Sixteen Years of Driving the Blog

I suppose the go-to title for this post should have been something like “sixteen candles” or maybe “sweet sixteen.”  I mean, last year I went with “Quinceanera” in the title.  But those plays on the number weren’t really grabbing me.

So I will just say that the blog turns sixteen today.

WordPress.com acknowledges me effort again

That is kind of a long time.  More than a quarter of my life so far.  The elapsed time between my birth and when the state of California certified me as eligible to drive a car on the public highways was a mere 16 years and 5 days.

The blog has been going on for the about same amount of time it took me to grow from an infant to being able to drive a car on my own on the streets… legally.  There were some pre-license adventures.

It is not exactly the same amount of time.  There were five extra days because I couldn’t go get my license on my actual birthday, something many people my age, my wife included, did back then. I had to wait because my birthday fell on a Saturday that year.  Then my dad couldn’t spare the time to drive me over to the DMV until the following Thursday.  Oh, the humanity!

The whole thing involved a Peugeot 504 not unlike the one picture here

There is a whole story about driving, learning to drive, and the system around it that existed when I was a kid that I will get to some day in one of those weekend posts.  Another car story.  But suffice to say that sixteen years puts some mileage on you.

Past Anniversaries

For those interested in the history of my anniversary posts, which also represents, in a way, both the stylistic and level of effort arc of my writing career here, here are the past entries in the series:

It has been kind of down hill since year six.

Base Statistics

Since we’re on a bit of a car theme, this is pretty much the odometer of the blog, the numbers turning over as time goes by.

Days since launch: 5,845 (+365)
Posts total: 6,412 (+384)
Total Words: 5,256,386 (+417,030 words, not including this post)
Average words per post: 820 (+16)
Post Likes: 18,244 (+3,080)
Average posts per day: 1.097 (-0.003)
Comments: 36,407 (+1,299)
Average comments per post: 5.68 (-0.14)
Average comments per day: 6.23 (-0.18)
Spam comments: 1,793,899 (+74,983)
Average spam comments per day: 306.91 (-6.67)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 49.2 (+0.3)
Comments written by me: 7,347 or 20.1%
Images uploaded: 18,054 19,422 (+1,368)
Space used by images: 2.6 GB of my 13 GB allocation
Blog Followers: 2,237 (+164)
Twitter Followers: 800 (+15)
Tumblr Followers: 18 (-18, ouch!)
US Presidents since launch: 4
British Monarchs since launch: 2
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 8

This year represents the first time I have had to increment the British Monarchs count.

For most, that is already too much on the stats front.  But for those who want more, you will find much more after the cut.  I do this to spare the front page and not to generate a few cheap page views… though I’ll take the page views all the same.

Demographics

As usual, I will kick off with the countries that visit the blog. These stats are from the Flag Counter widget in the side bar and are based off of the last 250,000 visitors, so they are more reflective of the last year than the life of the blog.

Flags of all nations

As is the standard, countries with large English speaking populations dominate.  The built in WordPress stats, which show traffic over all time indicate that visitors from the US make up more than 50% of the total, so add up to more than all other countries combined.  To be expected I suppose.

As for what people are driving when the arrive here.

Browsers and operating systems

As before, Google Chrome owns, though that includes all Microsoft Edge traffic, which now uses the Chrome rendering engine.  Then there is Safari, which covers MacOS and iOS, and then Firefox.

For operating systems, Windows 10 rules, followed by Android devices, iOS, and then MacOS.

Intake Manifold – Those who send me traffic

I guess I am still using the car metaphor here.  Sites that send me the most traffic.

Over the last 12 months:

  1. Total EVE
  2. Twitter
  3. Blessing of Kings
  4. Inventory Full
  5. EVE Bloggers
  6. Facebook
  7. Reddit
  8. Low Sec Lifestyle
  9. The Nosy Gamer
  10. Greedy Goblin

The influence of Gevlon lives on.  His Blogger site, with the dynamic blogroll side bar, still sends me traffic.  While he banished any mention of me from his later WordPress.com site, he left me there and it still generated traffic.  Not a lot.  That was 108 referrals.  But some.  It has been three and a half years since his exit from blogging.  He still did me more good than Tobold ever did.

