The Daring Fireball Effect

In February my post Apple’s Churning of the Gut was linked to by John Gruber at Daring Fireball and briefly went to the front page of Hacker News [1]. This is the third time since I started the blog that John has linked to one of my articles. It is an honor each time.

I’ve been curious, though, regarding the long-term impact of these kinds of links. The first two times I was writing only once a week. Since at the time of this third link I was writing every day, I was curious if those who clicked through would stick around. The short answer: no. See this graph [2]:

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 8.56.35 AM

There is absolutely zero up-tick in the numbers for my own blog in the months following the Daring Fireball post.

Honestly, I’m surprised. I found a lot of interesting people to follow once I started reading John’s blog, especially in the early days of iOS development when John linked to far more independent developers [3]. I thought a few would have stuck around but when looking at the numbers, there is literally zero change in readership.

One possible explanation is that these users are RSS subscribers. I don’t believe WordPress is counting RSS subscribers correctly (if at all) in these numbers and therefore the count is not accurate. Given that I don’t truncate my RSS feed [4], they very well may not be counted. (Update: I found my Google Reader following, which is 3x my daily web view rate. Others report Google Reader accounts for 1/2 their RSS following. I have no idea what this number was before the Daring Fireball link.)

None of this is to diminish from the absolute rush of having one of my posts recognized by what I consider the leading publication on Apple’s perspective. I will admit it is a huge time-sink for a day or two, though, as I combed through more comments then this blog has had in its lifetime! Given that, John, I’m happy to make the sacrifice any time. 🙂

[1] This was a funny experience, by the way. The Hacker News community pretty much concluded I was a fanboy idiot while Daring Fireball’s community was in total agreement with my conclusions. Thus goes the holy wars of mobile operating systems.

[2] I believe the light blue is page views while the dark blue is unique visitors.

[3] John seems to link most often to a select group of publications and friends. This is completely gut feel. He may actually link to a wider group than I give credit. I may just be more familiar with the names now.

[4] If you are unaware, you can set  the RSS feed to only include a portion of the post. This means the user has to come to the site, via a “Read More” link, to read the rest of the post. In addition, Google Reader, the leading RSS feed reader (for now since Google announced its cancellation), only reads the post once and then makes it available to everyone who has subscribed to it from that one read. Thus everyone who follows me on Google Reader may very well only count as one view.

6 thoughts on “The Daring Fireball Effect

  1. I completely agree with your footnote (3). DaringFireball seems to be a traffic funneling device for those blessed with John’s attention (Horace Deidu, Marco Arment, etc.). Perhaps this isn’t that surprising, but it is getting to be an echo chamber in the Apple analysis world.

    • I wouldn’t call it an echo chamber. I think that’s a little too narrow and implies that he doesn’t have strong opinions. It implies he only echoes the opinions of others, which I don’t think he does. He does seem to link to a handful of people, including those you mentioned, the most. Obviously they all share a very similar opinion. Honestly, I wish there was similar insightful analysis and perspective for Microsoft and Google but I haven’t found it yet.

  2. Elia, I’m just commenting to note that I’m one of those RSS subscribers. I discovered your blog through John’s post and subscribed right way. Maybe John’s readers are just heavy RSS users.

    • Thanks, Lucas! I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case. After all, I am one of them, too, when it came to all the bloggers I found via Daring Fireball. (Actually, now that you mention it, I believe John has commented that he has a very large RSS readership, like 1/2 million.)

      • Maybe the Daring Fireball effect is bigger than this data shows, after all. 🙂

        (Great blog, by the way, keep up!)

        • I was able to track down some data and updated the post above. “I found my Google Reader following, which is 3x my daily web view rate. Others report Google Reader accounts for 1/2 their RSS following. I have no idea what this number was before the Daring Fireball link.” Thanks for the encouragement!

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