Fare you well, commenters who do battle with each other almost every day, readers who simply read and have other lives to live, and occasional readers who write to me privately because they don’t want to be seen in public, so to speak. It has been fun writing the essays and not having to worry about what the editor might have felt. But it got to be a bigger and bigger job as the readership grew, and especially when tempers flared in the Comments. And it actually cost money to maintain the site, as well as an increasing amount of time and energy. I gave all the reasons why I decided to stop some weeks ago. That produced a small volley of requests from people who paid me lovely compliments, but wanted me to keep going. Sorry, people.
The site stats tell me that I wrote more than a thousand essays (averaging 1100 words) in the nine years the site has been up, and they produced more than 36,000 comments (my own responses numbered 1759). My estimate is that I wrote rather more than a million words in those essays, and that not quite a million ‘reads’ occurred over the nine years. I wouldn’t claim a readership of a million, because many people, especially the frequent commenters, went back to the same essay with further contributions as arguments developed. The largest number of comments occurred years ago — more than 2,000, over a piece about Aboriginality that was picked up by Andrew Bolt and effectively run again. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t have to approve his doing it. It was a surprise. But so what?
Three quarters of the readers have been Australian, with the USA, the UK, New Zealand and Canada providing most of the rest. When I last looked there had been readers from more than fifty countries. To my surprise, and this is old data (I can’t find its present-day equivalent) the readers have been about equally divided between those below and above fifty, while men have greatly outnumbered women. How my platform knows these things is a mystery to me.
When I wrote for The National Times(1971 to 1983) I received a couple of death threats over essays I wrote about abortion. You only have to receive one to have your life turned upside down for a while. I never received any such harassment from what I wrote on the website, though I was taken to court by an aggrieved reader about what he thought were personal insults. They weren’t at all, and the unhappy reader dropped the case anyway. On the contrary, the great majority of comments I have received about what I have written have been favourable, or at least positive.
So, to repeat, the site will remain open for the next month as a sort of public service. I’ll have to moderate what is posted there to stop it being hijacked. When I know how anyone can get access to essays and comments I’ll provide that information.
With every good wish to you all,