The Stats Problem

Posted September 28, 2018 by Amber in Blogging, Memes / 8 Comments

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I am one of those bloggers that can’t stop looking at her stats.

Really.  When I click to get to my dashboard, I go though the main site and click the bar graph for stats on my WordPress top bar to get to the backend stuff.  Every single time I visit my blog, whether to reply to comments, update something behind the scenes, or write a new post… I look at my stats.

It’s a terrible habit, but one I’m not alone in doing.

I think that our obsession with statistics directly correlates with our cultural need to define our success by popularity.  And how do we determine if we are popular?  Overwhelmingly, it’s by the numbers.  How many followers do you have on Instagram?  How many friends on Facebook?  How many times were we retweeted?  Whether or not we feel successful in our pursuits depends so highly on whether anonymous people enjoy our pictures and witticisms.  The thing is – we put too much value on what anonymous numbers tell us opposed to opinions of those we respect, and ourselves.

According to to Professor Mitch Prinstein, science has defined two different kinds of popularity, and we have our priorities backwards.  He says “In childhood, our popularity is defined by how much we are liked by others” whereas as we get older and reach high school, popularity markers switch to social status.  As adults – we can choose between likability, and status.

Our culture overwhelmingly chooses status, which Prinstein says is a problem because “Because unlike the positive outcomes associated with high likability, research findings indicate that having high status leads to later aggression, addiction, hatred and despair.”  And fellow bloggers, doesn’t that sound correct?  How many times have you slaved over a post only to watch it get a measly dozen hits… or less?  How many times have you watched your stats flatline after a brief hiatus?  It’s disappointing, and can make a blogger second guess the reason for being out here in the first place.

For myself, I took a step back at the end of 2017 and told myself that I needed to stop caring about the stats.  This is so so difficult especially because I took the leap with my blog into self-hosting instead of the free-base.  I want to be popular, too.  I want to make sure that the time and money I’ve put into the blog is worthwhile, you know?

But honestly, I also want everyone to like the content I put out.  It’s a good feeling when I put out a post that you all enjoy, or that makes you think.  I’m better than I used to be about letting the stats define how I feel about my blog, but I can’t deny the rush of feeling like I’ve done well.

How about y’all?

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This week’s Book Blogger Hop asks:

Do you sneak a peek at the number of views your posts have gotten?

 

Short answer:  Definitely.  I do try not to let them affect me as much anymore, reminding myself that I enjoy blogging and there are things that I can be doing to boost my stats.  It is always nice to see folks appreciating my posts, though. 🙂

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How often do you check your stats?

What do you do when you have a low day?

Do you agree that we’re more inclined to value ourself if we have good numbers, as opposed to being well-regarded?
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8 responses to “The Stats Problem

  1. I don’t ever look at my stats. I’ve been blogging for a long, long time and I’ve noticed that people who were really into their stats would do great for a while and then disappear. It wasn’t fun for them after a while. Those of us who are writing for ourselves whether or not anyone is reading are still around.

    • Amber

      I think that’s much healthier way of looking at it. And ultimately, more rewarding. You’re absolutely correct when you say that people who hang on to stats tend to disappear – I’ve noticed that as well. It’s hard to pull yourself away from the numbers sometimes, but so much more rewarding to post for yourself. 🙂

  2. Really good post. I think when we first start blogging we think: “I’m going to write my thoughts on this book and the whole world is going to read it” (Pah!) but not for me, I consider it a job well done when I get to interact and talk to people and share common interests and debate. As long as I’m having conversations, exchanging ideas then I’m fulfilled. 🙂 Which brings me to ask, if you don’t mind, what part of blogging makes you feel fulfilled?

    • Amber

      Hmm. That’s a good question, actually. I’ve been blogging and journalling on line since middle school, so the act on jumping on WordPress or something similar to share my thoughts in detail comes so naturally to me. The stats tend to be how I judge my success at drawing readers, but what I love are he comments. I think it’s really rewarding to be able to connect with someone about a topic we’re mutually passionate about, and I personally prefer an online platform for that. In reviews, especially, it’s so wonderful to talk about a book I LOVED and bump into someone else who read it, and we can fangirl a bit about our favorite characters, settings, or that mind-blowing twist at the end. I feel like the blogging platforms offers the widest, deepest reach for that sort of interaction (although I enjoy Instagram too, but it’s sorta blogging!lite with pictures).

      • That’s really interesting, I think this is the first time I’ve heard someone blogging since middle school, quite rare! I don’t think I’d be able to navigate blogging online from such a young age so props to you for being able to do so.
        Yes, I completely agree, I can’t imagine being able to discuss books with as much depth as I would like in real life unless, of course, if I joined a book club, but then again I wouldn’t always get to choose the books myself. All hail WordPress. 🙂

        • Amber

          All hail WordPress indeed!

          When I was in middle school, online journalling was just starting to get really popular, so EVERYONE had a LiveJournal! Back then “blogging” for us was largely “Ugh, my teacher is sooooo mean!” but it got me comfortable in the sphere of things. I moved my personal journal around to different online journalling sites for two years, and was still running a more polished one on WordPress in 2011 when I initially started a writing blog… which after many false starts became this one.

          Although long story short, I in NO WAY suggest anyone EVER having their diary on the internet. There were some tarnished friendships for sure when we were all thirteen and foolishly reading one another’s journals online, not to mention the fact that it’s not a great idea to give too much of yourself away to strangers, especially at an age were you may not know better, haha. My PSA for the day.

          • My teacher is so mean sounds like a post I would have LOVED to read. There’d be so much tea spilling and foil and trouble if we still wrote how we wrote back then. But, I do think that no one would really completely judge young people who write like it’s their diary, they are young at the end of the day and will learn better.

          • Amber

            And hopefully like me, younglings will delete their online diaries as a bad idea and transition to blogging instead. 😀 😉