As of today’s post, I have been blogging here at the CDP for 12-and-a-half years. Since February of 2004, to be specific. Nearly 1500 individual entries, too.
That’s a long time to have done anything, and since the inception, I’ve managed to keep a side-eye on what seems to resonate on the web and what does not, traffic-wise. Now, this information has never shaped what I do here, and the CDP has never been popular enough to move the needle in any significant cultural sense, but that’s just the way I like it. It’s 2016. If you suddenly find yourself receiving a ton of attention on the Internet, it’s probably because a bunch of lunatics are forcing you to apologize about something. It’s never been worth it to me. I write what I want to write for the people who want to read it, I release a book every decade or so, and life is good.
I realized a long time ago that you cannot predict what will catch fire and what will languish in the archives and be read by nobody. It’ll drive you insane. It’s just best to do what you want and see what shakes out. When I think about my biggest, most ambitious projects that I’m the most proud of (Decade In Review, Loves The 90’s, TV25 Tournament, TV Month, etc.), statistics say that they weren’t all that massive. This isn’t even speaking to the hundreds of personal essays over the years that comprised both of my books. Some of those have been read by literally nobody.
But today isn’t about any of that. Today is an analysis of the Most Popular Posts In CDP History. Not my ‘best,’ not the most well-received. Just a straight-up look at the entries that have been viewed by the most people. The reason I’m doing this is because…well, we’ll get to that later. It’s worth your while.
Again, is this indicative of my best work? Nope; not even close. In fact, a couple of these are downright embarrassing in the light of 2016. Like I said, you cannot predict these things, but a few patterns did emerge once I started crunching the numbers. For example, 7 of the Top 11 entries are lists, which proves the Internet adage that if you’re just looking for traffic, clickbait always trumps quality.
Here we go. I’ll add personal thoughts as we venture along.
Published – 09/24/10
Unique Hits – 10,000+
I had a lot of fun writing my list of the 50 Greatest 3rd Wave Ska Albums Of All-Time, but I thought it was just a selfish labor of love. I remember putting a fair amount of work into it with clips and photos and whatnot, along with personal remembrances of my time as a hardcore Ska fan. Frankly, the only reason I did it was because I wanted to read a list like this, but nothing existed on the Internet that I thought was worthy. So I made one myself, and it seemed to resonate with those who remember the era as fondly as I did. I also really like that logo.
10. 10 Stupid Jobs
Published – 01/17/06
Unique Hits – 12,000+
This isn’t a list of 10 jobs that I find ‘stupid.’ This was literally a list of the first 10 jobs I’ve ever had; totally personal and autobiographical in nature. I like the essay and had fun with it, but the real reason it got bigger than average was because it shows up extremely high on search engines when you type in ‘stupid jobs.’ I’ll take it, if only because I want as many people as possible to read about the time I crashed that golf course mower through a fence and onto the highway.
Published – 03/20/06
Unique Hits – 15,000+
This was a lucky example of striking while the iron was hot. Long before clickbait was a word and BuzzFeed carved an empire off of shit like this, I sifted through a bunch of terrible album covers and made fun of them. Now, I think I did a good job with this, but it was more of a ‘right time, right place’ thing. I still get e-mails about this original album cover list (I did a few of them). In fact, one album in particular makes its own appearance later on in the countdown.
Published – 01/18/11
Unique Hits – 15,000+
This is a funny story. I created the above image and scanned it. The idea was to make it look like something from my childhood, and specifically to make it look like I got everything I ‘wished’ for. It was a self-deprecating, un-serious way to poke fun at how you think things will go, versus how things end up going. You either think it’s clever or it’s not, right?
Well, BuzzFeed either didn’t get the joke, or the tween they had writing their list didn’t look close enough at my image. The above ‘MASH’ creation was used (without permission, although I was cited) on one of their nostalgia lists. This lead to some hilariously misguided comments (“This idiot wanted a Mercury Sable?”) as nobody checked the source material to fully understand the joke. It was just a random, dumb luck set of circumstances that confused a lot of people who didn’t know me.
However, the best part was the spike in web traffic for my wife’s maiden name. Thousands of people on BuzzFeed wanted to know who this unknown woman was who shared a MASH category with Cindy Crawford and Christie Brinkley. It was a fun few weeks to sit back and watch it all play out. Internet’s weird, man.
Published – 06/24/06
Unique Hits – 16,000+
Many years ago, I found myself stuck in the middle of a UFO convention. Not a fun one. A serious, terrified group of people in the sweltering middle of nowhere talking about probes and mind control and personal tales of punching aliens in the face (not kidding). Instead of fleeing for my life, I stuck around and rolled tape until I thought I’d be outed as a skinwalker and got the hell out of dodge.
I still think about that day sometimes. There was a moment during the festivities where the speaker wanted to go around the room and have people say out loud what their personal experiences had been with aliens. That was my cue to throw the car keys to Celia and start running.
Published – 10/28/04
Unique Hits – 20,000+
From a strictly search engine, clickbaity standpoint, I totally understand why this entry is so popular, especially around Halloween. I, however, sort of hate it. I was 22 years old, couldn’t write for shit, and basically blew it. I should really update this list. Not gonna hurt my feelings if you don’t go back and check it out.
Published – 07/14/10
Unique Hits – 40,000+
I spent an entire month in 2010 counting back my favorite Films, TV Shows and Albums of the 1990’s, and I feel like I really put the work in. Lots of research, lots of re-watching and re-listening to stuff. Basically just an excuse to wallow in my favorite decade for the purposes of entertainment. But one entry in particular (Top TV Shows) seems to continue to generate traffic over the years. Hey, if you like that, I did a dozen more 90’s lists that month! Click around, homies!
Published – 09/25/07
Unique Hits – 50,000+
For a while in the mid-2000’s, Ken was a myth. A legend. An polyester enigma shrouded in mystery. With the help of Snopes and a crazy person willing to call a stranger on the telephone, I was one of the first people to shed more light on the mystery surrounding one of the ‘worst’ album covers of all-time. For that reason, this entry continues to draw people in. A new Ken fan is made every day, and I’d like to think I have a little something to do with that.
Published – 08/18/08
Unique Hits – 60,000+
Inspired by Chuck Klosterman’s set of ‘HyperTheticals,’ I attempted to create bizarre scenario questions and see how the Internet decided to answer them. It eventually took off, although I couldn’t really tell you why. I thought they were funny though, so it’s all good.
Published – 02/01/08
Unique Hits – 100,000+
Who knew that ‘Turning 26’ was searched by so many people? Chances are, if you turned (or are turning) 26 and wanted to see what people had to say about it, you found my essay right off the bat. To this day, I receive new comments and e-mails on a monthly basis as 20-somethings lament about this most mediocre of birthdays. Hang in there! It gets better! Or something! And yes, that is a childhood photo of me with a broken nose and two black eyes.
We’ve reached the top of our list. Number 1. The single most popular entry in CDP history.
Out of anything I’ve ever written, this is the only one I can legit say went ‘viral.’ It has already amassed well over a million unique hits and averages an additional 25,000 new hits per month. It has been viewed by more people than anything I have ever written in my entire life combined. It generates the most e-mail, has been featured on more news sites than I can keep up with, and has spawned an Internet community bigger than anything I could have ever imagined.
I’ve been waiting over five years to talk about this, and we’ll get into all of it, every granular detail, next time.
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.