Riddle Me This, Batman...

Savinar (known to you as AMPOD) and I were bantering in a comment thread last week about TOD traffic stats. I brought up the fact that TOD is, according to The Truth Laid Bear, #155 in web traffic (measured in unique visits--for all of the sites TTLB tracks--and if we doubled our traffic we would barely crack the top 100), but #2189 in the number of temporary and permanent links to TOD (again--that TTLB can track) from others in the 'sphere. (noting also that technorati has a higher number of cumulative links).

I think one reason for this is that we haven't been around all that long compared to some of the more ancient sites, and we kind of missed the initial "blogrolling" phenomenon. The other may be that not a lot of the bigger blogs link to "niche" (or "controversial") blogs like this one.

The traffic number is really great, we're up there pretty darned high. But, any thoughts on this? Is this something we should work on?

Cold winter, hurricane in gulf, $80 oil, and continued good content will do it for you.
I agree.

This site is destined to become a "superstar" since That Other Site is taking on more of a "nuke their ass, we want their gas" attitude, between all the junk about wanting a girlfriend, whether 9-11 was a hoax, substitutes for The Blue Pill, and other dreck.

Keeping it on the PO topic, keeping it high quality, is the way to go.

I think the point of this thread is, the Original Poster wants to get suggestions for how to get MORE hits even though this site is growing exponentially. Because MORE is GOOD.

> That Other Site

which other site?  initials at least, please, for us lazy and clueless?

A conceivable reason for the low linkage would be if TOD's readers tend not to be bloggers themselves.  Is this true? HIIK.
(new acronym, disguising profanity, so as not to alarm the net nanny SW)

Agree.  Although I haven't posted at PO.com for over three months, every time I lurk over and take a peak there, my doomerosity level goes up.  The tone has become very nasty and brutish.  As Monbiot has famously remarked, post peak "We will all go back to fighting like cats in a sack."
Thanks for the warning.  This seems sadly serious enough.  The other site sounds like I should buy ammo.
the other site was over-run with gun maniacs who want to emulate john Wayne.
they don't seem to understand that having a arsenal at your disposal just makes you a big target for any government crackdown that will happen as depletion kicks in.
This question will undoubtedly peg me as html illiterate, but is there a trip meter somewhere on this page? I often wonder what sort of traffic we get, and I'm not sure where to go look, except when you post threads like this and explicitly tell us....
there's a link to it up there in the post, but there's also a permanent link (a green box) over in the right sidebar, pretty far down called "sitemeter"

Hummm, this sounds like something I would hear from Walmart?
Seriously, how many and who do you really want coming to this site?
If you had 5 million people coming here every day could we even begin to wade through all the posts and would there be enough of them on "Peak Oil" to justify the time and effort of those of us who come here particularly for the technical information? (And the level of technical information is really great ! Thank you to all those with the capability to provide all the great articles and graphs - which I love even if it does take long down loads on my slow rural dial-up account)
The fact that there are some very valuable bits of information in some of the comments makes it worth it now to wade through the large amount of off topic stuff to find the good technical information. If the level of comment posting goes up significantly I would have to cease to go through the comments just from a time standpoint. And I am afraid the noise ratio of off vs on topic posts would get much greater.
I think the old addage of "Think carefully what you ask for, you just might get it" comes in to play.
Was only going to put my 2 cents worth in and rang up a 15 dollar rant. Sorry.


I completely agree. I used to like Daily Kos, but as millions of people come there and post, the level of discourse descends until it is sometimes little better than reading graffiti on the bathroom walls. "Fuck Bush" and etc.

This site is outstanding, in part because of the collegiality that comes from not being overrun.

What matters is not the numbers of people we get, but the quality. For instance, I'd be willing to bet that the writers of the Chicago Trib piece on Peak Oil lurked on our site, in order to help with their research. There needs to be a place where reasonable people can go to get quality information and reasonable, (mostly) civil discourse.

I hope you can forgive me for what follow my post bellow. I did not intend it to go the direction it went. again sorry

if I had the communication skills required to be an effective contributer here at tod my post would have sounded alot more like jon kutz's

again sorry for the... you know

The higher the traffic, the more pressing the need for some kind of moderation. Why not just use reddit? Disable comments,  instead write "discussion on reddit", and you got a great feedback/moderation system for free.
I have found now that DIGG has a political section, that more and more stories are appearing on subjects like oil, and resource related conflicts (Iraq, Iran etc)... so I set myself up an account, and post comments, linked back here...

There is still a lot of misinformation out there, which we can set straight ..  I think DIGG, and others are a good place to raise awareness out there in cyberland, and especially with the younger demographic that tends to be online, who are large consumers, and tend to make better informed decisions (think buying economical cars, voting etc)..

I encourage all TOD'rs to create accounts and get linking !!

amen and amen.  digg, reddit, name it.  that's what those icons are for under the titles of the articles!
More links are always good--but I'd bet search engine placement is better. Here's what people are Googling: Orange= "oil price," Green = "peak oil," Blue = "oil shortage," Red = "oil depletion."

TOD ranks well on Google for "peak oil"--#8 in my search, lower part of page 1. Issue: "peak oil" is still a bit of a term for the cognoscenti--the people who know the language can find us easily, and those who don't can't.

