Sunday, 25 November 2012

The thin line between transparency and vanity

I had an interesting discussion with Joseph Jude on the share buttons on my blog. In short, his opinion was:

which doesn't leave much room for interpretation, fortunately. I agree, and don't agree, as the bandwidth for numbers is so very, very wide: most numbers are meaningless as mere numbers

In 2009 I put a Twitter share button on my blog, which included Tweet count. I started off with TweetMeMe, added the Twitter share button by Twitter to that, added the G+ button, and all had the share count in them - unsure you could even do without.
I have recently removed them all from my post, and aimed for more generic share buttons that are less prone to the dynamics of this social sharing world - that is where the issues arise from

I also had the visitor map from ClustrMaps - it was interesting to see where my visitors came from. In 2010 I removed that, I think, and replaced it by the Blogger page view widget that is still on (and invisible if you're on mobile)

I also have comments enabled, of course, and fiddled around with various comment systems, none of which I'm really happy with. I've tried Disqus, which was too error-prone, and replaced that by Intensedebate, which is less error-prone but gives me weird errors lately, going by various commenters. It also gives me problems on IE8, Mozilla, even when I'm logged in as myself, who has administrative rights of course.
Admin always is in God Mode - I shouldn't have any comment size restrictions or otherwise. So, Intensedebate is on its way out, and I will try out Livefyre.
I would just go back to Blogger comments if I could import my comments from Intensedebate!

The comments show comment counts too of course.
So, we have page view counts, share counts, comment counts

Page view counts is a choice of mine, and partly transparency, partly vanity. I know of people who claim their blog gets 4 million visitors a year, where I damn well know that they don't even scratch 10% of that. I can check Alexa and cross-check that with a few other analytic sites to easily find out that they're lying through the back of their teeth.
So, to avoid any misunderstanding, I keep a (native Blogger) page view counter on my blog. And yes, seeing that stable around 6-7,000 views a month does make me feel good.
Would I have it if I had 100 views a month? No - no use; too insignificant to be squabbled about. Would people accuse me of vanity if I did? No, of course not.
Had I 100,000 views a month, would I have it? Not sure, I think I wouldn't, because it would look vain. Would people accuse me of vanity if I did? Surely

Share counts can be a choice of mine now, and Joseph made me think. Of course I like to see that a certain post has been RT-ed over a 100 times. Of course? Well, yes. Depending on the topic, really.
My top post is the very solid statistical analysis (although Mark Schaeffer fiercely disagrees) on the mass opt-out of Klout. Whereas that is a very important topic, as I'm fiercely Don Quixoting the evil 1.0 opt-inners of this brave 3.0 social world, I would rather have liked to see an Integration post of mine being up there...
My Resurrection post being on number 4 does make me very, very happy - that topic is most dear to me. What have both to do with share counts?
I do like to see and show share counts, as it will help decide in sharing location. If a post has been shared on Twitter 50 times, 1 time on Facebook, and 8 times on LinkedIn, where would you choose to share it? Depending on content and target audience, you might say "I'm going to share this on ... in stead". Or not, of course.

Would I have it if I had 1-3 shares per post? Yes, I would. Some people might see the low share count and decide not to share it because it apparently isn't popular enough, so won't make them popular either - fine, I can do without people like that. Others might think that the post is rubbish because the share counts are so low, so the blog must be rubbish, and as a consequence I must be rubbish as well!
Perfect, if you want to live your life like that, then I beg you: don't share my post and never read my blog ever again. Please LOL
Had I 1,000 shares per post, would I have it? Yes, I think. The downside would be that it would probably attract people who share a post just because it's shared a lot, but the arguments above still apply: good to know where you can share a post if you know how much it's been shared where

Blog comment count - I can't turn that off, and Joseph didn't answer me back on my question whether that was a sign of vanity too then. You still owe me that one Joseph! ;-)
This very fact sheds a whole new light on this matter, I think: as I don't have a choice here, I can't be labelled vain. Interesting

Let me give you the lo-down for my top 4 posts:

What does that tell you, and me? That Klout opt-out was not shared at all on Facebook, but a lot on Delicious, and got relatively few comments. Tibbr was shared relatively often on LinkedIn, which was to be expected. My Resurrection post got very many views but wasn't shared much (relatively very little, actually) on these networks, yet received the most comments

I promised Joseph - who has the honour of being the very first person ever to bring up the topic of numbers and stats relative to my blog itself - to remove all stats between December 1st and March 1st. Let's see what that does...

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