International Blogging

February 13, 2013 — 23 Comments

countries

Who reads blogs? Well, initially, we find just two sources of readers.

  1. Family & Close Friends who we can coerce into reading it, and put on the spot by publicly asking questions related to our recent columns to tighten the screws just a smidge.
  2. Fellow bloggers who search for interesting reads with the ulterior hope that the writers of posts they “like” will make a reciprocal journey to their site.

Expanding beyond those two categories is the challenge. I suspect that most bloggers are resigned to only reaching a relatively small audience. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, junk mail reaches the boxes of millions, but it is tossed into recycling without a second thought. On the other hand, a blog may only be read by a handful of people, but one or two of them may be wonderfully touched or encouraged through that brief encounter. Junk mail is deleted with a groan. Our posts, in sharp contrast, may elicit a smile, a laugh, or perhaps even an appropriate tear.

I can settle for that.

One of the nice things about being part of the WordPress community is the way writers can monitor their site statistics. One fascinating feature is “Views by Country,” which tracks the national origin of visitors to a blog. (Well, not necessarily their ethnic origin, but the country from which they established their online connection with the website.)

Checking out this resource is fantastic for several reasons. First, it’s pleasant as we note visits from locales with which we have a special bond. Republic of Korea, spent a busy year there ministering to those guarding democracy, but still managed to visit many beautiful sites and established many friendships. United Kingdom, got to live there with my family, and visited amazing historic locations too numerous to list. (But, shouldn’t the UK count as three or four countries?) Guam, we got to live there too and enjoy the scenic ocean vistas. (Of course, it’s not a separate country either, being a Territory of the United States.) So what if the word “country” is applied a bit loosely, the sheer breadth of the program’s coverage is impressive.

A second value of the list is that it is educational. You can learn about the existence and/or location of many exotic lands. I’ve had visitors from the Mongolian steppes of the Khans, WWI catalyst Montenegro, freedom-seeking Syria, and the Viking-haunted Faroe Islands.

The third major benefit of visiting the statistics tool is that it can actually reinforce a writer’s sense that someone out there in the vast global unknown is actually interested in their words. I’m amazed, and a mite humbled, to have had visitors to MereInkling from 129 “countries.” Pretty amazing. When I revisit the list every two or three months I see one or two newly reached populations. Yet, as I look at the map, I see many nations remain to be reached. For example, most of the “-stans” and many countries in Africa have yet to feel the warm and liberating glimmer of light MereInkling attempts to deliver.

The Remaining Mystery

I am still plagued by one unanswered question though.

I readily understand why the People’s [misnamed] “Republic” of China has barred MereInkling from internet availability for their billions of prisoners residents.

What perplexes me is why the Kingdom of Denmark has barred access to MereInkling for the subjugated country of Greenland?!? One would think that, in light of their 5 day summer and 360 winter that they would be eager to read something as entertaining as MereInkling. Why has an internet wall been erected to prevent them from doing so? What, we must wonder, is going on behind that impenetrable Ice Curtain?

Yes, for those who think they’ve noted a flaw in my conspiracy theory, I am fully aware that the Faroe Islands are also technically part of the Danish empire. So, why would citizens of Denmark proper and the occupied Faroes be allowed to visit MereInkling while the Greenlanders are left to find enjoyment in measuring the advance and retreat of massive glaciers? The mystery deepens.

As C.S. Lewis wrote in “The Efficacy of Prayer,” in a passage I’ve wrenched completely out of context: “There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore.”

23 responses to International Blogging

  1. 

    This is one of my favorite WordPress features as well! I also love that they show the flags for each country- I’ve always been fascinated by other flags for some reason. You’ve got me beat on total country views but I have had three visitors from China! (Although I suspect they were spam…)

  2. 

    Reading this puts an inexplicable smile on my face. You’ve managed to tap nerves, stroke egos, offer insight, share compliments and work in Lewis. Love, love, love. :)

  3. 

    and by ego stroke I really do mean encourage. really.

