Gas station without pumps

2018 January 1

Blog stats for 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:47
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According to, my blog had 60,609 views and 35,810 visitors in 2017 (down from 68,443 and 42,499 in 2016).  The reduced viewership is not too surprising, as I posted only 114 blog posts in 2017, rather than the 200 of 2016.  (My biggest year was 2014 with 116,359 views and 69,179 visitors.)  I don’t know how much the decline in my readership is due to a general decline in how much people read blogs and how much is specific to my blog—I’ve not been able to find good statistics on the readership of “average” blogs.

Here are my year’s most-viewed pages (almost all of which are from previous years):

2017-01-01 to 2018-01-01

Title Views
Home page / Archives 19,956
Where you get your BS in CS matters 1,820
Making WAV files from C programs 1,601
Tools and parts list for Applied Electronics W2017 and S2017 1,387
Algorithmic vs. Computational thinking 967
Sum of probabilities in log-prob space 800
How many AP courses are too many? 632
Journals for high school researchers 606
Problems rewriting the Class-D amplifier lab 497
Pressure sensor with air pump 442
Getting text from Amazon’s “Look Inside” 438
Conductivity of saline solution 407
Where PhDs get their Bachelors’ degrees 401
Installing gnuplot—a nightmare 371
More on automatic measurement of conductivity of saline solution 365
Circuits course: Table of Contents 361
Why Discrete Math Is Important and The Calculus Trap 354
Lying to my students 341
Pressure and volume lab 334
labhacks — The $25 scrunchable scientific poster 315
Pullup vs. transimpedance amplifier 312

I think that there are several reasons that old blog posts dominate my views:

  • Most of my viewers (other than subscribers, whose loyalty I really appreciate) come via search engines. Of the 60,609 views, 33,202 were search-engine referrals (55%). Search engines will favor long-established pages that many people have clicked on in the past.  My next highest referrer is Facebook (which I don’t use) at 195 viewer—a tiny number in comparison.
  • My recent posts have been more specialized than older ones, so have a narrower audience.
  • I’ve been less active recently in calling attention to my recent posts on mailing lists and blog comments.

One good trend is that the most popular posts are now mostly contentful ones, rather than ones that are just links to other sites.

I don’t get any revenue from my blog (but I don’t pay anything for it either).  The clicks from my blog mostly go to other of my blog posts (1259), Digikey (1229), AliExpress (179), and LeanPub (175).  The average cost per click for advertising is 50¢–$2, so Digikey and AliExpress probably should be paying me, but they aren’t.  (Of course, the click rate would probably drop way down if I was being paid to push products, rather than just providing links to things I have bought and used or am thinking about buying.)

My top commenters (based on the last 1000 comments, so several years’ worth of comments) are

Commenter Comments
gasstationwithoutpumps 399
CCPhysicist 114
gflint 50
xykademiqz 31
mathproblemsolvingskills 26

My comments are mostly pingbacks caused by links to older posts for continuity, though some are replies to other commenters. I’d like for my comments to be about 25% of the total, rather than 40%, but I’ve not had much success in getting my lurking subscribers and followers to say anything. If each of my followers made just one comment a year, the number of comments would quadruple. Questions, corrections, and suggestions for blog posts are particularly welcome.

I admit to being somewhat envious of bloggers who have active discussions among their commenters—my readers don’t seem to have formed that sort of on-line community, perhaps because my posts are not open-ended enough or because I wander over many different topics rather than staying focused on a specific niche, so the readership may not share many interests with each other.

For those who have been commenting—thank you! It really helps me to know that people are reading my blog (and raw numbers don’t really do that—I can’t really tell whether viewers coming in from search engines are reading what I have to say, or just clicking on a link and deciding it was a mistake).


2017 September 22

Spike in views on Monday

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:06
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I had double my normal readership on Monday 18 Sept 2017, which surprised me as I had not put out any posts recently.  I checked the statistics and found that the bump was mainly from one post: Engineering vs. Science, which got 173 views on Monday and 185 all week.  The referrals were from, so apparently someone required reading the post for a class—I’ve no idea who, as the classroom links are somewhat anonymous (I have links, but would need to be in the class to follow them).

Because of that class assignment, the  Engineering vs. Science post is my most viewed site this week and this month, though not for the quarter—three others still beat it:

It always surprises me which of my posts become the most popular.  The top 10 for the past year were

Home page / Archives 20,144
Where you get your BS in CS matters 1,775
Making WAV files from C programs 1,655
Tools and parts list for Applied Electronics W2017 and S2017 1,387
Algorithmic vs. Computational thinking 986
Sum of probabilities in log-prob space 706
How many AP courses are too many? 687
Journals for high school researchers 565
Getting text from Amazon’s “Look Inside” 547
Pressure sensor with air pump 435

The “home page” hits are large because all new posts read by subscribers get counted there. The next 9 are all posts with original content by me (unlike some of my all-time most-viewed posts, which were mainly pointers to other things on the web).

2016 July 7

Suki’s blog posts from Home Education Magazine

Filed under: home school,Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:33
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Suki Wessling has started reposting articles she wrote for Home Education Magazine, now that they are defunct, as blog posts.

Here is one in which I am quoted: College Prep Unschooling

Her articles are generally worth reading, and I recommend that home schoolers add her to their blog roll.


2016 January 4

International Blog Delurking Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:00
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Thanks to xykademiqz’s post, I just found out about “International Blog Delurking Week”, which runs 2016 Jan 3–2016 Jan 9. The tradition seems to have started in 2005 (at any rate, there are a lot of Google hits for “delurking week” and 2005, but all the top ones for “delurking week” and 2004 are from later years).

The idea is a simple one: ask lurking readers to step out from their silence to make a comment, even an inane one. Like most blog writers, I get few comments, and it sometimes feels like shouting in a large empty building—there are a lot of echos, but no one there to hear what I say.

Many of my views come from search engines and people passing on links to specific posts, but I don’t really know who is coming to my home page or reading on an RSS feed, aside from the handful of folks who comment regularly. (And a big thanks to them—it helps me believe that my audience contains real people, and not just spider bots crawling the web to link to my posts.)

Tell me something about yourself: are you a student? a faculty member? a home schooling parent? an electronics hobbyist? …

What would you like me to write more about in the coming year?

You can post anonymously if you are shy—I don’t need to know who you are in real life, just who you are as my blog audience.

2015 December 31

Blog year 2015 in review

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:06
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At this time of year, posts some rather pointless “year in review” for the blogs they host:  the one for my blog is at

Here are some of the stats from the wordpress stats page (which is rather difficult to get decent reporting from):

2015 all time
Posts  205  1,653
Comments ?  4,528
Views 101,150  513,069

I’m responsible for about 39% of the comments on my blog (pingbacks, replies to other commenters, and corrections to posts).  The other commenters are a somewhat different crew this year, with CCPhysicist, xykademiqz, Michael K. Johnson, Erich Styger, and gflint having the most comments.

The most viewed posts and pages of the year are the home page and pages mainly reached through search engines:

Title Views
Home page / Archives 27,544
How many AP courses are too many? 6,893
Making WAV files from C programs 3,010
Carol Dweck’s Mindset 2,661
Installing gnuplot—a nightmare 1,475
Why Discrete Math Is Important and The Calculus Trap 1,444
Engineering Encounters Bridge Design Contest 2014 1,382
Plagiarism detected 1,364
Circuits course: Table of Contents 1,268
West Point Bridge Designer 2011 954
labhacks — The $25 scrunchable scientific poster 933
Why no digital oscilloscope for Macbooks and iPads? 928
Journals for high school researchers 859
Physics posts in forward order 738
2014 AP Exam Score Distributions 719
Pressure sensor with air pump 709
Getting text from Amazon’s “Look Inside” 708
Algorithmic vs. Computational thinking 660
Homeschooling chemistry this year? 607
EKG blinky parts list and assembly instructions 591
Teaching voice projection 557
Conductivity of saline solution 540
Difficulties with the new Common Application 531
Spread on SAT2 raw scores 503

Of the top 20 most-viewed posts, only the Plagiarism detected post was written this year, but the popular posts are mostly more contentful posts than in previous years, which often favored posts that were little more than links to other sites, though students looking for bridge-design contest cheats are still a large chunk of the searches.  Two of my post popular pages (Circuits course: Table of Contents and Physics posts in forward order) are organizational aids to posts on the blog, and the circuits course page was updated 100 times in 2015, as 100 posts or pages were added to the blog for the applied electronics course (almost half the posts for this year).

I have no way of querying the stats for comments made this year—their stats are based either on the 1000 most recent comments or on all-time comments (it isn’t always clear which). The most commented-on posts based on whichever criterion they are using are also mostly not from this year (only the Why doesn’t anyone comment on blogs? post is from this year):

Post Comments
We create a problem when we pass the incompetent 27
Teaching engineering thinking 25
Why doesn’t anyone comment on blogs? 25
Why Python first? 21
Coursera Course Catalog 19
College tool box 18
Changes to UC admissions requirements 17
Storytelling to close the gender gap? 17
Student debt 16
A critique of CS textbooks 16

Other than internal links on my blogs, the biggest numbers of clicks were to Carol Dweck’s materials at Stanford, my web pages at UCSC, Wikipedia pages, Digi-Key product pages, and Art of Problem Solving pages.

Overall, I’m moderately satisfied with this year’s blogging.  The variety of posts has been down a bit (more than half the posts have had to do with electronics or teaching the electronics course, and those posts are not as popular as what I was writing a few years ago), but I’ve still got stub drafts for over 200 more posts, and another 500–600 bookmarks that haven’t even made it to stubs yet, so I won’t run out of material if I ever get the time and energy to do more blogging.

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