WeekendCoffeeShare: “H-A-L-O” Edition

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I did something yesterday I haven’t done in almost a year. I disconnected myself from the Internet, aside from acknowledging a couple of private messages, just because I wanted to. I’ve been off a day or two here and there for things like work, family, and sickness this year. But I haven’t done it just to do other fun things since my vacation last October. It felt good.

weekendcoffeeshare_2015

I spent the whole day with the grandson. We were to go to a dove hunt yesterday with my brother. It’s an annual thing I’ve been doing with my Dad since the 90’s. Dad didn’t make it this year because he was in Florida. The three of us who were to go got our wires crossed and didn’t make it to the hunt, so we did some target shooting and had lunch, then the grandson and I came home.

On the drive back, we listened to the first quarter of a college football game on the radio. We were so into it by the time we got home, we ended up listening to the second quarter together in the boy’s room. I’m not that into football, but it’s a fun experience when you have a seven-year old who’s into the game to high-fives you when your team scores. By halftime our team was so far ahead we knew the rest would be boring — football on the radio is only exciting when the game is close — so we decided we needed to do something else.

As we were talking about what to do next, the boy said, “So when are we going to get on some ‘H-A-L-O’ together like you promised?” He’s taken to randomly spelling things out for some reason. I said, “How about ‘n-o-w?'” So we played, with a short break for dinner, until it was time for him to start winding down for bed.

Then I jumped into my own personal profile, which has significantly higher difficulty settings, and played until my own bedtime. And I have to say, it did me good to zone out on a single-player video game for several hours. My head feels better today than it has in weeks. There’s a bit of a backstory about the boy and the playing of the HALO.

He’s been wanting a shooter for the X-Box for as long as he’s known what shooters are. I’ve been against it — all us grownups have. What he really wants is to pay the super-adult games he sees advertised and hears (only slightly) older kids talking about. Things like Assassin’s Creed and Black Ops. Um . . . NO!

HALO is a sort of compromise after a year and a half of saying no. At least in that one, the opponents are aliens, the splatter quotient is low, and the whole thing tends to the cartoonish.

HALO_Reach

There was a meltdown at one point because he wasn’t allowed to check it out from the library. Not the sort of meltdown that demands discipline for inappropriate willfulness. More the sort that requires hugs and a careful conversation. He was sad because he didn’t understand why we weren’t allowing him to do something that he’d be allowed to do if he were spending the night with a friend who had the game. Yes, he’s willful. He’s also observant, and a wee bit assertive.

So the grownups relented, and I’ve been playing the game with him. I have to say, if the first three missions are any indication, the HALO game we’re playing is no worse than half the stuff he could get at on the tv. As long as he’s supervised with it and his gaming time is limited, I don’t see a problem. It’s a good incentive to get homework done, and it gives us something to interact with in a collaborative way. We’ll probably end up buying it.

We’ve not worked ourselves up to cooperative two-player action yet, because we just play the game differently. He doesn’t understand why I do things like take a sniper rifle and follow several meters behind the rest of the squad whenever possible, for example. And I don’t understand why he does things like shoot barrels for no reason in a game in which ammo is a scarce and precious resource. Or why he likes to charge into a room full of aliens, hold the trigger down, and spin around in circles until he’s either out of ammo or he gets them all. So we’ve developed a way taking turns.

He has a campaign set up on the Easy difficulty level. When he’s playing I mostly watch, but now and then he’ll let me clear a particularly difficult room or show him how to beat a boss when he’s having trouble. That way I learn the maps. He teaches me how to do things I’m not naturally good at. I am terrible at driving the vehicles with the two controller sticks, for example, and he’s way better at throwing grenades accurately than I am.

When he’s not on the machine and no one’s watching tv, I play my own missions on normal difficulty and figure out how to do things he needs to know, but would have a hard time figuring out on his own. Like how to zoom a sniper scope effectively and how to turn on night vision. So we’re both better at this game after a week or so of playing than either of us would be if we played on our own, given how little time we actually spend on it. coffee

The boy’s gotten me back into gaming after years of being out. Because somebody with gaming experience has got to supervise and make sure things don’t get too outrageous, right? 😉 It’s the responsible thing to do, lol.

Speaking of which, he’s out doing his regular Sunday thing with some of his other grandparents. Since no one’s using the tv right now, I’m going to squeeze in a mission or two while I can. Check you later this afternoon.

Don’t forget to add your Weekend Coffee Share post to the linkup at Part Time Monster and share it with #WeekendCoffeeShare on Twitter.

StumbleUpon v. Reddit

I’m looking at StumbleUpon and Reddit as key networks to expand into over the next year. The reason for that is simple: if you’re looking to bring visitors to a website as efficiently as possible, building a viable presence on one or both of those networks is probably a good move. The problem: They require a lot of engagement, and they step on sharing one’s own stuff pretty hard.

This means figuring out how much time you can get by with spending on them and knowing how often to put your own links out there are tricky. I have no idea how either of those networks decide what counts as “affiliation,” and I publish at and promote several blogs I do not own. I don’t want to be demoted before I even get started, and I don’t have a lot of time. So I’m proceeding slowly and cautiously.

