The top posts of 2019 are a little different than I have seen in the past. Usually it is a mix of a few big hit posts that were linked on other sites and a lot of older posts that have long lives.
This year DarkerView’s traffic was dominated by the controversy on Mauna Kea. Publishing a series of posts on specific issues resulted in a lot of shares, mostly on FaceBook that drove traffic.
TMT supporters would routinely link DarkerView to provide more information in the raging online arguments that drove so much of the controversy. I can only hope that the posts had some effect in countering the dizzying amount of misinformation that featured in these arguments.
Of course the Backyard Telescope Pier article continues to be the most popular long term post. This post has been on every DarkerView top post list since I started the blog. A number of other similar reference posts can be found in the top post lists.
Overall DarkerView had 74,125 page views from 39,679 unique visitors, a large increase from the 46,707 views of 2018, almost double.
Examining the most popular posts for the year shows trends we have seen in the past. Certain subjects have a very long lifetime, with steady interest and thus search engine hits. The backyard telescope pier plans continue to be one of my all time most popular posts, it has been in the top spot for a few years running. In general a number of amateur astronomy how-to articles are represented on the list.
Other articles reflect what was popular this year. Getting to the lava may now be obsolete, but the eruptions and the news boosted this post into my top rankings. Canon mirrorless cameras also garner a lot of news this year, and thus more hits on DarkerView.
The message is clear, while the new articles on DarkerView are popular, it is the old articles that form a legacy here. People continue to search for and read a lot of the old material on the blog, a result that gives me some satisfaction.
Occasionally I use the Google image search function to see if any of my photos are being used on other websites. Yes… It is something to do when insomnia strikes.
Earlier this month I found quite a few of my photos being used on an very obnoxious site. The same page also contained numerous images from the West Hawai’i Astronomy Club website. I will forgo including the URL or link here, no need providing them one more incoming referral. Suffice it to say that the entire website was constructed of stolen or scraped material, the sole purpose of which is to serve as search engine bait. Once on the website clicking on anything generated pop-ups, pop-unders, a slew of ads. This was not innocent infringement, this is a business built on theft of intellectual property.
A little sleuthing revealed that the site was located on a hosting service out of the Netherlands, WorldStream.nl. As this site is not within the US a DMCA takedown notice is not legally enforceable. However, European law is pretty good with respect to copyright, the hosting provider should take a notice of infringement seriously. Thus I sent an email off to the listed customer service address…
There were over 75,500 visits to Darker View this year, a substantial increase over last year. This includes two months with about 10,000 visitors, though 5-6k is more normal for a month. Daily traffic is running about 200 visits per day. I am continually amazed that so many people stop by my little molecule of the web to read what I have written. Perhaps they just come to view the photographs.
A few posts on Darker View attract far more attention than the rest, by a wide margin. There are certain subjects I post about that seem to be of continual interest, garnering a large number of search engine hits. It is always interesting to see what these posts are. Why are folks coming to read Darker View?
A couple posts are on the list because they were linked by sites with a good deal more traffic than DV, Snow on the Mountain and Soldering Small are examples of this. A couple astro-equipment related posts continue to draw steady traffic, months after being posted. Most of the astro-basics posts are well read, appearing in the top 50.
The backyard pier post is a very old post, one that was originally written for my first website over a decade ago. The latest version was edited and somewhat updated when I transferred it to the WordPress version of DV where it continues to get a few hits every day.
There are 1158 posts on Darker View, not counting all of the old stuff still on the older version of the site. Looking through the posts and seeing what people are reading is fascinating. Will the results change the way I write and what I write about? Probably not. The purpose of DV is not to generate traffic. Still, is is gratifying to see that folks stop by.
This is particularly true for my essays. I will stew on the text for several days, often saving very minor revisions. As a result there may be 20-30 revisions in the database. I also tend to find a few errors during proofreading that require another save or three. All this editing does add a bit of a clutter.
I do like the WordPress revision feature, it has saved the day more than once. The ability to recover the text from previous versions is simply invaluable.
