There are stats nerds on this here internet, but I am not one of them. Every so often I run across a blogger who uses their stats program and its tracking powers to hunt down and punish readers who have displeased them in some way — posting IP numbers, sometimes names, in one case contacting some poor shlub’s boss to complain (he had displeased the blogger from a work computer) — but I can’t do that. I even feel bad (sometimes) about blocking Dwight; I ran across a few of his comments while hunting down some old posts, and it reminded me he was once just an occasionally sharp-tongued guy who simply disagreed with most of us, before he became a nasty old troll.
I believe we all have enough forces of evil tracking our every move and dollar spent. We don’t need another. Also, most of the crap displayed on my Google Analytics dashboard is over my head, and I don’t want to bother learning about it.
There is one facet that never fails to amuse, however: the search terms that bring readers here.
Once, early in this blog’s life, I got a nice note from a teacher in Los Angeles. I’d gone through a rough day at work with a knuckle-dragging boss and was feeling lost in self-pity and self-doubt — I’m going to DIE in this awful place, I just KNOW it — when I opened her e-mail. She told me how much she loved the blog, and confessed to having used passages from it in a writing class (my heart, it soared!), and closed by telling me how she found me. She’d been searching “puu-puu platter” and came across something I’d written about Polynesian restaurants.
It was a miracle, I thought, suddenly grasping the truth: I was living in a world without editors, but with search engines. Boss Hairy Knuckles couldn’t hold me back in a world ruled by the Google.
As frequently happens, it didn’t quite work out that way. The Google could hold us both back — and most of the other journalists we knew — by torpedoing our industry below the waterline. But for a writer who always felt misunderstood in Allen County, Indiana, finding readers from around the world was something of a thrill. Still is.
While I never write with search terms in mind, I like to think our discussions here are electic and wide-ranging, small-c catholic in the best sense of the word. You’ll find all sorts of arcane words and phrases batted around here; let’s take a look at a few:
** My name is the first and second most-searched term here in the past month, but guess what numero tres is? Cane rat bouillon, dropped in the comments once by our very own Coozledad, in a discussion we had earlier in the summer about lousy restaurant food. It accounted for 224 visits, and what’s even more amusing is that cane rat bouillon searchers spent three minutes on the site and visited 1.3 pages. Welcome, cane-ratters.
** No. 4 is fort wayne mediawatch, and fuck those guys. The last time I expressed that opinion, they got all huffy and rattled their wee plastic swords and threatened that if I didn’t stop saying mean things about them, they would write about me on their two new blogs, Why We Hate Nancy Nall and That Stupid Bitch, Nancy Nall. Both are empty, so no link, and besides, why should I drive traffic to them? Let ’em whore for it like everyone else. Moving on:
** cokie roberts interesting nancy nall, which appears to be an accidental collision of those words in the comments somewhere; I haven’t written about Cokie in forever.
** No. 8 is the full Fresian name of our own Connie, whose last name I will obscure so it doesn’t come up in yet another search. The entry was one where we discussed our unusual names.
** No. 16: free crack. Heh. Sorry, folks.
** No. 19: nancynull.com. For the first 16 years of my life, no one ever misspelled my last name. Then one of my friends started calling me Null, and that was that. It obviously unleashed a demon.
After about 25 or so, the searches fall to single digits — of searchers, that is, be they human or ‘bot. Still, the things they’re looking for! Queen Noor plastic surgery and jon meacham tiresome fool (he’s the editor of Newsweek), smashed tits and death of the adverb, drug-seeking behavior and spook beckman.
Every so often I get these community-college catalogs offering various one-off classes. I’ve changed my mind; I’d take one called The Thorough Appreciation of Google Analytics. Someone, please offer one.
OK, that’s it for today, then. Oh no, one bit of bloggage. Fisticuffs at the Washington Post! Platform-agnostic shit content-management system bullshit… I love it: