Thursday, December 8, 2016

Blog anniversary post

The first post to this blog was on December 8, 2010, so every year on that date I post some general thoughts about the blog. I also like to look back at topics covered and some of the numbers relating to viewers, both from the past year and overall. Last year’s anniversary post can be found at this link: . I should mention that the date of December 8 has no special significance; it simply happened to be the day I finished work on my first blog post.
     From the beginning, I have found the viewership data remarkable. Google’s Blogger application allows the blog owner to see statistics on page views, not only current views but over a week’s and a month’s span, along with all-time views. The first year there were about 50,000 page views, a huge number that was a complete surprise to me. But that was only the beginning. The following year there were about 100,000 more, and the third year about 150,000 more still. To me these were truly amazing numbers, with total views reaching about 300,000 views after three years. Thereafter the viewing flattened out quite a bit, with the fourth and fifth years each having around 170,000 new page views, but even so the totals after five years, of nearly 640,000 views, still seemed staggering.
     This sixth year has again seen an increase, with the annual number now in excess of 200,000 views, and representing further growth from what had looked like a plateau last year. You can see that in the screen shot below of the data. The graph begins at far left, at the line labeled “May 2010” (though I didn’t start posting until December 8) and runs until now. The “plateau” I mentioned is evident from the fall of 2013 through to the end of 2015. But it has really had some big peaks in page views during 2016, contributing to the record totals for the past year. And by the way, the large drop at extreme right just represents the partial return so far for this month, December.

Though I look at these numbers fairly often, I have never gotten used to their sheer magnitude. To me, it’s an amazing level of interest.
     My posting pace of a couple of posts a week continues to be about right for me. This leads to around ten posts a month, which I find comfortable. I have also had comments from people that they like finding new posts fairly often, so for at least some readers, the pace is good also.
     I have been receiving this year around the same amount of email comments and questions arising from my posts as in prior years. As has been true for some time, these are more numerous than comments posted to the blog itself. Though I like to see comments posted to the blog, because that way others can view the question as well as the answer, the email channel is fine with me, and represents another way I can convey information and in some cases, clarification. These queries usually touch on what I think of as the core topics of my blog: modeling the freight cars, trains and operations of the Southern Pacific, necessarily also reaching a wide range of associated topics like waybills, freight car detailing, and even railroad history, as a basis to understand modeling goals.
     I have been pleased that a relatively recent feature of the blog, the “reference pages” noted at the upper right of the adjoining boundary of the blog page, have been well received. These reference pages are a fairly detailed set of explanations and examples of weathering techniques, primarily using acrylic washes, mostly my own but some developed together with my late friend Richard Hendrickson. It is gratifying that modelers tell me they have gotten ideas, and seen how to carry out techniques, from these pages.
     I don’t really have any new goals for next year and beyond, though as my layout gets closer to completion, and my freight car fleet scarcely needs more cars, my thoughts and projects will be somewhat different than in past years. An obvious emphasis will likely be layout operation. Onward!
Tony Thompson


  1. Tony, as an absolute beginner in model railroading, here I would like to thank you for sharing your huge experience. To me, your posts are a source of inspiration for what hopefully will be my first layout.

  2. Thank you, and best of luck with your layout.
    Tony Thompson

  3. Tony, I have been following you since WAY before you started posting to this blog (and publishing your excellent books). Your clinics that you gave (give) at the NMRA and PCR conventions have always been outstanding. This blog has merely been a continuation of your clinics offering a wealth of information to the masses so it comes as no surprise of its popularity. Once again, thanks for all of the help that you have given to the train and model train community. Your blog is one of the first things I check every day to see if you have posted anything new. Once again, thanks for passing along your seemingly endless knowledge of the Southern Pacific as well as railroading in general.

  4. Thanks very much for the kind words, Jeff. I appreciate the comments.
    Tony Thompson

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