We are outside of the top 60 on the other search terms, including the most common, "oil price." (And that is probably the hardest term to rank well on.) Note, on the bottom graph, that there is huge news volume on oil prices, and very little on the depletion issues that are causing the high prices.

My suggestion: let's find a way to tie TOD to oil price references.

Oil Price Drum?
True enough that TOD appears on the first page of Google results for "peak oil," but remember that about 40% of search users click on the first search result returned, 8% click on the second, and it's downhill from there.

8000+ visitors per day is a good number. I imagine you have a very high percentage of return visitors, which is bad for PPC revenue; I hope you make enough to pay for the bandwidth anyway.

The TTLB Top 100 tend to be either highly partisan political blogs or blogs with very high technology/geek/nerd content. #155 for a niche topic like energy policy is excellent. My blog -- which is about bicycles -- has been linked to by a couple of the top 100 only when I deliberately create link bait, and it's always on something technology or blog-geek related. If you get mentioned on Boing Boing, BTW, you'll instantly get linked to from at least a dozen other blogs. But I digress -- TOD will only make BoingBoing if you demonstrate a pie-in-the-sky way to harvest fat from people to make biofuel.

Vulgar language doesn't seem to be a factor in a blog's popularity; and in fact many of the top blogs are very heavy in it. And I'm amused by those who advocate free speech and then immediately pounce on those who object to language.

Back to TOD's number 8 ranking on Google -- something is wrong because in spite of 2500 backlinks to the home page and nearly 200,000 thousands links altogether into TOD, you only have a Google PageRank of 2. I think you can improve your placement on Google with some effort. Yahoo has your old blogspot site on page four of results. On MSN you're at the top of page two. If you want to work on SEO, you'll need to make decisions about what search phrases you want to rank for.

If you want to work on SEO, you'll need to make decisions about what search phrases you want to rank for.
Exactly. We're good on the specialist phrase, but not on the general one.  

Good suggestions. FYI, we have referred to another site explaining how to harvest fat from people to make biofuel. Nobody cared, probably because it was a thin guy. http://www.earthrace.net/view.asp?webpage=1228

yep, page rank is tied to the large number of links on our front page.  Page rank is basically a ratio of links in to links out, and we have a very big denominator.
also cyc, we did get boing'ed and farked a couple of times during the hurricanes, and who can forget HO's first huge post that got us on the map with the picture of a depleted/water cut oil field, which I cannot seem to find at the moment (anyone remember where that link is or what it was called?)

by the way, RR, here's one of my posts on the gas tax:


here's that HO post that got farked and boing'ed:


still applicable, much like many of HO and Stuart's posts.  :)

My suggestion: let's find a way to tie TOD to oil price references.


The only suggestion I have is one I have gently put forth about three times before:

Let us have an informal rule against foul language. It adds nothing to the quality of our discussion and it means that hundreds of thousands (a million? How can anybody know?) of potential visitors to the site are blocked by censorship programs at public and school libraries.

Can anything think of a good reason NOT to have an informal ban on profanity, obscenity, and blasphemy?

By golly, no freakin way!

 go talk about your dick somewhere else then. I'd appreciate it.
maybe we could get the hardcore doomers to converse in there own thread
"the doombeat"
I can't even recommend this site to close friends cause the doomers drown out the po discussion. that sucks
Thank you for your constructive input;-)
Yeah no more goddamn bad language, and no pictures of ppl with their shirts off, and woman shall only be shown in burquas, and oh yeah, if you're talking about something and feel impelled to put in a photo of a Michaelangelo painting, well just can that, since depicting the Deity will offend Allah, and.... and.... and.......
I think you are confusing Sailorman with AMPOD. AMPOD has the problem with his own small(extremely small) penis. He tried to f*** me with it once. I called the cops. I think that was the right thing to do. The officers on the scene couldn't believe how small his schwincky was. They wrote that into the report. AMPOD is also the doomer. Apparently you are the one with either the Alzheimer's problem or the problem with extreme stupidity. Remind me. Call me for more advice.
The only person I've seen on here getting all statistical about penis size is our Old Sailorman, in between tall tales enough to fill up 6 Walter Mittys' lifetimes.......
Yeah, well...This is about to become a decisive battle. Stay tuned. It's win or lose. From what I hear, AMPOD is shitting his panties. He was using the Imperial System, while Sailorman uses metric. This translates to a very big size differential. Hahhahaaahahahaahahahaaaa!. Run, bitch.
Let's see, AMPOD has a site that's one of the gold standards of Peak Oil news, and da Sailorman has a bunch of bored comrades at the old folks home dozing off because they keep hearing the same stories.....
Funny. You just signed your death warrant. Did you want a firing squad or the noose?
Firing squad - I know how most ppl shoot.
At first I thought you said moose ... I'd take firing squad.
AMPOD is one of the Gold Standards of BULLSHIT. ampod IS bullshit.

Tell me why LATOC ranks number one when you type "oil" into Google. Explain that to me.

Explain that to me. Please.

How does that work?

Even Matt can't pull that off, shithead.

