Greetings and welcome to Dinosaur Bear!
Today I’m going to go a bit “behind the scenes” of the blog to share Dinosaur Bear’s Top 10 posts (as of now) by view count. That’s an important distinction, as there are many different ways to differentiate a “top” post, but this time around I’m using the simple metric of view counts. This isn’t overly scientific as I’m not looking at bounce rates, drop offs, etc. The way I’m measuring the views themselves also isn’t especially scientific, though I do use a double-analysis and have taken steps to narrow numbers down to organic and unique views. This is all to say that if you’re expecting a rigorous study of this silly small-time blog’s user analytics, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. If, however, you are simply curious as to what Dinosaur Bear’s Top 10 posts are by view count as determined by a few different methods, then you’ll probably find this post interesting.
From a personal perspective, this is a different kind of post for me to write. For starters, I believe this is only the second time I’ve ever ranked anything – though that first time was subjective whereas this post is more objective. Beyond that, it’s also kind of odd for me to focus on view counts when view numbers are something that I’ve never cared about on Dinosaur Bear. That isn’t a “2 kewl 4 skewl” statement, it’s just that this blog started as a study abroad diary, and then turned into somewhat of a general journal on life, travel (domestic and abroad) and that’s punctuated by bouts of weirdness (and of course the previously frequent and now sometimes cringe-inducing to read law school rants). Heck, from even the earliest iteration of “The Rules” I made it pretty clear that I was writing all this for me to revisit someday and that the public nature of the website was ancillary to that. It’s nice for friends and family, sure, but that was never the goal. However, given that Dinosaur Bear is a public website and that web spiders are constantly doing their spidery business (and also because of some back-end improvements I’ve made over the years, though I couldn’t care less about the blog’s SEO structure) lots of people – possibly even you dear reader! – find their way to the confines of the asylum known as Dinosaur Bear.
This post intends to explore some of the most popular posts thanks to these internet wayfarers. Dinosaur Bear viewers who are not me are of course more than welcome! Just because I don’t really write for views (or to hear the satisfaction of an echo chamber) doesn’t mean I don’t want people reading what I write, as it would be pretty stupid (not ignorant, stupid) to have a public website I didn’t want anyone to read. 😛 So, with all that said let’s check out Dinosaur Bear’s Top 10 Posts by view count! I’ll share and link each of the top posts as well as a representative photo from that post and then follow up with some personal thoughts on each of them. The posts are ranked from the top down, so #1 has the most views, #2 the second most, and so on and so forth.
Ah, yes, this post. If there is a post on Dinosaur Bear that I have a mixed relationship with it’s probably this one – though to be fair it’s not much of an issue anymore since I split this post into two pieces (and I factored that into the view data). When I originally wrote this post I had no idea how popular it would become. In hindsight, given the content of the post (namely Harvard, business school, and stress-inducing testing that would prompt people to search for kindred spirits for said test online) I probably should have foreseen the massive popularity potential for this post. A lot of what brought me “misery” with this post was that in its original format it was one-half a largely serious post about HBX and one-half a ridiculously tongue in cheek satire/rant about student debt, law school, and Boomer memes. Folks new to Dinosaur Bear who just stumbled into the post because of HBX didn’t realize that the general style and tone of Dinosaur Bear tends to be one of absurdity. As such, not only did this post generate a seemingly endless (as in, I still get them today) amount of requests such as “hEy CaN u GiV mE aLl Ur HbX aNsWers!?!?!” but also those slightly more malicious messages (e.g. “kys”) on the flawed economics of the later half of my post. This got pretty old, and while I have a pretty hard-line personal rule to never actually delete a post (because I view them all as time capsules, even the terrible ones) I have no such rule about restructuring them. Thus, the top-viewed post of all time on Dinosaur Bear got split up into a Part I and a Part II. While this post’s worthiness as the most viewed on Dinosaur Bear is debatable, its objective status as such is not: “Burning Exams & Bridges – Part 1” has a solid 323% view count lead over the post in spot number 2 – the largest gap of the entire Top 10.
