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One million hits

September 15, 2011

Last Friday, 861 days after its beginning, JPAttitude.com got its one millionth hit.  I guess that qualifies as a milestone, and maybe there's a bit of pride involved in contemplating that many computers grazing through my website, but the fact is one million hits is a mighty small deal in the world of the Internet.  Mighty small.

And one million hits in 861 days is pretty doggone pathetic.

Almost every day, some teenaged nincompoop will take a cellphone video of something stupid, like maybe a drunk friend who passes out face-first into a plate of nachos, upload said video to YouTube, and get one million hits in a day.  Me, I needed more than two years of persistent effort, constant hassle, and dogged research to equal one day of nacho-face.

Drudge Report has twenty or thirty headlines, no original content whatsoever, and gets about ten million hits per day.  Probably requires ten minutes of work a day from Mr. Drudge.  Sigh.

Looked at that way, it's kind of depressing, but fortunately I never had any doubts or misconceptions about how this would go.  In an era when reading is falling out of favor, JPAttitude.com has been trudging uphill by offering in-depth analysis with nothing but a dash of flare to make it palatable.  (To be honest, some people say "long-winded" rather than "in-depth."  Potato, potahto.) People who visit this site know they have to stop, settle into their chair with a cup of coffee, and read for a while, with no LOLs or WTFs or BRBs to speed them through the meaty parts.

This website is contrarian, unfashionable, illogical from a business perspective, and happy as a clam wallowing in its unconventional strategy... yet, in spite of all those handicaps, slowly but surely it's working.

That’s right, it’s working.  I chart the progress.  One of those charts is down below, to the right of this column.  It shows a record number of hits in August, and it’s already clear that August's record will be broken in September.  By the end of this year I expect to be getting 100,000 hits per month, by the end of next year 500,000 hits per month.  Still unimpressive in the world of the Internet, but it’s a swell trend.

The number of unique daily visitors steadily rises, too, and ditto for the number of clicks on the Google ads, which, in case you don't know, are how websites make money.  When you click on the ad (upper right – go ahead, give it a try), Google keeps track of the fact that the click came from JPAttitude.com, and credits me with whatever they think that click was worth.

Nobody really knows how Google calculates what the click is worth.  Some people pretend to know, but they're lying.  Sometimes JPAttitude.com has a big day and makes a penny.  Other times it has a lousy day and makes a couple dollars.  It’s all a mystery.  All I know for sure is that I'm not earning as much as the owners of Google, who seem to be closing in on owning half the world.

But I'm not bitter.  JPAttitude.com has always been a labor of love.  Not only do I love writing and political philosophy, owning a website is my foothold on immortality, because, believe it or not, Internet pages never go away.  Even after they're removed by their owners, they live eternally at the Internet Archive, where my great-great-great grandchildren can call them up from their home on Mars for kindergarten research projects, read everything I ever wrote, and probably decide, "Damn, great-great-great grandpa was kinduva nutcase, wasn't he?"

I can live with that.  I just hope the family is still speaking English, not Chinese or Arabic.

Here is my favorite JPAttitude.com column so far, “Honor,” written almost two years ago, as it looks after being scanned and stored in the Internet Archive on October 20, 2010.  Isn't that slick?  I don't pay them for that, they just do it.  If you ever made a comment that was posted here, you’re immortal, too.

I started debating on the Internet long before it was WYSIWYG (which means What You See Is What You Get, an acronym used to describe Windows-type operating systems when they first arrived).  I started in 1991 using DOS and a 1200-baud dial-up modem to debate people in plain text on the first great no-rules Internet meeting place for regular people: Prodigy.  If you’re old enough to remember Prodigy, you know how thrilling it was.  The notion of average people discussing things with the whole world was revolutionary.

And exciting.

Prodigy was the Wild West of the Internet, before civilizing forces stepped in and started making rules.  I would hover over my primitive little text-based computer and move from discussion room to discussion room just looking for an argument.  Any argument was good, as long as it was passionate.  When arguments were scarce, like maybe on Christmas Eve when only nerds were online, I’d jump into the Jewish room and tell them I was Palestinian, or jump into the Palestinian room and tell them I was Jewish.  I was happy on either side.

Jumping into the gay room and telling them you were Anita Bryant was a lot of fun, too.  Or so I’ve been told.

Eventually, IBM and Sears, part-owners of Prodigy, decided the no-holds-barred and sometimes-profane-and-insulting conversations were a blemish on their sterling corporate reputations, so they cracked down on users by enforcing rules for civilized behavior... which of course killed the whole allure.  Once the Internet-equals-free-expression cat was out of the bag, it wasn’t going back in.  Average Joes around the world made it clear they didn’t want no stinkin’, prissy, corporate bigwigs telling them what they could say – they made it clear by quitting Prodigy and joining a brand new up-and-comer: America OnLine.

Prodigy ended up going out of business in 2001, the same year AOL was purchased by Time Warner for a couple hundred billion dollars.  One might conclude that Prodigy’s decision to censor its membership was not the smartest business decision ever made.

I moved on to other places to satisfy my urge to debate (Delphi for one), refined my presentation, and eventually decided that I needed a place of my own where I could go into detail, store relevant links on important issues, and maybe, just maybe, make some money from my efforts... while achieving immortality as a side benefit.

(At first I used some personal web space, which is why there are thirteen columns in the archives which pre-date the official May 1, 2009, starting date for JPAttitude.com.)

I'm not sure how many hits a website needs to actually earn a living, but I'm guessing it's about one million per day.  Do the math.  JPAttitude.com is only 1/861th of the way there, but growth is accelerating and doggone it I’m on the radio now, so I must be doing something right.

I like to think visitors to JPAttitude.com are coming here because they appreciate thoroughly-researched, honest, factually-based analysis presented with style and panache.  (He said modestly.)  And most of the words are spelled correctly, two.

Thank you, each and every one of you who visits this site, and thanks especially to those of you who give me positive feedback.  You have no idea how cool it is to have somebody walk up to you in a public place and say, “You’re J.P. Travis?  I read your website religiously!  I love it!”

Happens all the time, swear to God.


From Reno, Nevada, USA       

September 15, 2011 - The only downside is you haven't heard a million people laugh at your funny lines and brilliant wit. Congrats. - Katherine, Reno

September 15, 2011 - I can't believe one million people were stupid enough to visit this site. Maybe they're like me, fascinated by the sheer awfulness of it all, or they're like NASCAR fans watching a replay, hypnotized by the sight of a slow-motion car wreck. - B.J., California
J.P. replies: Mom, is that you?

September 15, 2011 - Congratulations. I always enjoy reading your stuff. Keep up the great job. - Charlie H., Michigan

September 15, 2011 - Hi Jim... reread your archived article on honor. It was great! It always makes so very proud of Dad. Love him and you so. Much. - Mary, Michigan

September 15, 2011 - I am sorry you are disappointed that 1,000 people visit your site every day. Took me two years to hit 800. - Don Surber, West Virginia
J.P. replies: Okay, so maybe I did have grandiose expectations. I thought I would open a website and, naturally, millions of people would flock to see it. Then, for the first two or three months, it seemed like I was the only person visiting. Hard to win a Pulitzer that way, ya know?

September 15, 2011 - Congratulations! One of my favorite websites, created by a stay-at-home mom, took several years to get 1,000,000 hits. Now her site is one of the top ten financial websites world-wide. She began by writing about something she was very passionate about, and though the topic went against the grain, people, especially young women, found her content to be a refreshing change. Keep up the good work, slow and steady! - Samantha, Michigan

September 15, 2011 - CONGRATS, JP. Next year....the 'world'. - Pinky, Reno



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