Maybe because it's a well done, informative, site. I like the color/graphics/general layout, and while old Matty does make a few spelling mistakes, it's probably the one site I'd point someone to who wanted an overview (and links to go further) into learning about Peak OIl.

I think some of this may come down to keywords, and, are "metatags" still used in web pages? I think it's a very good point that people are most likely to look up things pertaining to current events, who knows, maybe a "Peak Oil And Lebanon" article, feature, something, may boost this site's numbers.

I'll tell you what. I'll put a piece about Lebanon on my site tomorrow. Will that shut you up? Will you praise it far and wide? For fuck's sake, if it was all about Lebanon, kid, you coulda told me before. Fuck, I didn't realize how much you loved the Levant.
"Metatags" - Yeah, like I don't know. C'mon. How much longer do I have to listen to this shit? oh, I don't. Seeya.
Oil CEO: Your blogspot is concise, attractive, informative, and articulate.

Let's do a trade: here at TOD, please post the stuff you currently put up on your own site. Then, take what you're posting here, and put it over there.

There are definitely some here that do NOT want TOD to succeed in a larger scope as displayed be the exchanges above.
 Sitting here this morning skimming through the above exchanges while listening to my 6 roosters outside trying to outcrow one another, I was struck by the amazing similarities. Now my roosters are quite handsome but not too bright and definitely testosterone-impaired.
Now that's funny!  I guess it's easier to ignore this crap than it is the roosters.  I just hit that little "X" in the upper right and this stuff all disappears, but the darn roosters just keep on going.....
> struck by the amazing similarities

Yup.  You can learn an awful lot about people from poultry.

Replying mainly to Sailorman's initial plea for Maturity and Sensibility.. maybe a respect for communication and language.

Well, Hallelujia to the Law of Unintended Consequences!  I do think there IS an informal ban on profanity, implemented by a great many posters not engaging in it, and reminding each other that it's possible and preferable to do likewise.  But when some folks descend into an f-bomb fest, it does have the effect of showing by contrast how sensibly and carefully other people at this site are working to communicate.

I've been drawn into the occasional muck-fest, and immediately regret it, since we are all trying to figure out what kind of people we are dealing with, and generally only have raw-text and a few between-the-lines-intuitions to do it with.

I did like the SouthPark movie's take on how misplaced it is to demonize potty-talk above, say violence, or Canadians, but that doesn't do much to help those who decide to fling it around here as if it's powerful and biting expression from looking like hapless idiots.

"Always tell the truth.  This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest"  Mark Twain

Bob Fiske


I have a computer degree (wich put me right along chikens and some other small animals in the food chain) but I have mastered ways to put forward a website in the first search result in google.

It involve using that kind of code on EVERY pages in any website :

<meta name="keywords" content="ville de Roberval, Roberval, Politique Culturelle, Culture, arts, musique, spectacles, sports">
<meta name="description" content="Ce site contient toute l'information reliée à la ville de Roberval.">

I modify slightly each page to contain the right keyword that fit the page but since it's for Roberval, I always include Roberval.  Theses have got me from unkown rank beyond page 20 in google to top result in about 2 month after I made the new website.  

Meta tags really do help

Search engines have not used the contents of the meta keywords tag for years. If you redesigned the site then it'll be ranking higher for other reasons.
Just don't come back, nitwit.
you can't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.
Ah, great, Oil CEO's gone asshole on us all again.
Oil CEO,

That was before the surgery. But (as you know) that got botched REAL BAD and now there's a court case so I can't talk too much about it right now. Once it's resolved I'll fill folks in on the details and post the before and after photos.

I agree. The top reason I ignore the comments section most days is the number of people polluting the water with their own verbal detritus. I'd expect this site to take a somewhat classier approach, but that's a losing battle without full-time enforcement.

At the very least, you can take comfort in knowing that you have sympathy from a number of others.


My theory is the success (as measured by traffic) of any peak oil site is 80% due to world events: Hurricane Katrina, the price of oil, etc.

Sometimes people will email to say "Matt you've done such a good job." I typically reply, "really I just happened to put the site up at the right time just as the war in Iraq was going to shit and the price of oil started climbing aggresively."

Even the best maintained po site in the world would not have gotten 500 visits a day in 1998.

Matt, you've done such a good job.

There have been a lot of good conversations here and a ton of good information posted. I think a cherrry picking of the the threads to create a real tomb of the issues would be fantastic.

www.peakoil.com does this to some extent right now with there sticky threads. I think a wiki format would be beast.

Making all the information more accesible will really improve sticky traffic and linking.

I forgot to mention: ranking highly in the Blogosphere (FWIW) means participating and sharing in the link love. You have lots of people linking to TOD and commenting here, but you rarely reciprocate (that I've ever noticed). You need to have somebody watching the trackbacks and at least visiting the sites who linked to you to say "thank you." It doesn't hurt also to keep a watchdog on Technorati for the term "peak oil" to keep an eye on new blogs that might mention the topic and then leaving a comment when they do. It's late and I'm in a rush to get to bed so I hope I'm making sense here.
No, you're not making much sense. That's OK. Like you said, you were going to bed.

