Do Beavis and Butthead rule the web? The Greenpeace GE Crop Circle/Google Map/Nose Thumbing At Clueless Authorities story, as expected, not only had legs, it had wings. We tripled our traffic to www.greenpeace.org last week and links are still being made in news and blog stories.
But I got a surprise when I looked at our referral stats.
Over the course of three or four days, BoingBoing’s coverage of the story brought us a couple thousand hits. Blogs picking up the BoingBoing story — that I could spot — about a thousand more. (There may be some underestimation there — it’s hard to determine precisely which blogs picked up the story because of BoingBoing unless they linked back or replicated the text).
The big traffic hose was Fark.com: more than 25,000 hits from a single link I submitted with the tongue-in-cheek tag line: “Crop circle in “alien” field replaces censored Google map.” Well THAT tapped a popular vein.
The first I heard of Fark was when they showed up in our stats a couple years back and I followed the link. I was amazed that we were seeing significant traffic from what is, essentially, the kind of collection of off-beat stories, bathroom humour, and breasts that Beavis and Butthead would feel right at home in.
But Fark’s readership is huge: by some measures bigger than BoingBoing. It’s a user-submitted link site, and nothing more than a page of one-liners, story links, and discussion about the items. “I love crop circles. WTF is GE?” Being one example from the thread of someone who didn’t, umm, read the story?
The quality of the discussion of the piece was highly entertaining, if uneven in intelligence, but better than many Fark threads I’ve seen. Perhaps because “Greenpeace” didn’t actually appear in the link I posted, we were spared a low signal to noise ratio. There were predictable butthead flames, but there were also some genuinely thoughtful and well-informed exchanges.
But I guess my disappointment could be described like this. It’s as if our little story was a smart, witty young actress who has just landed a piece of fiction in the New Yorker, a think piece in the London Times, and a feature in the Economist, but discovers that her lurid Page 3 photo in the Daily Express is the thing that makes all the news.
But hey ho, as Jon Hinck used to say when he was Campaigns Director at Greenpeace, “if you wanna build a big church, you gotta build a big set of doors. ” But does that mean we’d be more effective if we featured… ahem… big knockers?