But I have been experimenting. I have a StumbleUpon account I don’t use very often and no Reddit account at all. We’ve seen some success with both over the last couple of weeks. I’ll share a few numbers with you today and then explain the differences between these two networks as I understand them.

This spike happened here the weekend of Aug 10. I’ve included the mouseover info for the peak day. This is a good four-day spike from Reddit. It started on Sunday and trailed off on Wednesday. We still got a little from it on Thursday, and continued getting odd views last week.

15_08_10_spike

Most of this traffic went to a Tolkien post and a Batman post that were shared on various subreddits by a friend of mine who is not affiliated with the blog on Sunday, Aug. 9. The Tolkien was shared early and the Batman was shared late. The Batman post generated about 100 views, and they came in over a shorter period of time than the views on the Tolkien post, which brought us visitors for days. I’m assuming the difference is explained by the relative sizes and activity levels of the subrreddits where the posts were shared.

Overall, we received around 240 documented referrals from Reddit from this. That’s two or three days’ worth of traffic for us, depending on time of week and how we’re set for content. So, totally worth the minimal amount of time it took to drop those links.

Just to put those 240 views over a 4-day period into perspective for you. In the last 30 days we’ve received 195 views from the WordPress Reader, 115 from Facebook, and 75 from Twitter. And we’ve only gotten a little over 1,000 from search engines.

As I was putting this post together Friday evening, this happened. These are stats from Part Time Monster. The Friday/Saturday spike represents almost 800 views. A few came from StumbleUpon, but most came from Reddit. The info in the mouseover is for Saturday, which turned into Diana’s best day ever.

PTM spike 15-08-23

This one was a surprise. Diana’s Girls and Gaming post was shared spontaneously on Reddit by a blogger who as far as I know, we’ve never talked to. That post received more than 307 views on Friday and we recorded 168 Reddit referrals that day. I stumbled the post around midnight and it got another 53 views from StumbleUpon between midnight and 2 am on Saturday morning.

The StumbleUpon traffic trailed off, but PTM received another 179 Reddit referrals, and by the end of the day on Saturday, the gaming post had been viewed another 298 times. Out of the total of 780 views at the Monster on these two days, 605 were on the gaming post. We’re sure that 400 of those came from Reddit and StumbleUpon.

Again, just so you have some frame of reference. In the last 30 days, PTM has received 204 views from the reader, 57 from Facebook, 57 from Twitter and 604 from search engines. It’s also worth noting that Part Time Monster’s previous best day was a 400-view day in mid-March, and 85 of those views came from StumbleUpon. Our best day here at Sourcerer is 391 views, and 81 of those came from StumbleUpon. In fact, every time we’ve set a new best-ever record in the last 18 months at either of these blogs, StumbleUpon has been involved.

This is real progress for us for a couple of reasons. We’ve seen handfuls of referrals from Reddit before, but never anything like this, and these numbers are comparable to all the StumbleUpon spikes I’ve ever seen aside from the two or three very best. The 50 views I got for Part Time Monster from StumbleUpon is also the first time I, personally, have had a successful stumble. Up to this point, it’s always been other people stumbling our posts that got the views.

So which is better, Reddit or StumbleUpon? That depends on how you like to play on the internet, and on what you’re looking to get out of it.

Reddit is basically a huge forum with sub-forums (called subreddits) for just about every topic you can think of. People chat and share links related to specific topics. Reddit users can vote things up or down. Enough up votes will land a link on Reddit’s front page. Enough down votes can disappear a link entirely from Reddit.

StumbleUpon is a network for sharing and curating links. Users follow topics (called “Interests”) and can follow up to 100 other Stumblers. StumbleUpon sends content from your interests and from the people you follow into your feed, and you can like/dislike things. StumbleUpon saves all your likes and allows you to build lists of things you like. You can also share pages to StumbleUpon and categorize them for other users to find.

Reddit strikes me as easier to use — I find the StumbleUpon interface difficult. Reddit is also probably a more predictable source of traffic if you can learn to share there effectively, but StumbleUpon probably has higher traffic potential. (I’m saying “probably” here because I’m not well-versed enough to be sure). StumbleUpon was one of our top five referrers here in 2014 and brought us almost as many views from two or three lucky stumbles as Facebook did from every link we shared there.

The value of both to bloggers is simple. If you generate enough views on a single post in a short period of time, that helps the post get into Google searches. I’d say 80 percent of the the search traffic we get here is from people finding posts that were put into those searches originally by StumbleUpon.

I plan to eventually use both of these networks, but I am starting with StumbleUpon because I have more friends who use it than use Reddit, and because I already have a StumbleUpon account set up.

What about you? Do you use either of these networks, and do you have any advice for us newbies?

Happy Monday!

This is Sure to Interest Someone

Video

I drew a blank on the weekend music last night, so have a Doctor Who Series 9 trailer instead. I’m not sure how excited I am about this season yet. Certainly not as stoked as I have been in anticipation of previous seasons. But I remain a fan, oh yes I do.

What made me think of the trailer was a conversation I had with Hannah, L.M., and Robin earlier this week about Hayley Atwell wanting to play Doctor Who and that turned out interesting, to say the least. Happy to discuss that further on the thread here if anyone’s interested in playing.

Happy Weekend!