Most viewed and commented-on posts

September 2, 2014 • 12:55 pm

Ah, the albatross is weighing heavily on my neck, so you must live for the moment with persiflage.

Out of curiosity, I found the posts that have been viewed most often since this website began in January of 2009. Here’s the list, limited to those posts that got more than 50,000 views. (Naturally, the site itself was viewed most often.).

It’s an eclectic mix, and of course  (and sadly for me) the most-viewed posts were ones not involving any intellectual effort (or even much effort) on my part: they were “gee-whiz” posts. The Mother Teresa post is an exception (although I just called attention to a study debunking her), probably because it both offended Catholics and pleased secularists, and it was re-posted in several places. The treehopper post got a lot of attention because those insects are plenty weird, and reddit picked it up, and, well, you know people are always curious about the size of the paternal apparatus:

Title Views
Home page / Archives More stats 13,210,562
A new exposé of Mother Teresa shows that she—and the Vatican—were even worse than we thought More stats 549,308
The surreal treehoppers More stats 229,089
There’s a bacterium on a diatom on an amphipod on a . . . you know the rest More stats 201,144
A gynandromorph cardinal: one half male, the other half female More stats 146,975
Geographic variation in human penis size More stats 136,208
Deepak Chopra embarrasses himself by offering a million-dollar prize More stats 96,344
The longest cell in the history of life More stats 93,085
Mason Crumpacker and the Hitchens reading list More stats 80,658
More children killed by religiously-based medical neglect More stats 70,704
Fly with ant-mimic wings More stats 65,268
New work on an ancient mammal More stats 63,222
Kentucky Republicans realize that they screwed up: students will have to learn evolution! More stats 61,976
Robin Williams, depression, and Stephen Fry More stats 61,202
02-Guggenheim-Museum-Bilbao-Spain-1 More stats 60,452
A most bizarre and mysterious cocoon More stats 58,870
Sans commentaires More stats 57,799
Amazing T. rex illusion (make your own) More stats 57,365
A Sokal-style hoax by an anti-religious philosopher More stats 55,241
Against all reason, Alabama outlaws sex toys More stats 54,111
So you think you have snow? More stats 54,086
Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith (and a contest!) More stats 51,206

And here are the posts that drew the most comments, supposed based “on the 1000 most recent comments,” a statement that mystifies me. At any rate, I’m glad to see that some of them are about ideas rather than internet drama.

* Based on the 1000 most recent comments.


32 thoughts on “Most viewed and commented-on posts

  1. Would be interesting to see a most commented list as well to see where the controversies lie.

    Perhaps a post of a bacterium sitting on a treehopper on mother Teresa would reach epic views ???

    1. Yes, especially as some of the posts on this list don’t have that many comments on them – certainly not in comparison to some posts in recent months.

  2. I wouldn’t feel bad that the popular stuff has been easy — and that’s especially considering how heavy that list is on both biology and rationality. I see nothing even remotely embarrassing about that list. Indeed, there’re multiple examples of posts that many bloggers would exchange their paternal apparatuses to have written….

    This is a popular site, not a peer-reviewed publication, and you’re giving the public what it needs: interesting facts about life on Earth and wake-up calls for sanity.

    And you do know, do you not, that us regulars always look forward to the serious stuff, even if we’re not qualified to comment on it ourselves, right? I mean, here we are, getting the occasional glimpse into the working life of the guy who literally wrote the book on speciation — what more could one ask?

    (Aside, of course, for Hili, and food, and boots, and….)


    1. This is a popular site, not a peer-reviewed publication, and you’re giving the public what it needs: interesting facts about life on Earth and wake-up calls for sanity.

      Reith cited the purpose of the BBC as “to educate and inform”, which is not a dishonourable aim.

  3. How does the software identify a viewed post? Today has six posts, three of which I barely glanced at, three of which I have or will read fully and maybe, maybe not, read the comments.

    Incidentally, how you can produce six posts, even if they are mostly lightweight posts,on a day you are busy with other things, I don’t know. Is there an American equivalent to Stakhanovite awards?

    1. I keep bringing up the use of Pinkah Units as a measure of high performance multitasking, but I guess it will never catch on.

      1. We might not have enough Pinkah units to be able to comprehend the notion.

        That, and it seems likely the nanoPinkah might be the most useful fractioning. Otherwise, we’re presented with the same problem faced by the Triganics with respect to the Nigi and the Pu.


    2. How does the software identify a viewed post?

      I would guess that the server counts distinct requests for pages. So clicking on the link to this page would generate a HTTP “GET” command with the payload “http :// 2014/09/02/ most-viewed-posts/ #comment-1050257” (I broke the HTML deliberately) and various meta data indicating to which port on which IP address to return the data to.
      Viewing the home page (http:// whyevolutionistrue .wordpress .com/) would generate a different request, which is probably why the home page logs 26 times as many views as any comment page. If you’re viewing by reading the home page and scrolling down through the various posts, then that will only count as a hit on the home page. But if you click on a particular story’s headline (to go to that page and potentially to comment) then a new request is sent, and another hit is registered.
      Eyeball tracking to see which parts of the page is done in experimental work (e.g. advertising agency’s “focus groups”), but through lack of hardware, it’s not made it into BigBrother-esque eyeball tracking on home computers. Though with the increasing ubiquity of web cams and user-facing cameras on tablets, it’s not goign to be long before BigBrother is phoning you and asking you to take your sunglasses off while viewing because BigBrother wants to see what you’re reading AND to interpret your body language and facial expression while you do it.
      Seriously – a few years ago a US TV executive proposed, soberly and in public, that NOT watching adverts should be made a criminal offence. And with attitudes like that, you can be sure that BigBrother WILL be watching some time soon. The hardware is already out there.

  4. I’ve never seen a post by anyone on what are the greatest atheist/non-religious songs of all time. Don’t know what kind of interest that would draw.

      1. Nah, that’s just a singer expressing his nervousness about the audience at his first gig. “Imagine there’s no people ….”

  5. Ah, nothing like a dose of despair in the morning – you had more page views on ‘A most bizarre and mysterious cocoon’ than I’ve had in total, in 18 months of cartooning. DoH!

    Seriously, the traffic is well deserved considering the high educational value of many of the entries.

    We all benefit from and appreciate the time you dedicate to this.

  6. Well, that is both encouraging and depressing. I know of writers who’ve put some amount of time and effort into this or that article only to have a tepid response; then, that one “throwaway” piece inexplicably makes people insane and it gets read (and searched on) for years. I sure don’t know what the formula is.

    I’ve written bits that wouldn’t be anything I’d consider noteworthy. In fact, now that I think of it, none of the top hits are topics I really care much about at all — the reasoning and conclusions being completely, painfully obvious. And the topics I continually think and write about and and research and take notes about while at the grocery or waiting for a traffic light — are the ones that literally *never* get read.

  7. Frankly, I’m surprised at the number of pure science posts that made the cut. (geographic / penis-size post aside… that was a given).

    I count 8/21 of the top hitters being (pure) science articles. So that’s got to count for something, eh?

  8. I generally read WEIT using the daily digest and as a rule only go to the website for links to higher resolution images. If others behave similarly it could begin to explain this trend.

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