Even websites need a holiday, and mine starts tomorrow. I’m back at work in the week beginning 12 January, and wish all my readers a relaxing, safe and enjoyable holiday break too.

I started this website in June 2012, so it is now two-and-a-half years old. Over that time it has attracted about 27,000 unique readers, who have in total visited the site more than 70,000 times, and read nearly 150,000 pages. Readers have made nearly 3,700 comments to my 608 posts, and of course to one another’s comments. Before I get carried away with such success, I should mention that my website is about the 27,000th most visited one in Australia, and about the 1.1 millionth most visited in the world. On the other hand, all the figures are going in the right direction.

Growth has been steady, though unspectacular, and seems likely to continue. I currently get about 4,000 hits every month, and comments average about a dozen or so for any post. About two in three of those who visit the website have done so before. I have no idea who they are, though some of the commenters are becoming old friends! The only moderator is me, and I don’t moderate before the event. There has not been one comment that I thought ought not to be published, other than the spam that arrives every other day, hoping that no one will realise that the source is selling Viagra or offering gambling.

Six in seven of those who go to the website live in Australia, with the USA and the UK coming next, at 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. There are more readers in Brazil than in New Zealand. The readers come from Australian cities in rough proportion to their size, so there’s no pronounced geographical bias. The male/female ratio is 54:46, but to my surprise the  great majority of readers are young or young middle-aged; only a few are over 65.

It is hard to predict subjects what will get attention. Andrew Bolt has picked up my essays on two occasions, and at once numbers went way up, to be high the next day, and then drop back to normal. On Line Opinion re-runs a post or two each month, and perhaps there is an increase through that medium, though the OLO people seem to stay on that site. There are other sites where the DA website is mentioned approvingly, and I can see that I get a bit of traffic that way too.

I post on Facebook, Linked In and am thinking of becoming a Tweeter in the New Year. Others tell me that I have to do that to improve my audience, though the notion that 140 characters can be a contribution to a conversation puzzles me. But I’ll give it a go.

I mention all these statistics for a good reason: maintaining the website is now becoming a real job. I’ve written about 600,000 words for the blog, and none of the posts can just be dashed off. Then there is dealing with correspondence and comments — I get quite a lot of feedback by email as well as on the Comments section. And it all takes time. I was warned that this might happen when I started, and the reality has arrived.

I had supposed that I would be able to keeping writing books, but the time available has gently declined, and will decline further if I start to use Twitter. I have three books (all fiction) that I’d like to publish, and I promised them for 2014.  There are two others, one half done and the other only started, and I keep thinking about them in the shower. Not a word has been written in either of them for months.

So my end-of-2014-resolution is to reduce the posts from three a week to two a week. I started with six, and reduced that fairly soon to five, but it’s been three throughout this year. I do need a deadline — it’s all too easy to say that I’ll write when I feel like it, and then not feel like it. I learned about the importance of deadlines when I first had a newspaper column, in the 1960s. I’ve tried to keep my essays down to 1000 words or less, but with only two a week the length will probably increase a bit.

My thanks to all the commenters, who keep me on my toes, and to the readers who don’t provide comments, but who encounter me somewhere, and tell me that they liked the one about such and such, or strongly disagree  with me about something else. Again, may you all enjoy the holiday season, and emerge from it with a renewed feeling that our country has a lot going for it, no matter which party is in power.

26 Comments

  • JMO says:

    Have a good break and a great Christmas Don – you have earned it. All the best for your family and for the New Year. It has been a pleasure reading your essays and look forward to reading more in 2015.

  • DaveW says:

    Thanks Don. I’ve appreciated your essays and hope you have an entertaining and relaxing holiday.

    Twitter seems the most highly conformist and herd-like of the social media and I expect you may find it antithetical to your thoughtful and analytical approach. It seems designed for those who can’t write or think clearly and are easily led or enjoy bullying. On-the-otherhand, Twitter has allowed a number of creepy politicians, bureaucrats and journalists to expose their true colours, so it’s not all bad.

    • Gerard says:

      I have my own twittersphere in the back yard. It’s a paulownia that fills with sparrows and pigeons of an evening. They make a hell of a racket for a while and then go to sleep. They’ve never made any sense to me.
      The other twitterverse is pretty much the same.

  • PeterE says:

    Congratulations – and Merry Christmas.

  • Peter Kemmis says:

    Don

    What is pleasing to me is that almost all comments on your site, whether addressing your posts or other comments, are thoughtful and expressed free of personal criticism. I hope this tone remains; while it is out of your control, I suspect that the good manners generally exercised, serve as some restraint upon those who would otherwise not be so restrained.

    When one of my children started at an ACT public college (here in Australia) in her Year 11, shortly after she started she told of an interesting incident about student behaviour. A new male student evidently swore loudly about something as they were moving between classes; students nearby looked at him with surprise and without comment. I suspect that particular student got the message. “There’s hardly any swearing, Dad!” It was such a nice change for her. It seemed to me to be a telling illustration of the group influence of more civilised behaviour on the individual, and in this case, for a nice change, a positive one.

    So to you, and everyone, do have a satisfying season of the year!

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Yes, Peter. I think that one has to show good manners in order to receive them, so I never adopt a lofty tone — indeed, as I keep saying, I am sure about even less, the older I get.

      Many thanks.

      Don

      • dlb says:

        In reply to Peter K.
        Interesting your comment about swearing Peter, I get the impression that swearing and rudeness have become more common in Australia over the last 50 years? While on the other hand one has to be extremely careful with comments that may be branded discriminatory or politically incorrect.
        I wonder if those who get cut off by a lunatic diver now yell out Climate Denier!

  • dlb says:

    Thanks for the informative essays Don. Sorry we will only get two a week next year, though I will be looking forward to the longer ones as quite often I finish wanting more.
    How can you determine the sex and age of readers?

  • David says:

    Well done Don. Enjoy your break and stay out of the heat. 🙂

  • Rob says:

    Don, re your Twitter reference: “though the notion that 140 characters can be a contribution to a conversation puzzles me”. I encourage you to use Twitter to widen your audience. Political discourse in Australia badly needs your independent perspective. The salient function of a Twitter post is NOT the content, but LINKS to content. In your case, a Tweet would be a simple as a few words describing your latest blog post and a LINK to that article in your blog. Season’s Greetings.

  • margaret says:

    Peace on earth and goodwill to all – a puzzle to me is, if Google Analytics says the ratio of men to women is 54:46, where are the women commenters? Having just finished the potato salad (an exceptionally good one), I could venture a typical answer to my question, but I shall refrain as it is the season of goodwill towards all men. Happy Christmas.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Margaret,

      If you go to WUWT or Climate etc, where there are many more commenters than here, you will also draw the conclusion that women commenters are few and far between. On the other hand, they are disproportionately among the most sensible!

      • margaret says:

        You flatter us/them – we can be as stupid as men commenters … but what you are saying is that your blog’s raison d’etre is ‘climate change’ with some peripheral interests like politics, education, society, music, food, wine and road safety.

        There have been some entries on the peripheral topics that I would still like to comment on and probably will but I’d also like to see more women do the same, not least because I want to see proof of their sensibleness and why it is that people can’t be gender neutral… (that includes me).

        • Don Aitkin says:

          No flattery intended. I think of Beththeserf, pamela gray, norah4you, and janice moore, all of whom comment on Climate etc and WUWT — I think Beth posted a comment here at the beginning — and rely on common sense, data and avoidance of exaggeration. I wish there were more of them.

          And of course there is Lucia of The Blackboard, who is the epitome of cool analysis.

          • margaret says:

            I have not read any of these commenters but I briefly visited WUWT.
            Any and all of your commenters on ‘climate change’ whether they are men or women, are most likely to be very informed on the subject in order to push their barrow.
            The layperson interested in the other topics as well doesn’t necessarily have analytical skills of a high degree, may not have as rigorous a mind or be as disciplined or logical. They may come from a different angle but they may still have something to say that is not nonsense.
            Your subtitle on the header of your blog depicts you as a renaissance man. However it obfuscates what seems to be its main purpose, namely the expression of your opinions on ‘climate change’ as a means of educating/influencing others.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            I do have a wide range of intellectual interests, and ‘climate change’ encompasses many of them — politics, history, research, religion, the media, the ABC, the environment, science, theatre, and so on.

            In fact it is an extraordinarily interesting topic, because it illuminates so much of our current world. I used to have a newspaper column, and my range there was just as wide, with the exception of climate change’, which was not even heard of at that time.

          • margaret says:

            I’ve not thought about it like that, interesting.
            Unless a political stance is taken by governments, who are the only ones who can take action (whatever that may be) I see the debate as going on and on and nowhere, just like the program I watched last night about the christian
            evangelist skeptic pastor and his believer daughter.
            It seems a very unproductive debate that keeps many people with vested pecuniary interests employed and serving themselves – not society or the planet.
            So happy new year and I shall check the beach at Ocean Grove for any signs of imminent concern.

    • Gus says:

      Oftentimes, they are not this interested. Or too busy with their family lives. Or not engaged in tech as much as men. I think, the idea that women and men should be seen 50/50 everywhere, in every human activity, is silly. It ignores the obvious differences and roles between the sexes. Men don’t get pregnant, for starters, so here the imbalance is 100/0, in favor of women, already. All else follows from this.

      • margaret says:

        In favor of women? It is an amazing experience for sure but I truly doubt that men would wish to be favoured with pregnancy.

  • beththeserf says:

    o u toffs. prof DA, takin’ holidays from the fray
    of open versus closed societee debate.
    Well antway a serf wishes yer a happy holiday.
    beththe serf.

  • beththeserf says:

    Oo[s ‘anyway.’

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