Nine is a Magic Number

Yes, I was testing you… it’s nine. And that’s a magic number

-Dewey Finn, School of Rock, misquoting Schoolhouse Rock

However the magic being referenced here is mostly a product of stubbornness or persistence or force of habit as opposed to anything that one would find amazing or entertaining.

Also, references to my childhood

Also, reference to my childhood

Yes, here we are again, another anniversary, the ninth time through this sort of post.  If I were married to the blog, something my wife might suggest was the case at times, Hallmark would be suggesting I buy it something of pottery or willow or perhaps leather if you prefer the modern view.  Instead all it is getting is words, just like every year.

But just to keep on the video game theme, even popped up an achievement for me at 17:05 UTC, which I guess is when I clicked the create button nine years back.


“Good blogging” is making something of an assumption there I suppose, but I appreciate the sentiment I guess.

Meanwhile, past runs through this sort of post for those who just need to know what came before.

I think I have settled down into a pretty regular pattern at this point.  I went well out of my way with some stats in the early years, in part because they were easy to derive with only a year or two of data to sift through.  Now I just present what is close to hand and hope for the best.

Base Statistics

An attempt to quantify what I have done here in the last twelve months.  The change over last years totals are noted in parentheses.

Days since launch: 3,287 (+365)
Posts total: 3,707 (+360)
Average posts per day: 1.13 (-0.02)
Comments: 25,558 (+2,346)
Average comments per post: 6.9 (+0.0)
Average comments per day: 7.8  (-0.1)
Spam comments: 1,277,992 (+104,525)
Average spam comments per day: 388.8 (-12.8)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 50 (-0.6)
Comments written by me: 2,994 or 11.7%
Images uploaded:  9,259 (+1244)
Space used by images: 2.1 GB of my 3 GB allocation (70%)

Eventually we’re going to need a bigger boat or something for all the picture I upload.

Further stats, summaries, a mildly off-the-rails semi-rant, and a forward looking statement are hidden below because I seem to be going on and on this year.  ~4,000 words after the cut for those interested in such things.


This was one of those items I added at one point, thinking it would be interesting.  But the English speaking world, and countries with a high percentage of English speaking residents, dominated, and continues to dominate, traffic to this blog, which is written in English.  Imagine that.

The United States accounts for 50% of the traffic, with the UK, Canada, and Australia chipping in another 15%.

More reddish means more visits

More reddish means more visits

The top 20 countries from which visitors here are from is:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Germany
  5. Australia
  6. France
  7. Netherlands
  8. Sweden
  9. Poland
  10. Brazil
  11. Spain
  12. Norway
  13. Denmark
  14. Russia
  15. New Zealand
  16. Czech Republic
  17. Finland
  18. Belgium
  19. Ireland
  20. Italy

The bottom of that list is almost exactly 1%, while everything past France is less than 5% of total traffic so far as calculates.

Meanwhile, just to adhere to tradition, the following destination spots each sent me a single page view over the last year.

  1. Congo
  2. Belize
  3. American Samoa
  4. Vanuatu
  5. Cook Islands
  6. Bhutan
  7. Central African Republic
  8. Sierra Leone
  9. Sudan
  10. Gabon
  11. Benin
  12. Haiti
  13. Caribbean Netherlands
  14. Laos
  15. Mauritania
  16. San Marino
  17. Iran
  18. Samoa

You are welcome to draw whatever conclusion you wish from that list.


Who sends me traffic.  Search engines rank first, with Google on top by a huge margin, so I have left them off the list.  Instead, my lists will be the top ten sites other than Google that send me traffic.

Over the Last Year

  1. Low Sec Lifestyle
  2. EVE Bloggers
  3. Blessing of Kings
  4. Feedly
  5. Greedy Goblin
  6. Keen and Graev
  7. Total EVE
  8. Hardcore Casual
  9. Twitter
  10. Inventory Full

That is actually something of a shake-up over last year.  Popehat, VirginWorlds, EN24, and Jester’s Trek dropped from the list, while those that remained shifted positions.

