A Celebration Post: Looking back at 99 Blog Posts and 1,000 Comments since this Blog started
Not only that we had 99 articles since this blog started, we also received the 1,000th comment recently. I am talking about reader comments only, i.e. my replies are not included in this number. A perfect coincidence for a celebration post, isn’t it?
So, no Excel or Tableau tips and techniques today.
Wait! Where are you headed? Hang on.
Be assured that today’s post will not be a simple self-adulation. Well, at least not only. It will – of course – provide some hopefully interesting data analyses and data visualizations, too.
Now, starting point was the question what to analyze and visualize in this celebration post. My first idea was showing some web analytics dashboards. However, I decided to refrain from that because those numbers are embarrassingly low. Instead, today’s dashboards will focus on the content of this blog: both the articles and the comments. And while we’re on it, we will also have a look on my performance: again regarding the posts and the comments.
So please have a look inside. The visualizations are a mixture of “sitemap-like” views (allowing to browse and access all content and comments) and some performance analytics. The dashboards are provided online via Tableau Public, so you you can explore them directly here in your browser, even if you don’t have Tableau installed.
Browse and Analyze 99 Blog Posts on Clearly and Simply
The “99 Posts” workbook contains 2 dashboards (see the tabs at the top):
The Posts Browser is a simple list of all 99 blog posts published so far on Clearly and Simply, sorted ascending by date. The main interactive options are
- filtering the view by category and / or date
- hovering over a post in the list with the mouse to show the details in the view beneath the list
- clicking on a post in the list opens the article in your browser. As I said in the introduction: similar to a sitemap…
The analysis dashboards visualizes the number of posts over time per month and cumulated as column charts (the latter including reference lines with my original goal: one new post biweekly). The two bar charts at the bottom break down the posts by category and the count of words. Again, you can filter by date.
Browse and Analyze 1,000 Reader Comments on Clearly and Simply
The “1,000 Comment” workbook provides 3 dashboards (again, please see the tabs at the top):
The first view on this dashboard shows the posts sorted descending by the number of comments they received. The bar chart in the middle is a list of the readers who commented, again sorted descending by the number of comments. The line chart at the bottom visualizes the comments over time with a reference line showing the total average.
The main interactive options are
- filtering by date
- clicking on a post in the upper bar chart to filter the other two views by the selected article
This way you can easily explore e.g. the top commenters on a certain blog post or when the comments came in.
This dashboard analyses and visualizes my performance in answering readers’ comments (reply times in hours).
Top left you see the overall statistics (average, etc.), top right a horizontal histogram with 7 bins of reply times. The large bar chart at the bottom shows the reply times by comment. You can filter the entire view by blog post using the drop down at the top or filter the bar chart per comment by clicking on a bin of the histogram.
A heads-up first: Tableau needs a few seconds to compute this visualization, so please have a little patience.
This dashboard allows you to browse through all comments (readers’ and my own). You can filter the view by date, category, post and commenter and even search for a certain string. The table “All Comments” displays the results: date and time, blog post, name of the commenter and the comment itself.
Besides the filter and search options, you have the following interactive features:
- hovering over the main table (All Comments) with the mouse will display my reply to this comment in the small view beneath the table (if applicable, i.e. if there was a reply)
- clicking on one of the rows in the main table will open your browser and take you directly to the comment online
This way you can easily browse all comments on the blog so far and even screen the entire comment section for a certain search string.
Self-critical Analysis of my Performance
The Frequency of new Content
When I started the blog, my goal was to publish one new article every second week. This worked out pretty well for the first 3 years. End of 2011 we had 74 posts (goal: 78). In 2012, my blogging activities slowed down and at the end of the year I found myself already 10 posts behind schedule. Things went really bad since the beginning of 2013. Only 2 new articles in 2013 and nothing new in the first 4 months of 2014.
Bad, I know. At the moment I am trying to catch up a little bit, but in the end I will have to reduce my goal to let’s say 20 articles per year. With this new objective, I am still 8 articles short, but at least I have a chance to make up leeway until end of this year.
My Performance regarding Comments
First of all, please be advised that I am not answering all comments. I am only replying to readers having a question or an issue or who start a discussion with e.g. an idea or pointing out a shortcoming. I do not reply to readers dropping me a line to say “thank you”. Please be assured: I am very grateful for those comments, too. Knowing that someone is taking the time to “only” express his appreciation is the best acknowledgement I could ask for. The reason for not answering those comments is simple: I do not want to flood the comment section with “thank you for your thank you” replies. I hope for your understanding.
Now with regards to my commenting performance: If you look at the Reply Performance dashboard above, there are some really embarrassing facts jumping off the screen, especially the 20 commenters I left waiting for more than 48 hours. My apologies.
Having said that, there are also some figures which are quite acceptable, I think: 40% of all commenters received their answer within one hour, more than 80% within 12 hours, 93% within 24 hours.
Except for the 6.6% of the replies which took me longer than 24 hours, I think this is an acceptable performance.
Regarding the total amount of comments, I couldn’t be happier. The math is easy: 99 posts and 1,000 comments. An average of almost 10 reader comments per post and only 10 posts without any comment. As I said, I am very happy with those numbers.