That probably says something about the state of blogs, links, and referrals if his site is still generating some when other, more active blogs are not.  At least he has also been banished from Bing, though he comes up on the first page of a Google search still.

Over the life of the blog:

  1. VirginWorlds
  2. Blessing of Kings
  3. Total EVE
  4. WordPress.com Reader
  5. EVE News 24
  6. EVE Bloggers
  7. Low Sec Lifestyle
  8. Google Reader
  9. Twitter
  10. Keen and Graev

This is the inertia list, though Blessing of Kings could displace VirginWorld, which has been down for months and may me gone for good, and take the top spot if it carries on for another couple of years.

Then there are the search engines, which I list out on their own.

Over the last 12 months:

  1. Google – 58,576
  2. Bing – 774
  3. Duckduckgo – 659
  4. Yandex – 204
  5. Yahoo – 107
  6. Start Page – 90
  7. Baidu – 83
  8. Brave – 4
  9. Neeva – 3
  10. Dogpile – 1

As always, Google dominates and everything else is trivia.  The key thing is that the Google numbers for the last 12 months are one third of what they were at the fifteen year summary.  That is 100K fewer page views, and the traffic stats, which I will get to, reflect that.

Of course, I get different stories from different places in the Google ecosystem.  The above list is what WordPress.com thinks.  The Google search console tells me this:

TAGN Google Stats for Year 16

So, first off, Google believes they have sent me more traffic that WP.com does.  Not surprising.  This is why I keep saying web stats are garbage.  Oddly, the reverse was true last year.  See, garbage.  But Google does show I am down by nearly half compared to year 15.

I think the key indicator is my average position in searches, which was 21 last year but is now almost 26.  If you aren’t in the top ten for a search, nobody is clicking on your link.

As for what people search for according to Google, these are the terms than brought in 200+ referrals:

Top search terms for year 16

Basically, about twice a day somebody types in “TAGN” into the Google search box to find me.  And I would guess that it was me about a quarter of the time on my phone or another device besides my computer.

Google Analytics has its own view of the world and where my traffic came from over the last year.

Google Analytics chimes in

On their chart “organic search” is search engine, “direct” is you have me book marked in your browser and use that, “referral” is a link somewhere besides designated social media sites, “organic social” is those social media sites, and “unassigned” is “can’t tell” in Google terms.

That Organic Social bump in mid-March is somebody linking “Alamo teeches you 2 play DURID” on Reddit.  I have no idea what the huge Direct bump is on March 28th.

For some more detail, there is a breakout of the totals for each of the above channels, and two more that didn’t have enough traffic to make the cut.

Google Analytics details

I guess there was exactly ONE email user as far as Google was concerned.  I guess I shouldn’t fret about email subscriptions.

One interesting thing about Google Analytics is that “Direct” is something that does not appear in the WP.com stats.  It is implied in the gap between referrals and users/page views, but never called out.

Google aside, as I have been on about, the Bing traffic as stopped since Bing delisted me and pretty much all other WordPress.com blogs.  So Bing, Duckduckgo, Yahoo, and a few other engines will no longer find me.

Bing itself is garbage anyway.  You can only see the last six months on their console, that being the one bit of formatting the apparently didn’t steal from Google.  They even have the same colors, just reversed, for clicks and impressions.

Bing stats for the last six months

In another three months that chart will just be a flat line.

Of the third party search engines, I think all three of the Neeva hits were from me.

The Exhaust Pipe – Where I send some traffic

So who gets referral traffic from me?  Not many places.  I put in all those links in posts and very few people click on them.

Over the last 12 months:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. EVE Online (various dev and news blogs)
  3. Reddit
  4. Inventory Full
  5. Massively OP
  6. Imperium News
  7. The Nosy Gamer
  8. Twitter
  9. Chunkbase
  10. MMO Fallout

EVE Online players seem more likely to click on links than my average visitor.  Chunkbase is the link I put at the top of my post about finding a warm ocean in order to help people find one on their own Minecraft world.