This is THE premier peak-oil site. We bow to no one. If you want to understand oil - YOU come here. Understand?

There is no THE premiet right now. To get the whole picture you need to look at peakoil.com and read Montequests's stuff, to dieoff.org, read Diamond if not Tainter, read AMPOD's site, and yes, this one, watch some of those peppy Peak OIl movies out there in netland, etc. There's no one site that's the be all and end all of peak oil.

I see this as a good sign, in science, there's never one be-all and end-all. The One True Source Of Knowledge is found in things like religion, and Peak Oil isn't a religion, it's a discovery. Or something.

No I don't. I can look at whatever I want. Fuck You. You're an idiot. Bite me.
OilCEO old pal, you're going to log in later and be very dismayed at what your 13-year old kid has typed on here, and even more dismayed at how much Seagram's 7 the little bugger went through......
My kids are under strict orders to stay away from the Seagrams. They can drink beers when they turn 15. And they are only allowed to look at porn. No "Oil" websites are allowed.

Nice Try. (although not a very good one). Yaaaaaaawn.

I'm wondering when Batman is gonna join your ranks, fleam.
Oil CEO on Sunday July 30, 2006 at 3:48 AM EST
"No I don't. I can look at whatever I want. Fuck You. You're an idiot. Bite me."

See the "Hall of Flames" folder at http://www.peakoil.com forums.  There you can interact with like minded people as much as you desire.

Excellent post, and I'm sorry some here saw fit to pee all over it.  

This site excels on the geeky, left-brained stuff. But, to be frank, it's a bit "human-impaired."  We're a group that's self-selected for interest in ideas and things more than people.  

I bet it never even occurred to many of us here that we should thank those who link back to us, and reciprocate.  Or even that we should check to see if anyone linked to us.  

Your idea is a great one.  We should have someone well-versed in blogging etiquette who can "share the link love."  

(But don't look at me.  There's a reason why I'm an engineer...)

long ago, we did a lot more in the link love department.  but I tend to think that link love comes from blogwhoring of posts in the open thread more than it does our reacting to things other than daily events...that sure seems to take up enough of our time!
"Blogwhoring"? lmao, I love it!
TOD did a lot of interacting with other PO blogs initially. I remember they came over to my blog quite a few times in the early days to comment. So they got that part right.  I was amazed at how fast you guys shot out of the gate; the big thing is to just keep on posting, the more the better. I believe that helps more than anything to improve rankings.
yeah, there were a lot of folks in the beginning, Fof4/FTD, WHT, big gav at peakoz, energy bulletin, peakoil us...I'm sure I am forgetting many others.

We hit a lot of comment boxes, started discussions, and blogwhored everywhere for the first few months...

I don't know if everyone in the US is on broadband, but in the technological backwaters of Australia it often not possible to get it, so the time it takes to download the pages is a serious consideration.

There seems to be a shortage of new threads per day, with all comments being dumped into the one thread, making it very long and jumbled.  And then you start a new thread each day so nothing gets resolved or argued right through to a conclusion.

I am a Stuart Staniford fan, but after one of his mind-boggling statistical analyses, the thread sometimes goes a hundred comments without talking stats at all.  BTW, have you heard about this new car that actually runs on water, really !

If the name of the game is to get lots of hits, then I would suggest that these problems could be easily fixed by encouragement and a strong "Off Topic" rule so that if an editor thinks a comment is off topic, they can force it into a new thread.


This may be a bit off topic, but even in the US some of us don't have easy access to broadband (although being this far out puts some distance between me and the faceless hords).  Try satellite internet, you can get some pretty good download speeds, though it is really bad for interactive programs. ssh is a nightmare for one.
Satellite internet access is expensive, at least where I live, and other forms of broadband don't serve rural areas like mine. When the TOD front page has somthing on it like the recent graphs with maps of the Middle East as background, the site takes over 10 minutes to load through my dial-up connection. As map backgounds to graphs are window-dressing rather than central to the point the graph is trying to make, perhaps I could ask that they not be used for the sake of us dial-up primitives.
Although this may be a somewhat biased point of view due to the fact that I do have broadband where I live, I suspect that pretty charts and pictures attract more readers than they put off.

10 mins is a long time for a page load and I can imagine that is frustrating. Have you considered using the text-only feature from your browser?

a strong "Off Topic" rule so that if an editor thinks a comment is off topic, they can force it into a new thread.

This is a LOT of work and it will not improve anything, try herding cats instead.

I think what matters is to have the "live" threads still reachable from the main page no matter how old.
For this a "most recent comments" list could be made or some suchlike variant of, most recently commented thread or most recently commented "zero level comment" (the ones which are in reply of the thread post not of deeper nested comments).
The main point being to keep this list of "seeds" small enough to appear in the home page in spite of the large number of comments.

Of course, since we have a few suckers here who will immediately try to abuse the system, a worthwhile add on would be some form of blacklist for abusers, their comments not being censored but counting for naught for prioritizing the "live" threads.

I like the lean aspect of the threads and would not have this turned to "commercial looking" stuff as peakoil.com, I find this distracting.
I have recently been put off reading a blog I appreciated when they turned from a clean blog format to a more cluttered one.

