It’s time for our annual look back at how this little blog performed in the last year.
I’m not going to lie, as a blogger, 2016 was a long slog. In June 2015, we had hit 1,000,000 page views and our numbers were steadily rising, with more subscribers, more daily page views, more comments. But lest we get the big head, 2016 kind of set us back, with the first annual decline in page views in MissPres’ 8-year history. The strange things is, our numbers were good until the end of May, then they dropped off in June, which is normal for the summer, but they never recovered. In fact, there were weeks this fall–a time when people generally start getting back to business and our readership goes back up–when our views were as low as they were in the first few years of the blog. I’m puzzled by this and have done some research to see if Google is the cause of the sudden drop in interest in Mississippi architecture and preservation, but so far, I don’t have any answers.
Have we just gotten boring? Are posts longer than 140 characters going out of fashion? Were people focused on the election for the last six months of the year?
Or maybe . . . the Russians have hacked us!?
General Stats (Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2016)
- Page Views: 273,467, down from 303,382 in 2015, but still up from 257,127 in 2014
- Average Views per day: 747, down from 801 in 2015, but up from 704 in 2014. I’m reminded while looking at last year’s annual report that my original goal when I started MissPres was to have 100 views per day, so I maybe I need to just stop whining.
- Posts: 216, slightly down from 224 in 2015, but in the range we’ve been steadily keeping for the last four or five years.
- Comments: 1,268, down from 1,475, which was down from 1,557 in 2014. We love comments, so please jump in if you have something to say!
- Busiest month: 28,798 (May 2016)
- Subscribers: 883, plus 88 Facebook followers, which I know has some duplicates. Even still, we have added over 100 subscribers since 2015, up from 782.
Many older posts continue to be strong–we can always tell when someone has posted a link on their Facebook page because all the sudden, an old post gets 200 views in one day. You may have noticed that, even though Abandoned Mississippi continues to be a big draw to MissPres, I haven’t done a post in that series for a while. That’s not an accident. I decided a couple of years ago that I might be doing more harm than good in drawing attention to abandoned buildings that were often open and unprotected. Ghost hunters, architectural salvagers, and just plain vandals are all interested in finding these places, and their interests don’t necessarily coincide with the preservation of the building. I’m not saying I’ll never do another Abandoned post, but I’m being much more careful about which sites I highlight, and they’ll probably be publicly owned rather than private property.
WordPress tells me that the most active time for comments on MissPres is 10 PM and that we average 79 comments per month. The most active post for comments this year was Suzassippi’s Rural Gymnasiums, published on January 26, 2016, with 37 comments, followed closely by Your Southern Grandparents Loved Their Ranch Homes!, published on August 3, with 35 comments.. Unlike previous years, when WordPress sent me my annual numbers, I’m having to put some of these total together from various sources. Unfortunately, that means I can’t give totals for the whole years, just the last 1,000 comments. Given that, here are our most prolific commenters, and thanks to all of you!
- W. White: 62 comments
- Thomas Gentry: 62 comments
- Ed Polk Douglas: 29 comments
- Carunzel: 28 comments
Thomas Rosell’s summary of his favorite posts in “With Gratitude” pretty much already has this category covered. I’ve surprised myself with how much fun I’ve had doing the Industrial Mississippi series, especially with the posts that bring out commenters who used to work at a factory or whose father or grandfather did. These kinds of stories tend to get overlooked and quickly forgotten, so these comments really add research value to each post.
I’ve gotten several emails from people interested in writing a post for MissPres or even a series of posts. In 2017, my goal is that one or more of those potential guest authors will be published, because their topics and perspectives are ones that I would love to give to our readers. I’d also love to see W. White reprise his Google Streetview survey of historic districts to check up on how well our local communities are doing preservation (if you missed his first checkup on Columbus, be sure to head over and read it: “Four Years, Six Demolitions – Columbus’s Disappearing Historic Buildings Through Google Street View“). I also hope for Thomas Rosell to start bringing us Words of the Week, or at least of the Month, again. And I intend to cheer on Suzassippi in her New Deal and 101 Places series.
So, yeah, I guess I’m pretty much planning for everyone else to do all the work this year while I try to track down Vladimir Putin and ask him why he has hacked MissPres.
The main mission of this blog is not necessarily to keep our stats growing but to provide a forum for “building huggers” and “old-house folks” to become real, in-the-trenches preservationists who work to preserve maybe a single building, or their neighborhoods, or a whole town. I hope that, even though our viewing numbers were down this year, that we’ve made progress on this less tangible goal.
Happy 2017, y’all!
Categories: Asides, Historic Preservation
Thanks for the recap. It was a rough year for blogging, for a lot of reasons, but 2017 is a number that just calls your name and says get to work because work is waiting for someone to get to it.
This is an interesting question at a lot of levels, E.L. As one who greatly values what you do, but have probably inadvertently become one of your slackers, I want to give this more thought.