What do the Producers say?
Clearly and Simply isn’t restricted to a certain software product, but so far all posts were either about Microsoft Excel and/or Tableau Software. Let’s have a look: what do they think and say about Clearly and Simply?
Unfortunately, they’re not saying anything. Most likely, Microsoft doesn’t even know my blog.
I can’t blame them. Too many other Excel blogs out there, with better content, updated more often, more readers and focused on Excel only. No wonder that Clearly and Simply isn’t on Microsoft’s map.
Now that’s a completely different story. The folks at Tableau always appreciated the work published here:
Two of my Tableau workbooks are featured in the Tableau Public Gallery:
Two more are linked to on the Tableau Public’s Vizes in the Wild site:
All of the above and two more were elected “Viz of the Day” by Tableau Public:
The Premier League workbook was also mentioned in the wrap-up to the first Tableau Sports Viz Contests: Other Winners from the Sports Viz Contest.
Last, but not least, the Premier League workbook (again!) even made the cut for the 25 of the best Tableau Public Vizzes.
Thanks to the folks at Tableau Software for your ongoing encouragement and support.
For sure not the best Tableau Blog, but at least one of the first
Talking about Tableau, I would like to point you to this: January 2014 was blogging month at Tableau Software. They published a workbook called the Tableau Data Blog Finder. The dashboard is too wide for the layout of my blog, so instead of inserting it here, this is the link:
I am taking a pride in letting you know:
- We made the cut. Clearly and Simply is on the list
- Runner-up and close behind Interworks (Tableau Software’s inaugural Gold Partner), Clearly and Simply was the second blog worldwide writing about Tableau Software: select January 2009 as the maximum of the Date Started filter in the Tableau Data Blog Finder
- Although written in English, this blog is “Made in Germany”. And as of today, Clearly and Simply seems to be still the only German (made) Tableau Data blog (click on the flag of Germany to filter by country)
- Furthermore, Week in, week out, Tableau, our very first article about Tableau Software in April 2009, is considered to be the earliest Tableau-related blog post ever (see the update at the end of the Tableau Public blog post Most Influential Tableau-Related Blog Posts)
Thanks to the folks at Tableau for this visualization.
Just like at the Academy Awards ceremony, a celebration post can’t go without a speech of thanks. And since - unlike at the Academy Awards - no music will stop me, it will be a long one:
First and foremost I want to thank the man who is responsible for all this by raising my interest in blogging and encouraging me to start Clearly and Simply: my good friend Purna Duggirala, better known as Chandoo from Chandoo.org.
Back in 2008, Chandoo was kind enough to let me publish a series of guest posts on his blog: Creating KPI Dashboards in Excel. The six articles received more than 450 comments. This success gave me the confidence that some people may be interested in what I have to say about data analysis and visualization with Excel and Tableau. On top of that, Chandoo is continuously linking to my content (as he did last week: Excel Links). Without Chandoo, I would definitely have only a small fraction of the readers and traffic I am having now.
Many thanks for your support, Chandoo.
Truth be told, without my guest authors I would be nowhere near 100 articles. So, special thanks go to
- Matt Grams, the pioneer of guest blogging here, for Bullet Graphs for Excel: A Simple Way? and Bluffing a Visual Cross-tab with Excel
- Giedre Aleknonyte for Choropleth Maps with Tableau
- Tableau Zen Master Richard Leeke for his series on Another Look at Site Catchment Analysis with Tableau 6 (part 1, part 2, part 3) and for Create your Own Filled Maps in Tableau. Actually the latter wasn’t a guest post, but it was all about Richard’s amazing tools TabGeoHack and ShapeToTab.
- Sheel Bhatiani for Dynamic Sorting with Tableau and Dynamic Hierarchies with Tableau
- My good friend Michael Martin of Business Information Arts for Build Network Graphs in Tableau
- Last, but not least, Leonid Koyfman for providing the ideas and workbooks behind the following two posts: Excel Multiple Value Filters with Invert Selection and Fast Choropleth Map with Enhanced Features
A big thank you very much to all of you for taking the time to contribute this outstanding content.
Over the years, many people helped and supported me by reviewing my work, providing ideas, answering my questions, linking to my blog, twittering, etc. I am very sure I will forget someone, but here are the ones who immediately come to my mind:
Andrei Pandre, Bernard Lebelle, Daniel Cedeño, Daniel Ferry (Excel MVP), Daniel L, Dan Murray (author of Tableau your Data), Fabrice Rimlinger, Ian Huitson (aka Hui, Excel MVP), Jeffrey Weir, Jordan Goldmeier (Excel MVP), Krisztina Szabó, Marcel Bosboom, Roberto Mensa and Ulrik Willemoes
Thank you all!
Special thanks to the 500+ readers who took the time to write a comment on one or several posts. Every comment is enhancing and improving the content and very often the vital spark for future blog posts. Thank you very much.
Last, but not least, many thanks to all of my readers. To those who are subscribed to the feed or by email, to those who are checking in on a regular basis and to everyone else who stayed long enough not to hit my bounce rate statistics.
Thanks for visiting and reading.
So much for the 100th article. More real content to come soon.