State of the blog, 2012

Daily visits to, 2012 (blue) vs 2011 (orange). Image and data from Google Analytics.

In all of 2012:

  • 222 new posts
  • 45,636 visits, up 20% from 2011
  • 32,385 “unique” visitors, up 35%
  • 122,363 pageviews, up 66%

Top-viewed posts, in descending order:

Miscellaneous landmarks:

It’s been a busy year, but a great one! If you’re still reading at this point, you must be one of my tens of loyal readers—instead of filling out a formal survey this year, why not say hello in the comments, and tell me why on Earth you’re still hanging around this unfashionable end of the outer eastern spiral arm of the Internet.◼

State of the blog, 2011

The quantified blog. Photo by hyperboreal.

Happy New Year! Time for some quantitative navel-gazing, which now counts as a Denim and Tweed New Year’s tradition, since I’ve done it twice before. Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the responses to my first-ever reader survey, but right now, I’m just going to go through the metrics I’ve used before.

In 2011, I wrote 198 posts for this site. According to Google Analytics, these attracted 73,899 page-views by 24,025 unique visitors. That’s an average of 373 page-views per post, and an increase in traffic of 161% over 2010, when I had 28,308 page-views. For some perspective, it’s about two orders of magnitude less than John Scalzi’s visitation rate. But not too bad, if I do say so myself.

More detail after the jump.

Weekly visitors to Denim and Tweed, for 2011 (blue line) and 2010 (green). Image by Google Analytics.

Most of that increase in traffic is attributable to a link from PZ Myers to my post taking down Jesse Bering’s ridiculous declaration that gay-bashing is adaptive. That’s the spike in the graph above. “An adaptive fairytale with no happy ending” was, accordingly, the most-visited post of the year, clocking in 4,222 page-views since publication. The next-most popular post of 2011 was a follow-up in the ensuing back-and-forth over certain evolutionary psychologists’ failure to understand basic evolutionary biology, with 3,441 page-views.

The other top posts of 2011 are less controversy-driven: my review and discussion of Joan Roughgarden’s Evolution’s Rainbow (1,188 page-views); a post on partially carnivorous plants (966 page-views, in part thanks to a nice nod from Ed Yong); and then last year’s post about whether or not female orgasm is an adaptation (836 page-views).

In fact, once you get below the top 5 posts, pieces from previous years show up pretty frequently. I guess this means D&T is increasing its visibility in Google searches? The top search phrases leading folks to the site (apart from some form of my name or the site’s name) were “herbivore,” “ant dispersal,” “mutualism,” “female orgasm,” and “what makes a species.” I’m kinda proud of that last one.

Post topics are a bit more difficult to total up. However, by my count in the Blogger post management dashboard, I published 150 posts tagged “science” in 2011. That’s compared to 21 posts tagged “politics” and 24 tagged “queer.” (Note these are not mutually exclusive categories!) Of the science posts, 47 are tagged “evolution,” 5 are tagged “ecology,” and 37 were submitted to Research Blogging, meaning they were “formal” discussions of peer-reviewed papers. An even 50 of the science posts are the weekly linkfests.

I made some pretty major career transitions this year, too: I finished my Ph.D. and started a postdoc. I’m enjoying life as a “professional” biologist, but it’s decidedly less compatible with regular blogging than grad school was. Nevertheless, I expect to keep posting at Denim and Tweed, and hopefully to continue development of the new collaborative site Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!—writing and discussion in both venues continue to be useful to my thinking about my scientific work, and (hopefully) valuable as public education, too. ◼

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.

Running the race

Well, I’ve successfully run the Seattle Marathon. I finished in 3 hours, 31 minutes, and 27 seconds, which is a pretty nice improvement over last time, in Portland.

Coming down the home stretch. Photo courtesy my cousin Adrienne.

I’ve had a nice hot shower, and my cousin—with whom I’m staying while in Seattle, and who came to watch me cross the finish line—keeps pressing protein-and-vitamin recovery shakes on me, so I’m actually feeling pretty good. It’s great end to a great fall break in Vancouver and Seattle. I took a lot of photos—there’s a slideshow after the jump.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Why I’m out online

ResearchBlogging.orgExactly a year ago today, I came out of the online closet. Now it’s another National Coming Out Day, and it seems like as good a time as any to think out loud about why I made that decision.