As for caring with dialup users it could help a lot to have some automatic breakup of large sub-threads into "artificial root threads" while still keeping a back link to the original thread.

A note for Super G: Is it possible to customize the Scoop software specifically for TOD, if so I could give a hand with this.

I have to agree with the assessment that the comment threads are usually not topical.  It certainly discourages me from making any actual critisms because I know that my comment will simply be lost in the cacophony.

As for Google, it appears that the higher ranking sites to the 'Peal Oil' search promote themselves (by title tag, if nothing else) with the 'Peak Oil' moniker. Changing the 'Discussions about Energy and our Future' tagline to include the term 'Peak Oil' might bump the google ranking by a spot or two -- but Google may weigh the url more heavily than the title in search results, so it's hard to say.

I also recall a discussion a while back that sites with large blogrolls would receive less Google Juice - because of the number of abuse 'link only' sites where were created with the purpose of bumping the search results. It's hard to say what Google is doing behind the curtain at any given moment, since they are trying to evolve faster than the hit scamers.

For myself, I come to TOD for the information (Great Graphs, Stewart!) and links. I have noticed that the number of good quality outgoing links in both the stories and comments have grown slowly as the Peak Oil meme soaks into the mainstream, but the number of comments has exploded, making the good links harder to find. I really appreciate when the editors promote interesting comments or links to the top of the articles - thanks for that. -- J

Here's what I've pondered in attempts to up my own traffic. There's stuff in here about peak oil awareness in general so it might of interest as a general matter also:

1. Like I said I think 80% of a peak oil site's traffic is due to world events. Hurricane Katrina is a good example. That blasted my traffic through the roof. Here on TOD the coverage was up-to-the minute. So you ask "what is more important: the outside event or the coverage?" I say the outside event because w/o that you have nothing to cover that people want to read.

Example: what's going to get more traffic: coverage of the next massively horrific hurricane or something about the IEA saying there is a 1.5% increase in demand and then a bunch of graphs saying no, no, it's a 1.75% increase and a bunch of response saying no, no it's 1.92% increase? I'm exagertating but you get the point.

  1. More content does not necessarily equal more visitors. Think of Tainter's "collapse" curve. It's the same with ANY endeavor in life including blogging. You could post 2x as much content and you'd only see a 10-25% increase in traffic if even that. Likewsie, you could post half as much and only see a 20% drop. I'm just making these numbers but I think you get the point. On LATOC I've found 5 updates a week was 2x as much work for me but didn't get much more traffic than 3 updates per week.

  2. I suspect that 75% (or more) of the people who will EVER be logging onto ANY peak oil site are already doing so. I mean if 9/11, the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, $3.00 gallon gas, etc. didn't get you on to the net to find out about oil what the hell will?

Example: I've noticed a huge drop in End of Suburbia sales the last 4 months or so. This has always been the most popular introductory purchase on my site. My theory is that most everyone who would EVER purchase it have already done so. I could lower the price to my cost or lower and I don't think there would be much of an uptick in sales. I think this applies across all peak oil related stuff: sites, books, group meetings, etc.

3. The top peak oil site in terms of traffic is FTW. Guessing from their alexa rankings they're getting 12-16,000 visits a day. That tells me that is the "ceiling" for PO sites for now.

Thing is they do stuff you don't want to touch with a 10 foot pole unless you've got balls (or ovaries as the case may be) made out of brass such as the Pat Tillman stuff.

4. Somebody said something about the reciprocal linking: I have to concur. I don't just mean the links on the side I don't think those generate much traffic. I mean links in the stuff you post.

I give out links a lot on my news page and I usually get eamils from people saying, "holy sh-t I just got a ton of traffic!" That's social capital there. And naturally people want to link back to you.

I wish I had one of those sites (like FARK) where you link to somebody and they get so much traffic the server blows out. I sort of laugh to myslef "muahahahahaha" when I give a link knowing it's going to surprise the person with traffic but that would be nothing compared to blowing out the server.

5. Also, think about what does this say about our dopamine receptors and the possibility of powerdown?

PG, you are in charge of site that went from zero (essentially) to 8,000 visits a day inside of 2 years yet you still want MORE.

Powerdown in terms of energy is not unlike asking you (or me or any other blogger) to be happy with LESS traffic.

Happiness likely evolved as a mechanism to keep us moving up the ladder of status and energy availability. (In human societies the two being correlated) So we're not happy unless we're moving UP in life. In terms of a blog that means more traffic. But in terms of energy/money it works the same way.

So the reason I don't think powerdown will happen on a voluntary basis is the same reason PG is not satisfied with 8,000 visits a day!

Also imagine telling somebody only getting 500/day who aspires to get 8,000 a day that "well, sorry we're rationing bandwidth and you got to the party too late!"

TLS, comments?

you are in charge of site that went from zero (essentially) to 8,000 visits a day inside of 2 years yet you still want MORE.

Powerdown in terms of energy is not unlike asking you (or me or any other blogger) to be happy with LESS traffic.

Happiness likely evolved as a mechanism to keep us moving up the ladder of status and energy availability. (In human societies the two being correlated) So we're not happy unless we're moving UP in life. In terms of a blog that means more traffic. But in terms of energy/money it works the same way.