Popehat moved their blogroll off the front page earlier this year, which dried up traffic from them and dropped them to 12th place.  Blogrolls on the front page are not very effective to start with, but off the front page and they disappear almost completely.

I fell off the VirginWorlds feed at some point in the last year killing traffic from there.  EN24 hasn’t syndicated me for a while, so those old posts they did have links back to be no longer get traffic, while Jester stopped blogging over a year ago.

Likewise, Rohan at Blessing of Kings has posted much less this year than in the past, generating less traffic.  EVE Online related sites continue to rise, with CSM member Sugar Kyle’s blog jumping up to the top spot.  As always, it helps that she, like some others on the list, use the dynamic Blogger blog roll side bar that highlights fresh posts.  If you post often, you are often at the top of the list!

I also like that Feedly has made the list at last, something of an indicator that the post “death of Google Reader” world has an RSS reader champion.

Meanwhile, social media makes the list with Twitter.  Go social media.

Top Referrers over the Life of the Blog

  1. VirginWorlds
  2. Blessing of Kings
  3. Jester’s Trek
  4. EVE News 24
  5. Google Reader
  6. Reader
  7. Keen and Graev
  8. Hardcore Casual
  9. Low Sec Lifestyle
  10. Popehat

Here is where the inertia of time and numbers comes into play.  VirginWorlds, after sending me traffic for eight and a half years, has enough of a lead that it could still be in first place despite never sending me another page view.  There is also an indicator of how popular Google Reader really was, and how important it was to bloggers, as it has been gone for a couple of years now yet remains on the list.  Google+, its effective replacement, has driven nowhere close to that level of traffic.  The shorter term popularity of Jester’s Trek in sending traffic is also visible.

SynCaine, who has cross linked with me forever, and Sugar Kyle, the top of the heap over the last 12 months, both moved on to the list while the gone but not forgotten EQ2 Daily site and the quiet of late Player versus Developer blog both dropped off the list.

Social Media

Just something else to tack on here, how I am faring for followers on social media for blog related accounts.

  1. Twitter – 427 followers
  2. Google+ – In 154 circles
  3. Facebook – 66 friends/followers
  4. Anook – 64 followers
  5. Tumblr – 15 followers

Twitter is the only constant source of traffic on the list, and that is mostly from people who play EVE Online.  And Twitter is the only one of the above where I interact with people somewhat regularly.  The others are just points where you can find something about my latest post.

Ranked for actual traffic generation over the last year, the list looks like this, with the percentage as part of overall social media traffic indicated:

  1. Twitter (36%)
  2. Facebook (23%)
  3. Reddit (20%)
  4. Google+ (15%)
  5. Anook (4%)
  6. Pinterest (1%)
  7. Tumblr (0.6%)

Again, Twitter is the only regular source of traffic in the bunch.

I get traffic from Facebook when the new iteration of A Casual Stroll to Mordor highlights one of my posts.  They have a strong, post-blogging age following there, so traffic shows up from there in short bursts now and again.

I don’t post to Reddit, but I do get some traffic from there, made up mostly of links to this.

Google+ traffic looks to be made up of about three people who are sure if they just hang on it will put Facebook in its place, plus Tipa.

Anook was almost all Blaugust traffic.

Pinterest is interested in this post where we made a ramp for LEGO cars.  I don’t post there, I swear.

And, finally, I think all the Tumblr traffic might just be me, logged into different browsers, checking to see if it is actually on and working.


And where do I send traffic?

Over the Last Year

  1. Wikipedia (Castle Wolfenstein being the most popular click)
  2. Civ Fanatics (Running Civ II on Windows 7 64-bit)
  3. (Mostly April Fools stuff)
  4. Inventory Full
  5. EVE Online forums
  6. Blessing of Kings
  7. Keen and Graev
  8. Bio Break
  9. Blizzard Watch
  10. The Mittani dot com (Battle reports)

There is certainly a good deal of “what I link to in posts” in that list.  However, my attempt to recreate the Blogger side bar via my own RSS hack seems to be feeding that as well.  Certainly on a daily basis I see at least a trickle of outbound traffic going directly to posts on the side bar.

