It being midway through February, it's time for a halfway update on The Count 2012. You remember, ten things I count every February and then report back on, whether you're interested or not. And being halfway makes predicting the end result much easier. Simply double the numbers after 14 days to estimate the final totals after 28 days (yes, I do mean 28, even though it's a leap year, because my sample space has to be identical year on year). So here's my interim record of how the first two weeks have gone, and how the full four weeks might stack up.
Count 1: Number of visits to this blog: 19500 (Feb 2012 estimated total: 39000) (↑5% on 2011) Count 2: Number of comments on this blog: 177 (est 354) (↓37%) Count 3: Number of words I wrote on this blog: 13100 (est 26200) (↑13%) Count 4: How many hours each day I work/rest/play (work 28%, not-work 72%) Count 5: Number of nights I go out and am vaguely sociable: 3 (est 6) (↓33%) Count 6: Number of bottles of Becks I drink: 7 (est 14) (↓30%) Count 7: Number of cups of tea I drink: 67 (est 134) (no change) Count 8: Number of trains I travel on: 61 (est 122) (↑10%) Count 9: Number of escalators I walk up: 23 (est 46) (↑30%) Count 10: The Mystery Count: 0 (est 0) (again)
I'll do a proper round-up of what the final statistics mean at the end of the month. But I would like to scrutinise the first three counts in more detail now, to see if I can work out what's going on.
Count 1 is visitor numbers, which are up again, which is nice. Not rising by so very much over the last year, but up 30% since February 2010, which is lovely, so thank you. Count 2 is comments, which are down, which isn't so great. Down by over a third compared to last year, and predicted to be the lowest number of comments in any February since 2004. Taking into account rising visitor numbers and falling comment numbers makes things look even worse. Back in February 2004 approximately 5% of my visitors left some sort of comment, whereas this year it's less than 1%. Am I duller, or are you less vocal, or is it just much harder to interact than it used to be?
It's perfectly possible that I'm duller. The first two weeks of this month have seen three days of posts about Diamond-named streets you've never been to, three posts about out of town locations you've never visited and one post about an unstately mansion in Ilford. Not much need to comment there, I guess.
It's perfectly possible that you lot are less vocal. Comments boxes are a bit passé, especially when there's Facebook and Twitter for broadcasting your thoughts instead, so why confine your thoughts to a web-based pop-up window most people will never see.
Or maybe you simply can't open the box any more. It's not easy on a mobile, and if you're reading via RSS the link isn't there at all.
SITUATION VACANT PROOF READER
diamond geezer blog seeks volunteer proof reader, able and willing to scan 1000 words of online bleating daily, then to communicate factual, textual and link-based errors to Head Office via email before 7:30am. Grammatical competence essential. Please send CV and references to the usual address.
A substantial proportion of my comments now come from people pointing out that I've got something wrong. An incorrect fact, thanks for telling me. A link that doesn't go anywhere, cheers. A spelling mistake, a missing word, please shout to the world any incompetent inconsistencies you find. There are days when I'd barely get any comments had I not littered my post with errors, or that's how it seems. I do try to edit and improve my posts based on your feedback, so thanks. But it would be even better if you could spot these things before half past seven in the morning, before I head off to work for the day, else they hang around the comments box like a bad smell until I get home again umpteen hours later.
Which brings me to Count number 3, which I suspect is connected. The number of words I write on this blog is increasing, relentlessly, steadily, year on year. February 2012's word count is up 13% on February 2011, which itself was 7% up on the previous year, which was 5% up etc etc. Indeed my average post is now 50% longer than it was four years ago, which is a lot of extra writing for me to be doing. And 50% more words also means 50% more scope for mistakes. If I'm writing more, and adding more links, then it's hardly surprising you're finding more to find fault with. As I churn more out, then there's not necessarily so much time for proofing and checking, and quality falls.
One thing I've never counted in February, but wish I had, is how many hours of my life blogging takes up. I fear it's quite a high number, to be honest. These posts don't write themselves, you know. There's visits to make, and research to do, and sentences to tweak, and paragraphs to hone, and images to edit, and links to add, and this can take a substantial amount of time. It stands to reason if I'm writing more then I'm writing for longer, and doing less of other stuff in my life, and that can't be good.
It's therefore no surprise that Count number 5 (Nights out) is pathetically low, not when there's 1000+ words on a Hampshire seaside town which need writing up before bedtime. Instead I could be out drinking, or at the cinema, or living it up at a Social Media Week event, or doing stuff that normal people do of an evening. You wouldn't get so much to read in the morning, but if there were a little less maybe you'd not notice.
I'm not thinking of downgrading to cut-and-pasting press releases. I'm not considering writing half as much, or taking the day off on alternate Wednesdays, or some other means of curtailing output. I'm not out to seek justification, or gratuitous comments, or lickspittle plaudits. I'm just doing what I do every February, which is to count things, and then reflect on what the numbers might mean. Might mean more, might mean less, but don't mean nothing.