Matt, well said, and on this we agree. Im partway through a post on "Peak Oil, Dopamine and Amplitude" but working on some others first. In a sense, our novelty and 'hey - brain pay attention to this' meters are all out of whack - in days of old we would get that stimulus from spotting an edible bird on a tree and hunting it down, or, more recently, looking forward to a traveling bard coming through our village next week whilst we pick potatoes- now we have 200 channels of TV, airplanes that take us anyhwere - millions of members of the opposite sex available to us on internet dating sites, thousands of blog sites, online poker 24/7, etc. Once we experience a higher level of novelty (say, a 7 on a scale of 1-10), living life back at a 4 or 5 is so boring it sets up a seeking mechanism in our dopamine receptors to get back to our recent baseline.  This is a powerful neurochemical stimulus. Ignorance is bliss. Its all about unexpected vs expected reward. Oil has subsidized huge amplitude in novelty. It will be tough, if not impossible to go backwards (I am personally trying with only moderate success)

The other thing you didnt mention is Tainters thesis of decreasing returns on complexity. If TOD gets 50,000 readers a day (which it would if oil were over $100/bbl) the posting and discussing with the TOD tribe might become untenable - its beyond the ability of the human mind to absorb posts with 1000 replies. There is an optimal size to human social capital, beyond which the quality dissipates. Gresham's Law, the phenomenon of the bad driving also applies to blogging behavior. See above.

Its all about unexpected vs expected reward.

Yes, did you get that out of the works of Gregory Berns?
Waning interest for "usual" things has been mentionned by Tainter and is unfortunately a builtin mechanism of the brain.

There is an optimal size to human social capital, beyond which the quality dissipates.

Called the Dunbar Number, about 150 people that you may claim you "know", beyond that it's a waste (or fake).
This is not exactly the trouble with more TOD readership, Gresham's Law is more in point.

I never knew it was called Dunbars Number!! but I knew it was 150 from some social capital experiments and business consultants explaining it to me. Thanks.

If you have 150 friends and make 2 new ones, who really share your worldviews, then I guess someone goes out the other side....?

Isnt Peak Oil partially about choosing ones tribe? For example, I will never part from my family and closest friends, but I now have much more in common with people on this site and other community oriented/energy aware than with people I went to business school with. Of course, most of these new 'friends' are strangers, which isnt a good thing, but you get the point.

Only in 2006 AD, with 57 barrel of oil equivalent energy usage could a human live in a tribe of 150 people where hes never met half of them

I meant the bad driving out the good above.

Also, I should note that some activities that 'seek more' have very positive externalities, quite possibly increasing TOD readership and awareness of Peak Oil being a good example.

PG...TOD is an excellent site and I've been reading it for a very long time, although I rarely contribute.  One of the reasons I don't contribute is the quality of posters is usually so good that there really is little that I could add, on the technical level.  So, I wouldn't worry too much about traffic but I would be concerned if suddenly the site lost WesTexas, Oil CEO, Totoneiler, Halfin, engineers and scientists, and on and on, or if an SS post didn't attract a record number of comments.   Listen to AM radio sometime.  Most callers have emotional opinions...not so at TOD.  Most have studied the subject.  Truly, it's a fascinating forum.  Good job!
This site has the best daily banter on peak oil, but most people don't need daily banter. Most people need a very well-written introduction. A smaller group needs monthly reports with very high quality reporting and editing.

Savinar's site has only one article on peak oil, and he's spent years editing it. I'm not surprised that this makes him #1 on a Google search for "oil."

Perhaps The Oil Drum needs some such component. I read TOD every day, and I recognize all the "stars" by name but have a hard time remembering who is who. A page that puts faces to names and summarizes where they stand in the issue would help. Links from that to their very few best-written articles would help, too?

The central article is what gets people to the site, but it is not the only feature. I also do three (extensive) news updates a week. The news page is the most popular page of the site.
It was unfair for me to imply that your central article was your only feature - lifeaftertheoilcrash's peak oil news updates are also the best on the web, especially now that fromthewilderness is not free to read.

If theoildrum's problem is a lack of inbound links, it may be that it hosts primarily casual discussions among people with wildly varying opinions. As interesting as such stuff is, it's not the stuff of inbound links.

While the discussions may be too casual, the articles may be too technical to establish a broader audience.

I am a videogame programmer with an intense personal interest in technology, and I can tell you that I couldn't have cared less about how a drill bit works, until months after lifeaftertheoilcrash explained the crux of the oil problem.


Yes, people probably tend to link to sites that obviously agree with their pre-existing beliefs. What are the beliefs of TOD? Well other than that we have problems with the oil supply, something everybody agrees on, it would be hard to summarize in one sentence or better yet three words. Contrast that to something like littlegreenfootballs "rapid neocon koolaid drinkers" or dailykos "the lefties"

I guess you'd have to dumb things down a bit to get a lot more links.

ding ding ding.  I think that's it.

There's not very many big picture thinkers in the world in the first place...and let's be honest, we're an underappreciated lot.