For a time “The Brave Little Toaster” was the most popular post on Dinosaur Bear – and while “The Brave Little Toaster” was ultimately (and massively) usurped by “Burning Exams & Bridges – Part 1” as the top post, I still find it to be a much better representation of this blog as a whole. “The Brave Little Toaster” taught me three major things beyond the research I conducted for the post itself. First, if you draft an entire post in Word that was itself partially copied from an email you wrote, and then port it over to WordPress then you can expect problems – a lot of problems. Now this might be less of an issue as this post is now from 3.5 years ago and both Word and WordPress (especially WordPress) have changed since then. However, at the time I was experiencing a lot of issues with this blog. To the point that entire multi-thousand word posts would simply delete themselves at a moment’s notice. It almost killed my desire to blog at all. Eventually I started writing posts in Word and then porting them over to WordPress. “The Brave Little Toaster” was the largest and most complex of those ports and it showed, oh lawd did it show. I had to edit that post 38 times to get the formatting right, and to this day the formatting is still broken (look closely throughout the post and you’ll see some [not] “clever” tricks I used to fix it). Second, no matter how niche and obscure the topic you choose to write about is, at least some people will find it and appreciate it. In addition to the comments on the post itself, I got lots of messages (95% positive or at least polite) about the content of the post. Considering this entire post is about a song from a 1987 animated film and grew out of an email, I didn’t expect much in the way of traffic for it. Boy was I wrong. Third, when you do have a post that gets popular it can be kind of scary. When “The Brave Little Toaster” first surged in popularity (the first such event on Dinosaur Bear) I went in and attempted to make it way less attractive to web spiders. I changed the name, removed tags, changed some words, etc. It stemmed the tides a bit but the post was still really popular and so eventually I decided that while I wasn’t looking for views, I also wasn’t scared of them and so I reverted back to a more web-friendly version of the posts and the views grew accordingly.
While a lot of the posts here on Dinosaur Bear engage in silliness to various extents, other posts such as “Lexington and Concord – The Battle Road” are a bit more based in reality. 🙂 This particular post is the most viewed of my “historical” posts which don’t have an official category here on the blog but are pretty distinct in their own right. These kinds of posts share the characteristics of being decently well researched, focused, based on a historical event/location, and well.. long. However, on the whole these posts tend to be some of the most well received on this blog. The “Lexington and Concord – The Battle Road” post also stands out as the only post I’ve written that someone has actually asked to feature on a real and reputable website. For better or worse I declined the offer, but it was a cool opportunity to have regardless. I think this post owes its popularity to amount of detail I put into my discussion of the Battle Road itself as well as manner in which I structured the post (e.g. “following” the road). While I generally like my historical posts (though perhaps less so the vast amount of effort they require 😛 ) this one has a structure to it that I think is pretty cool and which seems to have resonated with its non-me audience.
“North to… the Westfjords?” is the most popular of my myriad of Iceland posts. If you are tied into what’s popular on the internets (or more specifically, social media) then you’ll know that anything “Iceland” is a buzzword right now. Though I think the Iceland craze has moved a bit past its peak given our goldfish brains, there’s still no doubt that anything with (or without) substance + Iceland is going to generate some views. As proof of this, even some of my most mundane posts about living in Iceland have generated a sizeable number of views. “North to… the Westfjords?” is, in my opinion, actually worthy of its large view count. This post has two things going for it. One, it’s in the style of my “play-by-play” travel posts. These posts are incredibly time consuming but are ultimately really good at documenting a trip while also sharing advice overtly/secondarily with those who are considering such a trip themselves. While I like the end product of these “play-by-play” travel posts, they are often the biggest amount of work to make and, unlike the “historical” posts, are not always that much fun to write because it can feel like I’m regurgitating something I just did. On the flip side, waiting too long means I forget lots of details – though revisiting older memories feels a bit less like “work.” So it’s a fine balance, but these kinds of posts are generally a lot of fun to read, if not write. Second, it’s about Iceland. More particularly, it’s about a popular destination within Iceland. So, you take a popular topic and then make a post with loads of juicy bits for web spiders to eat and then you get “North to.. the Westfjords?”
