Happy Almost New Year! Here’s the annual wrap-up of our blogging year. It’s mostly notes to ourselves, honestly. But if for some strange reason you care how much traffic we got, or what I thought our best posts this year were, or want to see me embarrass myself by misremembering who wrote one of our posts, read on.
The year isn’t quite over yet, but we’re on track to get almost exactly the same number of pageviews and unique visitors we got last year and the year before that: about 730,000 pageviews from about 358,000 unique visitors. Although this year we achieved that traffic with 192 posts (as I’m writing this), compared to 224 last year and 212 the year before that.
Our comment threads continue to die, after a 1-year hiatus last year. We’ve gotten 2706 comments as of this writing, down by over 1000 (!) from last year. To which, shit. If this trend continues (and why wouldn’t it?), it is really going to suck in a few years when there’s basically no substantive public discussion of our posts. Just people on Twitter liking, retweeting, commenting non-substantively, and occasionally badly misreading us.
The most-viewed posts we published this year (which of course tends to be biased towards posts published early in the year):
- When writing, tell us your biological results! by Meghan
- Where did recently hired N. American TT asst. professors of ecology get their PhDs? by me. To which, really? This was our second most-read post of the year? I had no idea. And, um, why? I mean, I know that many of our readers care about the N. American ecology faculty job market, and the data I’ve compiled on it. But of all my posts on the ecology faculty job market, this is the one that drew the most traffic?
- What proportion of recently hired N. American TT asst. professors of ecology have Science/Nature/PNAS papers? by me. I can understand why this one got a lot of traffic. Although hopefully the effect of this post will be to cause ecology faculty job seekers to quit worrying so much about Science/Nature/PNAS papers. If this post keeps drawing traffic years from now, it won’t have done its job.
- Friday links: overwork and mental health in academia, Liam Neeson vs. teaching, and more, by Meghan and I. Yes, a linkfest was our fourth most-read post of the year! Clearly it was because many people
love Liam Neeson memescare about workload and mental health in academia.
- Friday links: Daphnia theme song, RIP PubMed Commons, Joy of Cooking vs. p-hacking, and more, by Meghan and I. I have no clue why this was one of our most read posts of the year.
- The unbearable hypocrisy of being an ecologist by guest poster Mark Vellend. This prompted one of our longest and best comment threads ever.
- A now-expired job ad for a postdoc in Meghan’s lab. This one continues to draw a steady stream of pageviews. Does it come up high in the results for Google searches on “ecology postdoc openings” or similar?
- Poll: what’s your preferred number of times to teach a particular course? by Meghan. To which, really? This was our most-read poll of the year? Huh. I had no idea.
- What if we make a class better for student learning but unsustainable for faculty? by Meghan
- My strategies for mentoring undergraduate researchers by Meghan
Meghan’s post dominate the list, and they’d continue to do so if the list were extended. Meghan writes very well about topics that many people rightly care a lot about, and it shows in the traffic her posts draw.
As usual, the posts I think were the best, or that were my personal favorites, don’t overlap all that much with our most-read posts. I’m proud of my ecology faculty job market data compilation. By far my best and most important post on that topic is the one on gender balance of recently-hired ecology faculty. Which despite being about an issue that lots of people rightly care a lot about, and despite me promoting it in advance on Twitter (which I’ve never done before and have no plans to do again), drew less traffic than many other posts we published around the same time, and less traffic than several other less-important ecology faculty job market posts. I’m also proud of my poll on what our readers think about the most controversial ideas in ecology. Fascinating data that led to a great discussion. Best post idea I’ve had in a long time. I think my post on the most important technical statistical mistakes in ecology and whether they’re all that important asked a good question and got a good discussion going. We also had a good discussion of unpopular ecological opinions. I thought my post on whether a field can have theory without theorists asked a good question, although readers apparently didn’t agree (hardly anybody read it). My post asking readers to identify ecology’s equivalent of Paul Erdos was a lot of fun. (From Meghan: Hey, I wrote that post!) (From Jeremy: Whoops! My bad. Would you believe it was, um…[thinks fast]… an intentional mistake on my part to check whether anyone else was paying attention? [Meghan shakes head, rolls eyes]) Readers immediately hit on the best answer–Bob Holt!–and we all had a blast calculating our “Holt numbers”. And I’m glad that my blog posts on the ASN Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Awards had their intended effect of dramatically increasing the size of the applicant pool and the number of applications from ecologists, without discouraging applications from non-ecologists or reducing the average strength of the applications.
In terms of my favorite posts of the year from others, I thought Brian’s post on science, advocacy, and honesty was great. Brian’s post on the shape of the long trajectory of ecology was a lot of fun–looking forward to seeing the poll results Brian! I really liked Meghan’s post on the social aspects of writing. (From Meghan: That post relates to another one that was fun to write that focused on rough drafts and getting words on the page.) Inspired by that post, I started a writing accountability group and it’s been a godsend for me. Meghan’s post on the unsustainability of some pedagogical approaches, linked to above, really spoke to me, and I think to many others as well. It was also an exceptionally brave post to write. It takes guts to express any reservations about flipped classrooms these days. Her review of Merchants of Doubt was one of our best book reviews ever, I think. Mark Vellend’s guest post on the unbearable hypocrisy of being an ecologist, linked to above, was one of my favorite guest posts of the year. Peter Adler’s guest post on conceptual fragmentation in basic research was really good too.