I was thinking about "dumbing down" earlier. Other sites would link to us only if their owners thought we were a valuable resource in the energy area. Since TOD clearly has great value it surely follows that we're going over some people's heads. Also, we're not jumping on the usual bandwagons that come up from time to time eg. the current biofuels craze.

Critical thinking has never been popular and never will be. If the politicians were serious people they would be reading here and asking for advice. An additional factor is the magnitude of the problems we discuss. It takes some courage to look at them squarely. So denial is also a problem when it comes to vistors and links to TOD.

and I ain't dumbing down the site for any reason.

I guess a better question is this:  how do we get more of the elites out in the 'sphere to engage in this conversation?

Keep on doing what you are doing.

It is just that simple.

Have you noticed how the flakes and the crazies stop posting after a few weeks or a couple of months?

Not only is quantity of visits increasing on TOD, counter to all the naysayers, I perceive a distinct increase in quality of comments over the past six months.

(And NO, I am not counting my own sterling contributions in that evaluation.)

IMO the quality of the comments has been decreasing.  It takes a significant amount of time to weed through the chaff to find a "gem."  A comment which offers some insight or greater understanding on an issue.  This thread is a perfect example with the pissing contest at top.  At least a quarter of comments are worse than useless, they're counterproductive garbage.  Though not exactly knowing the roosting habits of crazies, I suspect the non-technical pissing contests are the kind of thing to draw them in and make them stay.

P.S.  I used to think Totoneila was a crazy with his biosolar habitats and earthmarines, but now I value his input for the reasons that he does try to offer solutions and advance the discussion and doesn't get into counterproductive pissing contests with simultaneous release of hot air.

Well said Substrate, and pretty much mirroring my own sentiments regarding TOD.  It has been....interesting....to see the face of TOD change somewhat over the last year or so.  Some for the worse, some definitely for the better. Evolving with time, I suppose, like many 'living' constructs do.
you could take the other tried and true route: sex it up a bit with pics of beautiful people. here's a pic that'll do the trick to get you started


Didn't you mean "and I ain't dumbing down the site for no reason?"

1) Some of our best posters have significantly reduced their input here. My guess is that the average level of dialog is not sufficient to hold them here.

Note, however, that we continue to get very good first posts from people who have lurked here for months. We should [nicely] question these newer members of the community about the factors that attracted them here, and those that put them off.

2) On attracting elites here: most of the oil-issue elites seem to operate under their own names, as known entities. TOD is all over the place: some posters are known by actual name and (much more rarely) affiliation, some are thinly veiled, and some completely pseudonymous (for good or bad reasons). While Matt Simmons might engage with a known person, I suspect he's less likely to dialog with Zorro, for example. [Apologies if we have a "Zorro."]

I think we can get into a dialog with others in the blogosphere, like James Hamilton--it has happened before. But beyond that, there is an asymmetry between a known elite interacting with shadowy characters. And if we had one rude interaction, they'd be gone.

With regard to your third paragraph:
I have noticed that some of the regulars here are specially vicious about flaming first-time posters and that this is done without any regard to the quality of the post. Hardly the sort of thing that encourages a new poster to return.
My brother is a bigwig at what he assures me is an elite left-o-blog called "Sadly, No!" and I don't think they'll ever engage in this conversation.

The left-o-sphere is very focused on ousting the GOP, because they figure that the Democrats are slightly less evil, and even that slight difference means a lot in absolute terms.

As such they see the world through 3D glasses - every issue is seen only in shades of red and blue.

I think they perceive peak oil as "red" because it makes Bush's war in Iraq seem less pointless.

I told my brother about peak oil in 2005 and he grasped the consequences pretty quickly. His stance is, "so what, it's ten years away." Ten years seems really short to me, since we are talking about the permanent end of modern times?

I come to TOD for the data and the excellent analysis of that data. Every one of the editors and contributors post excellent work but I admit to a special enjoyment of Stuart's posts as well as Heading Out. And yes, I really do enjoy Prof. Goose, Yankee, Dave, Bubba, Khebab, Kyle, Robert Rapier, and thelastsasquatch. And of course, Leanan continues to cull incredibly relevant stories for each day's drumbeat for all of us to ponder.

I'm not sure what you need to do aside from continuing to do what you are doing - excellent factual based analysis of data, clear headed commentary, with a focus on peak oil. While you might touch on social fallout from peak oil from time to time, I don't think that's as fruitful to pursue as the possibilities are huge and at the same time those possibilities bring out widely divergent (and competing!) positions from each of us.

Stay focused on peak oil, would be my request and advice.

yeah, I didn't mean to make it sound like we wanted to change.  I'm just trying to figure out if we're maximizing our potential.
Unlike most economists, I am against the chimerical concepts of maximization and optimization.

I am a follower of Nobel Laureate economist Herbert Simon; in other words I am a "satisficer."

It turns out that "maximization" is an empty concept once one masters the "Theorem of the Second Best," which few noneconomists have heard of.

I visit TOD often now 'cuz every other site on the Web kicked me out...
Hello Freddy Hutter,

Keep coming back! You, LouGrinzo, Halfin, and others are needed here for discussion balance.  IMO, it is reading the broad spectrum of the various TODer interpretive analyses to graphs put up by Stuart, Khebab, and all the other wonderful data freaks that makes TOD so rewarding.

