Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Little Inside (Blog-)Baseball

As regular readers are surely aware, I posted an entry titled What Am I, a Fucking Idiot? a few days ago and I now have a moderately amusing tale to relate. So, sit back and enjoy.

But first, for those of you who are not intimately familiar with the lives of your average smalltime blogger, a little background.

Those of us subsisting at the absolute bottom of the blogospheric food chain are, to put it bluntly, obsessed with generating traffic. Nothing dulls enthusiasm for this process more than realizing you are speaking to an empty room. Therefore, all of us down here are endlessly developing strategies to increase our exposure. Sometimes this involves badgering the a-list crowd with pleas for attention, but this rarely pays off (and frankly comes off as whiny and desperate). Other times, we submit our work to blog carnivals, or even host carnivals ourselves. If we leave comments on other sites, we make sure that our blog's web address is accessible. And, finally, when we post something inspired by the work of a fellow blogger, we always leave a trackback.

Of course, there would be no science to this process if we couldn't somehow evaluate the success of these various techniques. Enter the referral log. With this handy tool, we can discover how many of the visitors made their way to our sites. So, if someone follows a link, a Google search, a comment posted elsewhere, or a trackback to my front door, I will usually know about it.

Anyway, back to the story.

The post in question was somewhat of an anomaly for me. The tone of my work is generally intellectual and measured, as opposed to angry and ranty (not that I have anything against emotive writing -- I just don't usually do it). However, I was pissed-off that day and it came out in the post. Nowhere was this clearer than in the post's title. I mean, What Am I, a Fucking Idiot? isn't exactly playing it close to the vest.

After I published in the post, I faced a minor dilemma. As you may have noticed, I referenced a number of other blogs in the text of the post. Usually, this is when I start planting trackbacks in the hopes of luring a few unsuspecting readers my way. But, in this instance, I hesitated. As many of you know, these planted trackbacks would have the title of my post available for all to see. Thus, I would be essentially pasting a curse word on someone else's real estate. On a certain level, this really shouldn't be a big deal. This is, after all, the Internet. But, on the other hand, there it is etiquette involved (ill defined as it is) and, since these other bloggers are all people that I respect and admire, I didn't want to offend anyone.

Of course, my bloodlust for traffic quickly overwhelmed any emergent sense of decorum within me. Besides, in show business, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

OK, here's the funny part. None of the bloggers in question flinched as they became complicit in my slouch toward Gomorrah (or, perhaps more accurately, none of them noticed). So, I just relaxed and waited to see who would be drawn in.

Now, I've left trackbacks before and I know what to usually expect. At best, you generate a handful of new visitors (and by handful, I mean about five). Sometimes, you don't get any visitors at all. This time -- well, I did better. I won't overstate the case here and I will remind you that this is all relative to my traditionally low numbers. But, I will say this. These trackbacks generated a substantial traffic increase for me. In fact, with the exception of a couple of days buoyed by carnival submissions, it was the highest one-day total -- ever!

Conclusion: you are all a bunch of sick fucks. Sure, I spend hours and hours weaving together intricate and rational arguments, suffering to divine and develop insightful new perspectives -- all to fall on deaf ears. I break out the potty-mouth and you can't get enough. No wonder this country's going to hell.

The question now is, do I ignore this data point and soldier on as if it never occurred, or do I start pandering to the evidently lowbrow taste of the unwashed masses? Do I maintain my standards, or do I go all Married with Children on your asses? I haven't decided yet. But, if you come back next week and this site has lost its PG-13 rating, you have no one to blame but yourselves.

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