Of all the places people can go online, why does anyone come to this place? This question rolled around in my head today while in the shower as a follow-up to other questions regarding my efforts online. Curious about how many people visit, I checked out the stats collected by Cloudflare and found the following:
Traffic the last couple of weeks has been up, and about six thousand visitors have come to this site in the last 30 days, some of which are likely digital in nature. What's interesting about this is that it's about the same number of visitors I used to see between 2007 and 2009, right before Twitter really took off and "killed" blogging. Looking at the "Recent Popular Posts" down at the bottom of every page, that blasted post from 2009 continues to receive the most traffic followed closely by a long out-of-date tutorial and an editorial that seemed to raise a number of eyebrows at the day job … which was actually the trigger for the question posited at the start of this piece.
People around the world have much more interesting places they can visit, so why come here? Despite efforts to improve my writing style over the last 11 months, there doesn't seem to be much difference in anything published here since 2013 when I gave up long-form writing. The range of vocabulary might have increased as I try to become more precise in my speech, but the excessive comma and relative clause usage that has dogged these posts for years persists. Helpful articles and tutorials have long-since disappeared. Rarely is there a joke or keen insight shared. Very little that is published on this site would look out of place in the opinion section of a small-town newspaper run by volunteers.
To be clear, I'm flattered that there are readers who come here. The chart shows that a minimum of 426 people have visited every day and a little over 6,000 in the last month. Doing this math, this means that a good percentage of visitors are return readers. Clearly something is encouraging people to afford me a couple minutes of their day; I just wish I knew what it was.
The rational side of me generally asks the irrational, inquisitive side what value this sort of knowledge would offer. Would knowing people's motivation result in better articles? More focused writing? Encouragement to carry on? Given the patterns on display over the last dozen years of blogging, it's obvious that none of these would happen. Instead there would likely be a less-diverse range of topics and a more critical eye on the perceived value of a given piece. Published content already goes through at least two rounds of vetting before going live, so a third would just sap the fun out of this ongoing project. So the rational side of me knows that there is no long-term value in understanding why people come here more than once.
The inquisitive side, however, is irrational. Maybe it's this that people come to see. By observing my irrationalities, visitors can feel that much more confident about their own sanity.