The Simpsons me

I read a post over at Dawn Armfield’s blog today that resonated with me. It’s about one’s online identity, and whether you’re comfortable enough to be yourself even when you can be someone else. If you read my blog regularly, I think you pretty much know where I stand on that. I write in first person, my photo’s everywhere, I’m not shy about expressing my opinions, etc. I would ask where you stand on that, but it might be a moot point. I get the feeling that the people uncomfortable revealing their identity online, for whatever reason, won’t reply. I’ll only get comments from the ones like me.

Something fun did come out of it though, and I wanted to share that with you as well. Dawn built a Simpsons avatar for herself (you can see hers in her blog post) and inspired me to do the same. I headed over to the Simpsons Movie site, which is where you can partake in this fun little experience, and built one for myself. It was a bit difficult to find the bits and pieces that would make the character look like me, but in the end, I arrived at a reasonable facsimile. Have a look below. Ligia got a kick out of it. She said she liked it, and that it was really funny.

I don’t think I’ll be using this as my online avatar, but it’s fun to look at it. For example, I had no idea that I would like a hippie if I wore certain clothes. What do you think? And by all means, if you want to chime in on how you identify yourself online, please do so as well.

The Simpsons Me

Happy (belated) Birthday to ComeAcross!

After getting home this evening, I remembered (and it wasn’t the first time) that I’ve neglected to write about my blog’s first birthday. It is, after all, a momentous occasion, and needless to say, one I won’t encounter for some time again… 🙂

If you haven’t already, have a quick look at the About page. It’ll give you a bit of the background information about my blog, whose roots go back as early as 2000, which is when I started self-publishing articles on the internet, through other sites of mine such as LupusPernix, Amalgamy and Dignoscentia. You may get a chuckle out of this: when I first heard about blogging, I thought it a fad and dismissed it as such. But that “fad” didn’t die out, and what’s more, I started seeing some really nice content created by bloggers.

After some hemming and hawing I decided to jump right in, and wrote my own blog software over at Amalgamy in March of 2004. It worked nicely to get my feet wet. Then I discovered Blogger, and started writing there in February of 2006. That was fun, but I really wanted to host the blog on one of my own domains, and wasn’t enthralled with Blogger’s publish-through-FTP features. That’s when I discovered WordPress (Thank you Tony!), bought the ComeAcross domain, and after a lengthy process where I took old content and ported it over to my new blog, launched the site on May 3, 2006. Incidentally, it would have been nice if I’d written this post on May 3, 2007, but two months late is still okay, I suppose.

Why, when there are so many splogs on the .info TLD? Well, I thought the title (come across) and TLD nomenclature (.info) meshed nicely with the scope of my blog, which is to present interesting information to people. It may sound corny, but to me, = come across information. I like to think of my blog as a nice surprise among the many crappy splogs you’ll find among the .info domains. I may at some point move it to a .com TLD, but for now, it works nicely right where it is.

Last October, I wrote a post entitled Who We Are, which was meant to give you, the readers, a nice, transparent look behind the scenes at ComeAcross. It accomplished its purpose, and I kind of like that post’s transparency. In that same spirit, I wanted to offer some updated stats on ComeAcross, via screenshots from my WordPress, FeedBurner and Google Analytics dashboards.

The first is right from my blog’s dashboard. As you can see, I’ve got 890 posts and 661 comments. Those 61 categories are weighing heavily on my mind. I really need to cut them down somehow, but it’s so hard for me to pigeonhole my content. The other cool stat comes from Akismet, my comment spam plugin. It has protected ComeAcross from 152,982 spam comments. None of them made it to the blog! That’s beautiful!

ComeAcross -- WordPress Dashboard

Next up are my feed subscriber stats, courtesy of FeedBurner. The feed subscribers are the folks who have clicked on the orange feed icon in the top right portion of my site, and added ComeAcross to their daily list of sites they read through their favorite feed reader.

💡 If you haven’t already, you’re welcome to do the same. It’s easy and it’s free. I recommend Google Reader. It’s also free and very easy to use. If you don’t like feeds and prefer to get my content via email, enter your email address in the field under “Get ComeAcross by Email” title in the right column, and click on Subscribe. Look for a confirmation email, click on the link, and you’ll be done. You can unsubscribe at any time, and this is also free.

What’s cool about my feed subscribers is that the number has been steadily growing since I started my blog. It’s really nice to see, and it’s very encouraging for me to see so many people enjoy reading my posts.

ComeAcross -- Feed Stats Dashboard

Now for some fun traffic stats, courtesy of Google Analytics. Apparently, over 42,000 people visited ComeAcross since I’ve launched it. That’s a huge number of people, and it’s humbling to see that my writing has reached such a large audience.

ComeAcross -- Site Visitor Stats

The pages on the site were viewed over 73,000 times, and if you’ll look below, you’ll see that my most-read pages to date are the index (as expected), the one about Zooomr’s Mark III release, the review of the HP laptops, my caveat emptor post about Davison Inventegration, and my post about our Betta fish. I’m truly amazed that I still get traffic to the Betta fish post. It was originally an article at Amalgamy, and I ported it over in 2006. I wrote it back in 2005, and we don’t even have Betta fish any more. 😕

ComeAcross -- Site Content Stats

Finally, I have to thank Google big time, because they send the most traffic to ComeAcross. I truly benefit from the long tail of web searches. Over 53% of my traffic comes from search engines, and more than 46% of my total traffic comes from Google. As you can see, I got some Digg and StumbleUpon traffic as well, along with some other Yahoo traffic.

If I had to choose between Digg and StumbleUpon traffic, I’d choose StumbleUpon any day. Digg traffic occurs in bursts that risk crashing my web server, it doesn’t monetize well, because the visitors only care about skimming the content, and it also doesn’t convert well (from casual visitor to subscriber). StumbleUpon traffic, on the other hand, grows slowly, is more constant, monetizes very well (people actually click on the ads once in a while) and some of the casual readers even turn into regular readers. So, StumbleUpon, thank you!

💡 Incidentally, if you, the reader, would like to do me a great service, submit either sections of the site or particular posts that are of interest to StumbleUpon. You can use either the StumbleUpon toolbar, or the “StumbleIt!” link below each post of mine. You have my thanks in advance for that!

ComeAcross -- Site Traffic Stats

With this, I close my post, and wish my blog a Happy, if belated, Birthday! 😀 It’s been a very interesting first year, and I look forward to more of them ahead! In the interest of increased transparency, I spent approximately one and a half hours researching and writing this blog post. It probably took you 5 minutes or less to read it.