Field of Science

A blog retrospective- top 10

The Phytophactor (TPP) blog has been in business now for 8 years, and during that time he’s cranked out over 2600 blogs, which a new blog every 1.1 days!  And in the beginning the blogging rate was lower, but TPP’s early blogs were maybe on average longer. The first couple of years, TPP didn’t keep track of his page reads, but the total passed 1 million some time ago. A natural history blog network kept track of blogs in different categories, and the Phytophactor was one of the top 10 blogs in terms of traffic in the plant/flora category when the network closed down. It funny how these things go.  A couple of years  ago while visiting an art fair a woman walks up behind TPP and whispers in his ear, “I know who you are.” This is funny because what she was really saying was the she thought I was the Phytophactor, but of course, she was wrong.

At any rate what blogs have been successful.  It’s an amusing list from the perspective of the author.
So here's the list of the most successful blogs based on traffic.
1. Artichoke - fruit or vegetable? Published Feb. 21, 2008. So this is one of my earliest blogs. Clearly the older the blog the more opportunity it has had to be read, but this one has over ten times the hits of the next most read blog. Who knew this was such a burning question for so many people?  But there you have it. Actually hate looking at the old blogs because the font and the images were so small.

2. Can you eat flowering kale? Published Oct. 22, 2012. This entry isn't so old, and it happened after walking past a neighbor who was planting flowering kale in his intensely cultivated garden, and he asked, can you eat this? Apparently a lot of people wonder about the same thing.

3. Rainforest Field Trip - The Understory. Published Nov. 24, 2010. So this blog was written the day before Thanksgiving, and that means TPP was on a rainforest ecology field trip in Costa Rica.  It's a very attractive image of something that is very hard to get, but it is a bit of a falsehood. It's a stream corridor, so you get the relentless green right down to the ground because the stream lets in light, a sort of linear canopy gap that doesn't get filled in because of the stream. It's been published in 2 or 3 places, so I am guilty of spreading a false impression. A real understory of a rain forest is pretty dark and not so green, and not nearly so handsome.
4. How do you explain a lotus? Published Nov.15, 2011. Can't remember what got this idea going. The idea that a scientist can't or doesn't appreciate the asthetics of their organisms just bothered me. Some people just think that a scientific understanding somehow diminishes the thing, a flower, if you know how it all works.  How silly! And it is a nice image.
5. Age of Equisetum. Published May 11, 2011. This sort of surprises TPP because not many people actually use the name Equisetum unless they are a good naturalist or a botanist. If it were to be written again it would have been Age of Horsetails.  The idea is simple this a really, really old genus, not the oldest living genus, but impressively old. Shows you people are curious. This is the only genus surviving from a once major and diverse lineage.
6. Longing for the tropics - Mangoes. Published July 21,2010.  There are some things that are just tropical, and for the longest time, you could only get really good mangoes when you were in the tropics. The Ataulfo variety has changed that somewhat because they are uncommonly good even when in our markets.
7. Pluot? Published July 19, 2012. This blog started out when TPP, a fruit expert of sorts, wondered what exactly a pluot was, so why not tell everyone once you find out?
8. Oldest species on Earth is a fern. Published July 19, 2012. At the point in time this was written the oldest known species was a Cinnamon fern, formerly Osmunda cinnamomea. Now it is the genus Osmundastrum. It had fossils identical to the living fern that were something like 70 million years old. Then a newer fossil find rendered this obsolete, however, the new oldest species was another species of Osmunda, O. claytoniana, a fossil history of some 180 million years.  Some people didn't understand that this refers to an unchanged organism, a single species, that has survived for a very long time, not the idea that bacteria are older. Who knows how old species of bacteria are, or even if they have species in the same sense as higher organisms?
9. Never plant this plant #1 - plume poppy.  Published October 29, 2011. Learn from our experience. This is a horrible plant, and while striking in appearance it spreads like a demon.
10. Relief from winter doldrums: 1. Tropical beaches. Published Jan. 10, 2010. In the middle of winter who doesn't want to look at a tropical beach. Think perhaps some more of these should be forthcoming.  Of course half the traffic was probably looking for scantily clad women rather than plants, so surprise.
Any take home messages? First single topic answers to fairly simple questions, so basic accurate content is good for the long haul. And once Google or any other search engine finds you it doesn't forget.  This means the labels are important in making an oasis of factual information findable in the internet's vast sea.  2010, 2011, and 2012 have been TPP's most productive years for traffic and it will take time to see if any blogs from '13, '14, or '15 will catch up. Some topical items can have some short brief periods of high traffic but they don't last.  It may be that TPP will have to cull the archives at some point. Hard to know what different people think are good blogs from their perspective. TPP will work harder for new additions to some of his series: Friday Fabulous Flower, Never plant this plant, and BWYR (botany within your reach), which just got started.

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