For this year's summary I have been inspired in part by Alex Antunes, who decided to pick his least read articles to draw some conclusions about what really does not sell well here. But I have of course also given a close look at what appears to appease your taste, dear readers.
When discussing the visit statistics of articles which got many hits, one should be careful to bear in mind that the most visited pieces are those for which exogenous effects -like a link by some really-high-traffic site- have the largest effect. However, links by high-traffic sites are in a way as good an indicator of the success of an article as a wide readership, so in the end it's just hits that matter!
Statistics for 2009
Let me start the summary by saying that this column has been here for a total of 260 days. I wrote a total of 187 posts (will probably be 188 by year end), or one every 1.4 days. This is a little less than my throughput in the older site: I attribute this to the fact that I feel more responsible for what I write in this site. That is, I cut a little on the posts I used to write about italian politics, and ones about personal issues. The physics posts, on the contrary, have seen an increase. I would not call it an increase of quality, but for sure they represent the result of an increased effort.
Since I was discussing posts which dealt with personal issues or other trivialities not connected with Science, let me list some of the least visited posts below, following Alex Antunes. I do not include posts which are less than two weeks old (they have had less exposure so their hits are biased low), and posts of the series "The Say of the Week", which usually have less than 700 hits each.
- Do the Shot Setup Dance: 757 hits, September 21st.
- Attacking for the sake of it: 699 hits, November 11th.
- A win with an international master, 681 hits, July 10th.
- LHC breaks beam energy record, 788 hits, November 30th.
- Carnival of Physics: 466 hits, November 30th.
I found it really strange that a post with fresh news about the LHC gathered so small an audience, until Hank (the boss here) explained it was just after Thanksgiving... So the two last entries are due to a global low in the traffic, and they should not be considered in the list. Instead, the three others are genuine howlers. I think the first is just a bad post, but the others are good ones, and the fact they got little attendance is a real indication that readers here do not really care for chess. Oh well. I will keep reporting interesting games here, if I play any!
Now let me discuss the big hitters. I got one article above 40,000 hits, a total of two above 20,000, a total of four above 10,000, a total of ten above 5,000, and a total of 37 above 2,500 hits. Of the ten most read articles, only one is not about Physics. And five of those ten articles have the word "Higgs" in the title... I am not sure how to interpret this latter information, since the word "Higgs" does appear quite often in my titles!
Here are the three most-read articles of 2009 in my column:
1- Large Extra Dimensions At Reach Next Year: July 11th, 41,329 hits;
2- Supernatural Coincidences and the Look-Elsewhere Effect: October 16th, 20,227 hits;
3- Running Top Mass Points to Susy-Like Higgs: July 17th, 12,746 hits.
The most commented post so far is instead Does the Arxiv Blacklist Authors ? Help Finding Out!, which has 146 comments to date, and counting, since Carl Brannen is continuing the thread by himself.
Finally, let me tell you what I consider my best post of 2009. It is the second in the above list of big hitters. I think I gave a rather clean explanation of what are the most common causes of phenomena that people automatically associate to supernatural causes.
And the old blog...
Now, this summary would not be complete if I did not include a summary of the traffic which reached my former site, which still hosts almost 1500 posts written between January 2006 and April 14th of this year. Below you can find a graphic of the monthly hits.
The 39,517 hits the site got this month, and also the counts of October (26,211) and November (18,754) are funny fluctuations. The first was caused by a post on Amanda Knox which drew a lot of traffic after she got convicted for the murder of Meredith Kercher earlier this month; the second is due Dennis Overbye linking from the New York Times a piece I wrote last year -a rather funny, if a bit disrespectful, ridiculization of Nielsen and Ninomiya's theory of backward causality.
On average, the old site still draws about 660 hits a day, which is not surprising, given the large amount of good information I have amassed there in over three years of dedication. 2009 closes there with about 307,000 hits. I think I will post some summary there too tomorrow: that site deserves to be kept alive!