These are times, nationally, of great pessimism, when many (over half the electorate, as though I need to remind anyone of that) see a gathering national darkness ahead. I certainly do, and am quite frightened at prospects for cultural and social justice. Beyond the obvious distractions of this paradigm shift in national “leadership”, I’m not sure if what appears disinterest is more than that. Is this falling-off you see, for instance, targeted toward the preservation community per se, or toward governance’s role of your causes in a VERY RED STATE? Let’s hope it’s more the distractions. Which is cause enough. (As Kafka reminds us, the Devil lies there as much as anywhere.)
I will be curious to read other responses to your call for help.
You live in Connecticut and have a level of state government that will somewhat insulate you from the coming economic and cultural terribleness from Washington.
Now historic preservation is certainly not a cause championed by only Democrats or liberals, nor do all of them have an interest in it; it is something that cuts across partisan lines. A look at the Historic Preservation Caucus in Congress is proof of that. Some Republicans and conservatives are strong advocates for historic preservation. If that was not the case then there would be almost no preservation in Mississippi.
The difference in Donald Trump, in my opinion, is his lack of respect for the laws and civil institutions that bind this country together (which does not even get into his appalling lack of decorum). My discussion of that could go on forever, but I will restrict it to just historic preservation.
Trump in his long real estate career has held little interest in historic preservation and has just as often been its opponent. The number of historic buildings demolished for his projects in New York City and Atlantic City (using taxpayer-funded eminent domain to kick the middle class residents he champions so much out of their houses for his casinos) is noticeable. Other than his personal preservation of Mar-a-Lago, Trump has no historic preservation interest. This is something he shares with President Obama, who spent eight years, if not hindering, certainly not helping historic preservation. Obama frankly did not give a damn about historic preservation. That is one of several reasons why I am not a fan of his. Getting back to Trump and my problem with him in regards to historic preservation is how he is willing to disregard what ever rules are around to get his way. His demolition of the Bonwit Teller Building’s decorative features due to inconvenience (and spite) during his construction of Trump Tower shows this.
Trump’s calls for infrastructure investment are one of the areas where I agree with him, but it could be a concern for historic preservationists in conjunction with his calls to streamline or eliminate regulations. For all its inadequacies, historic preservationists would be gutted at eliminating or modifying for the worse the Section 106 review process. In the eyes of many public officials, both Democrats and Republicans, it unnecessarily slows down “shovel-ready” projects. An America where the Section 106 review is eliminated or modified into a rubber stamp because “the swamp” has been drained of the Cultural Resource Management professionals who oversee it would bring us back to when America “was great” – the wholesale Federally-funded urban renewal seen in the 1950s and 60s.
Due to time, I will have to pick up on this later.
Points well taken, W. White. But just to clarify: though I do now live in Connecticut, I grew up in Mississippi (Corinth), returned to Corinth after college and architectural apprenticeships, and practiced there for another six years before leaving for graduate school in 1982. I have been involved in numerous projects and preservation efforts in Mississippi – including coming down to Meridian and meeting with E.L. and others re the Meridian Police Station, and also meeting in Holly Springs re the sad plight of the once glorious buildings at Mississippi Industrial College. (I was the architect for the restoration of existing buildings and the new buildings being built there in 1980 when Ronald Reagan took office and his administration shamefully – and probably illegally – rescinded the federal funds which were a large part of the funding for the project.)
I’m of the opinion that preservation is best as a grassroots effort, with government as a supporting player, but not the main player. There are certainly Blue States that have strong preservation laws, but there are also Red States that do. Either way, if there isn’t a strong preservation ethic in the citizenry, it doesn’t matter what laws there are. For instance, I would say that Natchez has the strongest and longest-lasting preservation ethic in the state–it is deeply ingrained in both rich and poor and black and white–not to say there’s nobody who disagrees, just that preservation is a default there in a way that it isn’t in many other communities. Because of that ethic, the big preservation battles in Natchez tend to be led by private organizations or private citizens, rather than being pushed by a preservation commission. Not that the commission is irrelevant, but they have support at the grassroots rather than being out there on their own, a few commissioners wanting to save a building.
Two of the most conservative states, Texas and Mississippi, have two of the strongest state antiquities laws that protect publicly owned properties (again, there always has to be a will to carry out these laws, and in recent years, MDAH has certainly had some lapses, but the law is there and that’s significant). Under George W. Bush, we had two national preservation grants–Save America’s Treasures (established under Bill Clinton) and Preserve America. Obama wiped both of those out in his first or second budget. So, I get very uncomfortable when people start trying to force preservation into a political box, first because my experience is that it transcends those boxes, and second because to remain a viable movement, preservation has to transcend those boxes.
I do agree that some anti-government folks want to throw out preservation laws, and W. White is right about the consequences of not having those laws, but we need to fight all the harder to talk about the true history of preservation as a grassroots movement that actually finally brought the excesses of big government to heel in the 1960s. What could be more anti-Big Government than standing in front of a government-funded bulldozer and saying, “Not my neighborhood!”
