Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland

Sex, education, readers, and futures: what works, what doesn’t

Now that I’m running down a long queue of mostly ready posts, it’s interesting to see which of them get traction and which don’t. These are posts that were written at varying times and in varying situations over the past year and a half and have received a diverse amount of attention when it comes to rewriting and editing.

Unfortunately, I pretty much nailed the pattern last week in when I wrote that blogging has trained me to assume you’re stupid.

The most popular post this week? Recipe for pundit response to Hugh Howey’s suggestions. Which was little more than a glorified listicle mocking other blog posts. And yet, as simplistic as the post was, it netted three times as much traffic as the next most popular blog post. The discussion it engendered, even on other sites with more of a tradition for discussion, was about as nuanced and detailed as the blog post itself (which is fitting).

(Best thing about the anti-blogging post? The only comment it got proved its point entirely.)

The 'publishing industry’s new product categories' series consistently gets a so so response. Not bad, but not brilliant. Very consistent. These blog posts tend to get almost routinely retweeted even though most of them tend to just state the bloody obvious. The blog post that least fit the formula (state the obvious, explain what it was that was so bloody obvious, state the obvious again) bling it up for education was also the least popular of the series this week.

Some posts generated more noise than traffic (the various types of readers). One post (the unevenly distributed ebook future) in the series did unusually well this week and, if I had to guess, I’d say it was all thanks to Sam Missingham’s retweet.

None of those come close, in my view, to the most interesting blog event of the week: I published the most unpopular blog post I have ever posted. And that’s saying something since I’ve been doing this blogging thing since 2003.

On Wednesday, I published sex, violence, and stílbrot which was a post about writing styles, self-censorship, and sex & violence. And in the comment thread we talked about pseudonyms and the discomfort that comes from writing books your friends and family know about. It had an amazing conversion rate to likes and commenting, but that was because its views can be counted on your digits.

I can’t quite say that this week proved what I’ve said for a long time (a blog post’s popularity is inversely proportional to how fun it was for me to write) because I enjoyed writing the second half of ‘bling it up for education’ and that post did okay. I think that’s because the first half of ‘bling it’ was formulaic enough to generate the retweets while most people ignored the second half.

Other than that blip, this week continues the pattern blogging seems to have devolved into.

You can also find me on Mastodon and Bluesky