Time for another “State of the WIST” post. I last ran this report in December 2020. I’ve been pretty consistent about getting new quotes loaded in over the past year — my goal is 5-6 quotes posted per weekday.
What’s happened over here since last time?
Some changes that took place on the WordPress site the past year:
- Did a full sweep of authors to update any deaths (some of them embarrassingly overdue for update) and to add photos to anyone with more than one quote.
- Got my Pinterest updated with the memes/quote graphics I’ve created.
- Got much more heavily into parallel translations, particularly for works from classical antiquity.
- Implemented Follow.it support for email subscribers (though the announced sunsetting of Feedburner for July of 2021 hasn’t yet actually happened).
- Laid the groundwork (but haven’t been able to pull the trigger) on getting the theme updated to be responsive to different sized screens (more below).
Doing the Numbers
Let’s look at the numbers:
So continued progress.
Broken out into a graph (and normalizing the time frame):
One advantage to WFH is being able to stay caught up on getting in my week-daily quotations.
Note that, as always, all of these quotations are personally curated to some degree or another — digging out citations when possible, finding author photos, etc. No mass uploads for me.
I currently stand at 678 quotes flagged as meme/visual quotations. That number’s gone up a bit since last year, though slowly; I generate one of these every few weeks now.
Of the authors I have, who are the most quoted in WIST?
As the numbers get higher, it’s harder folk to do more than shuffle around, esp. barring I find any massive new source of quotations. Nobody was added this year to the list, or dropped, just adjusted in rank. In a number of cases, that was because I had done some clean-up of duplicate quotations.
This stat is more for curiosity’s sake than any real meaning, showing not just how prolific these folk are, but how interested I am in recording things they wanted to say.
The Top Ten Author list is shown “live” in the sidebar (“Prolific Authors”).
Here are the Top 10 Most Visited Quotations Ever (with how they’ve changed since last December 2020):
- – (9,374, was 7,786) John Kenneth Galbraith, “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National Policy Committee on Pockets of Poverty (13 Dec 1963)
- – (6,464, was 5,979) Aeschylus, Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)]
- – (6,177, was 5,926) Robert Frost, “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942)
- – (5,476, was 5,073) Bertand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933)
- – (4,938, was 4,882) John Steinbeck, Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962)
- – (4,590 was 4,171) William Hazlitt, “On The Conduct of Life” (1822)
- ♥ (4,512, new) Fran Lebowitz, “Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981)
- ↓ (4,089, was 3,920) James Baldwin, “In Search of a Majority,” Speech, Kalamazoo College (Feb 1960)
- ♥ (4,008, new) Rainer Maria Rilke, Letter to Clara Rilke (1 Jan 1907)
- ↓ (3,947, was 3,375) Isaac Asimov, “A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980)
Some actual movement here toward the bottom, adding in a Fran Lebowitz and Rainer Maria Rilke, but losing a long-standing Molly Ivins and a recent Top 10 Arthur Schlessinger. I find these interesting, since it’s not driven anything I do, but page hits by visitors.
Over 2021, the Top 10 viewed quotes were, according to Google Analytics:
- 3,971 views – Fran Lebowitz, “Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981)
- 1,194 views – Galbraith, John Kenneth — “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National Policy Committee on Pockets of Poverty (13 Dec 1963)
- 1,035 views – Lamb, Charles — “The Two Races of Men,” Essays of Elia (1823)
- 933 views – Plato — Republic, Book 1, 347c
- 788 views – Rilke, Rainer Maria — Letter to Clara Rilke (1 Jan 1907)
- 691 views – Sa’adi — Poem on Humanity
- 658 views – Voltaire — Questions sur les miracles (1765)
- 577 views – Other — Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker, School Culture Rewired, ch. 3 (2015)
- 531 views – Aristotle — (Attributed)
- 520 views – Franz Kafka — Letter to Oskar Pollak (27 Jan 1904)
Several, but by no means all, of the above have a graphic image / meme associated with them on their page, and many are the overall Top 10 list. But a few are new this year, and, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why that Fran Lebowitz quote has exploded into view; it dates from 2013, but showed no popularity until this year, nor can I find anywhere that has a link to it.
Who Are You People?
As Google Analytics gets more complex, figuring out old simplistic stats becomes a bit more difficult. As far as I can tell, though compared to the end of 2020, I am getting 127 visitors / day (vs 138) and 151 pages visited / day (vs 183). So traffic is down, for which I blame mobile accessibility and Googles resulting page ranking (see below).
I am down to 10 subscribers to Feedburner — probably because of announcements that Google was shuttering that (it’s not, it’s just gone into maintenance mode, though that blocks additional email subscriptions). In April this year, I started feeding through Follow.it, which is working great, though only 7 folk are using it.
Over in social media, I’m posting to Twitter (134 followers, up from 133, oooh, aaah). I have 50 contacts on my *Diaspora mirror (up from 34), and I actually get some good engagement over there with likes and discussion.
Those numbers aren’t huge, by any means — but this is a labor of love, and it’s nice to see that some folk are finding it of use and/or interest.
Gender (identified in 40% of visitors), splits 54-46 female-male. For age (identified in 31% of visitors), the 18-24 and 25-34 cohorts are each around 25% of visitors. the 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+ cohorts all hover around 12-13% each.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority (83%) of visitors to WIST.info are flagged as one flavor or another of English-speaker, with the US (64%) and UK (13%) topping the list (both higher proportions than 2020). From a national representation (where users were so identified), 49% were from the US, 8% from the UK, 5% from India, another 5% from Canada, and 2.5% from China.
Browser-wise, Chrome retains the lead at 56%, with Safari at 28%, Edge and Firefox just under 5%. That’s interesting to cross-reference with OS, where Windows is 33% of the users, iOS and Mac each another 20%, and Android at 19%. The iOS and Android numbers are interesting, given my site’s “unfriendliness” to mobile users (see below). None of those numbers have changed substantially since 2020. In separate stats, Analytics says 58.7% of my users are on desktops, 38.9% on mobiles, with a niggling 2.5% on tablets.
The Year Ahead
The biggest plan I have for WIST in the year ahead is hiring someone to put in a responsive theme. Google is consistently (and not without justification) dinging my rankings because my site is “unfriendly” to mobile users (text too small, links too close together, etc.). A responsive theme will adjust the display automatically for different sized screens (PC vs mobile, for example).
The complexity here is that I have highly customized my post display (post titles as citation titles, e.g.), which means it can’t just be done out of the box, and, honestly, it exceeds my own limited programming ability. So I’m going to be hiring someone from outside to make it happen. I have a project requirements document prepared, I’ve had one failed attempt on UpWork … let’s see if I can get it done.
- Continue backfilling tags as I come across quotes that have captured my eye again. Maybe do some tag cleanup (there are some that are redundant — plural vs singular) and others where I’ve inadvertently concatenated terms).
- Continue making some author sweeps to normalize how some works are organized.
- Continue work on parallel translations of foreign works.
And that’s the end of the annual report for 2021. See you next year!