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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

How you like them sour grapes?

I've never quite understood those who genuinely appear to believe that I have any reason to be jealous of John Scalzi.  Yes, I am presently running for the SFWA position he is vacating, and sure, I do regularly lay the metaphorical crosshairs on him, but anyone who can fail to see the vast amusement that is regularly to be had with the author of l'affaire Rapey McRaperson falls very well short of being my ideal reader.  But be that as it may, the one thing to which various observers inevitably draw attention is something I'd always assumed was at least partially true, which is the assumption that Scalzi's blog readership at Whatever is significantly larger than mine at VP and AG.  Longtime readers will recall that fans of PZ Myers also used to make a habit of pointing this out vis-a-vis Pharyngula, although we don't seem to have heard much of that since the establishment of FreeThoughtBlogs and the inception of the low grade civil war presently raging between the anti-feminist New Atheists and the pro-feminist New New Atheists.

So it was informative to read this post, in which the SFWA president is impressed with the growing size of his blog readership.
"[H]ere are the stats for Whatever for 2012. WordPress’ stats software recorded 8.165 million views last year, which is up from 5.409 million in 2011, which is up roughly 50% over the previous year. That’s a pretty good jump for the year; as a contrast, the jump from 2010 to 2011 was 5.4 percent. I attribute the jump this year to a number of  blockbuster posts, most notably “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.” The month with the largest number of views was May, with 1.1 million (not coincidentally the month of the “Straight White Male” post); The lowest number of views were in February, with 436,000....  To add to the confusion, Google Analytics (which I also have tracking Whatever) consistently reports lower numbers of views than WordPress; for example, in December, WordPress has Whatever getting 749,000 views; Google has it at 718,000."
That looks genuinely impressive at first glance.  8.165 million views!  But the last number made me do a double-take. And then it made me laugh. You see, Google Analytics also tracks Vox Popoli and Alpha Game. Those two blogs happened to combine for 719,700 views in December.  719,700, if I recall correctly, happens to be a little bit more than 718,000.  Nor is it an anomaly, as that was actually down from 745,857 in November.  This inspired me to look further into the matter of comparative blog traffic.

Interestingly enough, the lowest number of combined views all year was in June, with 570,971.  In February, Vox Popoli alone had 494,534 views; combined views were 596,181.  Not only were both numbers considerably higher than Whatever's 436,000 Wordpress views for the same month, but on the basis of the reported December ratio, Whatever's more directly comparable estimated Google views were probably in the vicinity of 418,000.  So, prior to the monster post in May that temporarily more than doubled Whatever's traffic, this marginal "pit of manstink" appears to have had a readership that was 40 percent larger than the Great Hutch of the Rabbit People.  Moreover, last year traffic grew at a rate of 30.3%, from 5,969,066 in 2011 to 7,777,620 in 2012.

Doesn't quite fit the rabbity narrative, does it?  In fairness to McRapey, I have to point out that he has never once attempted to play the traffic card himself, and on one or two occasions he has even attempted to explain to some of his more imaginative fans that the readership here, for all that it supposedly dwells in "the land of epistemic closure" is not quite as inconsiderable as some of them would like to pretend it is.  The reason for the mistaken perception on everyone's part is innocent enough, though, as it appears to be based on the fact that Wordpress offers the most generous view calculations while Sitemeter's are the most stingy, combined with the fact that I make my Sitemeter numbers public while Scalzi only reports his Wordpress numbers on an annual basis.  But Sitemeter is known to be at least a little unreliable; for example, there were several days earlier this year when I saw that it recorded no traffic at all.

So, corrected for the Wordpress/Google ratio, here is how the annual traffic compares on the basis of Scalzi's reported Whatever traffic and the Google numbers for VP (2009 through Feb 11) and VP+AG (Mar 11 through 2012):
The data indicates that Whatever needed that monster post just to keep pace with the continued growth of VP+AG.  I now await with no little interest to hear how the "sour grapes" theorists will explain that I am jealous of the traffic and exposure of a blog whose readership numbers my blog appears to have first passed up more than a year ago.  Now, it must be pointed out that Whatever did end up with 50k more total views in 2012, thanks to the aforementioned blockbuster post, but it should be readily apparent that VP+AG now have a bigger and more reliable readership base than Whatever.