Over the Life of the Blog

  1. and various sub sites
  2. Civ Fanatics
  3. Wikipedia (Pokemon Black & White being the most popular click)
  5. EVE Online official sites
  6. Keen and Graev
  7. Hardcore Casual
  8. Blessing of Kings
  9. Kill Ten Rats
  10. Tobold’s Blog

Again, as with the incoming traffic, the 9 years of history weighs heavily on this list, as nothing really changed, aside from and EVE Online official sites swapping positions since last year.  Then again, this is a tough list to compile as doesn’t group these up for me and the URLs have changed over the years, so this is the least precise of the four lists.

Most Viewed Posts

Here we have the posts that brought people to the site.  This is always a humbling and/or mildly disappointing list for me.  Things I put some thought into rarely make this list, it being populated largely by items that happened through chance to rank high on Google search returns, something more influence by titles that content.  Such is life on the web.

Over the Last Year

  1. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  2. Tech 3 Destroyers and Other Tidbits from EVE Vegas Keynote
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?
  5. Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor
  6. Preparing for Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby
  7. The Insta-90 Choice is… Death Knight
  8. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  9. April Fools at Blizzard – 2015
  10. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II

Insta-levels seemed to be a popular query.  Probably the biggest surprise on the list for me was the LOTRO server merge post.  It wasn’t posted all that long ago, but seemed to find a sweet spot on search engine results.

Over the Life of the Blog

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  5. April Fools at Blizzard – 2013
  6. Diablo III vs. Torchlight II – A Matter of Details
  7. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  8. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  9. World of Warcraft Magazine – Issue 2
  10. How I Got My 5,000 Turbine Points

Again, as with all of the lifetime lists, inertia weighs heavily.  The top three there are all pretty old, and two are very much out of date.

Categories and Tags

This is something of a good measure of what I write about.

Ten Most Used Categories

Out of 88 total, up from 79 last year.  I converted several commonly used tags into categories and added a couple more along the way.  Categories are a staple of the blog.  I attach one to each post, and they tend to reflect what I am playing.  However, I cannot easily list them for just over the last year, so these are over the lifetime of the blog.  But I can tell you how much each of the top categories went up over last year.

  1. World of Warcraft  (983, +85)
  2. EVE Online (911, +119)
  3. EverQuest II (583, +41)
  4. EverQuest (472, +31)
  5. Lord of the Rings Online (350, +13)
  6. Sony Online Entertainment (335, +14)
  7. Blizzard (287, +38)
  8. Instance Group (273, +10)
  9. Null Sec (234, new category)
  10. Humor (227, +3)

That list looks pretty much like last year.  I made Null Sec a category, which pushed Misc MMOs off the list.  But it looks like I wrote more posts about EVE Online than any other single game last year, with World of Warcraft following up.

Ten Most Used Tags

Then there are tags, which are a bit more random.  Tags get added pretty much on a whim and are occasionally silly or just there to add flavor or some sort of indication of my state of mind regarding a post.  That is why there is a total of 2,800 tags I have used, up 208 from last year.  That means I add a new tag with nearly every other post.  Anyway, this is the list and how much each is up over last year:

  1. Progression Server (93, +19)
  2. Fippy Darkpaw (81, +1)
  3. Nostalgia (61, +3)
  4. Kickstarter (57, +17)
  5. Free-to-Play (53, +5)
  6. Warlords of Draenor (50, new to the list)
  7. CCP (47, new to the list)
  8. contest (41, +0)
  9. RMT (41, new to the list)
  10. Meaningless Milestones (41, new to the list)

There are four new tags on the list, in large part because I converted three of those on last year’s list to categories. (Null Sec, YouTube, and Quote of the Day were changed.)  I suppose the biggest indicator of output on this list is that I have cranked out 50 WoD related posts since it was announced.

The Search for Something

What search terms did people use to get here?  Well, these are the ones that came through in the clear.  If you are logged into Google your search terms are hidden, so over the last year “unknown” rules the roost.  Still, some people just use Google to search, and this is what they typed in.

