What’s A Post Like You Doing In A Most Viewed List Like This?
Today’s post is the third in a diatribe1 on the internet’s contribution to the corruption and conflation of terms such as “most popular,” “most accessed,” “most viewed,” and “most clicked” and the dissolution of the boundaries between those concepts and higher level superlatives such as “best.”2
This sequence is not, however, the first popularity-pondering exercise in introspection to appear in this space. That ostensible honor goes to Lessons Learned Willy-Nilly From Milli Vanilli, which was also excerpted in the first post of the current series, An Overview Of “Most Viewed Posts”, as “An Instance Of Meaningless Popularity.” A week after the Milli Vanilli post, however, Heck Of A Guy published, triggered by the web site monitoring statistics from its first year in the blog biz, 12 Ways To Minimize The Popularity Of Your Blog, an especially well-crafted, clever, insightful, and entertaining entry,3 at least according to my own evaluation and the assessments of the six other people that read it. That admixture of quality and inversely proportional popularity was itself evidence of the effectiveness of the recommended methodologies in achieving the goal targeted in the subtitle, “How To Prevent A Well-written Blog From Being Well-read.” That context also served the somewhat loftier aspiration of exemplifying the tension between an artist’s4 original vision and the adjustments necessary to sell that vision to a larger audience.
Today’s analysis of the the Heck Of A Guy 10 Most Viewed Posts focuses on the reasons each of these 10 entries have made the list, providing, in the process, a poignant lesson in just how little the appellation “most popular” means beyond the arithmetic of summing the number of hits or other indicators.5
Something Is Missing
Before tracing the origins of the posts on the list, it is instructive to consider at least one entry that is unexpectedly absent from the Most Viewed Posts list. This excerpt from Maternal Tchotchke Inventory Hits The Charts provides the necessary background.
The [above] 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 visits with the exception of October 18th, when the site registered over 3,000 visits.
A few investigative clicks deeper into Google Analytics revealed that this past Thursday about 2,000 different folks 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.
Two thousand views in 24 hours is hardly a threat to Yahoo, Google, Boing Boing, et al, but it is the best single day showing of any single URL at 1heckofaguy.com thus far. Further, the target site, Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory, has received a consistent, respectable stream of hits since then. So, why isn’t it on the Top Ten list?
Because timing is, if not everything, something pretty darn important.
That glorious glut of visitors arrived at the url of the gallery of my mother’s collectibles 10-11 months prior to the installation of the software that creates the Most-Viewed rankings. Consequently, of those 2,000+ views that occurred on 18 Oct 2007 and the 500 or so that dropped by the next day, that post received credit for – exactly none of them.
Masters Of The Domain (The Internet Is For Porn)
Since the 10 Most Viewed Posts list was first published on this site a few weeks ago, the top two slots have been and continue to be filled by Women Disrobe While Leonard Cohen Music Plays – Yet, Something Feels Wrong and Nude! Nude! Nude! Teachers! Teachers! Teachers!.
Who wants to guess why they might be #1 and #2?
There is a certain irony about Nude! Nude! Nude! Teachers! Teachers! Teachers! being in the top rank of popular posts. This excerpt is explanatory:
The Search For Nude School Teachers
Newbie blogger that I am, I treasure each and every viewer, regardless of the route through which he or she arrived at the perpetual gala that is the Heck Of A Guy Blog. I do, however, have a special place in my heart for the cyber-pilgrim who, according to the web site statistical trackers, entered the terms, “nude” and “school teachers,” into a search engine,6 wiped the drool from his or her frothing lips, clicked on “Go,” and landed, of all places, here at http://www.heckofaguy.com/blog.
Now, I’m willing to stipulate that this specific hit was probably a fluke. It seems unlikely that HeckOfAGuy.com has garnered a reputation as, say,
Not that there would be anything wrong with that.
And, as it turns out, three posts in the Heck Of A Guy archives do use the word, nude, and several more feature variations of the term, school teachers. Sadly, at least for our meandering visitor, the set of all nude-containing posts and the set of all school teachers-containing posts do not intersect (see diagram).
That’s right. The Heck Of A Guy post with the highest or second highest number of views in the past several weeks appears to have achieved its status largely because of a smart aleck heading, written before the author grasped the weighting Google and other search engines give to titles, given to a smart aleck post about a web wayfarer who, in searching for pictures of perhaps lewd but definitely nude teachers, accidentally wandered onto this site even though it contains no such photos. Had I been more knowledgeable about the titles vis-a-vis the operations of search engines, that post would almost certainly not appear on the 10 Most Viewed and this blog’s total views would almost certainly be lower by a few thousand.
And, while the other post that shares the highest rankings, Women Disrobe While Leonard Cohen Music Plays – Yet, Something Feels Wrong, is a superb psycho-cultural analysis of the impact of Leonard Cohen’s music on the soundtracks of two movies about strip clubs, Dancing at the Blue Iguana and Exotica, one cannot completely exclude the possibility that some other factor might be attracting a some small fraction of the visitors.
Naw, it’s gotta be that psycho-cultural commentary thing that attracts those hits.
The Luck Of The Google
Arts and Crafts Day, which has ranked from third to sixth position in the past two weeks, appears to have made the list because the post, which describes a web toy the user can manipulate to create a graphic in the style of a Jackson Pollock painting, is illustrated with an image of Pollock’s “Galaxy.”
For reasons unclear to me, Google Image Search took a shine to the version of “Galaxy” housed at Heck Of A Guy. Consequently, entering “Jackson Pollock” in the Google Image Search box results in that graphic, along with its attached Arts and Crafts Day post url, being displayed as the fourth choice.
A percentage of surfers using Google to find works by Jackson Pollock in general or his “Galaxy” in particular are, as a result, directed to Arts and Crafts Day. The views thusly generated currently make this post the third most popular on the site.
It’s not quite the same as the Milli Vanilli situation but there is a certain difficulty in taking pride in a post which ascended to its #3 ranking because one of its graphics, which is available on many many sites, happened to win the Google lottery.
The final seven entries of the Heck Of A Guy Most Viewed Posts list will be covered in a future offering.
- While other bloggers boast of their “rants,” Heck Of A Guy prefers to elevate the level of skewed, bombastic castigation of opposing points of view to the more more elegant “diatribe.” [↩]
- The earlier posts in this series were An Overview Of “Most Viewed Posts” and The Dangers Of “The Ten Most Popular”. [↩]
- On consideration, in fact, I recommend that the hypothetical viewer who has read neither the current piece nor 12 Ways To Minimize The Popularity Of Your Blog and only has time to read one (perhaps our hypothetical reader is on death row with execution scheduled in 20 minutes) opt for the earlier essay, the quality of which I am confident over today’s post, which is too recently finished for the author to have an objective opinon. [↩]
- The role of the artist was played, in this case, by this humble blogger. [↩]
- The reader should keep in mind that the Heck Of A Guy Most Viewed Posts listing, as previously discussed is … automatically generated by a WordPress Plugin called WP-PostViews, which, in the words of its author, “enables you to display how many times a post/page had been viewed.” … “Technically WP-PostViews will count every time a hit on any posts/pages even if it is just a refresh as it does not log any data.” [↩]
- While the statistical analysis inexplicably lacks this data, I suspect that these words were typed using only one hand [↩]