Statistics and Inferences

I can tell I’ve already lost you. It’s not your fault; I picked a crummy title. Statistics are boring. This one’s more for me, anyway. Thinking out loud. Well, not out loud, because this is written word and not spoken word. Unless you’re using assistive programming to read this to you. I digress.

I’ve long said that I’m not really a numbers person. I generally did well in math, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. There was one year where I said I liked math, but it was mostly because I had a crush on a boy who liked math, so I don’t think that really counts, and then the following year I had a particularly terrible math teacher and any spark of genuine mathematical interest was pretty effectively extinguished.

And it’s true, I can’t get numbers to stick in my head as anything meaningful (although I can sing the “new emergency services” phone number from The IT Crowd).

I do like to look at data though, both in the sense that I enjoy watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I like trying to get concrete information.

(Wow, statistics, IT Crowd, and Star Trek all in one entry. My nerd is really showing.)

The statistics provided by my old Fitbit and now the Apple Watch I wear daily fascinate me as I track my heart rate through the day or over the month, and observe my daily activities affecting overall trends in the numbers. I assess whether I can actually feel those trends reflected in my day-to-day health, and watching the numbers react keeps me from giving up on far-flung fitness goals.

As much as I want to feel like a purist and say I do this blogging thing solely for the sake of writing and that fishing for views, comments and follows feels a little icky, there is a very real thrill of excitement when I get notifications from WordPress of new followers and view milestones.

I remember working on my old baking blog, Beyond the Box, and getting very discouraged with the lack of views and comments. I know a lot of this had to do with my irregularity in posting and I didn’t have the benefit of the WordPress community. Still more had to do with most of the people I know not really caring about baking to the same extent that I do. And that’s fine! It just made it hard to reach a wider audience, especially when I was starting out.

My favorite statistic that WordPress gives me is the map (is a map “a statistic?” Syntactically that feels wrong, but it’s my favorite thing on the statistics page). Seeing the different countries light up when someone far away finds my blog is magical. Obviously, most of my views are from friends and family, and most of them are in the United States with me. I have friends who are currently traveling, and when I see Ireland light up, I know they’ve taken a moment from their adventures to peek in. Sometimes I can piece together specific readers with their countries if they leave a like or comment a couple times, and it adds to the experience when I go read any blog they might have. Connecting with people around the world, even if in the briefest, most passing moment, is fantastic. I do wish that there was a better way to delineate the views from the United States by state or even region. Most of my views are going to be in Missouri, from the people that I know IRL, but I’d love to see if I’m reaching beyond that with any regularity. (If any of you more familiar with WordPress knows how to do this, tips and pointers are always welcome!)

The other statistics, the more raw, general numbers, are still interesting, though. I’m often surprised which posts get the most attention. The posts I’m most proud of usually don’t get as many views, likes, or comments as the posts that I think will be complete flops.

This morning, WordPress told me I hit 1,000 all time views. I don’t know how quickly other blogs grow, but this felt like quite an accomplishment to me, considering I started this blog less than two months ago. I couldn’t remember for sure, because I have a hard time getting numbers to stick in my head, but I don’t think I got 1,000 all time views in the five years I was writing Beyond the Box (two of those years had no posts at all, so it’s all a bit wonky anyway). Most of my posts averaged about 20 views before I became too discouraged and threw in the tea towel.

The blog is still live though, because why not? It’s just a free blogger site connected to my gmail account so I leave it floating in cyberspace to grow mold (and by mold, I mean spam comments that are clearly from a bot and have nothing to do with the posts). Out of curiosity, I pulled up the statistics and took a moment to re-orient myself as the interface had changed drastically since I last looked at it.

To my shock, the all time views were not less than 1000.

Almost 24K, with 100 views this month, and 166 last month. On a blog I haven’t touched since July 2019. That’s more monthly views than I got when I was actually trying. I know some of those are just web crawlers and bots, but I noticed something else.

When I ran out of original (or at least, semi-original) recipes to share, I tried something different. As a fan of the Great British Bake Off (or Great British Baking Show, as it’s known in the US, for reasons that are stupid), I thought it would be fun to try some of the technical challenge recipes for myself. If they went well, I would look very skilled and accomplished; if they went poorly, everyone could laugh at my failures. I could also take the opportunity to explain what changes and conversions I had to make (e.g. if the recipe calls for “strong flour,” an American should use bread flour; what the Brits call “corn flour” is what we know as corn starch, etc.). It was a fun little challenge, but as my waistline grew faster than my audience, I called it quits.

My “GBBO Translations,” however, are far and away the posts with the most views on the abandoned baking blog. Three of the seven have more than a thousand views, and one of those is responsible for nearly nine thousand! What?! Where is this coming from?? Rather than inferring from the timing of the statistics that the internet prefers my silence, I may throw the occasional technical challenge baking entry into the mix over here on Quid Facis. Some of you may not care about that, and that’s okay. It won’t be what I regularly write. But I might draw some attention from corners of the web I’m not currently reaching. And before I gave up on Beyond the Box, I bought a pan for a specific technical challenge recipe that I have still never used (except as a weight to press tofu, because it is cast iron and heavy, but that’s not its intended purpose) so I might as well, right?

Are you a “hard evidence” kind of person? Do you enjoy pie charts, or just pie? Do you want to see a few baking posts mixed in with my unhinged thoughts, or do you think that’s a recipe for failure? Are these puns making you crazy? Leave a comment, and of course, if you know someone who might enjoy my page, tell them about it and make us both happy!

8 thoughts on “Statistics and Inferences

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  1. I enjoy stats and trends and big ideas and interpretation of these things. I love desserts. I would appreciate any ramblings you offer. I’m here for the smorgasbord 😎

  2. Congrats on the stats! I remember when I began my blog back in 2014, I thought maybe my kids would read my prattlings but was astounded when I looked at the stats which began to slowly grow. We all can use a bit of pride when we realize there are others out there that visit and like what we share. Keep up the good work!

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