For reasons that are very similar to “North to… the Westfjords?” I think this post owes a lot of its popularity to the fact that it’s focused on 1) Iceland and 2) Iceland’s celebration of the new year. Sure, the most is thematically about our experience with Icelandic New Year’s celebrations, but it naturally brings in a lot of folks who are curious about Iceland and its titan-load of fireworks. Of all the posts we’ve covered so far in the Top 10, this is one that’s most focused on the Taco household’s “normal” life. Sure, the New Year celebrations are fun and the fireworks were definitely worth posting about, but the event is still wholly covered from within the context of the Dinosaur Bear family. That’s not to say it’s a bad post, it isn’t, but it’s also the most “Taco-focused” post of the Top 10 which makes it kind of surprising. Like I said, Iceland + Something Interesting in Iceland = views. Still, even without the ole’ Icelandic buzzwords I like this post because it brings back good memories of SB, the Boys, and I’s New Year’s celebration abroad! Plus how “rexy” are those glowing glasses? 🙂
Another “historical” entry makes its way into the Top 10 – though I do have to admit that this post’s popularity over say, the Salem post, does somewhat surprise me. However, “Somerville Castle [Prospect Hill Monument]” is a good post in its own right, both for its historicity and for its documentation of the ongoing conquests of a one Tristen, T-Rex. This post was a lesson in expectations when it comes to writing at least decently well researched historical posts. Whereas I knew posts like “Lexington and Concord – The Battle Road” discussed above where going to be a lot of writing, research, and even more time when I started them, others such as “Somerville Castle [Prospect Hill Monument]” caught me off guard. It’s easy to think that you’ll go into a bit of history about something without realizing just how much you need to share to accurately and adequately speak about it in a manner that isn’t disingenuous to the event/place and/or your audience. With this post I intended to have a relatively quick overview of a short trip we took up to the “Somerville Castle” and ended up with a 4000 word long post and a satisfied curiosity about the taste of “coffee soda.” This post also showcased how much you can learn while preparing a post. When reading posts (by anyone really) it might seem like they just have this encyclopedic knowledge of the subject matter. For me at least, I can say that with only the most minor of exceptions this is not true. While I often learn a lot onsite, a lot of what I end up sharing is after-the-fact research I did to flesh out missing bits of knowledge from my own experience. Arguably more than any other post I’ve written “Somerville Castle [Prospect Hill Monument]” represents a “learn as I go” approach to writing. Needless to say this makes for a lot of time spent researching and thus a lot of time making the post, so it can be a draining experience. That said, learning new things is one of my favorite things to do, so when both you and I can learn something form a post, then that’s Dinosaur Bear at its prime.
