State of the Blog Address
(in which The Dope addresses things to do with the blog at (great) length, gets a few things off his chest, and shares some facts and observations.)
Ladies and Gentleman, I am pleased to announce that the state of the blog is strong. Considering the humble beginnings of this thing and the relative smallness of the blog, I'm very pleased with the traffic it continues to generate.
Average number of individual readers per day (despite routine steep dips in traffic over weekends): fluctuates between 150 and 200 plus
Most unique visitors in a single day: 304
Most page views in a day (includes visitors who view the blog more than once):1,081
Most page views in a month: over 8,000
Highest week: 1,791
Highest month: 5,378
Average page views per day: 247
Average unique visitors in a week: 992
Average unique visitors in a month: 4,036
Visitors from foreign countries include: Canada:301, UK:168, Singapore:124, France:96, Australia:76, Spain:45, Portugal:43, and Netherlands:42.
People have visited the blog from 70 other countries, including in descending order Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, India, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Hong Kong, Sweden, Taiwan, Brazil, South Africa, Norway, Turkey, Argentina, Israel, Islamic Republic of Iran, Hungary, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Finland, Peru, Switzerland, Nigeria, Romania, Ireland, Indonesia, Chile, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Austria, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Czech Republic, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Saudi Arabia, Lithuania, Morocco, Columbia, Panama, Ukraine, Thailand, Kuwait, Estonia, Yugoslavia, Russian Federation, Costa Rica, Slovenia, Lebanon, Poland, Maldives, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Ghana, Luxembourg, Iceland, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Sri Lanka, Benin, Qatar, Croatia, Vietnam, Trinidad & Tobago, Oman, Senegal, and Greece.
And a woman in Russia even posted on her blog with a link to The Inside Dope. (I can't translate what she wrote, probably something about moronic Americans.)
So someone may be sitting in, say, Peru, Iran, Iceland, or the Maldive islands marveling at how wise your comment is. (or not.) I know that each time I sit down to write a post, I'm mindful of how it will play in Sri Lanka or Romania. (maybe not.)
In the future, I hope to accomplish a few things which I had envisioned for the blog but which have not come to pass.
One thing I'd hoped for which has been a dismal failure is that local politicians, campaigns, Democratic organizations and other groups might utilize the blog for announcements and communications. Much to my surprise, not one politician, not one group, not one of the various organizations within the Democratic party, not one official of city, county, township, or state government has ever contacted me or shown any interest in having their message, views, or announcements placed here. And only one campaign has sent me any information - a candidate for the 1st district seat in Iowa.
What is it about politicians and campaigns on the Illinois side that makes them ignorant of the value of using a blog to get their message out? This is very frustrating to me and I can't figure out why not one has sought to take advantage of the audience this blog enjoys.
On the Iowa side, the "Daily Davenport Politics" blog enjoys comments and interviews with local politicians ranging from alderman to state reps. They routinely comment on posts using their actual names, and submit to interviews for posting on the blog. And it should be noted that the three people who produce the blog are all anonymous. (Yet to my knowledge, they've not gotten beaten up about that fact as I have.)
It's baffling as to why Illinois pols and their staffs appear to be ignorant of the value of this forum and opportunity to reach a focused audience of party activists and interested citizens with their message.
Not only that, but the blog format is ideal for putting out views or ideas and gaining feedback from readers. Maybe that's what they fear? If that's the case, it remains possible to post announcements and other information with or without readers being able to comment. It's a simple process to disallow comments on any particular post.
Of course, as loyal readers realize, certain politicians routinely seek to get their views and PR across here in comments, but only though the use of anonymity. That's fine, and there's a certainly a place for that, particularly if the comment is such that they wouldn't want it officially associated with a candidate or elected official. But why they don't also use the blog to express views and positions and announce events and accomplishments under their real name or on behalf of the politician they work for is beyond me.
Perhaps they'll wake up, and I hope to encourage them to do so in the future. Otherwise, it will be a further indication of just how petty, short-sighted, and backwards political activity is on this side of the river. I can imagine that rather than have their events publicized here or their message or views publicized here, perhaps they would rather do so on their own site. To that I'd observe that no local pols has a site which is anything but a static, nothing, page. And secondly, when you want to get something out, you attempt to broaden your audience, not limit it.
Or perhaps they're afraid to even acknowledge this blog. That's a sorry excuse as well. Do they think the blog is beneath them? HA! The fact remains that this blog is read daily by hundreds of people, the majority of them activists or opinion leaders. If they want to ignore the opportunity to reach them, then that's unfortunate and a bit stupid, in my oh-so-humble opinion. Sorry if my frustration shows, but why no politicians or campaigns have openly taken advantage of this great opportunity just baffles me. I hope they do so in the future.
The truth of the matter is that this is a forum which enjoys a high number of readers who are interested in politics, participate in politics, are in positions of influence, or just interested members of the general public. I'm offering the use of it to benefit candidates, elected officials, Democratic or other progressive organizations. For free.
It's up to them whether they're savvy enough to use it. So far, it's apparent they're not.
I intend to continue the use of polls, despite the unfortunate realization that they can be fairly easily skewed by the online equivalent of ballot box stuffing,(Dems just can't resist, evidently.) and have some fun with them as well.
Despite repeatedly encouraging people (almost to the point of begging) to contact me via email, it's still not as frequent as I'd like. This too is a disappointment which I hope will change in the future.
I had envisioned that email would be the way people could contact me off the blog with information on what's going on behind the scenes, to give a heads up on an upcoming development, report on what campaigns, candidates, or elected officials are up to, to bring something to my attention, whether it be something they'd seen online or in the press, or just to share their opinion of the blog or a particular post or offer their criticism or praise.
This has happened, but too infrequently. In the first couple months of the blog's existence, I chalked it up to the fact that I was a complete unknown and people were wary of sharing information. However, now that the blog has been up for five months and counting, I would hope that people could see that I don't play favorites among local Dem politicians or candidates and that I am a person of their word and worthy of trust.
As I've say, I seek to encourage people to feel comfortable and secure in contacting me with potentially sensitive things, and that will not happen without confidence in my keeping things confidential. It would be against my own interests to divulge the source of anything I receive (and in the case of anonymous email, even I won't know.) and will never do so.
Those who have contacted me by email, either anonymously or revealing their names, and there have been many, can attest that I have not (and will not) reveal either their identity or the fact that they contacted me without their express permission.
This not only applies to not revealing it on the blog, but applies across the board. Since I expect to retain my anonymity myself, I certainly would not share with anyone else the identity of those who have contacted me here.
Once again, I encourage anyone to feel absolutely comfortable in sending me anything you wish to bring to my attention or share by contacting me via e-mail. I can't guarantee that what you send will make it into the blog, as I will be the final judge of it's veracity and/or appropriateness, but please feel free to contact me with whatever you wish to pass along.
I've learned and observed many amazing things since starting the blog, enough to write a book. (Hey, maybe I should write a column on it?) A lot of it has been very discouraging, or at the least has increased my already high level of cynicism. But it's encouraging to find that there are others out there who care about things, and more than a few who have great ideas and insights on various issues and are able to express them.
It's been a great ride so far, and I thank all who have been along for at least part of it.