Over the last year

  1. tagn
  2. delta force game
  3. war thunder he-111
  4. ancient gaming noob
  5. blizzard april fools 2015
  6. everquest progression server
  7. guild name generator
  8. civilization 2 windows 7
  9. lotro server merge
  10. tech 3 destroyers

Over the Life of the Blog

  1. ancient gaming noob
  2. wow guild names
  3. onyxia
  4. arceus event
  5. tagn
  6. world of warcraft
  7. guild name generator
  8. guild names
  9. zorua
  10. thorin

I remain surprised at how many people arrive at the site having searched on its name or the acronym “tagn.”  How many budding terrorists end up here when they were trying to look up Triaminoguanidine Nitrate, the other main use of the acronym TAGN according to Google.

Guild name related searches, and there are many variations down the list, are reflected in the long popular guild name generator post.  Then there are the mass of people who still want to play Civilization II.  What isn’t that available at yet?

The Flavor of Years

As a random tidbit for this year’s round up, I thought I would try to characterize each year of the blog based on the most popular posts written during that year.  I looked at the top 20 posts for each year to get a gauge on things.

These are calendar years and not the blog fiscal years that run from the middle of September.

  • 2006 – Echoes of Faydwer expansion for EverQuest II and EVE Mon updates
  • 2007 – Finding an agent in EVE Online, the Tabula Rasa beta, and WoW patch 2.3
  • 2008 – Predictions for 2008, LEGO games, and hope for a science fiction MMO
  • 2009 – Pokemon download events and predictions for 2009
  • 2010 – Pokemon, talking cats, an octopus, and blood elf porn
  • 2011 – Pokemon, beastlords in EverQuest II, and being influential
  • 2012 – Diablo III, Pokemon, and Burn Jita in EVE Online
  • 2013 – April Fools at Blizzard, the war in Fountain, and Google Reader alternatives
  • 2014 – Warlords of Draenor, insta-levels, Tech III destroyers in EVE Online, and Tropico 3 for 39 cents on Steam
  • 2015 – April Fools at Blizzard, various EverQuest and EverQuest II nostalgia servers, and LOTRO server merges

So remember, based on what brings people to this blog, it is mostly about Pokemon, something also reflected in outbound traffic and search terms above.

A Peek into Page Views

Here is where I provide real numbers from the stats page every year for those interested in such things.

TAGN Page Views per Month

TAGN Page Views per Month

TAGN Average Page Views per Day by Month and Year

TAGN Average Page Views per Day by Month and Year

2012 was clearly the peak year for traffic, with things tailing off from there.  Things have changed since back then.  Google made some changes, including a rather drastic one to image search, that dried up some search engine traffic.  When a services that drives the majority of your traffic even sneezes a bit, you’re as likely as not to catch pneumonia.

Then there was the demise of Google Reader, which drove off any half interested followers by virtue of forcing people to find a new service.  Google+ was no replacement for Google Reader.

More recently my brief flirtation with syndication on EN24 ended.  That actually drove quite a bit of traffic, and a bit of ISK, my way.  And then getting dropped from VirginWorlds killed off a slow but steady feed of traffic.  I think VW is mostly Massively OP on the front page now.

And, frankly, I had a few very popular posts in 2012.  The stars were aligned just so.

So my best month so far in 2015 wouldn’t even make the cut for 2012.  But I still get more traffic than I even thought I would when I set out on this mission nine years back.  3.8 million total page views?  That seems insane for this site.

Oddly, as time passes, you get used to the new norm.  I don’t think about how no day in 2015 has been as even as good as the average day in April of 2012.  I tend to think about how things look in a current week and mostly about what I am going to post next.

In the end, there are only a couple dozen or so regular readers/commenters who have followed my endless (and largely pointless) tales.  What do page views mean anyway?  There are half a dozen annoying ways I could change the blog to drive a bit more traffic here, but would that make this a better place?  Better to stay the course, full posts in the RSS feed and I only use the page cut when I am in danger of overwhelming the front page (as with this post) or hiding a pile of screen shots that might not interest everybody.

