<< 2007-02-20 22:13 >>

I've reached a small anniversary here, in that I've finally gotten to blog posting #100. That doesn't mean I've done exactly 100 postings, since there are some posting IDs for which there is no published post. Some of these never got written, some are half-written, and a couple got too personal to be publishable. Still, it's a good time to reflect a bit on how this blog has developed.

The writing

The content has come out mostly as I intended when I started back in September 2005. The division into three parts: technical (mostly Topic Maps), beer, and personal (really meaning travel stuff and odd bits), has really worked out as intended. I'm a bit surprised by this, since things usually don't work out as planned, but I think I am pleased about this.

What I am very pleased about is how the blog has worked as a combination of soapbox and diary; I get to promote things I care about, and record events that matter to me. I also have somewhere to try out ideas that occur to me, and somewhere to capture little odd events. So I feel the blog has met a need for me, in that it's given me an outlet for some kinds of things I wanted to communicate that didn't have anywhere to go before I started the blog.

I've written a lot of text over the past decade or so, including a 1200-page book, a couple of ISO standards, lots of papers, lots of technical documentation, lots of project proposals, and a mountain of email. Writing the book was really hard for me in the beginning, but I found in writing it that it gradually got easier to explain technical issues, something that was very useful in documenting the OKS. The experience in writing blog postings has been much the same. In the beginning I struggled to write many of the non-technical ones, but now it's become much easier, and I can feel my style improving, which is gratifying.

The comments

I was initially uncertain whether to have a comments feature or not, since I wasn't sure what kind of feedback I would get, and how it would all work out. I quickly decided that I was going to have manual moderation, and that comments which I didn't feel added anything to the content were not going to be published. The result is that all the comments that amount to nothing more than "Me too" or "This was nice" get a polite reply by email if an email address is provided, and otherwise I just delete them.

I really feel that the comments have worked out, and that they allow people to add real value to the blog. It allows people to point out mistakes I make, to add valuable points of their own to what I write, and to ask questions that make me explain myself more clearly. All of this is good for both the readers and me. An additional benefit is that I get more of an idea of who reads this stuff, and what they think of it.

The impression I get from studying the comments is that my readers fall into two different groups: people who stumble upon an article from a Google search, and returning visitors. I seem to have meet most of the latter group in person through my work, although there seem to be some who read the blog out of an interest in beer, which is nice.

An interesting thing about comments is that without them the only way to judge which postings are the most successful is to study the log statistics. However, it seems that the postings with the most readers are not necessarily the ones that get the most comments. So there seems to be a difference between getting people to read something, and making them comment on what they read. This isn't surprising, of course; the really interesting thing is how the comments allow you to tell the difference, and how much the difference makes sense in retrospect.

The stats

The actual number of postings so far is 97, including this one. Given that it's 18 months since I started that makes about 5 postings a month, or a little more than one a week. Given the rest of my schedule, and the general length of the postings, I'm quite happy about that, even if it means quite a bit of sleep and outside-office-hours work has been given up for this blog.

Overall, the blog has received 182 comments, which is about 1.8 comments per posting. That's not too much, but on the other hand I think a lot of the articles are hard to comment on. I don't exactly invite comments by asking people what they think, and I suspect most of the articles have a rather "closed" feel to them. That's just the way I write, so it doesn't bother me, but I guess it means I could have gotten more comments if I tried.

My most frequent commentors seem to be as follows:

Lars Marius 59
Jinie Min 10
rho 6
Liangbing Zhu 6
Knut Albert 6
Arnoud Haak 5
Are Gulbrandsen 5
Trond 4
Robert Cerny 4
Yngvar 3
Svein 3
Steve Pepper 3
Alexander Sigel 3
Alex Johannesen 3

It's a sobering thought that fully one third of the comments are my own replies to stuff other people write. Another sobering thought is only two of these people I haven't met before.

I wanted to put together some statistics over the number of subscribers to this blog on various services, and my own PageRank (it's 7, by the way), but it's late, I'm getting tired, and I'd rather go have a beer at the pub next to my hotel.

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Ant S - 2007-02-21 20:00:44

In a shameless effort to get myself up the comment rankings, I'd like to be the first to say that even as a blogosceptic and infrequent commenter I enjoy reading your blog very much (and it's one of the half dozen or so I do read), and have learned things in all of your categories which I would not otherwise known, so that has to be a good thing. The topic maps stuff keeps me in touch with a field I now little contact with, the beer is a subject close to my heart (or stomach), and the travel is just a good read. So well done on the century, and blog on...

Arnoud Haak - 2007-03-06 14:51:00

Congratulations for reaching this milestone. I've started reading this blog to get information about topic maps for a project I was involved in. Now that my internship is over (got a 8 on a 1-10 scale, witch I'm really pleased with) I'm not professionally involved in topic maps anymore. But I think I'll still be reading your blog. The level of information is high and I like the beer and travel stories also since those two also belong to my points of interest. Keep up the good work!

Martin Warren - 2015-02-07 02:58:02

It may seem a bit late to comment but I only discovered you in early 2015. The subject of beer and especially yeast brought me to your blog initially but I am promising myself I am going to read the Topic Maps posts one day, as I worked with developer Richard Light for many years on some museum cataloguing software (MODES) and I know he was very keen on Topic Maps. I am working my way through the years you have been blogging and have been both entertained and informed. I enjoy 'your tell it like it is' approach, honesty, full disclosure, personal opinion without appearing biased or ranting without just cause. Thank you and keep it up.

Lars Marius - 2015-02-07 04:13:13

@Martin: Thank you for the kind words. :-)

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