LikeLiked by 2 people
You make some good points, but Mississippi, for its strong antiquities law, is also a case study in the limitations of the private approach to historic preservation. For all of Natchez’s overall success, we have seen multiple antebellum building collapses along Martin Luther King Jr. Road since this site began and the continued deterioration, in the face of limited available governmental penalties and intransigent/ineffective property owners, of Melmont and Arlington. For all the good work and their numerous active members, how has the Historic Natchez Foundation been able to affect historic preservation efforts on endangered private properties with no regulatory apparatus to help them? That is not to denigrate the organization, but they simply are unable to do much in that regard.
It is one thing to rail against big, bad government (as Mississippi is wont to do ad infinitum), but post urban renewal has seen the private sector do most of the dirty work of destroying historic buildings. I agree that grassroots historic preservation is vital, indeed the most vital thing that should be emphasized. But all of the Federal Government’s historic preservation programs are examples of “big government.” The Antiquities Act was part of Theodore Roosevelt’s slate of Progressive Era legislation. The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) was a product of the biggest government this nation has ever had, the New Deal. The Great Society period saw the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966. These happened because of grassroots movements, especially NHPA as a reaction to urban renewal.
But, for today’s historic preservationist, the most common experience is standing in front of a privately-funded bulldozer, looking towards local, state, or federal government, and saying, “Stop my neighborhood from being destroyed!”
Malvaney, I think we could expand this into a couple of editorials on the nature of historic preservation in regards to grassroots, big/small government, etc.
Malvaney, one thing I have suggested in the past to you, to increase the “preservation” content of the site is to cover the minutes and activities of the state’s various historic preservation commissions. Those HPCs are where the ugly sausage of historic preservation is made, and having served as chair of one, I know how important they are and how easily subverted by political interests they are. One only needs to look at Preservation in Mississippi’s favorite whipping post (deservedly), Meridian, to see an example of that.
I know that we have both seen the difficulties in doing such work. HPC meetings are barely publicized and almost never have minutes posted online with some cities not even listing their schedules, minutes, members, or very existence on their city websites. Mississippi government, at all levels, is pathological in its desire to withhold public records from the public. It is something Mississippi certainly deserves its worst in the nation ranking in. So requesting records from a group of (almost always) intransigent city governments is a tall order.
It is a project I have thought worthwhile for several years, but have not figured out an effective (and not time consuming) way of tackling. Perhaps the general readership of Preservation in Mississippi will either have some ideas or be willing to assist with this. If one reader each from Natchez, Columbus, Starkville, Jackson, Tupelo, and every other town, big or small, would be willing to request their HPC’s minutes, the project would be more easily accomplished, and Preservation in Mississippi would be able to create a month-by-month account of the activities happening in all of Mississippi’s local historic districts.
Interesting statistics and comments – Ya’ll gave me a good read tonight! However, I’m skeptical about WordPress’ statistics and wonder how accurate they really are. Don’t worry about the numbers, just keep writing and I’ll keep reading. Thanks and Happy New Year!
I live in AZ so I can’t add anything about Mississippi architecture, but I do know I love the posts and have set aside a file on my email for saving them so I can really spend time with the post. What happens being a research freak, is I’ll end up spending a day looking into a building you post that’s being (or has been demolished), then I research that architect to find other things they did, they I check my cemetery site to see if they have a memorial and if not, I find something to send. This is why I have over 1,000 posts in a separate file :) My first memory of finding the site was when I purchased some old magazines and found some houses done by a Mississippi article. I sent in the scans and then think I sent you the magazine, E. L. So even though I don’t live there, architecture is my love, and I thoroughly enjoy everyone’s posts!
Just throwing in my two cents to say I always take the time to open my “preservation emails” just to see what is going on. It’s been a really hectic year for me, but with few exceptions, I read the entire, well-written post. (I have no interest in the Old Capital or Fondren but that’s just me, I realize there must be a lot of interest from other readers.) But I was interested in your heavy hits from Russia because we have been seeing the same thing, with China coming in a strong second. Love the hits, concerned about the sources. Keep up the good work on your end – your efforts are much appreciated!
Just to add to the subscribers category, we’ve got 233 Twitter followers about 80 of those have followed @PreservationMS in the past year. As you mentioned with Facebook, some of these maybe duplicates to both email subscribers. We had a boost mid year of both twitter and email subscribers that appeared to be bots. These bots have appeared to have unfollowed MissPres on twitter, but I cannot say about the email bot followers.
I’m not sure what the difference is but the counter on the home page says there are 971 followers to MissPres, but I see under the dashboard stats the 883 is a combination of email and WordPress subscribers.
I think the home page counter is adding the Facebook followers into the total.
Another milestone of note, MissPres now has more than 2000 posts.