D.J. Grothe keeps mentioning pageviews in this discussion and suggesting they have some sort of causal effect on unnecessary dramatics and controversy. It’s not a new charge, of course. This is the internet, the land of the hyperactive meme. So let’s take a look at the idea, shall we?
There are three parts to this. The last part is that dramatics and controversy can be avoided. This is the sort of thing that has to be decided on an issue-by-issue basis. That means there’s not much to say about the general case here except that if you’re talking about Greta or me, you’re talking about people with a reputation for fairness in cases of disagreement. That case won’t be made for you on the basis of our histories.
The second idea is that controversy generates pageviews. It does an okay job of it, better than my Saturday short fiction feature or (I’m guessing) Greta’s Friday fashion feature. However, if I really wanted lots of pageviews, I would post tech news or celebrity gossip or cute anthropomorphic animals or more Betty Page bondage photos. And I would post a lot more often than once or twice a day.
Have a nice kitteh facepalm video:
See? Instant pageviews. Or it would be if I were building a reputation for that kind of thing. Which I’m not.
Controversy is only so-so at generating pageviews. Controversy that occurs within a fairly small community is going to be even worse at it. And controversy that goes on for any length of time wears people out. Just ask all the people who have said, “Stop talking about Elevatorgate!” in the last six months. Worn out people don’t make for pageviews.
Controversy also comes with costs, both in pageviews–people who disagree with you strongly enough may never come back–and clout. People who actually do sensationalize all their topics lose credibility. That doesn’t come back easily, so the pageviews had really better be worth it.
That, of course, is the third part of the argument. Pageviews have such intrinsic value that people would do anything for them. But what is the value in pageviews?
Well, it’s not the money. I do get paid for blogging here, but the pageviews on the post about D.J. will buy me a little more than a mocha to prop me up after the sleep I lost writing it. They will not buy me two. I can afford mochas. I need sleep.
Also, the pageviews on that post are just about done. If I were in it for the money, it would be simpler to write another reference post deflating rape myths that will get both highly index on search engines and picked up and used over and over in the endless arguing that goes on about that topic. Posts that have staying power bring in money without more work from me. Posts about the controversy du jour do not.
It can’t be the exposure as a writer, because blowing clout for exposure is a losing equation. Being exposed as a writer without credibility wouldn’t do me damn bit of good. Nor is writing about a local controversy going to convince people to give me the kinds of writing gigs that pay. In order to get those, I have to demonstrate broader appeal than that.
Similarly, it can’t be for exposure for the rest of my ideas. If I’m writing something that is costing me credibility, it simply will not help anything else that I write.
There could be an argument for doing anything to get pageviews for the egoboo, but relying on internet traffic for one’s sense of self-worth is a terrible proposition, for me more than for some, but insane all around nonetheless.
So, no, I’m not coming up with any good reason to argue with someone in public for pageviews–unless I’m looking for exposure for something I actually believe. Maybe you guys can come up with a better rationale for pageviews for pageviews sake?