My most-visited post of the year had more than 15,000 readers and 100 comments. Here are some lessons learned:
[OK, regular readers of this blog, I am writing this mostly off-topic post in hopes of winning a blog post writing contest -- but my ulterior motive is to bring in some new readers, who might make an insightful comment that changes your life, so bear with me!]
1. Put “must read” in the headline – it pulled you into this post, didn’t it? More seriously, the point is to be clear and blunt (and if you say, “must read” it better be a must read, else no one will come back). The full post headline was “Must read from Hansen: Stop the madness about the tiny revision in NASA’s temperature data!” Long accurate headlines are more compelling than short cryptic ones. I learned this tip from my Dad, who was a newspaper editor for 30 years.
2. Offer a strong, informed opinion on a topical subject. Obvious, I know, but important to mention nonetheless. The blogosphere was just erupting over NASA’s data revision (see, for instance, these posts by Realclimate and Planet Gore). I was able to weigh in with a position supported by the nation’s top climate scientist.
3. Use a compelling graphic your readers haven’t seen. Hansen had two terrific figures showing how insignificant the data revision really was — especially to global temperatures (see below). But he put them in PDF form so they weren’t very accessible. It took me a while to figure out how, but I cut and paste them into Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo, turned them into JPEGs, and reposted them. A number of other websites, like ThinkProgress, could then easily copy them and write their own posts, usually linking back here.
The figure underscores the main message of the post — in Hansen’s words, “the corrected and uncorrected curves are indistinguishable”: