Friday 14 October 2016

Schadenfreude rules supreme

All this recent writing about blogging or not blogging as the case may be got to me thinking about what makes a blog good. What makes me go back and revisit an old page, what makes me diligently go and check a website just in case there’s something new? I know what I like, I alluded to it earlier – variety. For instance repeated photos of Caspian Gulls banking in flight over shingle, no matter their quality, tends to be a bit of a turn-off. That’s just me, YMMV. And of course I’m hugely guilty of one-dimensionality at times, but nonetheless I wondered if the decline in blogging might be partly due to the material.

Enter blog stats. 

In common with my general falling out of love with this website, though not that you would notice this week, I’ve also not looked at my stats for a while. These tell me - if I desire to know it - who has visited me, where they live, what their pets are called and what those pets had for breakfast. I made an effort to do so yesterday and it is fascinating. Ok so yes there is a general downward trend from about 2013 which I knew about, but taking 2016 as the sample I wondered what had worked and what had not. Seeing as these days comments are a little haphazard in the light of easier forms of social media, I based my “research” on the number of times an individual post has been read. Hits in other words. Highly illuminating! 

All the posts about travel which I admit have been suffocatingly many tend actually not to be very well read. This is a shame as travel is probably my main interest at the moment, but I suppose saturation point has been reached. A trip report on birding Hawaii was read 110 times, a trip to Prague 100, and a post stuffed full of photos of birds on a New York beach just 68. Fair enough, I can see that there may not be a huge amount of relevance there for some people, and it comes back to my Caspo comment above - nice sharp pictures of Skimmers? Meh. Fine.

The local birding posts such as they are tend to do better, perhaps getting 150 individual hits each time. This was a bit of a surprise given it is supposed to be the core element of this blog, but then again I’ve been birding Wanstead and writing about it for many years so to a certain extent it has become a little repetitive and dull  - which of course mirrors my own birding experience: most patch visits are extremely dull! 

Instead the traffic is dominated by tales of woe. Forget local birds and exotic locations, that’s not what the public want. The numbers don’t lie, people want schadenfreude. Noun: pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. Blog readers want to chuckle at the bad things that happen to other people, which in the case of this blog mostly means me. Thus it was that 200 people gleefully read the post about breaking my hand complete with gory x-ray, 233 joyfully clicked on a post about missing all the rare birds on Shetland, 296 tuned in to my aching buttocks after cycling to work, and then the clear recent winner with 396, a write-up of a dog-walker shouting at another dog-walker and Lee Evans getting zapped by an electric fence.

Ho ho ho! Much mirth and merriment! The message is clear. Lee, no matter what people might think of him, is comedy gold, a best-seller and always will be. That I should engage in more (any!) sporting activity to raise the possibility that something might go "pop!" or "twang!". And that I should start twitching again so that I can DIP.


  1. I missed the Lee post - can you give me the link? Ta!

  2. I read pretty much every post of yours and I particularly relish the travel posts. Your photography and sense of composition brings these post to vivid life. I don't bird as much internationally as I'd like to these days (work) so your travels give me a vicarious pleasure, so please do keep them up!