A post that gets this many views is not unheard-of, of course.Â Short pieces of political flame bait, celebrity gossip - Gather's equivalent of a "tweet" - sometimes these get a lot of attention.Â Â The easiest way to getÂ a lot of views is toÂ catch the wave ofÂ mass thinking:Â
- bash (or praise)Â Sarah PalinÂ
- have your topic say "IÂ kissed Britney Spears"
- have your topic say "I'm gonna goÂ hang some bankers.Â Anybody wanna join me?"
Sadly (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), anyone can get a lot of views or comments in this way, if attention is all they really care about.
ButÂ . . .Â aÂ firewood splitting tutorial?
For the first time back in October I sorted my many hundreds of Gather posts by "most viewed", and learned that the firewood piece had 4,700 views, and though written over a year earlier was - like some old standard Country Western tune - getting another 35 or 40 new hitsÂ each day. Â I'm usually thrilledÂ to learnÂ a couple hundred people dropped by.Â What happened?Â
I bugged the Gather staff for an explanation, hoping they could tell me some uber-blogger had linked to my post and was driving traffic my way.Â Either they had no simple explanation, or they didn't want to set a precedent of helping people track down their audience.
I still may be perfectly clueless, but I believe I get it.Â With the rising cost of fuel oil, coalÂ and electricity, more people are turning to firewood for their heat, and to save a little money they had the woodcutter deliver the wood unsplit (or "in rounds").Â Â A very few hours laterÂ - gasping and frustrated, broken axe handle in handÂ -Â they were scouring the web for help.
And this is whereÂ I learnedÂ my lesson.Â I had, perhaps inadvertently, written something that addressed a real public need.Â I had, somewhat intentionally,Â named my piece with the same words thoseÂ folks were likely toÂ use forÂ their Google search.Â
In the course of my investigations into how I got this much attention, IÂ googled "how to split wood" (first with quotes and then without quotes).Â In both instances my post was the first hit, as prioritized by Google's system of web-user attention.
Yes, they found my post, but they probablyÂ also foundÂ thingsÂ like thisÂ - - - Â or this.Â Some posts and videos are moderately helpful, others are quite useless.Â Even in the better of these two I just linked to: the fellow is using a chopping block (don't do that); he doesn't swing like it matters (when in fact that matters a lot); he lifts the splitter with his arms (actually, you can use your legs and all your arms have to do is hang on).Â
I'd be honored if you'd read my piece on splitting firewood.Â The links are at the top of the page.Â If you're more visual, I made a little video of my own while splitting someone's wood for fun and exercise.Â I'm not the lean woodcutter I was twenty years ago, and I'm terribly out of shape, but it's like riding a bike . . .