On the other hand, I have wondered just how much this extra cruft adds to the WordPress database? How much does it slow the blog down in generating pages and editing?
WordPress does have some tools for dealing with the revisions. Even if you have to know about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff to make changes to revision handling.
Finding how to do this is done through the usual learning materials… A Google search for something like “WordPress limit revisions” provides all you need to know. The information was out there, but I will repeat it here. If nothing more this post can serve as notes for when I next need to purge the database.
Can a “mere” blogger have a positive effect on their community? Many figures in authority or traditional media often denigrate the effort of bloggers and the new media. To be certain, in the constant noise of network traffic there is a great deal of trash and misinformation. But quality still rises above the chaff, a good effort can have an effect.
My case in point is Kauai blogger Joan Conrow and her blog KauaiEclectic. I have had Eclectic on my personal reading list for years, her Musings article series are great commentary of life and current issues, both local and global. She tells of morning walks in the rain, swimming with sea turtles, GMO’s and pesticide use, dying bees, the abuses of immigrant labor, and killing endangered species.
Yeah, I am not happy with the appearance of the site either.
The current theme just has a number of annoying “features” that just bother me. I am experimenting with another theme, one with an even cleaner and more minimalistic layout. So expect the appearance to change some time. In the meantime if you happen to stop by Darker View late some night to see an entirely different look… It is just me working on another layout.
It has been a decision that has been brewing for quite some time. I have changed Darker View over to using WordPress as the underlying software.
For the last four years Darker View has run on Serendipity (known as S9Y) as the underlying blogging software. The software has served me well, it is easily customizable and has proven quite stable. Unfortunately it is also beginning to show some signs of wear. It is getting slower and slower as the size of Darker View’s databases have grown. Any number of new technologies and features I would like to add to DV are not available.
Serendipity is not supporting the blogging community to the degree that WordPress is. The development behind WordPress has reached such an overwhelming critical mass that it is hard not to make this switch, if just to avail myself of the features and support available from the WP community.
When my father asked me to setup a blog for him I knew I would use WordPress to do it. Using WP to setup NordicQuest.com allowed me to get a good hands-on look at the software. I was expecting a good experience, what resulted was even better. I was consistently pleased with the features and ease of use offered by WP. This cemented my decision to convert Darker View to WP as soon as possible.
This will not be without a lot of pain. There are over 2350 postings, hundreds of images, and a lot of history contained in the databases of Darker View. I have attempted twice to automatically convert the mass of material contained in the S9Y databases to WP. Both attempts were dismal failures, resulting in a couple FTP and SQL sessions needed to delete and clean up the resulting morass. Thus I have simply setup a clean WP install and started afresh. I will probably make an effort to cut and paste the most significant articles over to the new platform.
I will leave the old blogging software in-place for now. All of the old links and articles will remain online. Fortunately the choices I made when structuring the site years ago when installing S9Y will allow me to run both blogging packages in parallel. But for 2012, all new material will be on the WordPress platform.
Blog posts just read better when a photo is included. While a psychologist might argue, my guess is that the effect of a photo is due to our visually oriented minds. We simply like photos, the images give an immediate context for the article that is processed before we even complete reading the first sentence.
The photo can be anywhere in the posting, to either side, across the bottom, as long as it is visible with the top of the article. It helps if the blog layout is clean, without too much visual clutter from other images or advertisements. Even worse is a background image that distracts from the primary article and images.
The extreme example are blogs that include a photo no matter the subject. One of my favorites is Photo Attorney by lawyer Carolyn Wright. This is a great blog covering the legal aspects of copyright law and the business of photography. Carolyn often includes a photo with every post. And while the post covers some legal aspect of photography the image is usually a dramatic wildlife photo taken by Carolyn. The juxtaposition is sometimes interesting, hawks or lions while talking about courts and plantiffs. There is no denying the effect of the photo, you just want to read the posting.
I make it a practice to include a photo in most postings. Even if it means reusing a photo that has been published before. After a while any blog begins to accumulate quite a collection of photographs. This provides a ready set of “stock” photos which can be used to illustrate any posting.