Over the life of the blog:

  1. Nick Yee (the old guild name generator)
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Various Pokemon sites
  4. Civ Fanatics
  5. Various Blizzard WoW Sites
  6. Hardcore Casual
  7. Keen and Graev
  8. Blessing of Kings
  9. Inventory Full
  10. EVE Online Pictures

This list is pretty much a carry over from last year, except Bhagpuss swapped places with EVE Online Pictures in the last two spots.

Most Viewed Posts

Alright, I am done with the automotive metaphor, or can’t be bothered to carry on with it.  So what do people come here to see?  I say “see” because the Google stats indicate there isn’t as much reading going on as one might hope.

Over the last 12 months:

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  4. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  5. CCP Take Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  6. CCP Releases the ESS Reserve Bank Keys and Hands Out ISK in EVE Online
  7. A Return to Stellaris
  8. CCP Promises “a very special offer” if you Link Multiple EVE Online Accounts to the Same Email Address*
  9. CCP Lets EVE Online Players with Multiple Accounts Subscribe Secondary Accounts at a Lower Price*
  10. Leveling up Your Crafting Without Actually Crafting

Those marked with an asterisk were actually posted this year.  Two isn’t much, but given the dive in traffic over the last 18 months, is respectable.

Meanwhile, there is the all time list of most viewed posts.  Again, traffic patterns in the early days of the blog… and there were months where I was getting 60K+ page views… have locked in the top ten pretty hard.

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  5. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  6. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  7. April Fools at Blizzard – 2013
  8. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  9. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  10. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access

Of course, having said that, this list has a new entry.  The post about finding a warm ocean in Minecraft has finally cracked the all time top ten, knocking out my decade old post comparing Diablo III and Torchlight II.

Categories and Tags

Categories and tags are how I try to keep track of what I post around here and make it somewhat findable.  The system I chose 16 years is perhaps less than ideal and between it and the limited search abilities it can often be a chore to find old posts.  Still, I carry on because it is better than nothing.

Categories are the big topics, specific games, companies, events, or groups.  There are currently 101 categories in use, up two from last year, with the top 20 being:

  1. EVE Online – 2,050
  2. World of Warcraft – 1,526
  3. EverQuest II – 782
  4. EverQuest – 638
  5. Blizzard – 492
  6. Lord of the Rings Online – 466
  7. Instance Group – 403
  8. Sony Online Entertainment – 343
  9. CCP – 323
  10. WoW Classic – 270
  11. Pokemon – 256
  12. Humor – 239
  13. blog thing – 33
  14. YouTube – 210
  15. Misc MMOs – 198
  16. Month in Review – 193
  17. Daybreak Game Company – 174
  18. Rift – 163
  19. Other PC Games – 158
  20. Diablo III – 143

Readers will not be surprised by the top two I am sure.  Or the top seven, really.  Still, I do write about a few other things now and then.

Tags, on the other hand, are more whim than filing system.  There are 4,132 in play on the site, up 60 from last years round up.  The top twenty are:

  1. Delve – 132
  2. World War Bee – 128
  3. Progression Server – 125
  4. Asher Elias – 106
  5. Meaningless Milestones – 100
  6. Reavers – 96
  7. Fippy Darkpaw – 85
  8. Nostalgia – 81
  9. EVE Updates – 78
  10. MMO Expansions – 73
  11. EVE Monthly Economic Report – 67
  12. Council of Stellar Management – 66
  13. Warlords of Draenor – 66
  14. Free-To-Play – 63
  15. WWB Weekly Update – 58
  16. Imperium – 57
  17. Skill Points – 55
  18. RMT – 52
  19. Casino War – 52
  20. BlizzCon – 51

You can see the influence of EVE Online on the tags, though I do wonder that I have referenced Warlords of Draenor and Progression Servers quite that many times.

