Monday, December 31, 2012

Essays in Review


Everybody's doing them this time of year.  Right after Christmas, we start pondering the notable people who died this year, or the year's worst tragedies, or the year's most exciting celebrity gossip stories.

Part of it, of course, is our Western instinct to track things, like time.  Part of it is a genuine sobriety regarding the memories we have of deceased famous people, and how their lives touched ours in the past.  And some of it is plain and simple media filler while editors and writers take their Christmas vacations.  Annual lists are things that have already happened, so you don't need to wait until December 31 to do the work of chronicling them.  The only people who wait until days like today to get any work done are members of Congress and occupants of the Oval Office.

For what it's worth, I decided to check and see what the top most-viewed articles on my blog have been this year.  It's not a statistically perfect list, since Google's Blogger software can't track the number of times my home page's headliner article has been read.  Indeed, even though I can count the number of visits visitors to my blog have made to each article, it's impossible to tell how many people have actually read any of them.

That's something for all of us to keep in mind when we hear of these "Top 10 Most-Read" lists.  All most of us website editors can go by is the view count, which is not an entirely reliable metric, as I've just explained.  For example, we've heard that South Korean pop singer Psy's Gangnam Style is the first video to hit one billion views on YouTube, but how do we know that means one billion individual residents of our planet have watched it?  Spammers and hackers may have hijacked YouTube's video counter, either for their own jollies, or at the behest of Korean publicists working on Psy's behalf.  Hey - I used to work in the Internet technology business, and even though I've never been a techie, nobody at my firm - or any other firm - trusts website counters.  They're so easy to manipulate.

In fact, one of the top-viewed essays on my blog this year has been so bombarded by spam, I left it off this list.  Almost every other day, I've gotten some sort of spam response to this particular essay with a link to the same suspicious website.  This happened to a couple of my other essays that didn't come close to making my Top Ten, too.  I don't know what search engine words are attracting all of these spammers - none of whom can string a coherent sentence together with English words - but I understand from researching the problem, in the hope of discouraging these spammers, that it's a fairly common issue for bloggers.  I'm actually fortunate that they haven't figured out how to hack my blog.

So anyway, without further ado, here are the Top Ten Most Read Essays on my blog this year, listed along with the date each was published:
Right off the bat, you can see that only one of this year's essays was a top-read winner.  All of the rest were written in 2010 or 2011.  I guess that makes sense, since my achieved essays have been online longer, and, therefore, more searchable by the bots and programs that look for content.

I was not surprised to learn that this past year's most popular essay was a re-cap of responses to an article I wrote for  The topic dealt with modest feminine attire in church, which generated a tidal wave of interest on Crosswalk, and was the top-read article on their site for several days this past summer.  While I had an idea that it could be a provocative subject, I have to admit that I had no idea it would elicit the emotions that it did.  And not from men, who I thought would be the ones defending a woman's right to dress provocatively at church, but women!  Apparently, a lot of churched women have bought into the male dominance of our society that encourages demeaning displays of sexual equipment by calling it "empowerment."

Frankly, I'm pleased to look over this list and see that no particular genre of essay topic dominates it.  There's the Number One essay, dealing with people on welfare who keep on having babies, and then there are two relatively benign pieces on architecture in Europe and the Middle East.  There's a favorable recap of my weekend spent judging a homeschooling debate contest, and a rant about church marketing campaigns gone awry.  About the only truly controversial piece is one exploring whether America's problems have come about because we've outgrown our current economic system.

Tomorrow, a new year begins, as does another year of this blog.  To those of you who faithfully plod through my essays regularly, I am deeply thankful to you for your continued interest.  Yes, I'm still hopeful that this blog can land me an honest writing gig for real money someday, but I'm glad you're along for the ride.

But to you spammers who keep trying to link your sordid websites to this blog, please go bother somebody else.  And learn some English.

Then again, if the grammar you spammers use is what you've learned from my blog, no wonder these essays haven't been more profitable for me!

Happy New Year!

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