Now that I’m devoting more time to my blog, I’ve decided to look for factors that have made previous posts popular, at least as measured by site visits. Google Analytics tracks site visits back to November 1, 2015, so I used it to determine my five most popular posts over the last five years (regardless of when they were initially posted).
Number 1 is Sherlock Holmes and Narrative Point-of-View, posted in 2009, with 5300 visits. I discuss how Arthur Conan Doyle departs from the omniscient narrator convention popular in nineteenth century fiction to have Sherlock Holmes’s self-selected assistant Doctor Watson narrate. Watson’s bewilderment about Holmes’s methods, until Holmes explains them at the end of a story, mirrors the reader’s. I thought my discussion was quite elementary, even NSS (if you don’t know that acronym check it on Urban Dictionary). But the Sherlock Holmes stories remain popular and their readers must be finding my explanation helpful.
Number 2 is Questioning Doug Ford’s Resume, posted in April 2018, with 4900 visits. In the last two years I’ve written so many posts critiquing Ford that I’ve wondered why he hasn’t resigned (just kidding). The difference between this post and all the others is that someone linked it as a reference to the discussion on Ford’s Wikipedia entry of his short and inglorious educational record. Interestingly, with Ford’s increased popularity, fewer people are visiting this post now than previously.
Number 3 is Darkest Hour – Not Even Remotely Based on a True Story, posted in September 2017, with 4700 visits. I saw Darkest Hour at the Toronto International Film Festival two months before its commercial release in November 2017. As the title suggests, I criticized the film’s blatant revisionism of the events of the initial weeks of Churchill’s first ministry, in particular the risible scene in which he takes advice from an ad hoc focus group in the London tube. When the movie was released my post became a focal point for discussion and received considerable attention through inbound links.
Number 4 is Doctor Strangelove: A Classic Satire, posted in 2009, with 2600 visits. This post is similar to the one about Sherlock Holmes in that I was explaining the movie. I was focused on the movie’s use of game theory to develop a plausible scenario for MAD (mutual assured destruction). The movie is a classic that is still watched and studied. My post has also been picked up and referred to by an online tutorial and essay-writing service.
Number 5 is Arbitrage: Actually, it was Fraud, posted in 2012, with 1800 visits. This post is similar to those about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Strangelove, except the movie I discuss – Arbitrage – is no classic. Its Imdb rating was 6.6 out of 10 and its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes a near-identical 62 percent. Despite starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, it won no major awards. My post, containing spoilers, explains the rather convoluted plot and its indeterminate ending. This post is currently the most popular one for my blog virtually every day.
Looking at these five posts as a group, I draw some conclusions about enhancing the popularity of my blog. Popularity depends on inbound links, and the easiest way to create an inbound link is to add content and references to Wikipedia entries about topics I discuss. The content must be factual and not simply advertising. Looking at both my posts and corresponding Wikipedia entries, my content should conform with Wikipedia rules.
The majority of my posts are either political or textual commentary. Political commentary is always responding to the latest headline, crisis, or scandal. It is fleeting and evanescent. No one re-reads it after a week or so, even for the most high-profile columnists. So I should downplay political commentary, except if I have a unique perspective, such as the impact of the Ford Government’s 2019 budget on the universities.
My textual (film and novel) commentary is not reviewing, as reviewers are tasked with providing an immediate evaluation and constrained to avoid spoilers. In contrast, I am providing analysis, interpretation, and explanation without the constraints of achieving immediacy and avoiding spoilers. There appears to be an online readership for this writing. The response to my post about Arbitrage suggests this is not only for classics. I hope to be doing more of this.