Metafilter came from two or three internets ago, when a website’s core audience — people showing up there every day or every week, directly — was its main source of visitors. Google might bless a site with new visitors or take them away. Either way, it was still possible for a site’s fundamentals to be strong, independent of extremely large outside referrers. What’s so disconcerting now is that the new sources of readership, the apps and sites people check every day and which lead people to new posts and stories, make up a majority of total readership, and they’re utterly unpredictable (they’re also bigger, always bigger, every new internet is bigger). People still visit sites directly, but less. Sites still link to one another, but with diminishing results. A site that doesn’t care about Facebook will nonetheless come to depend on Facebook, and if Facebook changes how Newsfeed works, or how its app works, a large fraction of total traffic could appear or disappear very quickly.
The same variability afflicts a little blog like this one. For instance, here are the views for a series of posts from earlier this month:
The variation depends on whether the posts are linked to by more popular venues, which can include blogs — I get traffic from Andrew Sullivan and Rod Dreher, for instance — but are more likely to be sites that people don’t even visit directly, but access via Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. It’s a weird world we’re writing and reading in. I liked some of the older internets better. And I wish Metafilter well.