled it with the date. The graph shows that each day of the period from September 20 to October 20, 2007, the Heck of a Guy blog received just under 1,000 visits1 with the exception of October 18th, when the site registered over 3,000 visits.2

A few investigative clicks deeper into Google Analytics revealed that this past Thursday about 2,000 different folks3 dropped by 1heckofaguy.com to take a look at the Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory of kitchen implements, farm tools, saws, mallets, meat grinders, ceramics, doodads, gadgets, widgets, and much, much more that fill the cabinets, shelves, tables, counters, and, most prominently, the walls of my mother’s home in the Ozarks.

Thanks, StumbleUpon

It was not a coincidence that those 2,000 visitors happened onto the photos of Mom’s rustic tchotchkes on the same day.4 Again delving into Google Analytics, I discovered that, while at least 16 sites accounted for the referrals to Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory, the original and primary source was StumbleUpon, a web site recommendation system based on social networking and peer review.5

In oversimplified form, folks belonging to StumbleUpon rate and recommend web pages that their fellow members may enjoy. One finds potentially interesting sites by looking in StumbleUpon categories such as “collecting” or by finding members with tastes similar to ones own and checking the web pages they rank highly.6

I have, in fact, tracked down the individual who first tagged Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory for StumbleUpon, a young woman of remarkable taste and discernment.7 I was then able to follow the first steps of the geometric growth of the referrals. Someone who followed the referral link posted by the first source would himself or herself post it; someone else would see it on the second site and post it; someone else would … and so on.

I also checked the comments from the viewers, albeit with some trepidation. Although StumbleUpon is, in my experience, less given to harsh, scathing critiques than, say, Digg or Technorati,8 traffic of this sort can nonetheless be generated by a site being described, in effect, as “so incredibly, unbelievably, excessively screwed-up that you must see it.” Happily, the comments on the half-dozen or so sites I sampled were overwhelmingly complimentary with the most derogatory notation simply referring to a certain tendency toward pack-rattedness my mother exhibits, which I can hardly deny. And, in any case, my own post was more critical – in a respectful, caring, affectionate sort of way – than anything I found in the StumbleUpon notes.

Various Heck of a Guy posts have been tagged by various recommendation systems, including StumbleUpon, in the past, but the 2000 StumbleUpon-generated visits to Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory in less than 24 hours is certainly one of this blog’s best one-day performances, especially given the the landing page was published more than 10 months ago.9

And, while 2000 extra visits are unlikely to jeopardize the continued viability of the Internet by overwhelming the capacity of its providers, that those visits were views of my mother’s treasures is outrageously gratifying.

Not that it will persuade Mom to check out the Internet
or her only living son’s blog herself.

The Background: Set the WayBack Machine For April 10, 2006

The original post about my mother’s collections of – well, collectibles, In My Mother’s House Are Many Tchotchkes, appeared on April 10, 2006, just over a month after Heck of a Guy began. At that time, daily visitors numbered 30-50, and it would be two to three months before the site would even be included in the Google search index.

In My Mother’s House Are Many Tchotchkes was primarily a prose description of the delights on display at Mom’s place. During our Christmas 2006 trip to visit my mother, I snapped photos of some of the items Mom has mounted on her walls. These photos were the basis for Wall-To-Wall Coverage and Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory.

In My Mother’s House Are Many Tchotchkes turned out to be the first of a sequence of posts on some of the oddities my mother has accumulated:


  1. In this case, 93.5% of those visitors were unique visitors for the thirty day period shown; i.e., only 6.5% of those daily visits were from computers repeatedly visiting the site. (Bots, spiders, and my own visits are excluded.) For the 30 day period shown, about 29,200 different people/computers visited at least one Heck of a Guy web page. []
  2. OK, there were also a few stragglers who didn’t reach this destination until the 19th; it’s simpler to report and read the story as a one-day phenomenon. []
  3. And by “different folks,” Google Analytics means, of course, “different computers, not counting bots and spiders and the site’s owner’s visits” []
  4. As above, I acknowledge that while this was predominantly a one-day visitation, there was a smaller group of visitors on the next day. []
  5. StumbleUpon has similarities to services such as Digg, Slashdot, Reddit, Fark, and del.icio.us. []
  6. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should let readers know that am a member of StumbleUpon although I am embarrassingly lax about contributing or even checking on other sites. []
  7. With rare exceptions, members of these recommendation services, some of whom clearly put hours of time and equivalent amounts of thoughtfulness into their suggestions, garner no benefit from their efforts other than whatever rush they may get from providing a useful service to colleagues and the respect of and prestige among their peers. []
  8. Technorati is technically a search engine, but it supports ratings and comments much like the recommendation services []
  9. Because I sometimes don’t check my stats for months at a time, I may have missed some spikes. []

0 responses to “Maternal Tchotchke Inventory Hits The Charts

  1. Well, that just shot down my fantasy of me being your Number One fan. 1000 visits a day? You are the blog God of non-compliance (and footnotes). I can’t decide which excites me more.