Change over the Years

Nine years is a long time.  Think how much has changed since 2006 which was, perhaps coincidentally, the International Asperger’s Year.  A great time to start playing EVE Online, one of the many things I did that year.  In 2006 there were no iPhones, Paul McCartney actually turned 64, and Twitter was brand new thing.

When I started this blog back then World of Warcraft was still vanilla, EverQuest was still cranking out two expansions a year, with The Serpent’s Spine having just launched, EverQuest II was about to get a bit of a revival of fortunes with the popular Echoes of Faydwer expansion, and a lot of EVE Online looked strangely colorful and shiny.

EVE as I found it

EVE as I found it

One of the more interesting byproducts of writing this blog is seeing how my interests and such have changed over time, along with how the world around me has changed as well.  Back when I started off, MMOs were kind of rare in the sea of video games and it felt like you could know something about every single one.

For probably the first half of the life of this blog I was very interested in new MMOs.  That has largely faded due mostly to the fact that there are now so many options.  I have tried so many of them, dabbled here and there, and yet when it comes to the genre I spent most of this year playing those same four titles I was largely writing about in 2006.  How strange is that?  It feels a bit like that Dorothy quote from The Wizard of Oz:

…if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!

Such is life.  The search for the new shiny has largely been a red herring as a hundred or more variations on a minor theme have failed to come up with something that was better for me personally than anything I was already playing.

Which isn’t to say that there were not new games over the years I enjoyed to some extent.  Even now Minecraft seems to be the game of the moment.  But that isn’t really an MMO, though it is still a game better played with others in my opinion.  And there have been a few MMOs that I have found interesting enough to invest time with since the blog launched.  Certainly Lord of the Rings Online makes that list.  But by and large “new” has not necessarily gone hand in hand with “improved.”

However that can also lead back into the opium den of nostalgia and the addiction to how much better things were in the good old days.  I fall into that trap rather regularly.  This whole blog was started in large part to record memories of what one would today consider the good old days.  That does not mean that I am with the hard core adherents to the old school, believing that remaking EverQuest with a new coat of paint is the path to some sort of wild success.  That is the road to a niche market at best.  The world has moved on, the industry has moved on, and, most importantly, we have moved on regardless of how much we tell ourselves otherwise.

It is back to that old saw about not being able to step into the same river twice.  It will never be 1999 again.  Classic EverQuest was popular, in large measure, because there wasn’t anything like it at the time.  Now there are too many options.

Even the popularity of the EverQuest and EverQuest II nostalgia servers feels largely illusory to me.  Yes, they had a lot of people playing on them when they went live this year.  But I always have the feeling that there is a large amount of just being able to start new on a fresh server driving that as much as anything else.  Remember how popular the Freeport server was when it was EverQuest II Extended?   But for all the new and returning players there were, a large part of the population was from the current subscriber base.

And for all the 1999 yearnings, I am not sure that many people really want to go back to there.  The past is a nice place to visit, but we moved forward for a reason.  Doing away with instancing or forcing people to level up in groups won’t change the fact that MMORPGs, in the classic EverQuest sense of the term, just aren’t that special any more.  They are more like Christian sects now, in that if you don’t like what is being preached in one, you can find another more to your liking.  Gone is the centralized holy mother church of Ultima Online and the EverQuest reformation, just to abuse that metaphor a bit more

All of which means what?

Mark Jacobs’ idea from 2008 and before has been turned on its head.  MMOs are not a niche market, but a market of niches now.  There are lots of options, very good options, available now, to the point that not only can’t a competitor aspire to WoW numbers any more, but even Blizzard cannot depend on that.

So devs can go ahead at try to recreate 1999.  A game like that, done well, will not doubt get a following.  This is the internet, even I can get a following.  But if you’re trying to convince me that remaking EverQuest in all of its 1999 glory/horror is the road to riches for Daybreak, I’m going to tell you that you had best think harder on that, because the world has changed.

Which wasn’t where I thought I was going with this section at all.  Go stream of consciousness!

Some Sort of Forward Looking Statement

This is the part where I say I plan to play more and write less in the coming year.

No sense parting with tradition now, is there?