  4. 

    yes, I have wondered too about the purpose of collecting many followers but I guess ultimately we all have a voice, want to be heard and above all, want to make a difference in someone’s life.

    • 

      I believe that’s a natural human desire, more keenly felt by some than others. In fact, now that I’m typing this, I can think of people I know who could care less about influencing or touching anyone else’s life in a positive way . . . so strike that first sentence!

  5. 

    That last line cinched the ‘like’ for me :)

  6. 

    I love checking the country stats. As a matter of fact, I did a few posts dedicated to some of the more unknown ones. It gave people something to pray about, and it also brought exposure to places few have heard of.

    But I’m with you….I don’t understand the Greenland thing.

    • 

      Ever since my childhood I’ve been fascinated by geography. Learning about diverse cultures is rewarding, and being able to pray specifically for people in remote or sparsely populated locales is clearly an added benefit.

  7. 

    An excellent post . . . and, might I add, I’ve had many a great pint in the Eagle and Child.

  8. 

    I “liked” this post and not just in hopes you’d stop by my blog again sometime. I really do enjoy seeing the different countries where my blog readers come from, but lots of times, I find myself wondering out loud, “Why on earth would someone from X country want to read about that?” I have enjoyed the ongoing geography lesson I get from the stats page, though. Just curious, how do you know which countries have blocked your site?

    • 

      The “blocking” comment is just tongue-in-cheek. Of course, some countries, China and North Korea among them, have broad firewalls to prevent access to information they deem threatening to their regimes.

  9. 

    I’m with hopesquires. How do you know it’s banning, not lack of interest (or English abilities)?
    For a while I used another site stats monitor and it showed China a lot more than WordPress admitted to.
    Limited Christian access countries are especially exciting as it means the internet is clearing a way for us to minister. It’s also humbling to realize how wide a reach we have for our lone voices. It’s a responsibility and a joy!

  10. 

    As I just noted above, I was joking about being singled out for “banishment” by certain parties. Yes, recognizing the extent to which our words travel to the far corners of the world is quite humbling.

  11. 

    Had to giggle over this one! It is fun isn’t it?

  12. 

    Why must it be a settling? There is something sweet, isn’t there, in connecting more closely with few than connecting superficially to many? I feel that most of the good in the world is made through small ripples of God.

    I love the country-of-origin feature, though I suspect lots of spam-bots are involved in all the stats. Still, there are non-spam folks as well!

  13. 

    Thanks for reminding me why I write – I needed that encouragement. :-)

  14. 

    My word but that’s funny, Rob! Nicely done. And on whether we write for many or a few, I think the reason I write is because I think I’ve got something to say and I sure hope the Holy Spirit redeems it for anyone who reads my stuff.

    And on those people who are only looking for more page views, I’ve got a couple people who subscribed to my blog for that reason, apparently. When I went to check out their sites, the about page was filled (filled!) with comments from people saying things like “thanks for following me”. How can anyone follow over 100 blogs in any meaningful sense?

    Cheers,
    Tim

    P.S. Lived in England for a while too.

  15. 

    I asked this same question just recently on my blog. Why would anyone in a non-
    English speaking country read my blog? To practice reading English? I also asked the Greenland question. Why no readers from Greenland (that big white northern country on my otherwise quite colorful WordPress world map)? I have even started looking at blogs from Greenland to see why anyone would be writing a blog from there anyway. I came across an interesting one by Dani (forgot last name, but I’ll go back and get it). She is a Filipina living in Greenland. I’ll be back.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Promoting Our Writing « Mere Inkling - June 19, 2013

    […] Fortunately, communities such as wordpress include features that allow us to track statistics in an accurate manner. Even when visitors fail to comment or formally “like” a post, they still leave digital footprints. I’ve written before about how enjoyable it is to see how frequently your page has been visited by people from all around the world. […]

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