Daily Archives: August 16th, 2010

Meet the Egg Guru

Just a little doodle that popped into my head. I’d like to thank Sueanne Shirzay for being my muse on this one and giving me the idea. I’d also like to thank Open Source Clip Art artists nicubunu and Chrisdesign for the egg images.

Crazy Google ride

Sunday was a crazy day for this humble blog. It was briefly noticed by the outside world.

I woke up and turned on my computer. The top story was one about a horrific accident at an off-road race where a truck went off-course and killed eight people. It was one of those stories where one piece of coverage just isn’t enough. I read several different news sources.

As I did this, I noticed that none of the stories had a word to say about the driver of the truck involved. The driver wasn’t identified, but even beyond that, the journalists didn’t mention a driver at all.

Finally I found a story that said the driver’s name wasn’t being released yet.

This puzzled me. Not that fact that the name wasn’t being released; that seemed routine. No, what puzzled me was the fact that so many journalists seemed to forget that one of the most basic components of any news story is supposed to be “who.” If they didn’t know the name yet they should have included a line saying something along the lines of: “The name of the driver has not been released.”

Good journalism will cover the 5W1H: Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How.

I figured that the omission of “who” by some journalists was probably a combination of a hectic breaking new story and the desire to get the story out in a timely fashion, i.e., to get the “scoop.”

I remembered seeing a picture of the truck in coverage by the Los Angeles Times. I went back and found that photo. The truck was upside down. I loaded the image in Photoshop and rotated it 180 degrees. I was now able to clearly read the words “Misery Motorsports” on the side of the truck.

From there it was an easy trail. First I Googled the MySpace page of Misery Motorsports and got the name Brett Sloppy, age 28. I then determined that the California 200 race was governed by an organization known as MDR Racing. I went to the official MDR web site which was functioning intermittently, no doubt because it was being overloaded by curious visitors like me. On that web site I found a PDF file of race participants and saw that Brett Sloppy was listed. I was now reasonably sure I had the name of the driver.

Now, I’m not claiming this was any Sherlock Holmes caliber of investigation. But it did get me the probable name of the driver. It was still early Sunday morning and I wanted to publish what I had learned. So I monkey-pounded my keyboard and attempted to put my typical Abyss-spin on it. I was careful, however, that when I published the name I noted how I had come by the information and that it was not information that was confirmed.

When I checked on the blog a little while later I realized that my blog traffic was at an unprecedented level. I did some checking and found that I was #2 in Google for the phrase “misery motorsports” (without the quotation marks). For a breaking news story this was huge search engine position. I’m still amazed at how quickly my WordPress postings can get into the Google index. Phrases like “mdr crash” and “brett sloppy” were #2 and #3 for my incoming traffic but very small compared to “misery motorsports.”

Today my search position for these phrases has slipped considerably as big-time web sites like The Huffington Post have now covered them.

Sunday is now officially in the books. Due to this traffic spike my blog set a new single day record. The traffic was 13 times my normal average and I’m still seeing the effects. So far today my blog is already 3 times higher than normal traffic levels.

I have to say I don’t normally go after breaking news stories with traffic in mind, and I was very surprised by this result. It was decidedly not a goal of mine when I decided to add my two cents about the tragic accident. I’m still not sure if the extra traffic is a good thing or not. I suspect that very few, if any, of the people who read yesterday’s post will be intrigued enough to stick around and become regular readers.

Still, I found the experience interesting and thought I’d share a little about how it all went down.