UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

I Built It and They Didn’t Come! Reflections on the UK Web Focus Daily Blog

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 January 2012

On 1 January 2011 I set up the UK Web Focus Daily blog. As described in the initial post:

Inspired by WordPress.com’s suggestion that WordPress users may wish to publish a blog post a day (see the post on “Challenge for 2011: Want to blog more often?“) I have set up this blog. This will be used for informal notes, ideas, etc.

The blog was used actively during the first six months of the year with 30 posts being published in January, 27 in February, 26 in March, 30 in April, 24 in May and 26 in June with the final 6 posts published during the year being published in July.

The blog made use of the P2 theme which is described as “A group blog theme for short update messages, inspired by Twitter“. As can be seen in the screenshot the post creation window is displayed at the top of the blog, thus making it simple to create brief posts.

The content posted is unlikely to be of significant interest to others; the blog was primarily intended to keep brief notes about topics of interest to me. However shortly after launching the blog I realised that it could be used to see how much traffic a blog generates if no attempt is made to promote the blog. However on 8 January a post in which I described how I intended to Unsubscribing from RSS feeds with only summary content contained links to two blogs, which subsequently resulted in comments being posted on the blog. I therefore subsequently did not publish any links to blogs in subsequent posts and I described this experiment in a post entitled Build It and They’ll Come? which was published on 23 January.

As can be seen from the accompanying image, as expected the numbers of visitors to the blog were low (apart from the home page there were only four posts which received over 10 visits).

It will be noticed that there was a big jump in the numbers of statistics in June. As described in a post entitled Blog Views Up By 300%! this occurred after the blog to search engines, including Google, was removed on 31 May.

Normally experiments look at ways of measuring strategies for maximising access to resources. This experiment looked at ways of publishing content openly whilst keeping the numbers of visitors to a minimum – along the lines of publishing the plans for the destruction of Arthur Dent’s home planet to make room for an expressway at the city planning office, “on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.’

The suggestions I have for those who wish to minimise the chances that people will find a blog were:

  • Block search engines from indexing the site (note you can also create a unique string so you can check if Google has indexed the site).
  • Don’t link to other people’s blog posts: they’ll see the referrer link and possibly choose to subscribe to your blog).
  • Don’t allow comments: people may find what you are writing about of interest, add their own thoughts and then look for further comments.
  • Don’t add the blog to any directories.
  • Don’t refer to your blog on other web sites or blogs.
  • Don’t tweet about the blog.

Of course if you want others to read your posts you’ll do the opposite! More seriously, this experiment has helped to demonstrate the fact that simply building an online resource isn’t sufficient if you want users to make use of your resource.  The launch of the web site is just the start of the process.


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4 Responses to “I Built It and They Didn’t Come! Reflections on the UK Web Focus Daily Blog”

  1. [...] I Built It and They Didn’t Come! Reflections on the UK Web Focus Daily Blog (ukwebfocus.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. Brian, you highlight a significant issue with the ‘anyone and everyone can publish and share'; yes they can, but someone ‘needs’ to read it. Perhaps before we encourage foks to share we need to encourage them to read what is available?

    Many will give up publishing/contibuting if they realise that they do not have an audience, unless they become convinced that the process that they go through to construct their contribution is valuable in its own right.

    J

    • Hi John
      Thanks for the comment.
      Actually the point that I was making was that people don’t have to write in order to be read – writing reflective comments can be fine, and writing stuff to help you remember is also fine. You may choose to write such notes in public, as they may be of use to others, but gaining an audience needn’t be of relevance.
      The experiment was meant to show that if, for other types of content, you want others to read your stuff you will need to be proactive in finding an audience.I agree with you that if such techniques aren’t used, authors may be discouraged from writing due to the lack of an audience.

      Brian

  3. [...] jQuery("#errors*").hide(); window.location= data.themeInternalUrl; } }); } ukwebfocus.wordpress.com – Today, 4:21 [...]

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