Since this Top 10 post has so far revealed a few “behind the scenes” things that I’ve never spoken about before I’ll go ahead and share the fact that when I first noticed the popularity of “Puffin Adoption (#1)” I was pretty confused. At its heart the post is about puffins and cereal. Sure, puffins are awesome and cereal is fun too (though nowhere as awesome as puffins) and SB and I have “adopted” multiple Puffins. Intriguingly though, the other puffin content I have isn’t nearly as popular and is more in line with the normal viewership numbers for Dinosaur Bear. However, upon a bit of reflection I think the popularity of this post is 90% due to the crawling mechanics of the web spiders and 10% due to the puffin factoids I share in the first part of the post. That 10% is pretty obvious. If you’re looking for some puffin info, “Puffin Adoption (#1)” has you covered both at the broad and more specific levels. However, that big 90% is a bit less intentional. I think a lot of the traffic this post gets is because of the SEO aspects of it, that is to say, people think we literally adopted a puffin for our own home. Sure, we did “adopt” a puffin in the cereal box program sort of way, and yes we got photos and all sorts of cool information about these very real puffins, but they still lived in the wild (as they should) – not in our house. I think the way I titled and wrote the post generates a lot of traffic from people who think I have a puffin as a pet. Sadly this is not the case. I also have a feeling based on some other stats for this post that people very quickly realize that my “adopted” puffin came from a bunch of box tops and leave disappointed. 😀 Still, this is a fun post and it has some lovely photos of puffins within it. Little did I know that I’d later get to meet puffins in person, but for what it is this is still a fun and enjoyable celebration of sugar-laden-obesity, or puffins. I mean puffins. 😉
When doing some data gathering for this post, it pleased me to see “Exploring a New Zoo” in the Top 10, though I probably wouldn’t have guessed it would end up that high. Like “Puffin Adoption (#1)” I think a lot of the traffic for this post stems from the large amount of animals I mention throughout the body of the post – though this time I make no adoption claims. 😛 It might also just boil down to my reasonably substantive coverage of a zoo in a major metropolitan area. If something attracts a lot of people and you write about it, then there’s a good chance that a proverbial web-surfer will find it eventually. This post’s popularity over a few other posts still really surprises me though, which I guess is a lesson in never doubting the internet power of animals! This post also has the interesting trait of me being critical toward something with animals. If you’ve read any amount of Dinosaur Bear then you’ll know I’m a critical person who is prone to bouts of whining – sometimes even authentic whining (as opposed to fabricated-and-fun-to-write whining). However, to say I have a soft spot for all things animal friends is no exaggeration. My overall impressions within “Exploring a New Zoo” are less than ideal and even with the passage of time I find myself still agreeing with what I wrote. Perhaps the balance of objective information about the zoo alongside my personal impressions is enough to draw in a sizeable number of viewers. Still, I don’t want to risk it sound too negative, there were still parts of the visit that make me incredibly happy to think about years later (after reading they’re pretty obvious if you haven’t previously read the post)!
9. A Meem in Iceland
“A Meem in Iceland” – like “Bringing in 2018” and “North to… the Westfjords?” before it benefits from that classic Icelandic boost. This post covers a few extremely popular areas in Iceland which likely explains its higher view count than the more geographically expansive – but less popular for tourists – Ring Road post. From the Dinosaur Bear perspective “A Meem in Iceland” has pretty much everything: international travel, a road trip, family [Meem], the Boys, a cute dog, a penis museum, food, beer, northern lights, a severe snowstorm, a glacier – basically you name it, this post has it. This post is a bit of hybrid in that it splits between my “play-by-play” travel post style and more typical “day-to-day life” style. Aside from one of SB’s friends, Meem was the only person who was able to come visit us when we lived in Iceland, so I’m happy to see this one breaking into the Top 10 – even though I think we can all agree that most people are coming for the Iceland information and less for my opinion on bread that is baked by the earth itself. 😛 While it’s not part of the Top 10, if you like a good family adventure, then I’d recommend checking out the trip we took with Meem through New England as well. It’s a bit less “international” but was every bit as fun (bonus points if you are a Stephen King fan).
[Author’s Note: In order to provide a broader set of view count data, I employ a few different methods of calculating views. I use a secondary method to “average” this variability to generate the numbers that I used for this post. It’s far less scientific than it sounds. However, what this means is that there is the potential for some posts to be so statistically close in views that with the margin of error it’s hard to accurately tell which post has actually garnered more views than the other. That was the case with the two following posts. Since it was so close (I’m talking less than 10 views) I decided to just feature both of these posts as 10a and 10b. Enjoy!]
