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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Sandwalk!

Today is the first anniversary of this blog. My first posting on November 4, 2006 was Welcome to My Sandwalk. Since then there have been 1282 other postings for an average of 3.5 per day (whew!). My original goal was to average one science-related article per day and I think I've come close to that average. The others are just for fun.

I was told when I began that you have to attract hundreds of views per day in order to generate interesting comments and discussions. That seems to be about right. When I started I saw this blog as an experiment and I intended to re-evaluate after six months. When the six months was up I had not met many of my goals so it was a time of soul searching [My Six Months Are Up!]. What happened was I avoided making a decision so I just kept going by default. I'm glad I did. There are now lots of interesting discussions going on in the comments sections.

All of us science bloggers have discovered one important feature of science blogging. You hardly ever get comments about science. If you check those articles where I talked about science, there are almost no comments or discussion. On the other hand, as soon as you mention politics, religion, or racism, there are dozens of readers who want to speak up.

It's a puzzling phenomenon. That's not to say it isn't fun to talk about those non-science issues—it clearly is a lot of fun or we wouldn't be doing it. The puzzling thing is why there aren't more comments about the science.

From time-to-time I asked for photographs of readers who have walked the real sandwalk. I'd like to acknowledge those who sent in pictures.

The God Delusion
T. Ryan Gregory
PZ Myers
John Wilkins

I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. Send photographs if you're not on the list already.

For those of you who are interested in the numbers, here are the statistics for Sandwalk. What they mean is that Sandwalk is on the verge of making the transition from a low popularity blog to a medium popularity blog. For comparison, Pharyngula gets one million views a month or 20X more than Sandwalk. In terms of the Top100Science Sites Bad Astronomy is 468th, Pharyngula ranks 794th, and Sandwalk is 1006th

Sandwalk has a long, long way to go. I think I'll try for quality instead of quantity!

Here are the top five postings in terms of number of comments: [Arguing Against God] [The Evolution Poll of Sandwalk Readers] [Propaganda Techniques: Shift the Burden of Proof] [Genomics Is Dead! Long Live Systems Biology!] [Dennett on Adaptationism].

Sandwalk readers are a diverse group in terms of geography. Yes, it's true that a majority of readers come from USA addresses, but there's still a large number of you from Europe, Asia, and Australia. There are even a handful of readers from South America and Africa. Oops ... I almost forget—there are Canadian readers as well.

On other issues the Sandwalk readers are less diverse. About 70% of you are atheists and almost all of you accept evolution—even though it may be the wrong version of evolution.

Next month's poll is going to ask about education. I suspect that most readers have been to university. This month the poll will be about your political views, e.g. where you position yourself on the left-right spectrum. I'll be surprised if most readers don't lean to the left.

Anyway, thanks for reading so far. And please, keep those comments coming—that's the most fun part of blogging.

P.S. If you have any suggestions for improving the looks or content of Sandwalk this is your chance to mention them.


  1. Congratulations on an excellent blog!

    All of us science bloggers have discovered one important feature of science blogging. You hardly ever get comments about science.

    Except that 3 of the 5 most-commented-on posts you list above are science-related! The posts discussing the mechanisms of evolution have generated many useful and interesting discussions.

    I'm still waiting for you to publish a debate on evolution with Dawkins, though. Maybe sometime in the next 12 months? I guarantee that would break all commenting records!

    Your biochemistry posts don't get many comments, probably because most of your readers (including me) are somewhat dumbfounded after reading them..

    Content-wise, I'd say that Sandwalk has improved markedly over the last few months, both in terms of quantity and quality. I don't think you have any worries there.

    By the way, it's quite fun that someone like yourself uses emoticons in your posts ;-)

  2. Happy BlogBirthDay! I thought you had been blogging for years!

    We're almost in the same age as Scienceroll will be one year old in 2 weeks. :)

  3. Happy Birthday, Sandwalk!

    I'll try to comment more on science... but being an untenured faculty and having my own blog makes time short in supply.

  4. I have to say that I read all of your science posts and really enjoy them, but I only comment when I think I have something to add to your post. On Monday's Molecules I confess I have to wait until Wednesday to find out what they are. If I ever make it to Toronto, I will have to buy my own lunch.

    And Happy BlogBirthday. My blog-city site was up for three years and only reached 100000 visitors in total, so I am impressed by your achievement.

  5. Happy blogiversary and congratulations for a well-deserved meteoric rise within the ranks!

  6. Congratulations.

    Controversial views on evolutionary processes and public policy implications of science & technology seem to generate a lot of interest.


  7. Larry:

    Happy Birthday To Your Blog!

    Of all the science blogs out there, you are clearly in the top (very small number) that very regularly posts substantive material. It is like you are writing an excellent textbook in tiny, little itty bitty bits. Maybe that is indeed what you are doing.

    I've asked my readers about the comment thing, and possibly the most common response (often via email and not in a comment) is that people just don't know enough about the topic to comment on it.

    That is probably a distraction from the real issue ... people don't necessarily know any more about the stuff they DO comment on.

    Perhaps the science material is not properly framed...

  8. Happy blogiversary and many happy returns, to one of the best science bloggers around!

  9. Happy Blogiversary!

    Next time you come to the UK I'll have to buy you a pint in celebration.

    Congratulations and keep up the excellent work.


  10. Congratulations and happy blogiversary!

  11. Happy Blogiversary, Larry. It's been fun so far coming here getting my science and all and having it from a Canadian (albeit Eastern Canada ;) ) perspective.

    Now if I only knew better ways to look up those chemicals that you post so I could win a lunch I'll never collect on, that would be great :)

  12. Thanks to everyone.

    BTW, I may be taking some of you up on your offers of free beer (and more?). It looks like we may be spending a few weeks in Europe in the not-too-distant future. Be careful what you offer!

  13. Happy anniversary. Congratulations for the GREATEST BLOG THE WOrLD HAs EVeR KNOWN iN ALL HISToRY!!

  14. Congrats!

    You asked for comments on improving your blog. Here comes a question. When I load your webpages (and once in a blue moon other forgotten identity websites) I get stuck on the page because my 'back' key does not work without triple or quadruple clicking. The 'current page' setting in my browser shoes only the one Sandwalk page. Weird.

    Do any computer whizzes know why this happens?

  15. Congratulations on your blog birthday and well-deserved success. I always enjoy visiting, although the science articles are usually way over my head. I'm usually just a lurker, partially because, as in this instance, I'm late to the party (so much to read, so little time...), and then because so many excellent comments have already covered my thoughts on a subject, often better stated than I could have myself.

  16. although I'm not in my most enthusiastic moment about Sandwalk, I'll chip in my congratulations, too.

    Also, Larry: Surprise! People that describe themselves as "left wing " are turning out to be a minority. Most sandwalk readers are "liberal".

  17. Here are the top five postings in terms of number of comments:

    You mean it wasn't that thread about the well-known self-help group for ethanol abusers? (Carefully worded to avoid attracting the trolls back) If you did disqualify that one, I understand and agree ;-).

    Anyways, happy blogiversary.