Image borrowed from Wikipedia under fair use rationale.

My reasons aren’t going to surprise anyone who has even a passing familiarity with gay rights history:

  • Familiarity breeds acceptance. This is mainly a political argument. It’s widely accepted (and supported by ongoing public opinion surveying) that people who personally know GLBT folks are overwhelmingly more likely to support treating GLBT people like full citizens. The psychology isn’t hard to understand—it’s easy to hate the nebulous, faceless, unknown Gays; it’s rather harder to hate your son, or your niece, the nice neighbors who let you borrow their lawnmower, or (I hope) the guy who writes that one not-entirely-terrible science blog you check every so often.
  • Gotta give’em hope. And an example. This is more personal. I grew up without knowing any out gay people, which was, to put it mildly, not helpful. I was, to paraphrase the Onion headline, The Only Homosexual in the World; I didn’t have any of the support, or visible examples, that would’ve helped me think critically about my sexual orientation or imagine a future in which I was out, and happy about it. (Which I very much am, these days.) By being open about my orientation, maybe I can help someone else figure out his (or hers) in a way I couldn’t, and even show that, as confusing and frequently miserable as growing up gay is, it gets better.

And if there’s one impression I hope to give a confused, lonely (and presumably nerdy) gay kid reading D&T, it’s that it did get better for this formerly confused, lonely (and unquestionably nerdy) gay kid. And a large part of how it got better, for me, has to do with going into science.

Evolutionary biology has turned out to be a good field for me, in this personal respect. When I started my first genuine biology-related internship, I was surrounded for the first time by people who didn’t talk about gays in the hushed, scandalized tones I’d heard through a lot of my childhood and schooling. Biologists are as human as the next ape descendent, but they’re also a generally open-minded bunch who tend to be more interested in the quality of your work than what you do after you leave the lab. And, for what are probably obvious reasons, evolutionary biology doesn’t attract the sort of people who hold doctrinaire conservative religious positions on any subject.

Evolutionary biology is also a pretty good academic discipline for me because evolutionary biology has something to say about sexual minorities, just as it has something to say about humans in general. Humans are biological beings, and we’re part of an animal kingdom that exhibits a wide array of sexual behaviors, as elaborately documented by the evolutionary biologist Joan Roughgarden in her book Evolution’s Rainbow. Exactly how to explain this diversity, particularly in the case of humans, is still quite controversial [$a]—but it’s a question for which I have some expertise, and one I’d like to weave into the writing I do for D&T in the future.


Futuyma, D. (2005). Celebrating diversity in sexuality and gender. Evolution, 59 (5), 1156-9 DOI: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2005.tb01052.x

Roughgarden, J. (2004). Evolution’s Rainbow. Berkeley: University of California Press. Preview on Google Books.

Totally swamped

Fellowship proposal writing, teaching, research, job hunting. No sign yet of the rodents of unusual size, but they’re coming up later in the semester for my mammalogy students, if I remember the curriculum correctly. Much as I hate to watch my pageview count decay, I’m suspending regular posting until I get back onto solid ground.

In which I provide something like an explanation

Now that D&T has its own domain, Google hosting allows me a few dedicated pages apart from the blog itself. So I’ve written up an about the blog page with more information than you probably require. I’ve revised the “About me” blurb in the sidebar to reflect this.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Internet.

It’s that time of year …

Joshua trees are about to bloom. Which means I’m off to the desert until mid-April first to tour Joshua Tree National Park with my parents for a week, then to spend a month or more at a field site in central Nevada, extending studies of co-divergence in Joshua tree and its pollinator moths.

All of which is to say, posting to D&T is about to drop to near-zero for the foreseeable future. I’ll take lots of photos, and put them online when I get to an Internet connection, but really that’s all I can promise. After all, what good is fieldwork if not as an Internet detox?

Photo by jby.