Our greatest hits

Recently Meg asked if there was a way to get the all-time number of pageviews for a WordPress.com blog post. There is, but you have to dig for it. After I figured out this out, I got sidetracked looking at the list of our most popular posts ever. So just for fun, below the fold is the list of our 20 greatest hits, as decided by you, our readers. Followed by some brief remarks.

Dynamic Ecology top 20 greatest hits

  1. You do not need to work 80 hours/week to succeed in academia (Meg) (note: #1 by a mile. Has gone viral several times.)
  2. Good reasons for choosing a research project (plus some bad ones) (Jeremy)
  3. Videos for teaching ecology (Meg)
  4. How to suggest referees in your cover letter to the journal editor (Jeremy)
  5. How to review a manuscript for a journal (Jeremy)
  6. The 5 pivotal paragraphs in a paper (Brian; one of only two recent posts on the list)
  7. William Shockley on what makes a person who publishes a lot of papers (Brian)
  8. Thoughts on applying to grad school, for students and their mentors (Meg)
  9. Statistical machismo? (Brian)
  10. Using Wikipedia in the classroom: a cautionary tale (Meg)
  11. Life as an anxious scientist (Meg; the other recent post on the list)
  12. E. O. Wilson vs. math (Jeremy)
  13. Surviving your comprehensive exams (Brian)
  14. How to decide where to submit your paper (Jeremy)
  15. Interpreting ANOVA interactions and model selection (Meg)
  16. The insidious evils of ANOVA (Brian)
  17. There is crying in science. That’s ok. (Meg)
  18. Why OLS is an unbiased estimator for GLS (Brian)
  19. Writing a response to reviewer comments (Meg)
  20. Is using detection probabilities a case of statistical machismo? (Brian)

Meg, Brian, and I find we can’t make very precise predictions about which posts will prove popular. But we can make some. As the list above illustrates, popular posts tend to be:

  • Advice/instructional. Popular advice/instructional posts accumulate a steady stream of views over a long period via searches.
  • Personal stories that resonate with others. Tend to accumulate many views in a short period by going viral.
  • Not about ecology specifically. The potential audience for ecology-specific posts is of course fairly small.

The list is of course skewed towards older posts that have had more time to accumulate views. Conversely, the list is skewed away from posts I originally published on Oikos Blog and then migrated over here when I moved here, because I was too lazy to add in the pageviews my old posts got on Oikos Blog. That’s one reason why there are no zombie ideas posts on the list.

I note that Brian and Meg have much higher batting averages than me in terms of writing really popular posts. Which shows that our readers have good taste, since Brian and Meg write good posts at much higher per-post rates than I do. 🙂

The list above omits several of our personal favorites.

2 thoughts on “Our greatest hits

  1. Pingback: The importance of saying yes | Dynamic Ecology

  2. Update: the top two posts have since switched places on this list. That seems to be in large part because my “good reasons for choosing a research project” post comes up high in the search results when people search on ‘Why did you choose this topic?’ and similar questions. Many students search on such questions because they’ve been assigned to do a project on a topic of their choice, and as part of the assignment they have to explain why they chose the topic they did.

    I usually like it when a post draws readers, because it’s usually a sign that the post said something that was worth saying and said it well. But it depresses me that that old post of mine continues to draw traffic mostly because students are googling for the answer to a question that they ought to be able to answer themselves. I still think that old post of mine is one of my better and more important efforts–but you can’t tell that from the traffic data, because these days it mostly draws traffic for the wrong reason.

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