I did actually write 18 less posts in the last 12 months than I did during the previous cycle.  Not down that many over all, and still close to one per day at 360 total.  Still, considering my minimum goal was set way back when as two posts per week, instance group and some sort of a news wrap up with commentary, neither of which I have done regularly of late, and my stretch goal was a post every week day, I am still over achieving, being 100 posts past the latter.

Go lack of self restraint!

Last year I said that the key goal was to make it to 10 years.  Being another year closer, that goal seems all the more viable, so I am going to stick with that.  In part I think that would be pretty neat, and also because they my month in review posts could have a “Ten Years Ago” section with some really ancient stuff.

And I really like the idea of that last bit.

I do a month in review post every month in part for routine/structure, but also because I enjoy it.  I like going back a year and five years and re-reading old posts and putting some context around where we are and where we have been.  For me there is more value in a post that simply announces that an expansion or some such happened on a given date when that date is years in the past and we know how the story turned out.  It triggers all sorts of memories and how things did or did not turn out as we thought.  I was all excited for the Cataclysm expansion in WoW and was uninterested in Mists of Pandaria, but then was very disappointed in Cata and found Mists to be quite charming and fun.  And then, later, I actually found the old world revamp and the new five person dungeons in Cata to be pretty good as well, all thing considered.

So I will likely continue to push on, leaving a trail of typos, misspellings, split infinitives, and abused conjunctions behind me, just so I can go back and look at things have progressed over the years.

In the end, in my view, a half-assed post that marks an event or stakes out an ill-considered opinion on something is better than no post at all.

Anyway, if you made it all the way to the end here (or just skipped down the page because “4,000 words, WTF?” in hopes of finding something interesting, in which case sorry to disappoint), thanks for coming along for the ride.  Expect more of the same.

11 thoughts on “Nine is a Magic Number

  1. Talarian

    Congrats! 9 years is a very long time on the Internet, and I doubt there are many folks who can compete with you for longevity or raw post count. But more importantly, much of your writing and thoughts are often interesting, so the quality is still there.

    So here’s to another year!


  2. bhagpuss

    Grats on 9. Don’t stop at 10! Keep sending me traffic and I’ll send you a quarter back!

    I only know Three is the Magic Number from De La Soul. I’m pretty good at getting references like that, having been immersed in American culture from afar ever since I made my mother read me Tommy Tomorrow and Challengers of the Unknown when I was four but you can only have so many vicarious experiences from the other side of an ocean.


  3. Stropp

    Congrats on nine years of stubborn persistence. It’s amazing how much things have changed over that time, it will be interesting to see where gaming and MMO’s will be at in another nine.


  4. Telke

    I found your blog in 2008 through Warhammer Online and the blogrolls associated with that, and it’s been a thing worth reading ever since. I actually blame you for my resubbing to EVE and sticking with it, so many thanks for that!


  5. Fenjay

    Congrats on 9 years! I know I’ve come across your blog regularly in the past umpteen years but wasn’t a regular reader until recently.

    Reading this made me wonder what things will look like as we all get older. Will we be in our 80s and still blogging? For (me and I’m sure many others), MMOs started out as something fun to do in college and are now every bit as pervasive as a hobby as other people’s golf swings, baseball statistics or classic car restoration. We now know that these games can stay online north of 10 years, and in UO’s case pushing hard against 20 years.

    The next 40 years will be interesting ;)


  6. Mattexl

    Wow! Nine years. Congrats! I think I’ve been for at least eight of it. I don’t always read daily, but I do make sure to keep up on what’s happening in the world of TAGN. Since the demise of Google Reader, I let everything accumulate in NetVibes and then read when I need some work downtime. Hopefully you’re getting “credit” from them in your RSS stats.

    Keep up the writing! I love reading your thoughts, and have enjoyed “playing” Eve Online vicariously through you for years. Here’s to another nine!!


  7. Knug

    Keep up putting words out there, and I’ll keep reading. Mind, I don’t read for Pokemon or WOW, although I find your discussions of adult gaming groups and playing games with your kin good reads. I’m here for EvE Online and (of late) Minecraft, as my sons are active players.


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