By the end of 2013, I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the occasional month pushing somewhere between 800k and 900k Google pageviews.  And if the Alpha Game traffic eventually surpasses Vox Popoli's as I have always assumed it would given the higher level of interest in intersexual relations than in economics, SF/F, and my personal ideosyncracies, the two blogs may well surpass 1.1 million/month next year without requiring any well-linked monster posts.

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47 Comments:

Anonymous Porky? January 02, 2013 9:10 AM  

Who?

Anonymous jack January 02, 2013 9:25 AM  

Well....Vox I don't give a mouse's ass how many visits you have wherever you may post. Long as 'I' get to read you offerings I could care less if 'I'm' the only one reading. Just keep posting. Thats a good lad....

Anonymous Expat January 02, 2013 9:34 AM  

One issue is the overlap in VP and AG readerships. Is it accurate - for the purposes of the comparison - to simply sum the two sites' views?

OpenID ZT January 02, 2013 9:42 AM  

Yeah but to be fair you have a considerable number of viewers who visit both blogs. So is the game to get unique viewers or just view count?

Anonymous Feh January 02, 2013 9:50 AM  

I don't visit Scalzi's site. Used to, but got tired of him being a self-righteous ass.

Anonymous VD January 02, 2013 9:54 AM  

One issue is the overlap in VP and AG readerships. Is it accurate - for the purposes of the comparison - to simply sum the two sites' views?

There is less than one might think. For example, VP growth dropped off in May 2011 as a direct result of introducing AG and has remained relatively stable since. Most of the growth has been at AG and there are numerous visitors there, particularly of the critical variety, who aren't even aware of VP.

But more importantly, this is a comparison of pageviews, not unique visitors. There is no substantive difference between one reader who views two pages at VP and two at AG, and a reader who views four at Whatever. I'd always assumed Whatever had more unique visitors, but then, I mistakenly assumed that when Scalzi was reporting Wordpress views, he was actually reporting visits because that is the Sitemeter metric I tended to use.

It wasn't until yesterday that I realized he was not only reporting views, but views using a much more generous reporting system. I didn't even know what my Google pageviews were until recently because I'd always utilized Sitemeter.

Yeah but to be fair you have a considerable number of viewers who visit both blogs. So is the game to get unique viewers or just view count?

The distinction between one blog and two is irrelevant with regards to pageviews, as I explained. The game, such as it is, is simply to utilize the same metric. As for the preference for one or the other, it depends. I'd rather have a small, but "deep" readership than a larger one that only stops by the front page and doesn't read anything. I think both our readerships are actually quite deep in that regard.

Anonymous Josh January 02, 2013 9:55 AM  

Squee

and

Assbag

Blogger Double Minded Man January 02, 2013 9:57 AM  

VD,

I can attest to the bad numbers of Wordpress. They count page views on any page as a hit, when its nothing of the sort. Pageviews are always significantly higher than actual views and the lack of good reporting is one thing that I miss quite a bit when I made the switch from Blogspot to Wordpress.

Anonymous The OASF January 02, 2013 10:00 AM  

VD... do you anticipate blog traffic to go down now that you've discontinued the WND column? I'm guessing that was a big source of new blog followers.

Anonymous VD January 02, 2013 10:03 AM  

For example, Sitemeter has the average visit length at AG as being more than twice that here at VP: 3:01 to 1:28. That tends to indicate a higher percentage of people reading in depth at AG and being inclined to comment, which makes sense because everyone feels qualified to opine on intersexual matters, and rather less so on Z1 or Italian football.

One thing I always wondered about Pharyngula's numbers was that its visit length was 0:01. I'm not sure what that meant, but I was always pretty confident that its readership was not substantively larger than here. I assumed the contrary with regards to Whatever, especially given the way that so many SF/F authors attempted to curry favor with its audience, hence my surprise chronicled in this post.

This isn't merely a pissing match, although there is an element of that. The analysis has some very interesting implications for book sales and so forth, and actually tends to indicate the continued relevance of conventional publishers. Or, it could simply be related to differences in audience composition versus audience size.

Anonymous VD January 02, 2013 10:06 AM  

VD... do you anticipate blog traffic to go down now that you've discontinued the WND column?

