Kevin is trying to get people to post about their most popular blog entries and tag it through Technorati with bestblogforward. He suggests three methods for determining your most popular entries: by comments, by hits, or by Google. Thing is, these lead to different posts. It’s an interesting question in itself: how do you decide what is “popular” on a blog?
Most recently, I got a lot of hits and comments on my post about How to Cheat Good, due in large part to nods from bloggers with serious followings: Michael Froomkin and Bruce Schneier. Thanks to the search terms people use, a lot of folks end up at an entry on Really Sexy Sindication or, strangely, How to Build a Raft.
But by far the most read and commented-on post was the Isuzu Experiment, in which I messed with Wikipedia in the name of science (or something). It’s been widely referenced and cited, though I did it just on a lark. And that gets back to Kevin’s question. Whether or not something is popular on my site is really not something I think much about any more. When something hits, I usually have no idea why, and certainly don’t predict it (otherwise I would spellcheck!). But while I don’t seek out larger audiences, I do note that when I write about my research, it often sinks like a stone: no comments, no interest. So, whether or not I consciously plan it, I tend to write more about my teaching and about politics–since these tend to garner more interest. I’ll have more to say about this in a few weeks, I suspect.
Anyway, how did I come to write that post? Well, I think I spell it out in outline form in the post itself. I was following a conversation among bloggers about a particular newspaper article, and someone actually suggested something along the lines of “someone should try…” Having always been a sucker for “someone should try…” (thus, the post you are reading now) I figured it would take only a few minutes to give it a run and type up the results. I nearly forgot about it, as I was busy with other things, but came back to a flood of emails, IMs and comments.
Ironically, I try not to blog about a lot of stuff that shows up on Boing Boing, or on Slashdot, etc. I figure, they are already doing a great job at that, why add yet another “this is cool” to the cacophony of similar posts out there. Sure, I still do it sometimes, but not often. Paradoxically, if I wanted to increase my readership, I suspect I could do so by posting mainly about news that has already been put out there.