Denim and Tweed, now with more talkback?

In addition to self-congratulatory navel-gazing, I’m starting the new year with two new features to hopefully make it easier for readers to comment on posts, and contact me directly in a pinch.

The first is the Disqus commenting system, which will let anyone comment using their login identity from Twitter, Facebook, or Yahoo!—or any OpenID system. Disqus has all sorts of shiny social-site integration, so now you can explain what an idiot I am on the site, and then immediately tell all your Facebook friends, too. Give it a try and see what you think!

And if you hate Disqus because it won’t let you log in/ ate your brilliant critique of Disqus/ is the wrong color, you can now e-mail me about those problems at denimandtweed AT gmail DOT com. Messages to that address are forwarded directly to my personal e-mail account, which is not posted on this site.

State of the blog, 2010

Happy New Year, everyone! The year 2010 was another good one for this little corner of cyberspace. As I did last year, I’m going to spend a post quantifying how good the year was.

Weekly visitors to D&T in 2010 (blue line) compared to the same date span in 2009 (green line), as tabulated by Google Analytics.

In 2010, I wrote 184 posts, just over 15 per month. These drew 28,308 pageviews by 18,994 visitors—that’s almost 154 pageviews and just over 103 visitors per post, on average. That’s also more than 1,580 visitors a month, and over 35 percent more than in 2009. This is all given that I actually did a little less posting than in 2009, when I wrote 229 posts.

More navel-gazing after the jump!

The top three Google search phrases (excluding my name and “Denim and Tweed”) bringing visitors to the site in 2010 were “eastern and western yucca trees,” “cuckholding,” and “what makes a species.” Further down the list are “eating tits” and “clitoris,” which I can only imagine result in disappointed searchers.

You were popular, J.B.S., but not as popular as orgasms.

The three most popular posts of 2010 were mostly in the last couple of months of the year. In no particular order, they were about being a gay biologist (which received 368 pageviews in its first two weeks online), J.B.S. Haldane’s ties to the Communist Party (283 pageviews), and the adaptive function (or lack thereof) of female orgasm (599 pageviews). If there’s a common thread uniting those three, I don’t know what it is. The first is among the most personal things I’ve posted here, the second is easily the most ambitious piece I’ve written for D&T, and the third I frankly tossed together as a quick and fun Carnal Carnival contribution. They all benefited from strong interest on Twitter, though, and I’m mighty grateful for the folks who passed on links, especially power-Tweeters Bora Zivkovic and Steve Silberman.

Although D&T is still a side project, I’d like to think I’ve made it a bit more professional and integrated it into my scientific career more solidly this year. I sprang for a unique domain in February, instituted weekly linkfest posts, and—apart from a hiatus for fieldwork and another for being a grad student—kept pretty close to a once-a-week rhythm for science posts. I’ve now cited this blog as a “broader impact” in a couple of grant applications, and link to it directly from the publications list on my professional site. So I guess it’s officially something I do as a scientist.

Pardon the dust

I’ve been fiddling with D&T’s formatting yesterday and today, mainly because I want to use a more up-to-date version of Blogger’s template system, including slightly shinier integration of stand-alone pages and the native post-sharing buttons. I think I’ve finally got things about the way I want them.

Programming note

I celebrated the Memorial Day weekend by, among other things, not getting around to writing the final installment of the Big Four series, which was scheduled for sometime this week. I did write up a piece about a neat little study of brood parasitism, which I wanted to discuss while it’s fresh anyway.

I’ll complete the Big Four series next week, with a discussion of migration.

It has come to my attention

… that some readers are attempting to post comments, but experiencing some sort of glitch with the commenting system, in at least one case having to do with the “word verification” anti-spam device. I’m not sure what’s going on – I’ve successfully posted a nonsense comment myself (logged out of Blogger, to approximate the experience of a reader). I’m going to try and dig a bit more, and see what I can do to fix it. I’m reluctant to disable the word verification, but I also want readers to be able to comment!

Update 2008.09.14 – There’s a known issue for Blogger in Beta that sounds like what’s been described to me, though it’s supposed to have been fixed as of 2006. I’ve posted a note in Blogger’s support forum. Until I have an answer I’m switching comment submission back to the old Blogger system, where you’ll be taken to a separate page to post a comment. It’s clunky, but it used to work.

A new plan for links

I post about science quite a bit, and when I do, I try to link to the “primary” literature – peer-reviewed research articles in professional journals. But even in this modern age, lots of professional journals charge for access. Sometimes a lot. I get through on my university’s institutional subscription – but that doesn’t cover everyone. So I’ve been trying to mark links to journal articles based on whether it’ll cost you to read the full text, but I haven’t been happy with the way it looks. Therefore, I’m instituting a set of simple abbreviations, which I’ll append to linked text to indicate access levels:

  • [$$] = total lockdown; nothing but the title is free online
  • [$-a] = the article’s abstract is free, but more will cost you
  • No mark = totally free access

Check out an example of how this looks in a post. Links to an article at PLoS, which is fully open-source, aren’t marked. But links to an article at Science get the [$-a] mark. Links to article titles in the “References” section at the end aren’t marked one way or the other – I sort of assume those don’t get the same kind of follow-through that the in-text links do.