Thursday, 16 April 2015

Do I do my best or do I do my worst?

Here's a little known fact about me. I have a background in science. I even have a science degree to prove it. I know, after reading some of my blather, it's hard to believe that I have any kind of degree at all, but that's the absolute truth and I wouldn't lie to you about it.

Anyway, like any good scientist, I like to make sure I follow the scientific method, and employ information and data before I make any conclusions about anything. With that in mind, I've been conducting a bit of an experiment in this site over the last couple of weeks, and the results obtained have been interesting to say the least.

In the post I put up three weeks ago, I made a big claim. I suggested that this post was the best post I had ever written. I then waxed rhapsodic about what a wonderful post it was, and all the brilliant literary devices I employed.

In my post for the following week, I went the opposite way completely by suggesting that it was the worst post I had ever written. I pointed out all the reasons why the post was inferior to the previous one, and even went as far as to apologise to my readers.

I then left things for a week, keeping a close eye on the statistics for number of views, to see if any conclusions could be raised.

And here is what I found.

The first thing is, the best post got more views. This is not that surprising. I'm sure that if most of us have a choice between something that is really good and something that is really bad, we would choose the really good thing. So nothing unusual as yet.

But here is the interesting thing.

While the number of views for the worst post were fewer than the best post, it wasn't by that much. The worst post actually got a pretty respectable number of views (at least by my standards anyway). Even after I made it absolutely clear to readers that there was nothing of value to be seen there, they came over to have a look anyway.

So what is that telling me? Given that my bad post got almost as many views as my good post, why do I even bother making things good? If I can just chuck something out, no matter how poorly constructed, and get a reasonable response rate, why should I put all that effort into trying my best to make my posts interesting and wonderful?

Food for thought I suppose. As a true scientist, I'll need to take a while to fully analyse the results. I may even need to conduct some follow up experiments.

In the meantime, if you find the quality of these posts seems to have taken a downward slide, you'll know exactly why.


  1. I’m not sure it works that way. I subscribe to a number of blogs and I read them no matter what they’re about. It’s the person I’m interested in rather than the subject. If you wrote a post about opera I’d read it and I hate opera. But I’d be curious to see what you had to say on the subject. It’s unlikely you’d persuade me to change my views but I’d been still interested in what you had to say. Because there are people out there who really, really love opera and I’ll be honest it bothers me that they get something that I can’t.

    What you might find more revealing is looking at how many people spend more than 2 or 3 seconds on your posts. It’s depressing reading but also revealing. I was shocked when I looked at my stats which were pretty damn respectable a while back only to realise that 90%+ of my “readers” weren’t reading anything. They’d clicked on a link in a search engine, landed on my site, realised it wasn’t for them and were gone before they’d had chance to blink more than once. And then you get the one reader who spends fifteen minutes on your site and completely skews the figures. Stats lie.

    The quality of our posts has little to do with anything. People make snap judgements. They see the picture of the cover to Thomas and the Tiger Turtle and think, Oh, this is guy writes kids’ books and they off without looking any further. And there’s nothing much you can do about it. People will be people.

    1. Thanks Jim. Maybe a post about opera isn't such a bad idea.