Has anyone produced a list of the best of 2015’s “Best of …” lists? No? Anyone? This won’t be that. First, a thank you.
Thank you to everyone who reads this website, even if this post is the first one by me that you have seen: Thank you. If The Gad About Town receives its usual number of visitors today, one of you might give this site the 34,000th view it has received in 2015. More than 18,000 visitors have read or at least gazed at almost 34,000 things here. That stuns me.
To me, these are huge numbers. I was humbled recently when I was chatting with a professional writer who is breaking into the field and he informed me that writers at most sites get paid per visit: $1.00 per 1000 views among the more generous sites. That would be about thirty-four bucks in all of 2015. I spent more than $34 on this website this year. And then I remembered that I do this for free.
In December 2014 I wrote this:
This is a small publication with about 300 subscribers (“followers” in WordPress lingo) and a total of under 10000 views since January 2014. Of those 9000 views, it has received 645 comments and about 2000 “likes” (individuals’ faces and logos appear next to each like, making this feel like a community of sorts) across its 190 posts. Six hundred and forty-five comments out of 9207 visits is a 0.07 rate; I do not know if this is good, bad, an uncommonly high percentage, or so very extremely average and just like everyone else’s website as to be unworthy of even bothering to calculate.—2014 In Review
In 2015, this site has been visited 33,930 times (so, more than 40,000 when combined with 2014’s numbers), received 6893 “likes,” and 1752 comments. Seventeen hundred comments out of 34000 visits is a 0.05 rate; I do not know if this counts as a large number or a teeny-tiny one. It’s a number.
There is one other number, and this one feels like an award of some sort: because none of us charge a subscription and this is a one-man operation (which is sometimes sadly obvious), 99.9% of the comments received are complimentary and direct and addressed to me personally. I strive to respond to each one, even if only with a thank you; I know I fail in that a lot of the time, however, and I will strive to do even better.
The official number of followers (I prefer the term “subscribers” because I am egotistical) is 613, which means that this number has been doubled from last year. One day I was on a friend’s laptop and I saw the button to click to follow this site by email and after I asked, “Why aren’t you a follower?”, I noticed that the number was four digits in size. There is a large difference between 613 and more than 1500, and I do not know which number corresponds to real reality. I guess “followers” are those who might see this website in their WordPress reader, if they look at that. It seems that the moment someone clicks “Follow” on a site, they get counted, but unfollowers are not subtracted. (For my ego’s sake, I hope this practice remains.) But the larger number, the email subscribers, I don’t know what that means. It has been explained to me, and I remain in the dark because I am egotistical and want to believe that thousands wait each morn for my every utterance. Should I claim the larger number, 1500 subscribers, like my newspaper used to?
In 2015, one column received more than 1000 views in a single week and a second one was viewed 1000 times in a single day. Both pieces were published in January, so my year opened with my ego inflated. The two columns that got some attention are: “A tomar las armas compañeros” (1000 in a week) and “Pete Seeger, One Year Gone.” I woke one morning to the news that the late Pete Seeger’s Facebook page and Twitter account had both featured that particular column as if I was writing for his estate.
“‘A tomar las armas compañeros'” was written on the day of the massacre at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The next day, I thought to myself, “I have arrived. I am a pundit. I have an audience. One thousand views!” (I did not actually think this or address myself in this way, but something like this happened in my psyche.) I wrote a reasoned, thought-out, “essay of essays” about violence, and I thought it would be quoted for weeks by others. It was not. It got about 60 views.
At this time last year, I had not heard the name Raif Badawi. Approximately 2000 views that this site has received have been people reading my articles about him. When he was flogged on January 9 last year, something went off inside me like a bell in a boxing ring. I have written more than a dozen pieces on this website about his story, about his wife’s love. Several have been re-published internationally. If it were not for his story, I would not have met (online at least) several dozen activists who are educating me about the fight for freedom of expression around the world.
I did not know that I would be reporting news ever again. It is the only thing I ever wanted to do, and I would have done it for free if I could. And so it has come to pass. I was able to report some news here and there this year, all as a volunteer. Twice, I scooped the big publications.
And so I am aware that at this time next year, there might be another story that I have not yet heard or read about that I will wind up writing more than a dozen columns about. I like that.
In December 2014 I wrote this about readers, about all of you (especially you, and you, and you, too):
I like to think of myself as a professional writer; in 2013, I built a platform out of nothing for myself, climbed on it, and started typing. No one on this planet was waiting to read what I had to write about anything at all. No one was holding their breath. Being disabled and with a tiny income means that I no longer need to do the following things in my life: 1. Voluntarily send my résumé to some publication that I either admire or I have never heard of but will act like I have always loved in order to pursue a job that I almost certainly do not understand; 2. Hope to be invited to be interviewed; 3. Dress up or dress down for an interview in which “first impressions are everything” but when I am hungry for a job, I do not make a good first impression and never will; 4. Positively envision myself working with this staff for years to come (a silent thought, “I’m going to hang out with [looks around the office] … that person over there”) but keep my expectations in check and understand that I will probably never lay eyes on any of these people again in this life. Those job interviews, a couple dozen of them through the years, are burned in my memory. Some of them make for good anecdotes, most don’t.
WordPress sent a report, as it did last year: “The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2700 people. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.” Well, since it is already the new year there: Happy New Year, everyone!
Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of your 2015–Mark.
The WordPress Daily Prompt for December 31 asks, “Tomorrow you get to become anyone in the world that you wish. Who are you? You can choose to be anyone alive today, or someone gone long ago. If you decide to stay ‘you’ share your rationale.”
This week’s Alterna-Prompt, “The Blog Propellant,” asks “Tell us about change, either as a good thing or a bad thing.”
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