I don’t understand the way people come to this blog. WordPress are remarkably informative, but their information confuses me. Sometimes the process is obvious. Richard Nokes kindly links one of my posts, I get a shedload more readers, this I understand. I don’t know how many, because I guess most people are reading through feeds, and WordPress only counts actual direct hits, but I see the effect on that. (I guess that means, in fact, that I will see more effect from links than from anything else but that that doesn’t necessarily relate to regular readership.)

But sometimes the information I get makes no damn sense at all. The day that I drafted this, apparently, I got fourteen hits from the blogroll beside an old, worthy and sane but uncommented and ancient, post of Another Damned Medievalist. Surely this is someone’s browser going mad, and not real information? It goes on. The same day, more people read the well-hidden Sex and Medievalists post than any other. But this seems to be because hits on the actual front page (which linked to it at the time of drafting) aren’t separately recorded so the click-through shows up as most important even though it wasn’t really because more people read what’s up front. Certainly only one of the search engine strings WordPress tells me of would have led there, and mainly what those tell me, comfortingly but uselessly, is that my little First Crusade paper is something people want to find. This is useless because it wasn’t actually a blog post so although it’s nice to know it’s being useful, without reorienting my research by some way it’s not something I can develop further for the readership’s benefit.

So what this means is that actually, although WordPress is trying very hard, I don’t really know what people are reading and what they’re skimming, what brings you here and what sends you away, unless you comment. Now, this blog was originally set up as self-publicity after a suggestion at a party by someone who seemed to believe that the blogosphere was the new Stock Market. This is why for example I don’t mention rejections or lack of progress in it; I get them, as does everyone at my level I think, but I don’t necessarily want prospective employers or rivals to find this out easily. (No, I don’t really have any rivals, fair enough. Anyway.)

But even such readership as I do have makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t be bearing them in mind as well. Currently I just spout whatever I’m currently finding interesting into draft posts, and then stick them up when the action seems a bit quiet webwise. (This is also good for last-minute reconsideration of exactly where I’m hyperlinking to or whom I’m arguing with, I’m finding…) But is that floating your boats?

I therefore tentatively invite feedback, from anyone that might wish to give it. For example, I have categories set up, many of which I hardly use, for:

  • Currently reading… (mini-reviews and outraged spluttering)
  • General medieval (i. e., ‘this is not really my area…’)
  • Anglo-Saxons (which only used to be my area)
  • Carolingians
  • Catalonia
  • Charters
  • Crusades (I keep forgetting this is there)
  • England (I do live there)
  • Feudalism
  • Islamic Crescent
  • Picts
  • Spain
  • Humour (for want of a better word)
  • Next paper is due (advertisements and panic)
  • Now working on… (doesn’t everyone use the web as a sounding board nowadays?)
  • and

  • Uncategorized

And these, apart from the last, are sort of the areas that I know my way in, a bit. Some more than a bit. If you have no other feedback, let me ask you, would you like to see more use of any of these and if so which? Or some other? If there seems to be some definite movement I’ll try and come up with a Que sais-je? kind of post or two or some recent relevance. If not, I’ll assume things are probably OK as they’re going. But thankyou in advance if you do have feedback to add.

Also in a metablog kind of way, hey Carolingian, nice to meet you but dammit next time I buy the lunch, all right? :-)

11 responses to “Metablog

  1. Don’t remember how I happened across the blog–possibly via a comment on another blog? But I come back periodically because I also work on Catalonia, albeit a later period. Always enjoy the posts on things Catalan/Spanish, and enjoy the reviews too.

  2. You might want to use some kind of tool, like google analytics for example, to track in more detail what who is doing where and when on your site.

    “Currently I just spout whatever I’m currently finding interesting into draft posts, and then stick them up when the action seems a bit quiet webwise”

    Sounds sound. Keep it up.

  3. WordPress did have a device that tried to estimate how many people were reading through feeds, but they decided it was unsuccessful and removed it. I’m not web-clever enough to understand whether Google Analytics could fill that gap. I shall have to find out, as I hope that that’s where the readership’s going. It’s going somewhere… But maybe that just reflects term starting in the USA.

  4. I rather like the current ‘what I’m thinking’ splurge. OTOH, I’m hardly core readership.

  5. No, but I’m kind of glad you’re reading and enjoying anyway.

    All the `what I’m thinking’ stuff is feudal transformation, really, isn’t it? I guess that’s because unlike most of what I’m writing about I don’t really understand that. But that puts me in good company at least.

  6. I missed this, and am just catching up. Of course, I’m always interested in those who post in my area, Anglo-Saxon shtuff, Middle English shtuff etc. But honestly, I’m interested at some level in everything you list above: I don’t know enough about some of the other areas and reading blogs by those of you who do is one way I continue to learn. Reading reviews of books isn’t as good as a good blogger saying I should spend time on a volume. So by all means continue to write on whatever is of interest. I realize that isn’t helpful, but I say “carry on” in my best Tim Gunn voice.

  7. Well, that’s a lot easier to conform to than a substantial editorial critique would be. Maybe there are some areas where peer review is best kept out of writing :-) Thankyou for reading.

  8. Coming in really late here… I come here through Unlocked Wordhoard when I want to do some general medieval browsing. I should come back more often as you are one of the few who put real medieval content in your blogs (unlike many other ‘medieval blogs’ that are more about the tortures of grad student life or being a new grad).

    As for my area of interest, its early medieval Britain and Ireland, 5-8th century Northumbrian in particular.

  9. That’s good to hear as that is one of the things I’m trying to do, get actual medieval history out there for people to read, so it’s nice to know it’s appreciated. I’ve been enjoying the posts in Heavenfield myself, as that used to be roughly my area of interest, a long time ago. I worked on Picts, then, but gave it up for a field with evidence in :-)

  10. Following the evidence is a good reason to stick to the world of Bede and Adomnan. :-)

    On following the readers, I’ve noticed that some of my tags get more hits than others. For example, ‘medieval kings’ has been doing the best lately. Granted this tag almost always overlaps with the kingdom tags, but being more generalized, it seems to tap into from a wider field of readers.

  11. That’s interesting – I think I must be missing something. How are you breaking down your traffic by tag? I don’t immediately see a way to do this on the Blog Stats facility here in WordPress. Grateful for any advice…

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