Because of bandwidth problems [at the time of original posting: Oct 22, 2007], many routine blog tasks were deferred until yesterday when I could glom onto Border’s Wi-Fi. One of those deferred chores was checking my blogs’ stats. When I hit Google Analytics I was greeted by the Heck of a Guy1 Daily Site Visits chart on display above.
Viewers may note a blip in number of visits on October 18, 2007 – especially since I’ve circled it in red and labeled it with the date. The graph shows that on October 18th, more than triple the usual lumber of viewers landed on the Heck of a Guy blog.
A few investigative clicks deeper into Google Analytics revealed that this past Thursday about 5,000 different folks2 dropped by to take a look at the Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory, which features kitchen implements, farm tools, saws, mallets, meat grinders, ceramics, doodads, gadgets, widgets, and much, much more that fill the cabinets, shelves, tables, counters, and, most prominently, the walls of my mother’s home in the Ozarks.
It was not a coincidence that those 5,000 visitors happened onto the photos of Mom’s rustic tchotchkes on the same day.3 This is especially striking since the original post about my mother’s collections of – well, collectibles, In My Mother’s House Are Many Tchotchkes, appeared on April 10, 2006, just over a month after Heck of a Guy began. At that time, daily visitors numbered 30-50, and it would be two to three months before the site would even be included in the Google search index.
Again delving into Google Analytics, I discovered that, while at least 16 sites accounted for the referrals to Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory, the original and primary source was StumbleUpon, a web site recommendation system based on social networking and peer review.4
In oversimplified form, folks following StumbleUpon rate and recommend web pages that their fellow members may enjoy. One finds potentially interesting sites by looking in StumbleUpon categories such as “collecting” or by finding members with tastes similar to ones own and checking the web pages they rank highly.5
I have, in fact, tracked down the individual who first tagged Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory for StumbleUpon,6 a young woman of remarkable taste and discernment.7 I was then able to follow the first steps of the geometric growth of the referrals. Someone who followed the referral link posted by the first source would himself or herself post it; someone else would see it on the second site and post it; someone else would … and so on.
I also checked the comments from the viewers, albeit with some trepidation. Although StumbleUpon is, in my experience, less given to harsh, scathing critiques than, say, Digg or Technorati, traffic of this sort can nonetheless be generated by a site being described, in effect, as “so incredibly, unbelievably, excessively screwed-up that you must see it.” Happily, the comments on the half-dozen or so sites I sampled were overwhelmingly complimentary with the most derogatory notation simply referring to a certain tendency toward pack-rattedness my mother exhibits, which I can hardly deny. And, in any case, my own post was more critical – in a respectful, caring, affectionate sort of way – than anything I found in the StumbleUpon notes.
And, while 5,000 extra visits are unlikely to jeopardize the continued viability of the Internet by overwhelming the capacity of its providers, that those visits were views of my mother’s treasures is outrageously gratifying.
Not that it will persuade Mom to check out the Internet or her only living son’s blog herself.
Note: Originally posted Oct 22, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
- 1HeckOfAGuy.com was the predecessor to AllanShowalter.com [↩]
- And by “different folks,” Google Analytics means, of course, “different computers, not counting bots and spiders and the site’s owner’s visits” [↩]
- This was predominantly a one-day visitation, but there was another, smaller increase in visitors on the next day. [↩]
- StumbleUpon is similar to services such as Digg, Slashdot, Reddit, Fark, and del.icio.us. [↩]
- In the spirit of full disclosure, I should let readers know that am a member of StumbleUpon although I am embarrassingly lax about contributing or even checking on other sites. [↩]
- Various Heck of a Guy posts have been tagged by various recommendation systems, including StumbleUpon, in the past, but the 5000 StumbleUpon-generated visits to Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory in less than 24 hours is certainly this blog’s best one-day performance [again, at the time of the original posting: Oct 22, 2007], especially given the the landing page was published more than 10 months ago. Because I sometimes don’t check my stats for months at a time, I may have missed some spikes. [↩]
- With rare exceptions, members of these recommendation services, some of whom clearly put hours of time and equivalent amounts of thoughtfulness into their suggestions, garner no benefit from their efforts other than whatever rush they may get from providing a useful service to colleagues and the respect of and prestige among their peers. [↩]