Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Vital Statistics

I'm not a numbers man. I never was any good at maths at school (in spite of having a grandfather who taught the subject). I'm good at getting the correct change in shops, that kind of thing. But abstract numbers? Algebra, for instance? Nadda.

It's the same with those random numbers you used to get in the good old/bad old days of Miss World contests and the like. I couldn't give a fig for whether Fiona is a forty-four, twenty-three, thirty-two or whatever as long as she looks as though she's happy in her skin. (I concede that she might not be with figures like that, but the point is the numbers don't mean a thing.)

But there are some stats you can't shirk. In spite of shunning the dark arts of SEO, stopping checking my see-saw-ing up and down the blogging rankings and such things, Blogger went and made it so darned easy to see how many people read your blog that it's difficult to avoid. It's the first thing you see when you sign in. And as much as the eye is drawn to those keyword searches (who did want to find 'Alice Robert's Boobs' on my blog eh? Come on, come on - I know you're out there) you can't help but see the stats.

Normally, they're not that interesting, especially on a Sunday. Last week, having blogged about meeting David Hasselhoff on a train things were a little different. (Should I tell them? I mean, those stats are competitive y'know: trade secrets and all that. Oh, what the hell!) Normally I might expect a couple of hundred page views on a Sunday, tops; last week more than doubled that. But that was nothing compared to the day before yesterday. The day before yesterday was the day the stats went crazy.

It started like this. I was lounging on the sofa looking at the TV schedules on my 'phone when I noticed Stephen Fry's 'Planet Word' series was discussing swearing. I'd written a post about swearing on Friday. A few people had read it; some had commented. As posts go, it was doing well because I'd already enjoyed some great feedback. But I thought I'd like a bit more. So I tweeted a link to the post along with a reference to Stephen Fry's programme. And to @stephenfry himself.

Within minutes he'd retweeted it to his three million followers; within seconds of that, the stats went wild. My pageviews doubled, then doubled again. In the space of ten minutes they went from 242 to over 2000 and just kept on climbing throughout the evening. In under twenty four hours the post gained over ten thousand pageviews and was re-tweeted by in excess of thirty people. Never, in the field of human blogging was such rubbish read by so many, thanks to so few.

I wouldn't even say it was my best post. Not by a long way. But it's become far and away the best read. Not all of the attention has been welcome. A certain Mr 'C*nt' has been less than subtle in his comments, for example. And it hasn't gained me even the slightest pecuniary advantage either. (I thought at the very least a couple of folks might click the link to one of my books, but no. Lies, damned lies and statistics, eh?)

But it was enormous fun. Great sport on an otherwise quiet Sunday evening. I can't claim any of the credit for it, I know. I know precisely who's responsible. It's this man.

Thanks Mr Fry. Oh and if you ever fancy re-tweeting this link anytime, I'd be very grateful:

Go on... you know you want to!

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