03 January 2011

Annual Reports In A New Year

Yes, the New Year really began on Saturday, and I've already made one post this year already, but this is the first business day of the New Year. It is time for annual reports.

Looking backwards, it means that I have a tax return to prepare, which, as someone who is self-employed, is non-trivial. Also, while I have no one to whom I must report my financial results other than my dear wife, that is ample reason to prepare a full set of financial statements at the same time. And, it is also the time of year, since I have all the other paperwork in hand, when I review my spending for the past year and prepare a budget for the coming one. This year, as a sole practioner, that budget will again include both a personal budget as always, and a business plan.

It is also time to look backwards and forwards with this blog in mind. It is a notable little spot not too far out on the "long tail" of the blogosphere. As the sidebar shows, I made about 750 posts in 2010, about two posts per day, or three per business day, depending on how you measure it. I post less on weekends and holidays, but don't stop entirely. This is fairly typical apart from the burst of posts in my first year. The total number of posts through the end of 2010 was 5085. In 2010, per sitemeter, this site had 74,825 visits (an average of 205 per day) that produced 108,484 page views. This is about on part with a B list law professor's or academic blog.

Google loves this site, putting it on the first page of search results for a bizzare mismash of search queries and driving a large share of its traffic. Some of the most searched posts include one on the fraud in the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books, a post entitled How Safe Are Motorcycles (accident rates for motorcycles have risen since I wrote that post despite a general trend towards improved traffic safety), a post on Racism In Mississippi, posts on the Shane Company bankruptcy (which it recently emerged from) and the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, a post on a ballot issue in 2010 to require bail bonds in more circumstances, a post on "Republican criminals," a post on Creationist Kent Hovind's tax fraud conviction, a post on Gnostic Christian religious history, a post arguing against urban planning, a post on Louisiana's unfortunate odds in its war with the sea, a post on a replacement for the A-10 close air support aircraft and a post on the accuracy of artillery. This drives a global audience.

Technorati rates this blog as 7104th of all blogs with an "authority" rating of 437 which is based largely on citations from other blogs.

Largely as a result of my posts on military affairs, this post is cited on both right wing and left wing political blogs more evenly than most. I get referrals from both Daily Kos and the Free Republic. One post was licensed to the British War College for use in their curriculum. This blog won a Best of Westword award in 2007.

The site has ten Blogger followers, is part of the LeftyBlogs feed, and is also syndicated commercially (in an arrangement that is currently economically marginal). I have been told in meatspace that a number of my relatives are regular readers. I also have readers in the state capitol and in the Denver media commmunity. And, of course, there are about half a dozen people who regularly leave comments and about as many more who frequently e-mail me or communicate with Facebook with me regarding posts, or regularly link to my posts in their own blogs.

This blog is weak on copyediting, is skimpy on graphics, is devoid of videolinks and audiolinks which I personally rather dislike in other people's blogs, and is eclectic. I tend to write in paragraphs, rather than pithy pot shots (although sometimes those posts are too tempting to resist). I write on Colorado Politics, national politics, economics, legal issues, science, technology, military affairs, comics, pre-history, linguistics, daily life, parenting, and a variety of other subjects. As I've noted earlier, the main reason I blog is to prevent my basement from filling up with hard to access bankers boxes full of little scraps of paper with ideas written on them and newspaper clippings. I've had great success on this front, largely reducing my little scribblings to a few bound idea journals a year.

I have warded off one cease and desist letter alleging a trademark violation, and have so far escaped the Righthaven/Denver Post/Associated Press anti-blog lawsuit campaign (of which Know Your Courts is the most recent casaulty, and Colorado Pols was another recent target), probably due to some combination of being judicious in my quotations of Denver Post news stories, the fair use character of how I use that material, and the fact that as a lawyer, I can defend myself in court competently and cheaply if I must (although it is comforting to know after reviewing my insurance policies that my insurance company has a duty to defend me in blogging related lawsuits as well). Still, as a past member of the Society of Professional Journalists myself, I could, like Colorado Pols, live without the Denver Post and go directly to the sources and not given them credit for posts suggested by their stories, or link driven traffic, if I needed to do so or wanted to do so.

I've also so far avoided defamation claims despite the fact that I make a point of identifying people who have done disreputatable things by name compared to many other commentators, something that I attribute mostly to the fact that I disclose my sources and write pretty much exclusively about public figures and matters of public concern, which is insulation from liability under the New York Times reckless disregard standard. I've certainly made inadvertant mistakes in posts, of course, and I am generally happy to have those corrected in comments or even with updates in a post or follow up post if the issues are brough to my attention and I agree that I made a mistake.

I am ever vigilant against comment spam and spend perhaps an hour or two every week or two trying to pare it back. There is certainly some of it on this blog, and I don't police old posts as vigilantly as I do new ones. But, as of the end of the year, I was comment spam free going back at least six months, so the noise to signal ratio in the comments hasn't been too bad. There is no commercial advertising on this blog itself, although I could easily arrange to have it, and aside from the free blogger system that I use, I receive very little swag (although I am open to offers) and so far have not received any cash compensation for blog posts since I discontinued my contract with Colorado Confidential (now called the Colorado Independent), although I hope that syndication may change that equation.

Generally, when I have potential conflicts of interest with clients related to posts (or have a client with a direct interest in a matter that I might post about) I don't post at all. Those conflicts and direct interests vary from time to time.

I get a quite slow, but steady stream of potential clients from this blog, a good share of whom I must turn away because I am not licensed to practice law in their jurisdiction or because their cases are not economical for me to bring at my hourly rate or on a contingent basis (which I often don't have the deep pockets to make possible even when cases do have merit and potentially large payouts), despite the fact that the cases brought to my attention often do have merit. I get far more cases from my Facebook page and Linked In than I do from this blog. I often end up referring those cases generated by this blog that are uneconomical to litigate with a lawyer to an approriate governmental regulator and in rare cases to a non-profit or other attorney who can economically handle such cases.


Sean L. Harrington said...

Andy: KnowYourCourts.com is not a casualty of the Righthaven, LLC litigation-mill campaign (which I believe will backfire as several cases (not settled) reach various procedural stages). KnowYourCourts, which hosts nearly 3,000 documents, was voluntarily suspended pending a thorough review for "Fair Use" compliance. The Web site will reappear once the review and remediation, if any, is completed. No one has sued KnowYourCourts.com as of the date of this writing, despite numerous threats over the last four years.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

More Technorati Ranks as of today:

Technorati Authority: 442 Rank: 6357

Business Authority: 102 Rank: 4434

Politics Authority: 473 Rank: 515

Living Authority: 102 Rank: 8550

Science Authority: 138 Rank: 220

U.S. Politics Authority: 494 Rank: 331