Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Tale of Two Articles

The main venue for my political writing online is web mag Nolan Chart. I've published between 100 and 200 articles there over the 3 years I've been there. Some were hits, some were  flops.

I love it when a NC article of mine that originally flopped suddenly gets new life. The classic examples were my June, 2008 article "Government and Anarchy", and "Health Care vs. Pizza" from that July, both of which received less than 100 reads when first published, but both of which went on to break 1,000 reads the following year. For that I have to thank (1) the anarcho-libertarians who criticized the first article, but also linked to it; and (2) Barack Obama, who turned health care into a major issue in the U.S. last year. 

This summer may be seeing two new examples. The first was an article I wrote in October, 2008, "Barr and Nader agree to debate." That one is completely dated, except for one thing: as an update I included a link to the debate, the entire hour of which the Barr campaign had archived on You Tube. The Barr 2008 campaign has taken down its web site long ago; however (I discovered in June) it has left its videos up on YouTube, including the debate video. Accordingly, I rechristened the above article "Barr / Nader / Baldwin debate 2008",  rewrote its abstract to describe it as a portal to the debate, and moved it to the "Libertarian History" section of the chart. The result? The article went from 77 reads in the first five months of this year (15/month) to 123 over the next three (almost 3 times as many). 

Even more dramatic has been the change in my article "Smokin'" (another June, 2008 article, which was actually a 2000 review of the Fraser Institute book, Passive Smoke). That one has gone from 81 reads in the first seven months of 2010 (12/month), to 64 in August alone; more than 5 times as many. What accounts for that? 

In August I became a Wikipedia editor -- one of millions, so that is not a big deal. It has, though allowed me to clean up minor errors in articles when I'm reading Wiki, which I do frequently. One should not edit articles on oneself (or anything else one is personally involved in), so I have not edited the text of the Wiki article on me. However, since that article was flagged for being completely uncited, I've been adding footnotes to some of the claims. One was that I oppose "restrictions on public smoking" (which is close enough; what I oppose is government restrictions on smoking on private property), and I added "Smokin'" as a cite for that. 

I also added "Government and Anarchy" as a cite to the claim that I oppose anarchism, which has also given that article a boost: it has 140 reads for August, the most it's ever received in a month -- not bad for a 3-year-old article at all. 

Unfortunately neither change can be seen by accessing the widget on the right side of this page; that leads to an older, cached version of the Wiki article. To see the changes, one has to go to the "George Dance (politician)" page on Wikipedia. 

Whether those two articles will continue their surges, and end up passing the 1,000-reads barrier, is unknown at this time, but I'm optimistic.