My Skeptical 2013 in Review

Measuring TapeI suddenly realized I hadn’t done a year-end wrap-up post here at Skeptools. I’m always talking about how skeptics need to measure what we are doing, so I should practice what I preach.

So below you will find the top viewed content in my various channels this past year and other year-end stats.  As always there’s something to be learned here.

For instance, it is often said that controversy is a good way to court online hits. The biggest controversy I jumped into during 2013 was reviewing the infamous “block bot” – and yes, that did get some hits for both this blog and Virtual Skeptics.  But the top post on this blog in 2013 – leading by a factor of four – was not that post, it was a how-to right in the core of this blog’s mission of helping skeptic activists online.

There are definitely other interesting surprises, so be sure to scroll down to the end. For instance, by far the most-viewed online item of mine in 2013 was a long-available news video I merely tweaked & captioned and put in my YouTube channel. And I learned that joining Storify in 2013 was a good idea, as one story I created there got more views than most of my blog posts do.


I wasn’t super consistent this year in my blogging – other projects and real life intervened, as they tend to do. I only had 18 posts for the year. But when I did blog consistently (as in August) I was rewarded with traffic. Interestingly, my most controversial post (the one about the Block Bot) was not the top post! While it did quite well (ranking #2 for the year) the post about Do Not Link on social media got nearly four times the traffic, and continues to draw readers every day. (They day after it posted was the top traffic day for the year on this blog).

  1. August 13: Do Not Link allows you to ethically criticize bad content
  2. August 1: The Block Bot is unsuitable for general use in its present form
  3. December 11: Quantum variations in Wikipedia rules – Deepak Chopra and conflict of interest
  4. August 25: WiFi and Internet tips for Dragon*Con 2013
  5. August 19: Reverse image search as a skeptic tool – with a twist
  6. October 12: The right way and the wrong way to file skeptic complaints

Several other older posts made it into the top of traffic for the year:

  1. April 10, 2012: How many skeptic podcasts are there? Please help me find them all
  2. March 3, 2011: How to filter persistent trolls (and spammers) on Twitter
  3. August 27, 2012: WiFi and Internet tips for Dragon*Con 2012
  4. August 17, 2011: Case Study: How a notorious spammer was brought down via Twitter
  5. May 21, 2012: Robots don’t get sarcasm – don’t link directly to bad content on social media!
  6. November 20, 2012: Mabus Redux: Operation Archangel Gets Dennis Markuze Arrested

Apparently many people have not found Skeptunes yet and are still consulting the list in my old podcast census post because it contains a list.  The rest of the top article list is understandably dominated by “David Mabus” related posts (4, 8 and 10) which still get attention as his case winds through the courts.


Here are the top dozen social media posts of mine for 2013, all had over 20 retweets and are ranked here by the total of retweets and favorites:


As one might predict, the infamous “block bot” episode of Virtual Skeptics is by far the top viewed episode of that live webcast of all time. Other than that episode, the panel format of the show means people are tuning in for different things each week, so often it’s one of the other panelists who are the big draw that week. But for completeness here are the  top five episodes of 2013 with my topics:

But the biggest number of views for me on YouTube was something I did as a lark late in 2012. I’ll tell the whole story in an upcoming post, but I found a copy of a familiar video that was Creative Commons licensed and used the YouTube remix feature to create a captioned and annotated version. As a result it is now the #1 result for many searches for this video and has amassed an incredible (for me) 482,682 views in 2013. It now has over 525K total views, and is the #1 or #2 search result for the topic on several search engines.  It was the video linked here:


And what was the topic of that Storify I mentioned that did so well? The JREF Million Dollar Challenge at TAM 2013 – it got over 53,000 views!  You can see all my Storify content here.


A big research project I’ve been working on for over a year is the history of skeptic conferences, workshops and symposia. I’ve been trying to post what I can about it online for public use. That mostly takes the form of the Skepticism guide at Lanyrd which you can also see in the right sidebar here on the blog.

Unfortunately Lanyrd doesn’t have a detailed edit history as does Wikipedia but using my own posts and the Internet Archive one can see that near the beginning of the year the guide contained 92 events (24 upcoming, 68 past) and near the end of the year it contained 250 events (27 upcoming, 223 past).  As I write this it currently contains 268 events (25 upcoming, 243 past). Some of that was mere curation, but the vast majority of the info on those past events was entered by me, in order to populate the speakers guide on Lanyrd which could be a valuable tool going forward.

Other Stuff

I don’t have metrics for the viewership on many of the other things I produced this year, but here’s a simple rundown:

Phew, that’s a bunch.  Did I forget anything?

I still can see some room for improvement.  Clearly I need to get back in the habit of using Web of Trust and RBUTR regularly!  Let’s make that our resolution for 2014 – see Susan Gerbic’s Skeptic Action project.

How was your skeptical 2013?