No, I really don't. The numbers have been flat there for a long time. I'm going to try an experiment and add a link to VP at AG in a month. One month of no WND link followed by a month of an AG link should provide some interesting information concerning traffic flow.

The other thing that could make a difference is figuring out how to shut down the wwww.voxday.blogspot site. (The real site has no www). A surprising amount of people go there and can't figure out why there are so few comments on the posts there.

Anonymous Brian January 02, 2013 10:06 AM  

I always assumed that allegations of jealousy had more to do with the fact that he is a successful novelist, and you...aren't really. (that isn't a values judgement; I've never read any of his books)

Anonymous Tad January 02, 2013 10:30 AM  

@Vox Day

I know it's hard to imagine that someone who writes near your genre and who you think is a Sh*tty writer would have more success than you.

But this sort of thing you really should keep to yourself, rather than continually putting on display what appears to be straight up jealousy and envy.

Try to do better. Try to market your work better. Try to write something more people will want to read. But why make yourself look like a whiner??

Anonymous Josh January 02, 2013 10:39 AM  

I know it's hard to imagine that someone who writes near your genre and who you think is a Sh*tty writer would have more success than you

By your logic, EL James is the best writer of the last year.

And Stephanie Meyers is one of the best writers of the past decade.

Both of them must be much better writers than Mr Scalzi.

Blogger John January 02, 2013 10:42 AM  

Rapey McRaperson - every time I see that I laugh and cringe as a bad 70s vintage McDonald's commercial flashes into my head featuring Ronald, Hamburgular, Grimace and Rapey McRaperson.

Anonymous VD January 02, 2013 10:42 AM  

I always assumed that allegations of jealousy had more to do with the fact that he is a successful novelist, and you...aren't really.

First, how am I an unsuccessful novelist? Second, if that's the case, why was the supposedly larger readership of Whatever so often cited?

But this sort of thing you really should keep to yourself, rather than continually putting on display what appears to be straight up jealousy and envy.

Are you seriously saying that I should keep evidence that what his fans are saying regarding the relative size of our readerships is factually false to myself?

I wonder what the fallback position will be when my books start outselling his. I note that my latest novel has better reviews than his. Also, I don't think Scalzi is a shitty writer. I think he is a mediocre and derivative writer who has declined rather than improved. I actually gave OMW a 7/10 rating back in the day, you may recall.

Anonymous Josh January 02, 2013 10:48 AM  

I haven't read redshirts, but isn't it essentially fan fiction?

Anonymous jack January 02, 2013 10:48 AM  

@Tad
But why make yourself look like a whiner??

I still wonder if 'Tad' might not be a Vox construct. If Vox ever shuts down the blog we might be gifted with the whole truth. You know, the whole truth, that concept that is not in most of the government dictionary's. He might. Or he might go to his grave laughing in delight at it all by not telling.

Oh, by the way Tad, most writers near unto the Vox genre are not anywhere near as good as he. If he started to write for sales I would probably no longer buy and read. Though, for the sake of the argument, I would not mind seeing one, for the dinner table and the rent, piece just to see. That I would buy and read; just probably nothing after.

Anonymous jack January 02, 2013 10:49 AM  

Above: that should read 'nothing after the test piece for the giggles of the ILK, but nothing after of the same.

Anonymous Tad January 02, 2013 10:52 AM  

@Josh

By your logic, EL James is the best writer of the last year. And Stephanie Meyers is one of the best writers of the past decade.Both of them must be much better writers than Mr Scalzi.

Josh, I don't claim to know who the best writers are. However, it's seems pretty clear when one writers is pining after the success of another.

Anonymous VD January 02, 2013 10:56 AM  

Try to do better. Try to market your work better.

I always try to do better. I suspect most who have read my novels will agree that I have improved significantly as a novelist since Rebel Moon and the first Eternal Warriors novel. And I could certainly do better marketing my books, but that's not really of interest to me.

But you will probably never understand that I'm not whining and I could not care less if you or anyone else thinks it is. This is because you don't understand that what success means to you is not what success means to me. Do you truly not grasp that I would much rather write the perfect book and sell ten copies of it than write a million-selling piece of trash? I compare myself to Scalzi as a blogger, not as an SF/F author. I think in terms of comparisons to Martin, Jordan, Sanderson, Abercrombie, Paolini, Brooks, and Bakker. Scalzi doesn't even enter into the equation.

