Daily Archives: September 27, 2007

Suggestion to WordPress: Share More Data, Grow Your Community, Build Your Business

Here’s a suggestion to the great folks at WordPress on how they can grow their business, prompted by my recent posts Share The Data, Build A Community, Grow Your Business and What Open-Source Is All About

As the author of a WordPress blog I have sole access to the “Dashboard.” It lets me write and update posts, add new entries to the BlogRoll, configure the widgets such as “Recent Posts” and “Comments” that can be found on the home page, and so forth.

Though the Dashboard I can also learn via the “Blog Stats” page how many people view my blog each day; what sites they used to reach the blog, the “Referrers” list; and what search engine terms they used to caused them to view a post, the “Search Engines Terms” list.

But only I can see these lists; they are given only to me.

But why should I be the only one who can view these lists? It’s my blog, and hence my information — about how it is being reached — yet it is very inconvenient to share this information with you. For example, here are some of the search engine terms recently used as I write this post: [1]

  • linux cheap homebuilt computer
  • kyu chay
  • sugarcrm change logo
  • asus t1
  • its better to light one candle then to s
  • who says kaddish
  • ubuntu mount flash
  • kdetv ubuntu
  • isntall two java version
  • free download symphoni lotus no register
  • 3 letter acronyms
  • binary search formula
  • expeditorw.exe
  • how to remove gij and use java jdk
  • docx format definition
  • leaves on lawn
  • ubuntu viewpdf
  • K-12 Open minds
  • ps/2 mouse kvm switch ubuntu d-link
  • ubuntu Desktop DELL GX260

I had to use cut-paste from one window to another to put that list together. It was tedious work.

But I expect it wouldn’t be hard for WordPress to provide a widget that I could put on the main page so any reader could see how people were reaching this blog. I think this would be a good thing, as it would let me make my blog even more open.

It would be even more useful if that information were available on a long-term basis.

I think that publication of this information could provide much insight, and also help people do a better assessment of whether they should follow a particular blog.

Here is another example of data that could be shared. I can use Technorati to find links to my blog. To do that I have to leave WordPress and go over to Technorati. However, WordPress is the best, and hence one of the most widely-used, blogging platforms. Thus, the WordPress could easily compute such metrics as the following on-the-fly:

  • How many other WordPress blogs link to mine?
  • How many such links are there?
  • How have they grown over time?
  • (Give me a graph for this as you do for Views of a single post.)

I know that only a modest bit of programming by the skilled developers would be needed, to provide this information on the Dashboard and also via a widget that I could put on my home page, so I could share this data with the world at large.

As an example of such insight, why did “who says kaddish” cause someone to read one of my posts. I’m not surprised in that I did indeed write a post on this topic, yet I findit surprising that the hits returned by a search engine put me near the top of the list.

Even more,why did just “kdetv ubuntu” lead to a view? That is a very generic string, yet I just checked, and found that a Google search on that phrase rtturns one of my blog posts as the ninth entry on the first page, the only page most people ever look at after doing a search.

This is an instance of a phenomenon I call “unexpected authority,” itself a subject worthy of a separate post. Indeed, I have maintained for some a “page that contains instances of this. See Trivia.

It’s also worth noting that a spelling error in a post can result in people reaching that post for the wrong reasons.

I’m confident that sharing such data would provide more insight, both to the bloggers who use WordPress, and the reader of the posts published from WordPress.

It’s just a suggestion. Do with it what you will.

In any event, keep up the good work. I know you will.


1. Just after publishing this post I noted that “Search Links” was a clickable link. When I clicked on it I learned WordPress keeps track of the search terms within the last week, providing some of the function I suggested they add. (I’ll write an analysis of this week’s search views in a forthcoming post.)

However, this is but one of the additions I suggest, so more remains to be done.

Share The Data, Build A Community, Grow Your Business

I spoke with a CEO yesterday for well over an hour, following up on a suggestion of a mutual friend that it would be useful for us to get to know each other.

His company provides a web site that provides some information that may be of interest to open-source folks. Moreover, their IT infrastructure is largely built using open-source. They have also developed proprietary technology to crawl the web and extract information.

He said they were looking for ways to grow the business, among them whether it made sense to share that data in a more open fashion.

Such data-sharing is not new, of course. It can be found in the rankings and user comments you find at Amazon and the many features provided by one of my favorite companies, Newegg. See for example On Buying and Building Hardware: Break a Leg with Newegg.

(Here’s an example of how Newegg could help me share some of my own data. Newegg keeps a list of all my orders, going back to 2003. I would be happy to share most of that information, as it shows what I decided to buy, and the price I paid when I bought it; yet it would be tedious indeed to manually copy over that information from the many invoice entries. Why not make it easy to do so?)

Though they publish some data now, they are thinking of taking it to the next level; for example, by possibly open-sourcing some of their currently proprietary code and also providing an application programing interface (API) so that any interested party could write their own applications to analyze and present the data.

Simply put, they are exploring how to turn their current asset — the data –into a much more valuable asset — a community built around that data.

I think they are on the right track, and wish them well in their endeavors.

The discussion was great fun — we found ourselves to be kindred spirits — and I plan a few more posts to expand on some of the the thoughts that came out of our talk.

The call also led to my sending a note to Redmonk’s Steve O’Grady:


I had a fascinating 90+ minute phone call with A CEO today about open-source.

The call was so much fun that when I thought about it again later in the day I realized you and he would have as much fun if you two had a similar call.

I also offered to arrange a virtual introduction — to help them build their networks, just as the mutual friend who suggested that the CEO and I talk had helped us build out our networks.

Open-source: fun, networks, collaboration, community.

That’s what it’s all about. [1]


1. Daughter Jennifer once had a great T-shirt:

What if the Hokey-Pokey is what it’s all about?

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