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This is not about baseball, but about blogging, but times are hard for some columnists, so I needed to get your attention.
Steve Sailer has put up his March statistics (More records for iSteve, April 3) showing that last month his posts generated 19,707 comments containing a total of 1,485,295 words. By any standards, this is a considerable achievement. It raises the question as to how he managed to write an extraordinary 159 posts in March. Very many people read them and were motivated to comment. First, some very minor analysis. On average (probably a skewed distribution, as inspection of the actual comments will reveal) comments were 75 words long, which is not verbose. On a per post basis, an iSteve post generates 124 comments.
By university standards, he is an entire department. Ability and application have combined fruitfully. He generates a slipstream in which other scribblers can catch a favourable breeze which tows them along, present company not excepted.
Universities are fond of statistics, while pretending to ignore them. The Science Citation Index is an important metric of productivity, but has been surpassed by the more complicated but supposedly more comprehensive Hirsch index, that measures both the productivity and citation impact of an academic. Whatever the precise formula calculated, staff are rated by publications: their number (4 a year is a ballpark figure); the impact factor of the journals in which the publication appeared; the impact factor being derived from how much they are read; the amount they are read being derived from how long they were established and how many hopeful papers they receive and reject; and then in addition to publications, the amount of grant money the scholar has brought in, multiplied a little by the difficulty of getting money out of a particularly prestigious government body, and sometimes divided by the number of people who obtained the grant.
I have simplified somewhat, but I am told the real metric is simpler: how much money. If you have raised less than a million you have not understood how the system works. Against all that, blogging is a harmless activity. On the other hand, perhaps the assessment of bloggers is as merciless: until a blogger gets over a million comment words a month, he is a mere scribbler.
To put Steve Sailer’s stellar output into context, as a new columnist, last month I was proud to get 801 comments containing a total of 107,417 words. So, Steve has generated 25 times more comments and 14 times more comment words. Even allowing for the lower productivity expected of columnists, and reasonable period for apprenticeship, the rest of these remarks are a mere postscript to this glaring disparity. However, even as I seek to emulate his achievements, I am not without guile. From a very weak position, similar to most marginal university departments, I can assemble some statistics to avoid being relegated to well-deserved obscurity.
Steve: 159 posts; 19,707 comments; 1,485,295 comment words; 9,341 per post
James: 6 posts ; 801 comments ; 107,417 comment words ; 17,902 per post
Could you please comment on this post? You may develop your arguments at length.