An Unexpected Avalanche

You know how I wrote yesterday that a publication on Medium had syndicated a few of my posts ? After the initial surprise and excitement, reality kind of set in – the posts got read by a few hundred people, and then everything seemed to go quiet. I sat here and imagined a tumbleweed rolling past.

While all of this was going on, I was sitting on a new post – one I had cobbled together out of bits of old posts, and tidied up – with the plan to perhaps post it next weekend – to at least put one post a week on the “sensible blog” (you know – the one where I don’t rant about washing up).

For some reason I thought “oh to hell with it”, and posted it. A little while later, an email arrived from the editor of the publication on Medium that had picked up the other posts – they wanted this one too. I got back on my chair for the second time in twenty four hours, and said that yes – yes, they could have this post too. And then I started breathing again.

The other posts had been seen by about seventy people each, according to the world of statistics that were now flying at me. Within a few minutes the new post overtook both of them, and I have no idea why. I can only guess that the “algorithm” at Medium works in a similar way to the other social behemoths – matching popular content against people following some sort of insanely complex “grand plan”. Or maybe it’s just random ?


As of about ten minutes ago, the post – a nerdy look back at my involvement with Linux over the years – has been seen by roughly twelve thousand people. The numbers are still getting bigger as I write this. That’s a lot of people! One reader took it upon himself to point out a punctuation error. Another pointed out a factual error – I looked him up – he was the co-founder of WordPress (gulp).

My next stop was Twitter, where people were sharing links to the post, and then Google Analytics – it hadn’t even occurred to me that people would be following the breadcrumbs back to the source of the writing. It’s all a bit mad really.

Of course now I’m resisting the temptation to start writing the next think piece right now. I need to give it a few days, and calm the f*ck down though. Deep breaths.

8 thoughts on “An Unexpected Avalanche

    1. A flash in the pan post that goes viral is hardly “fame” – I fully expect my next post to reach a grand total of twenty views (or something similar) πŸ™‚


  1. I hope your arc is broader and deeper than mine. After my first novel won a small scale, but critically acceptable award, I sold some books. Not a great number, but for a moment, I felt recognized. The world of selling novels is labyrinthian, at best. And soon, I was a flash in the pan. The internet, and shorter features makes a big difference, and I hope that your unique view from your corner of the universe catches on. It won’t make any difference in the laundry, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m deliberately keeping a lid on expectations – I have no illusions that this was a flash in the pan. Over the next few months – if I publish something each week (it seems to be the weekend is the time to aim for – so publish on Friday night), I’ll at least be able to see what the main drivers are.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Also, if you are willing to write for an audience (rather than write, and hope to find an audience) categorize your posts so that you can track what gets the traffic. Be particular that your titles reflect the posts–because otherwise that can skew your analysis. My all-time high traffic post is a reflective piece, about raising emu chicks and the comparison to raising kids. It’s title is “Naming Emus” and it gets a ton of (disappointed) hits by people who really only wanted suggestions for Emu names.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I’ve been doing my homework already πŸ™‚ In the Medium world it’s more about picking which side of the paywall you want to live in, and which publication you want your writing to be published in – the principles still apply though – to attract eyeballs it’s down to the title, the image, and the excerpt. On top of that, the day of the week counts for a lot too. Beyond that – down to content.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. God. Why all the negativity and caveats ? You are a great writer. That post took a lot of time and effort, was balanced, well written and appealed to a Linux/Tech audience.

    Over 20,000 people read your post. Why – 750 people enjoyed it so much they were moved to click ‘Like’. Just sit back and enjoy the glory. Whether it lasts for 30 minutes, 30 days or 30 months ! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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