A THRONE OF BONES isn't the perfect book. It is very far from it. But it is going in the right direction. I've already accomplished my goal of writing something better than A Dance with Dragons and the Jordan stuff. Perhaps by Book Five I can surpass A Game of Thrones and start thinking about competing with Tolkien, Stephenson, and Mieville. Probably not. Almost certainly not. But I can try.

Anonymous Tad January 02, 2013 10:56 AM  

@Vox Day

Are you seriously saying that I should keep evidence that what his fans are saying regarding the relative size of our readerships is factually false to myself?

No. I'm saying that the seeming and somewhat ugly jealousy and envy that comes though in this and other posts is something you should try to keep to yourself, no matter if you think you are a better writer and should have more publishing success than he. Learn to control yourself and you won't come of desperate and envious.

Blogger John January 02, 2013 10:56 AM  

To say Redshirts is fan fic is to insult fan fiction. Fan fiction covered the same concept years ago and with a whole lot less naval gazing and better, more intelligent dialog than Scalazi did. And that is not to say I like fan fic. For the most part, I don't and haven't read any in years, but Redshirts is worse. If Redshirts is representative is Scalazi's work, then I am ashamed I ever claimed to be a science fiction fan.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad January 02, 2013 10:58 AM  

Shutup,Tad.

Anonymous Tico January 02, 2013 11:01 AM  

When you are doing your big Amazon Ratings analysis for your big expose at Blackgate, you should also compare your ratings vs. Scalzi’s ratings and compare how many other reviews for genre novels each reviewer has.   Just saying…

Anonymous zen0 January 02, 2013 11:02 AM  

Learn to control yourself and you won't come of desperate and envious. @ Tad

Tad's projectile projecting again.

Try to control yourself, Tad. Its not good for your look, buddy.

Anonymous Tad January 02, 2013 11:03 AM  

@Vox Day

I always try to do better. I suspect most who have read my novels will agree that I have improved significantly as a novelist since Rebel Moon and the first Eternal Warriors novel. And I could certainly do better marketing my books, but that's not really of interest to me.

I'm sure you do try to do better. And I'm sure you have improved your writing and story telling ability. And for the record I think you write just fine. I'm just saying, you come off as terribly envious and jealous of someone who has had far more success in their writing and storytelling and publishing affairs. You should try to avoid that. It is, as my niece would say, "icky looking".

But you will probably never understand that I'm not whining and I could not care less if you or anyone else thinks it is. This is because you don't understand that what success means to you is not what success means to me. Do you truly not grasp that I would much rather write the perfect book and sell ten copies of it than write a million-selling piece of trash?...

Now you just sound defensive. That's not pretty either. There will always be people who are better writers, more successful writers, more influential writers, more relevant writers and more celebrated writers. It's best, in my view, to not go after them and sound like a jealous, envious little girl, and just keep trying to do better.

But I can try.

That would be a good thing to focus on.

Blogger Nate January 02, 2013 11:04 AM  

"But this sort of thing you really should keep to yourself, rather than continually putting on display what appears to be straight up jealousy and envy. "

you're aware that writing isn't even VD's profession right? Its a hobby. Its never been about making money.

Anonymous VD January 02, 2013 11:11 AM  

It's best, in my view, to not go after them and sound like a jealous, envious little girl, and just keep trying to do better.

That's nice. And that's enough. You've already made your point and I've already pointed out that your accusations of jealousy and so forth are figments of your imagination, just as the idea that Whatever had a vastly larger readership than VP was a figment of the imagination of some of its fans.

If you can't control your tendency to overcomment and repeat yourself, I'm going to put you on Equus Pallidus's old five comments per post plan. Mindless repetition isn't convincing, it's just tedious.

Anonymous Cryan Ryan January 02, 2013 11:15 AM  

Some may find Tad's posts absurd,

Because he's out on the fringe of the herd,

But he's still a young calf,

So just enjoy a good laugh,

Each time he lays a small turd.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad January 02, 2013 11:32 AM  

Each time he lays a small turd.

If they can't get housebroken you either gotta shoot them or make them live outside.

Tad makes a good case for mercy killing. If someone killed him it would be a great mercy for everyone else.

