Writer’s Block

By David

I suppose Christmas is always a quiet time. There doesn’t seem to be anything major in the swimming world to discuss. I didn’t want to go on again about the stunning stupidity of Project Vanguard or Jan Cameron’s desperate and barren efforts to win any sort of international swimming race. Swimwatch has rightly spent some time discussing these two follies. Swimwatch editor, Jane, tells me it’s perfectly alright to not post anything new. “If there is nothing new to say,” she says, “you shouldn’t say anything.”

However, because it’s the end of 2010 I thought it might be interesting to look back at the Swimwatch readership statistics. In the last six months Swimwatch has focused on two New Zealand swimming issues. Do the readership numbers suggest that has been a popular choice or has the blog’s narrow focus been one giant turn off?

Here is a graph of the changes that have taken place in the Swimwatch readership numbers between 2009 and 2010. On an annual basis this looks like a pretty healthy rate of growth. Hits, the number of pages visitors read, have increased by 56%. Unique visitors have improved by a very similar 55%. Return visitors have increased by a slightly lower but still good 42%. And so we know that readers found something in 2010 more interesting than in 2009. But Swimwatch began 2010 by discussing topics of interest in the United States. It wasn’t until the last four months of 2010 that we turned our attention to Cameron’s television misbehavior or Byrne’s corporate manipulation. We really need to look more closely at the 2010 figures to determine just when the growth in readership occurred.

The table below shows how Swimwatch readership numbers changed during 2010. Even Cameron and Byrne would have to admit that something has attracted more interest. They should be pleased – it must have been them. Between the first quarter of 2010 and the last quarter hits went up by 49%. Unique readers went up by 52%. And return visitors rose by 44%.

So we do know that the Swimwatch position on Cameron and Byrne was of interest. I bet SNZ would love to have had the readership of their website increase by half these amounts. What we don’t know is whether the increased readership was primarily people that supported the Swimwatch position on Cameron and Byrne or was it readers who were really pissed off at our criticism of two outstanding administrators.

Liz Strauss is one of America’s leading tutors in the art of writing a blog. She published a list of ten reasons people read a blog. Here is her list.

  1. It contains ideas, not just information.
  2. It has thoughts, not just ideas.
  3. It is based on experience.
  4. It does no instruct by force.
  5. It is interesting.
  6. It makes me feel welcome
  7. It does not apologize for its opinions.
  8. It is easy to comment.
  9. It is unique.
  10. It does not try to be someone else.

All these are pretty positive features. I have no idea how many of them Swimwatch observe or how many we contravene. It is probably fair however to conclude that Swimwatch must have satisfied at least some of her rules. Fortunately no one is forced to turn on their computer. Perhaps the discussion of Cameron and Byrne’s job performance has struck a popular nerve. Perhaps the “ideas” and “thoughts” and “experiences” expressed here have been “interesting” and “unique”. Here at Swimwatch we do hope these are the reasons for the increase in the readership of this blog. You see, we really do believe that the chances of some very good people about to swim in London in 2012 and the future health of this sport are in the balance. We also hope that the 50% increase in Swimwatch readers will help tip that balance away from the status quo.