And, for a bit of whimsy, here are the tags I have used exactly 16 times over the 16 years of the blog:

  1. NCsoft – 16
  2. StarCraft – 16
  3. Cash Shop – 16
  4. I could make a little list – 16
  5. Dust 514 – 16
  6. Venal – 16
  7. Curse – 16
  8. Cainun – 16
  9. PlayerUnknowns Battleground – 16
  10. Summer Fantasy Movie League – 16
  11. Fall Fantasy Movie League – 16
  12. Carbot Animations – 16
  13. Goon Expeditionary Force – 16
  14. Esoteria – 16

A Peek Under the Hood for Page Views

Crap, the metaphor is back.  Anyway, here we are at the one day a year when I bare the raw page view stats for the world to see.  Behold my early rise and long decline:

Total Page Views by Month/Year

Or, if you prefer averages, here is the average daily page views for the life of the blog.

Average Daily Page Views by Month/Year

As I have long noted, you can see the peak in 2012, the fall in February of 2013 when Google made their first big algorithm change that impacted the site, and then the long declined since then.

There have been a few points where the blog has rebounded a bit.  The pandemic was a boon for page views, but when June 2021 hit and we all went on vacation, things crashed back down to the new normal.  So it goes.  If I wrote for page views I would clearly be choosing other topics.

Something I have thought about doing was trying to map the page view arc of the blog from 2006 through to today and then match it up with the popularity of various MMOs I have played.  There is something of a correlation between my own page view count and EVE Online‘s PCU count over the same period.

Or, it too has certainly seemed to fade after seeing a revival during COVID.  Is the blog a bellwether of MMOs, or are specific MMOs an indicator for blogs?

Some Words About Words

I have written a lot of words in the last 16 years.  A decent number of them have been strung together into coherent sentences, though perhaps not as many as I might have wished.

WP.com gives me a nice insights chart that gives me the word count.  Even better, it copy and pastes directly into Excel, where I can add totals to the bottom of some of the columns.

Word counts and other totals

Almost 5.3 million words.  I wonder how many of them I copied and pasted from other sites or patch notes or other quoting for truth.  I have long since given up hope that when I link to another site or post that it will be there in a couple of years.

Money, it’s a Gas

That’s a musical reference, not an automotive one.  The metaphor is once again slipping.

I mentioned last year that, in order to keep WP.com from injecting add content into my posts, I was going to buy into their Premium hosting plan, which runs $96 a year.

Premium features

In order to offset that cost, I decided to turn on ads for the blog, but ads that would earn me a bit of money.  So ads won in the end.  I apologize.

So this year we have a new entry in the annual statistics, which is how much money I have earned on ads.  Here is the grand total as of yesterday.

The tall dollars from ad revenue

WP.com takes a while to process earning, so you can add another $16.26 for August, bringing me up to a grand total of $167.27 over the last 11.5 months.  That manages to offset the WP.com hosting cost, the Feedly Premium subscription I need in order to keep the Rube Goldberg MMO Blog Feed in my side bar going, and the $25 I spent on an experiment on Facebook to see if “boosting” a post there would make an difference to traffic.  It did not.  I would have been better served stamping my URL on twenty-five one dollar bills and throwing them out of my car window while driving through downtown.

So, that is the ad revenue.  As usual, I highly recommend you use an ad blocker if you visit the site regularly.  Let the comment spam bots pick up the tab for my hosting fees and other experiments.

Some Sort of Conclusion at the End of the Day’s Drive

The years have a tendency to distort memory.  I have mentioned in the past that part of the reason I write the blog is to nail down events in the proper sequence in time, if such a thing is possible.  Absent the blog my memories of when something happened relative to some other minor event can be wildly inaccurate.

And yet, even though the blog has helped me keep things somewhat more orderly in my brain, or has at least given me a way to sort out and order things should I feel the need, I still end up putting things into the wrong timeline, including about blogging itself.

As I started thinking about sixteen years I considered the first blog I put some effort into, titled Oh, The Humanity!, which in my head canon preceded this blog by a few years, my work on it stopping once I started here.

And then I went to go look at it… I can visit it to read, but the login credentials are lost to Google and time… only to discover that I started it in July of 2006, less than two months before this blog, and carried on with it up until September 2011.

What a strange revelation.

Part of my issue was that the blog was a transition from an email list I used to maintain for a few friends to share some odd humor, including snippets from the The Union, the newspaper that covers Nevada County California, and the police blotter there.  This was mostly to annoy some relatives who live there.  The police blotter often features angry, drunken, shirtless men getting into trouble and people’s cars being stolen because they left them unlocked and they keys in them.