10b. The Emerald Isle
While there were a few posts discussed above that surprised me by how high they were in the view count rankings, “The Emerald Isle” is one that I honestly expected to be higher. Similarly to Iceland, Ireland is going to give you a boost in views through the benefit of the subject matter alone. That said, this is still a very well performing post by Dinosaur Bear standards and I’m not complaining since the amount of money I make from any post on Dinosaur Bear is a fixed-rate of $0.00 (which I am honestly more than ok with as a mo’ money = mo’ problems regarding what I want from this blog). That’s the side-effect of throwing any real SEO efforts to the wind; the hive mind of Google bots surge the popularity of some posts and largely ignore others. Despite “The Emerald Isle” being less popular than a post about a faux puffin adoption, it’s still a really good example of my more “rapid-fire” approach to travel blogging. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still lengthy (~6900 words) and substantive, but if I would have devoted the same amount of detail to it as say, the “Lexington and Concord – The Battle Road” post then I probably would still be writing it to this day. “The Emerald Isle” marks a midpoint in the gradient of my travel posts, with extremely detailed “play-by-play” posts at one end, posts like “The Emerald Isle” in the middle, and then true “highlight” posts (such as The “France to Portugal Extravaganza”) at the opposite end. Each of these travel post types have their respective merits and drawbacks, but I feel as though “The Emerald Isle” is probably the best example I have of that middle-ground. Plus, vacationing in Ireland over the Christmas holiday was undoubtedly the most comfy vacation I’ve ever had and I also feel like this post captures that feeling well.
10b. – Life is Strange
“Life is Strange” is an interesting post for Dinosaur Bear. It’s interesting in that it’s, thus far, the only post within the blog’s “Video Game” category (I’ve had a few more ideas but have never taken the time to write them), but it also holds the distinction of being my longest post on the entire blog. With posts covering international trips, big events, and extensive periods of time it might seem odd to have a post about a video game leading the blog in post length by 165 words (the second longest post, “Bozeman Check-in #10 (2L’s Last Stand)” covers a fair amount of domestic travel and adventure and still falls short to “Life is Strange”). In order to understand not only why this post is so popular, but why it’s so long, I need to discuss the circumstances of when I wrote the post. Insofar as popularity goes, that one is pretty straightforward. Life is Strange is a game with an immensely devoted fan-base that is heavily engaged with the game and its community. I wrote a, by most any metric, very substantive post about the game and did so when the game was still really popular. Further, that the post’s title is literally the same as the time of the game, well, that is going to pull in those web arachnids. However, Life is Strange was a really profound experience for a lot of people – so much so that actual mental health professionals wrote their own takes on why this game invoked such a strong response in people. I’m by no means a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist but if you’re interested in my take as to why the game was such a masterpiece then feel free to check out the post (though keep in mind, it’s a time commitment). As to length, well that’s a two part answer. First, the game really made me think and so I wrote in free-form style about what I thought. Second, I wrote that post at a really opportune time for vast and introspective writing because I was also doing a lot of really boring ordinance work for the City of Boston at the time which required an almost automaton-like approach to writing by day. As such – and this is important to note – I wrote “Life is Strange” over the course of 23 days, that’s opposed to the usual 1-2 days for a normal post (like the one you are currently reading). While Life is Strange went on to have a prequel which didn’t captivate me as much as the original, and a pseudo-sequel that I haven’t had much interest in playing, this is still a post that I enjoy – largely due to the circumstances of when and why I wrote it. From the view count and retention rates, it looks like I wasn’t alone.
And there you have it, the Top 10 (or 11, but 10 sounds better) posts of Dinosaur Bear by view count. As I stated in the opening, this isn’t a scientific endeavor and it ignores post age and other secondary affecting factors, but I did try to diligently apply the data that I did have. More than anything I threw this together to give some insight into my “meta” thoughts on a few of the blog’s most popular posts and also to have some fun by seeing just what those popular posts actually are. I certainly enjoyed revisiting and reflecting on these posts and I hope you enjoyed learning more about the inner workings of Dinosaur Bear – or perhaps even learning about a post you may have missed!
Until next time,