Whale Oil has posted on the December Open Parachute rankings that show them well on top as usual.
POLITICAL BLOGS DOMINATE TOP 10 by Pete Belt has some interesting comment on site statistics, including accusations that other media blogs are cheating on traffic statistics.
There have also been claims that Whale Oil cheat on their statistics. I don’t think this is necessarily true, Whale Oil is just highly tuned to maximising page views.
Their number of posts per day is a significant factor – no other blog comes close to their 30+ posts per day, drip fed every half hour. So it’s not surprising they get significantly more hits.
A few comments by Belt provide further insights into Whale Oil.
People see this blog as Cam’s, when in truth there are about 20 regulars that keep the place ticking along just so that Cam can saunter in and throw a few articles in…
Like any headline act, Cam is supported by stage managers, sound and lighting people, roadies and many more.
Whale Oil is in a different league to probably any other New Zealand blog, in the number involved in keeping it running, and the revenue required to keep it afloat. As his next point illustrates:
Dec, Jan and Feb are tougher months for us as off-blog income slows down, nobody pays our invoices, and new work is hard to drum up when everyone is out there having some deserved downtime. But we still need your spare change. I so like being a hypocrite (not!), but in the same breath as mocking Nigel Haworth for asking people to check the back of their couches for spare change, I am now going to do the same.
I’d noticed the Labour fund raising mocking hypocrisy. At least Belt is candid enough to acknowledge it. Keeping the click cents ticking over is a Whale Oil essential that other blogs don’t have to worry about.
What about 2017? Will Freed (ever) happen? Where will INCITE: Politics go? Those aren’t my concern. Both are initiatives that may involve Cam, but have nothing to do with this blog. I can report that the Freed people are having a meeting this month with another successful high flyer to see if we can find the ever elusive 2nd investor, and INCITE will hit its second edition in February.
What about 2016?
Freed and INCITE Politics may be separate enterprises but must impact on Whale Oil. Slater only has so much time to spread around, and only so many unique stories.
Whaleoil itself will continue to do what it does. But after a year of consolidation, Cam will be back and more available.
Slater is expanding into to other avenues but will also be more available to Whale Oil? Time will tell whether he can manage that.
An exchange in comments adds more insights into that aspect of Whale Oil.
Steve (North Shore):
On the first day of 2016 you have one red note sent by credit card.
This place rocks, I will like it more than last year and hope I don’t get a holiday.
That highlights a past problem that Whale Oil has had, enforced ‘holidays’ for people who donated to the site. Steve seems to be hoping his payment will ensure he can continue to comment.
I think you’ve stopped baiting me, so you’ll be fine. :)
Steve (North Shore):
Baiting was never the intention Pete, I just own my own shit, and sometimes just have an outburst. Happy New 2016.
I apologise. At the time, I genuinely thought you were trying to push my buttons on purpose.
I think there were significant problems with over-sensitivity to Belt’s buttons – the buttons perceived to being pushed and the ban buttons.
People see what we do as some barrier, but if you had any idea what pressures we were under before, during and after the election and DP debacle, we were indeed erring on the side of assuming people were after us. Some of them were, but no doubt others got lost in the noise the same way.
I suspect quite a few ‘others’ got lost in the paranoia and noise.
Things have been very very quiet and manageable. I think I actually blocked one person yesterday for the first time in 3 weeks. And I may delete about 5 comments a day.
Five comments a day during a quiet time is interesting. Those comments just disappear, so it’s impossible to know why they were deemed unsuitable.
That’s not because I’ve gone all soft – it’s because our adversaries have gotten distracted with other projects.
Like Christmas. And holidays. But that hints that Belt still suffers from a touch of paranoia. Just disagreeing, criticising or posting alternative opinions doesn’t make someone an ‘adversary’ or enemy of the blog. It’s kinda normal in forums where discussion and debate are allowed.
Whale Oil’s main adversary seems to be financial pressures – the continual need to clock up clicks. To keep their income ticking over they seem to have a need to carefully control content, but overdone that has a negative effect on both commenting activity and page views.
Belt’s openness over the last few days has provided some interesting insights into how Whale Oil operates. I wonder if he is open to allowing more open debate even if it sometimes disagrees with him or Slater.
Most people who comment on blogs aren’t out to shoot them down. They just want a free shot at having a their say.
Beggars can still be choosers, but more reasonable choices may be less self-defeating.