Friday, December 23, 2011

A year of blogging

I've never been a huge fan of birthday celebrations, but in keeping with the fact that I normally prefer the birthdays of others to my own, I thought it was time to make note of the (unofficial & approximate) one year anniversary of the phytools blog. Although I had created a couple of earlier preliminary posts, it was exactly one year ago tomorrow that I wrote my first serious phytools post (a description of the first version of read.simmap), and it was exactly one year ago Sunday (yes, Christmas day 2010) that I first advertised the existence of the phytools web-log via the (once quite popular but now largely defunct) dechronization blog.

The past year has been a good one. The blog has received a little over 30,000 pageviews in that time span, which means it has managed to accrue an average of over 80 pageviews per day for the year. In many months, that average has been over 100/day. The interpretation of the number of pageviews per post is a little bit fuzzier because (unlike some other blogs such as Anole Annals) it is never necessary to click on a specific post to read the whole article. This tends to skew the pageview/post count towards posts that have received comments, as to view comments it is necessary to click through to the post. Nonetheless, the clear leader in this tally is a post I created describing a function (allFurcTrees) that would generate all possible multi- and bifurcating trees for a list of taxa. I created an animation of this treespace and it was picked up by, of all places, an art-in-science blog penned by Jessica Palmer called "Bioephemera" (link to her post here). Other very popular posts on the "all-time" list include an article about my function phylosig to compute phylogenetic signal (here), a post about least-squares phylogeny estimation to which Joe Felsenstein was kind enough to add his comments (full post here), and, most recently, a post about a new phytools function, anc.Bayes, for Bayesian ancestral character estimation (here).

In acting to some degree as an open lab notebook, where I document (nearly) every bug, modification, or update to the phytools package, I feel that the blog has helped to keep me honest, accountable, and productive. It has also served as a good forum to get feedback on the phytools package (although sometimes not as much feedback as I'd hoped, e.g., witness my totally failed comments page).

Here's to another year of phytools! Thanks for reading.

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