February
14th 2008
How’s this blog doing?

Posted under Administration

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned, but I don’t really want a blog: I want a wiki.  (A wiki is an easy-to-edit collaborative website, with many contributors.  Wikipedia is the best-known wiki).  My dream is to have a Bay-Area Nature wiki that has a page about every good place to see birds in the area, every good nature hike, every relevant museum and exhibit, etc., and includes up-to-date information about how to get to those places, volunteer opportunities, etc., etc.  But for a wiki to be successful, you need a lot of contributors…probably dozens, for what I have in mind.  The first step is to get a critical mass of people, maybe 5 to 10, each willing to spend an hour or two per month for a while, to get it up and running. After that it should grow itself.  How to recruit these people, and generate some enthusiasm about this?  I decided to start a blog, and hope to eventually reach 100 or so regular readers.  I thought that would lead to 5 to 10 regular commenters — people who would respond to questions like “what’s the best place to see an osprey in the Bay Area”, and “what’s your favorite site for water birds?” That way the blog archives could serve as an information base for the wiki, and I could hope to recruit some of the commenters to write wiki pages about their special knowledge or interests.

So, how well are things progressing towards me goal, you might ask?  Not so well, I might reply.  Here’s the information I have to work with:

  1.  I know the number of visits to my blog each day.  This has gradually climbed from an average of 8 per day in the first week, to about 20 per day now.
  2. If someone did a web search and came to my blog by clicking on the link the search engine gave them, then I know what search term they used.
  3. If someone clicks on a link on my blog (e.g. one of my “blogroll” items) then I know what they clicked on.
  4. Of course I know if someone leaves a comment.

I can’t tell if the same people are visiting several times per week or anything like that, and of course I can’t tell if people find the blog useful or interesting (unless they leave a comment).   Given the limited information that I have, here’s what I can say: 

  1.  Almost nobody leaves comments.  I think only five different people have left any comments.  I get many more spam comments than real comments. 
  2. Almost nobody clicks on any links, even to watch videos or see photos, much less to read news articles or visit blogroll sites. 
  3. Some of the people who find the blog by doing a web search are not finding what they are looking for.  For instance, a recent visitor had found the blog by searching on [is towhee endangered species], a question they won’t find answered here.  There are quite a few of these.

So, that’s quite a few things to be disappointed about!  On the bright side, readership (or at least visitorship) is growing, and a few people do leave comments.  I think I just badly overestimated the enthusiasm of the average visitor; instead of having to get to 100 visits per day to find a nucleus of contributors, I might need to get to 1000.   I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it long enough to get there.

One Response to “How’s this blog doing?”

  1. Kate on 18 Feb 2008 at 11:12 am #

    You might try building out a new section of Wikipedia???

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