This is going to be one of those boring posts about blogging itself, so if that's not your kind of thing, feel free to skip. (Also, apologies to anyone who might have seen this appear and then disappear again - I noticed a big factual error upon posting that made me unpublish again until I had straightened it out.)
I installed Google Analytics on this blog about a year ago, because I wanted to know just how many people were reading me and where they were coming from. This is the one feature I envy Wordpress users for: the fact that when someone links to them it gets displayed in a comment to the post in question, so everyone can see it right away and the link love can be shared. If you get a sudden influx of traffic as a Blogger user, you can only go "bwuh?"
Anyway, Google revealed that I got between fifty and a hundred hits per day for most of the year, going up very slightly right after I got linked in places but overall staying around that level. I'm quite happy with that, as I don't think I could deal with a larger audience to be honest. Even the few times when I got more than ten comments to some of my posts often made me feel awkward more than anything. Blogging may be a public endeavour but there is still a certain illusion that you're only talking to a limited audience and it's awkward when that gets broken. It's like performing in a small theatre and then finding out that there was a tv crew in the audience that broadcast the whole thing nationwide. Oops.
Or to use another example, it's like inviting some friends over for a fun evening, except that they then also ask some of their mates to come along, who then ask more of their own in turn - and you end up with a house full of people you don't even know, wondering what the hell just happened. If you're unlucky there might even be some unsavoury subjects in the crowd - though I've been really lucky in that regard, fortunately. Even though I allow anonymous commenting and don't even have Captcha-ing turned on I think I've had to delete less than ten comments during my entire blogging career.
Anyway, I did get a couple of traffic spikes from links and thought them somewhat amusing to be honest, mostly because the biggest spikes didn't necessarily come from the sites from which I'd expected it. Let's observe the following graph (click to embiggen):
Point A marks my first tiny traffic spike back in February (288 hits), when Alison Robert included a link to a post of mine about druid vs. paladin tanking in one of her Shifting Perspectives articles. While I got quite excited about this, I was also surprised that it wasn't worse, considering the comments I'd seen from other people who got linked on WoW Insider. Then again, the link was only part of a side note, as opposed to being featured in a major "look at this" way.
After that things were quiet for a long time, until Larísa linked to my post about saying goodbye to tree form (point B, 704 hits). WoW, the Pink Pigtail Inn sure has a lot of readers that are willing to click links!
Point C came completely out of the blue to me, as I hadn't noticed any links on any of the blogs I usually read, so where the hell did those 1,386 hits come from all of a sudden? This is where Google Analytics was really helpful, because it led me to a site called reddit (which I hadn't heard of before I have to admit) where a kind reader had shared a link to the post about my WoW-flavoured job interview.
Point D surprised me with a massive 2,500 hits after my first impressions of the Shattering were featured on WoW Insider's Daily Quest column. Ah, so that's what it's like to be "properly WoW Insidered"!
At that point I thought that it couldn't possibly get any crazier... until Point E (4,019 hits) was created three days ago after Tam linked me in one of his posts. Forget WoW Insider, clearly Righteous Orbs is where the publicity is at! Except that upon closer inspection I realised that I had actually been linked by WoW Insider again on the same day and only a couple of hits actually came via RO. I bet Tam must be relieved that he hasn't outgrown WoW Insider yet.