Those of us who try to remain 'permeable to new evidence' need a rainbow of TODer replies if we hope to accurately  navigate the days ahead.  Until the 'rear view mirror' absolutely, positively confirms a global consensus of decline--we need all the technical help we can get.  Your email connection to Skrebowski, Colin Campbell, et al, is a very valuable TOD resource. These guys are probably too busy to ever come to TOD.

The RR & Vinod Khosla keythread format is the discussion model that TOD should expand if possible:

A. AlanfromBigEasy & Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino
discussing RR,Mass-transit,etc vs the merits for more freeways.  After reading her bio, my guess is Maria is totally uneducated on required postPeak transport needs.  Alan could greatly bring her up to speed.

B. TOD PHEV experts & high level automotive designers:  ThatItImOut and others having discussions with DrZ and others on future automotive directions.  Let's ask Dr. Z [or an appointed spokesperson] to come to TOD.

C. If we could get Kunstler to be a regular--I would love to see him debate here on TOD the head of the National  Association of Homebuilders.

D. Other examples?

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I think your traffic is relatively higher than other blogs for the same number of actual humans visiting because you're almost a discussion forum, not just a blog. That means more pageviews per visitor, and that the same people might visit many times a day to write comments, read new comments, see if others have responded to their posts, etc.

That can lead to high traffic, but fewer inbound links.


Very critical to understand that TruthLaidBear is a very right-wing oriented web site. You have to take that into account when looking at the way they rank web sites and traffic.

Just look at Technorati vs. TruthLaidBear and you will see huge discrepancies in the ranking in the top blogs. The tilt reaffirms the rightie tilt.

I don't know what this means for TOD, in that it tends to be politically neutral.

we have our moments...
Seriously, TOD is a cornucopia for excellent links energy related links. Better yet, one can trial balloon an idea, link, personality, technology, etc etc and get an instant response of member scrutiny and referrals of web scrutiny of same. We have attained a critical mass in that type of sharing making TOD indispensible as a resource.
wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
The traffic number is really great, we're up there pretty darned high. But, any thoughts on this? Is this something we should work on?

The higher the traffic numbers, the more it will cost to run the site and the higher the noise.

As we continue on the downside, the traffic will rise here.   So why worry about boosting traffic?

The question you ask has deep roots. At its core its an argument between individual selection and group selection. The discourse is still collegial and small enough that people can take real information away to improve their lives. If it scales ten fold - the TODROTI (TOD return on time invested) will go down for the current posters, but it might help a broader number of people mitigate or adapt to Peak Oil. What is the ojective I guess?

In the second Star Trek movie, Captain Kirk risked the whole to save Spock.....

See, THIS is the conversation we need to be having.

I am not necessarily wedded to growing TOD "bigger."  I am much more concerned with growing TOD "better."  

Better to me means having an impact--whatever the bloody hell that means.  It means having a discourse and thinking things through with the smartest, most informed people in a space that is conducive to ideas, evidence, and well-reasoned discourse.

Ignore the trolls, people.  They are not worth feeding.  

Growing TOD better

TOD has developed a number of cadres of "specialists" for tackling each problem from a number of different angles.

It's only after you turned a problem over a couple of times and examined it from all the angles that you can get a better grasp of its different dimensions. Tunnel vision is not the wisest way to go.

Take RR's debate/dialog with Vinod Khosla regarding corn ethanol for example. What are the angles?

  1. Soil depletion? yes
  2. Aquifer depletion? yes
  3. Resource allocation (other solutions foregone, economics)
  4. Chemistry/energy balance analysis? yes (EROEI, etc.)
  5. Scalability, reliability
  6. Political consequences, special interst groups
  7. Mind control, selling it to the public (BTW have you seen the ADM "fresh air" commercials yet?)
  8. Global Warming (How does ethanol solve the CO2 emissions problem? What other emissions, pollutants are involved?)

You need a lot of experts in a lot of fields all chiming in at once. Only then can we get a deeply multi-dimesnsional grasp of the pros and cons.

Doesn't mean we will come to a consensus. But at least we will have done a deep dive analysis rather than accepting things at face value.

I am not necessarily wedded to growing TOD "bigger."  I am much more concerned with growing TOD "better."  

As the 'better' is discovered, te volume will increase.  

Look at the "slashdot" effect today.    This little old site as designed could not handle it.

Are you ready to put up slave database servers and squid proxies?

Don't worry about traffic - worry about editorial integrity.

I've been running an internet service provider (ISP) since 1994. My professional and my personal advice is focus on the beef, not the hits. You care *who* is reading this site, not *how many*. Kunstler can handle the masses.

What are the stats? Lots of hits or RR, Westtexas, thatsittoast and the other editors getting media time? What is the meaningful transaction? Do I have to answer that?


amen.  and see my post directly above.
You need a sexier, catchier title and meme if you want to get hits.  Something like "Jump the Shark" How about changing the name of the blog to "Has Oil Jumped The Shark?"  Then the media will love you and shower you with attention.
How about:
How Peak Oil will Definitely Improve Your Sex Life   ?