Some #AltMetrics for a blog post on Canadian science policy

On May 20th, 2013 I published my most popular post ever. It was The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment. In it, I chronicled at some considerable length the various anti-science measures by the current Canadian Conservative government. The chronological aspect was particularly interesting as you could see the ramping up since the 2011 election where the Conservatives won a majority government after two consecutive minority Conservative governments.

As an exercise in alt-metrics (and here), I thought I would share some of the reactions and impact this post has generated. It's certainly been a bit of a ride for me. I have to admit to being very pleased with the reaction. So much so, it's gotten me to think more deeply about this slightly unhinged chronological listing thing that I do and perhaps it's relationship to higher principles in librarianship. Maybe it's a thing. More on this in the weeks and months to come as I further process and think about this particular activity and how it manifests in my practice of librarianship.

But perhaps the most compelling reason to do this post is very simple. To demonstrate that a blog post can raise awareness, that it can have some kind of impact in the real world, that it can be a lightning rod for participation and a space to pool the collective intelligence of the wider community to increase everyone's knowledge.

For example, the response in the comments was so overwhelming that within a week I was able to update the post, adding over 30 items to my initial 70 or so. Not only were suggestions made in the comments, I received numerous emails with suggestions, some from people who were obviously uncomfortable commenting in public. The incredible response also prompted me on May 23 to update the post with a Creative Commons Zero waiver, essentially waiving all copyright to the post. This facilitated 12 reprints of all or part of my chronology, all of which are indicated below.

As I said, my most popular post ever. In terms of page views, probably by an order of magnitude. My typical post gets on the order of hundreds of page views. A particularly popular post on the order of a few thousand. This one is approaching 45,000.

Some metrics (as at July 9, 2013):

  • 43,137 page views (using Google Analytics)
  • 53 links/mentions from other sources (see below)
  • 12 re-postings of all or part of the original post
  • 128 comments or trackbacks on the blog post itself
  • 9900 (approx) Facebook likes
  • 1600 (approx) Twitter mentions
  • 255 Google+ +1's

For the page views, I thought I'd break down some of the traffic sources:

  • Facebook: 17687
  • Slashdot: 8861
  • Twitter: 3633
  • Boing Boing: 3311
  • Stumbleupon: 2565
  • reddit: 727
  • Slate: 555
  • Google+: 305

The post is still getting 40-60 additional page views every day.

So, here's the list of all the mentions/links for my post. And note where some of these links come from -- pretty cool, really, to get linked from some of these places.

* Complete or partial reposts of my list.

A few discussion forums/news sites such as Newsana,, Center for Inquiry,

A few undated listings of the post: CSWA Let Scientists Speak, CAUT Get Science Right, 350 or Bust.

A few key tweets of the many thousands:

Thanks to everyone who tweeted, retweeted, posted, interviewed and everything else. Thanks for helping me spread the word.

Of course, if you know of any links or other metric-y stuff I might include here, please let me know. It's worth noting that there were a few media and other interviews that I did thanks to the commotion caused by this post that haven't yet resulted in anything visible yet, like an articles or interview. Yet. If some of those do materialize (and I'm pretty sure at least one of them is fairly imminent), I'll add them here.

As a closing note, I like this quote from Bruce Sterling:

Yes, you, Canada, formerly the adults on the continent.

2013.07.12. Added two more links, one to the Skeptically Speaking interview which went online today. It's the imminent one I mentioned above. The links/mentions is now up to 55 and the comments/trackbacks up to 128.


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Interesting stuff. I'd like to run some of this through our tools at Plum Analytics to see if we can dig up any interesting metrics around this.

Do you mind if I play around with it a bit?


By Andrea Michalek (not verified) on 12 Jul 2013 #permalink

Hi Andrea, please do! And feel free to post here anything you might find!