Anonymous Daniel January 02, 2013 11:38 AM  

Chart 1 is confusing. Jan and Feb do not list combined views, but VP only. You write that Feb's combined was 596,181, but only show VP's on the chart. Does Google not go back that far for AG? Am I confusing the Wordpress vs. Google #'s?

Anonymous VD January 02, 2013 11:43 AM  

Jan and Feb do not list combined views, but VP only. You write that Feb's combined was 596,181, but only show VP's on the chart. Does Google not go back that far for AG? Am I confusing the Wordpress vs. Google #'s?

No, you're confusing Feb 2011 and Feb 2012. There are no combined views for Jan-Feb 2011 for the obvious reason that AG did not yet exist. I started it in March 2011, ergo Google only goes back to there.

Anonymous Josh January 02, 2013 11:47 AM  

Tad makes a good case for mercy killing. If someone killed him it would be a great mercy for everyone else.

It would just be a late term, postpartum abortion. A very late term one.

Anonymous Daniel January 02, 2013 12:12 PM  

No, you're confusing Feb 2011 and Feb 2012. Thanks! All these years in the post-crash paradise are beginning to blur into eternity.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera January 02, 2013 2:36 PM  

If you can't control your tendency to overcomment and repeat yourself, I'm going to put you on Equus Pallidus's old five comments per post plan. Mindless repetition isn't convincing, it's just tedious.

I think it would be more fun if he kept going for a year. Afterward, we could compare his output with A Dance with Dragons.

Anonymous Daniel January 02, 2013 2:52 PM  

Shut up, Aeoli Pera!

Your definition of fun is neither accurate nor sane. I'd rather read Stephanie Meyer's novelization of Beaches while listening to Gilbert Gottfried whistle the Macarena with crackers in his mouth.

Blogger JDC January 02, 2013 4:23 PM  

Look...if Tad is going to argue he must take a contrary position. The real question is whether this is a five minute argument, or the full half hour.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza January 02, 2013 5:32 PM  

Oh please!! VP and AG's content quality is superior and not entirely precise to compare and contrast to Sca or PZ.

Recall that the moment anyone uses math, facts or logic they are called jealous, raccissss or mentally ill or any other ABSURD label they wish to throw around.

I invoke MPAI on made up traffic that other petty half assed writers pull as real stats.

And of course, after being accused of jealousy there will always be the claims of VD being stupid despite the man is highly intelligent and already checkmated his critics time and time again.

To PZ and Sca; I am NOT impressed and neither are countless others who have followed your blogs/work over the years.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza January 02, 2013 5:35 PM  

Note: my personal experience/bias with Wordpress wasn't all that enjoyable or reflective of true stats but nevermind.

Anonymous tiredofitall January 02, 2013 11:05 PM  

"The other thing that could make a difference is figuring out how to shut down the wwww.voxday.blogspot site. (The real site has no www). A surprising amount of people go there and can't figure out why there are so few comments on the posts there. - VD

If you can't outright shut it down, you could always re-direct visitors from that site to here.

Blogger rcocean January 02, 2013 11:25 PM  

"Mindless repetition isn't convincing, it's just tedious."

Really? It certainly explains Ayn Rand.

Anonymous rycamor January 02, 2013 11:50 PM  

VD January 02, 2013 10:56 AM

Try to do better. Try to market your work better.

I always try to do better.


C'mon, Vox. You need to participate in a pose-off with Scalzi et al. That'll bring 'em in.

Anonymous ridip January 03, 2013 6:59 AM  

This fortune popped up when I logged in to Linux this morning:

Men who cherish for women the highest
respect are seldom popular with them.
-- Joseph Addison

Made me think of McRapey. I have no idea who Joseph Addison was, but he had the right of it.

Anonymous Daniel January 03, 2013 9:58 AM  

rycamor, thanks very little for the link to the metaphor for the future of fantasy and sci-fi: white men pretending to be women out of guilt.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera January 03, 2013 12:12 PM  

white men pretending to be women out of guilt.

Shut up, Daniel! I can't stop thinking that Tad's probably getting an erection.

Anonymous Toby Temple January 03, 2013 10:44 PM  

I won't be surprise that someday Vox Popoli will have a Tad Award. Whoever will be the first recipient of such an award, only time will tell.

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