The blogging on Skeptikai started two years ago, and I’m happy to say things have been going well since then. I’m always learning new things, and the site itself has been growing faster than I had expected. If you’re a recurring reader, I encourage you to leave a comment on what things you like/dislike about the site. I’ll do more of what you like and less of what you don’t like if I can. Anyways, here are my thoughts, achievements, and failures, regarding the past year of blogging.
What I learned
I was surprised to learn that I can never tell what’s going to be popular! Some of the articles I thought would be trivial become extremely popular, and many articles I thought were well written are often barely ever read. One example is the article I wrote on the history of the artificial heart. I thought it was interesting, but almost no one read it.
From this kind of feedback, you can be sure I won’t be writing about that again any time soon. Perhaps the only way people will be interested in artificial hearts is if something happens to them personally, or it becomes big is in the news. Regardless, the point is that I have almost no sense for what will become popular anymore.
Actually, that’s probably true for most people. I mean… did anyone at all expect Gangnam Style to be this popular? Yeah right.
What I Achieved
Last year I had a few personal milestones. For one thing, I reached 100,000 total hits in August, but as I argued in the article announcing this achievement, there’s a good chance that about half of that traffic is not actually from real people. But since that article, my traffic has almost trippled in total, so that’s fine. In fact, each month since then has had several thousand more hits than the month prior.
Also, having readers that actually comment was a big change in 2012. Unlike the first nine months of 2011, I have plenty of activity every day now, and I love the comments I get. Even the ridiculous ones! (Oh yes, there have certainly been some ridiculous ones). There was a total of 325 comments (57 of which were mine). That doesn’t factor in the nearly 50,000 spam comments I had to delete since Skeptikai started. If I get that much, I can’t imagine what the really popular blogs get.
What I Love About Blogging
One of the things I love about blogging is that it requires me to learn. I am forced to study the topic to the extent that I genuinely know what I’m talking about, even if I knew very little before – such as the artificial heart article. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t (there are several articles of which I am not particularly proud) but getting recognition and receiving comments is really what makes me feel like I’m not just wasting my time trying to enlighten, educate, or inform others. People are actually listening.
I hope that doesn’t sound to pretentious, like a know-it-all; because that’s not how I intend to come off. In fact I was happy to report in June that an article I wrote about a week earlier had a few significant errors, after the author of a study I critiqued wrote to me. I was very happy he contacted me, and he was not hostile at all, despite the errors I made. As I said after fixing the article itself, and in the follow-up admission, it didn’t make the study flawless by any means… but it did certainly raise it to the level of acceptable science, and a study that we shouldn’t simple forget about.
Indeed, blogging can be a humbling endeavor…
What I’m Least Proud of
More than anything in my last year of blogging, the biggest disappointment was the secondary blog that I had launched with several others. It was such a complete and miserable failure that, in the end, I’m basically embarrassed by it. Being essentially the only one willing to write was a wake up call for me; it really showed me my place within the blogosphere. I figured that since I was the only one willing to write, there would be no point in doing it on a secondary blog. So what ended up happening was… nothing. It didn’t change anything for me. I kept writing on Skeptikai. The whole experience just equated to a waste of time for me and a few bad emotions that later turned to intense apathy.
But I guess the positive thing about that experience is that it showed me just how committed I was to this form of writing. Clearly, I am committed.
What I’m Most Proud of
On Skeptikai’s first birthday, it was the 94th article. This article is my 197th. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve made so many articles, because I still have never made one of those short cop-out posts saying almost nothing, like “here’s a YouTube video I saw, so you should watch it too,” which so many bloggers do. Not that I am really judging them… I mean, who knows? Maybe I should start doing that…
Also, the website-traffic-ranking website Alexa is an interesting way to look at the popularity of websites. Alexa ranks them by traffic in a 3-month period, and it was interesting to the rank of Skeptikai rise steadily. When I first started, it didn’t even register on the website. Then it was somewhere around the 4 million, and I think around 1 or 2 million near the end of 2011. I’m happy to say that Skeptikai is currently somewhere around the world’s 600,000th most popular website. This is not necessarily impressive, but keep in mind that I haven’t done any marketing for my blog and I’ve had no help and basically had to do everything by myself – half the time I have no idea what I’m doing! So I’m hoping to gradually rise in the rankings.
What I Would Like to Do Next Year
In November 2011, I made the milestone of getting 10,000 hits. I added another zero to that figure in August 2012. My next hit-count milestone will be a million, and based on the growth of this site, I’m pretty confident that I’ll achieve that in 2013.
Also, I’ve been thinking for a while about the possibility of starting a podcast. I would basically want to talk about the same things I do here, but in a totally different form, and a very different way. I like the idea of this, but I’m not sure if, how, or when I should do it. I also haven’t done anything like that before, so it would take a lot of time to learn how to make such audio files, and right now I have two many giant projects happening in the next few months to get started. So if I don’t start it in 2013 year, at least I might plan it for later. In fact the timing (and the existence…) of a Skeptikai podcast might depend on readers’ responses. After all, there’s not much point in doing a podcast if no one’s going to listen to it.
My Five Personal Favorite Articles of the Past Year
Left-brain vs. Right-brain Learning Styles – An example of what busting pseudoscience myths looks like.
Top 5 Quotes of Stupid America’s War on Smart People – Intelligence has become vilified in the West, but nowhere more than the U.S.
Tsunami Survival Guide: Japanese Culture is Not Conducive to Staying Alive – Rethinking the values of Japanese and foreign cultures.
Rich People Don’t Smoke – The Simple Socioeconomics of Tobacco Consumption – A simple thesis, with good research to back it.
Doctors Make Mistakes… Even the Preventable Ones – A lesson in humility for patients and doctors alike.
My Message to Readers
If 2012 has taught me anything, it’s that time flies in the blink of an eye. Make sure that you’re using your time the best way possible, and not wasting it on things that you’ll regret later. …But even the most seemingly trivial thing may be a good use of your time, depending on what you do with it. An hour today might be completely different from an hour tomorrow; it’s all just a matter of how you use it. Don’t let those hours go to waste – you’ll never get them back.