Sb Soon on WordPress with National Geographic

ScienceBlogs was handed over to National Geographic long ago. Behind the scenes, work has progressed to migrate the site from Moveable Type to WordPress and put NG’s yellow-margins branding onto everything. And now the switch-over is imminent. Late May maybe? The new site is already up on an interim URL. I am now copying the past few weeks’ entries after the migration team copied the database for automatic transferral. Everything looks good except that I haven’t figured out the Scandinavian diacritic characters yet. Any shakiness and flakiness in the near future will no doubt be due to the move. But I feel we’re in good professional hands. One thing the move will mean for the Dear Reader is that you will have the opportunity to log in and use a picture by-line when commenting, effectively becoming more of a steady community member. Onward to glory!

Update 16 May: Good news. Crowd Favourite have solved the Scandy / German / French characters problem and promise to shrink the period for which we need to hand-copy entries from weeks to days.

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De-Lurk

It’s time we had a de-lurk around this here blog! The last one was a year ago. If you keep returning to this blog but rarely or never comment, you are a lurker, Dear Reader, and a most welcome one too.

Please comment on this entry and tell us something about yourself – like where you are, what your biggest passion is, what you’d like to see more of on the blog. And if you are a long-time lurker who has de-lurked before, re-de-lurks are much encouraged!

(Note that due to spam bots and a faulty filter, I have to moderate comments by hand, and so it may take a while for your comment to become visible.)

Aard Turns Five

I began blogging at Blogspot a bit more than six years ago. And five years ago to the day, Aard went live here on Sb! Blogging and the interaction with you, Dear Reader, are a continuing source of daily enjoyment to me.

But looking at the surroundings, things sure have changed at Sb in five years, though you can’t tell from the site design. Aard is one of the longest-running blogs still active here. These days I feel more like I’m at Blogspot again: works well, no frills, no fraternisation with the neighbours.

Sb is no longer a hip well-funded site that attracts big bloggers. We haven’t had a community manager in a long time. And indeed, the sense of Sb community is gone. The back-stage forum is deserted. I don’t know what half of the current blogs are like. Our new Overlords pay us about as little attention as the old ones did after they had to fire our last community manager Arikia. But the new guys have one huge advantage: financial solvency. Bloggers are getting paid on time (at 2006 rates). As the new Overlords can’t be seen to support aggressive atheism, we’ve lost almost all of PZ Myers’ spillover traffic. But my $50 a month were never a main motivation for my blogging. Anyway, I hear we’re set for a back-end and design upgrade sometime soonish.

Aard is currently ranked #19 in terms of traffic here, though the 18 blogs above it on the list include a number of defunct ones whose archives are still attracting major traffic despite their lack of new material. After Pharyngula, whose main existence continues elsewhere, our big cheeses right now are Starts With A Bang (est. January 2008) and Respectful Insolence (est. February 2006).

Six Years Of Blogging

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Today is my sixth birthday as a blogger! Normally these days I would use Twitter and Facebook for such a brief message, but it is after all blog-related.

Here also are the latest pics of an Aard reader wearing one of the blog t-shirts (order here). Andrew Broome is a culinary engineer based in Palmerston North, New Zealand. He comments on the pic below that the spot is “probably as far away from you as it’ll ever get, short of being sent into space” — Bluff, SNZ is the southernmost town in the country. Thanks Andrew! I really want to go to NZ.

Dear Reader, keep those comments and t-shirt/mug pics coming!

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Update next day: Here are my annual traffic stats (mean uniques).

  • 2006: 157 daily readers
  • 2007: 852 daily readers
  • 2008: 937 daily readers
  • 2009: 714 daily readers
  • 2010: 1005 daily readers
  • 2011: 906 daily readers (updated on 1 Jan.)

The figure for 2011 should be seen against the background that in early August, the overall hit rate for the entire ScienceBlogs network dropped almost by half because the Pharyngulites left. Pharyngula is still available on Sb, but it’s a sanitised subset of PZ’s feed, missing the aggressive anti-religion material that our new Overlords can’t condone. Consequently, the casual spillover traffic from Pharyngula to other Sb blogs has shrunk dramatically. I don’t mind much, since I mainly care about attracting and keeping a regular readership.

Aard Mugs In Australia

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Dear Reader Jim Allen of Bellingen, New South Wales, Australia, kindly volunteered to design some Aardvarchaeology merchandise, for which I am very grateful. Here’s Jim at his local museum along with fellow volunteer Charlotte Rogers, in the first picture of readers using their Aard merch! You too can enjoy caffeinated beverages in as stylish a manner as Jim & Charlotte: just head over to the Aard shop for mugs and t-shirts.

Speaking Schedule Oct/Nov

  • Wednesday 5 Oct. 17:00. About Fisksätra before the 1970s housing development. Fisksätra shopping centre, HAMN project office.
  • Thursday 13 Oct. 10:00. About Bronze Age sacrificial sites. Uppsala, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3, Dept of Archaeology.
  • Monday 17 Oct. 18:30. About pseudoarchaeology. Stockholm, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 5, lecture hall D2, Swedish Skeptics.
  • Thursday 27 Oct. 14:00. About the late-1st millennium aristocracy. Norrköping, Saltängsgatan 7, Senioruniversitetet.
  • Thursday 3 Nov. 14:30. About the new media. Kristiansand, Vestre Strandgate 7, Radisson Blue Caledonien (!) Hotel, Norwegian Archaeologists Annual Meeting.

And buy an Aardvarchaeology t-shirt or mug now! Any day now you may find yourself without any clean t-shirts or mugs!

Introducing the Aardvarchaeology Store

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Those free Nigerian scam t-shirts never materialised, but still, the affair prompted me to get some excellent merch art made and set up a web shop. A good thing about this is that now I can offer all three designs submitted by Jim Allen, Stacy Mason and Joe Hewitt!

Dear Reader, hie thee over to Ye New Shoppe and check out the wares! If there’s any item you’re missing and onto which one might conceivably stick the art, then please tell me and I’ll try to add it to the lineup.

Now I want you guys to send me pics of yourselves wearing Aard t-shirts and/or swigging beverages from Aard mugs!

Joe’s Aard T-shirt Design

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Joseph Hewitt of Ataraxia Theatre is the artist who rendered almost the entire ScienceBlogs stable as zombies last summer. He has submitted the third t-shirt design, and when I saw it I thought, “Screw the reader’s poll, this is the one I want!”. So although I’d very proudly wear shirts with the designs by Stacy Mason and Jim Allen/Sweeney too, I’ve decided to go with Joe’s image. Keep your eyes open for a future sweepstakes.

Stacy’s Aard T-shirt Design

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Here’s the second t-shirt design suggestion, from Stacy Mason! Compare the first one from Jim Allen/Sweeney.

And Barn Owl has volunteered to distribute the shirts! So unless a third design comes my way soon, I’ll set up an on-line poll to decide which image goes onto the Aardvarchaeology t-shirts, and then place the order.