It is, or was, a place with a more rural sensibility that where I grew up.  They are all available under a single tag.  I at least had that going for me.  Whether or not they were ever funny is another story.

There was also something about photocopiers, printer paper loading, the incomplete story of a company move set in three parts (I should finish that one off some day), and a few other items.  I am somewhat surprised at how much of what is there that I had forgotten.

And then there was an MMO blog I almost started over there as well.  But I ended up here I guess.

Some days I realize I have actually forgotten how much I have forgotten.

The Usual Forward Looking Statement

In addition to this being the 16th anniversary of the blog, it is also my 898th day posting in a row.

WordPress acknowledged this as well once the post went live

That has been an incredibly silly and pointless endeavor, one that has no real reward, yet I feel compelled to keep going because I worry I might come up with a justification for it once I stop… and once you stop you’re back to day one again.  It is like some sort of reverse AA addiction.

Anyway, I will hit 900 on Wednesday of this week, after which there is a non-zero chance that I might take a long break from the blog.

But I say something like that every year, don’t I?

So there is a much greater likelihood that there will be a post on Thursday about something inane and video game related, like how WoW Classic and EverQuest progression servers have to behave differently or what it would take for CCP to pwipe EVE Online and start again fresh or some other wild speculation or tale of some minor event or action in some game.  Or maybe I’ll post something about jury duty again.

But we won’t know until it happens.  I guess that is part of the fun.

13 thoughts on “Sixteen Years of Driving the Blog

  1. Esteban

    Grats on another year. Also, a riff on Merle Travis’s ‘Sixteen Tons’ was right there for the asking.

    The stats are interesting. As a rough estimate, I probably account for 50-80 of the annual ‘tagn’ clicks, which suddenly feels like a big chunk.

    Like

  2. bhagpuss

    Grats on another year.

    If there’s an opportunity for a Molly Ringwald link it’d be a pity to miss it…

    I love these posts. I wish everyone would do one so I could triangulate. Of course, I don’t do one…

    You appear to have almost exactly ten times my current traffic according to Google although my average search position has actually improved year-on-year, from 24.8 to 23.1. I still get a lot of traffic from Gevlon, too, as well as some from blogs that have been dead a lot longer than his – Player vs Developer for example.

    I think there has to be some wiggle room between not posting every day and taking a long break, doesn’t there? Weekends off for example.

    Like

  3. AK

    I just found your site through the Blaugust challenge, but I wanted to wish you a happy 16th anniversary anyway. I thought I had mine for a while, but 16, that’s something else. And nearly 900 days straight of posts — I bow to you.

    I think I have to check up on that Civ II post too. I played a lot of that as a kid, and it’s a shame those old games are so hard to get running without a virtual machine.

    Like

  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Esteban – That would have been a decent theme. I could have worked with that. But now I’ll have to consider what might go with seventeen.

    @Bhagpuss – I am sure there is some in-between path for me.

    @AK – Thank you. Civ II had a simplicity to it that I still find somewhat compelling. I have probably played more Civ II than any other title in the series.

    Like

  5. Lostguy

    Congratulations on 16 years! You occasionally joke about your daily readers, I happen to be one of them *wave*
    Pretty sure I stumbled on your blog from massively very very early on in the career. I don’t always agree with you, but I always appreciate your insight on topics and letting us tag along for the ride on your adventures.
    Thanks for all the stories and fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I also see, looking at the stats, that exactly one person clicked on the link to look at the other blog I referenced.

    What can I do but commend the rest of you on your obvious wisdom?

    Like

  7. flosch

    That jury duty post was amazing fun to read, so if there’s more along that line, or other “the ancient noob tells a story from when he was young”, I won’t complain at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Anonymous

    Congratulations on sixteen years!

    I have been reading your blog since a couple of years. I am a lurker and have never posted a comment till now…

    I initially came across your blog to read about WoW but have found your writings on other games like EVE, Minecraft and EQ/EQ2 enjoyable too.

    I appreciate your persistence in blogging and posting quality content for a long time because a lot of other (especially WoW related) blogs that I followed have stopped posting.

    Like

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