One million hits and adios

by Pete Talbot

This is insider stuff.  About three weeks ago 4&20 notched one million hits.

I was hoping jhwygirl or maybe even founding father Jay Stevens would announce this and also add some pithy commentary. Didn’t happen, though, so I guess it’s up to me.

First, I’m not sure what a hit is versus a visit versus a ‘unique visit’ and I don’t really care.  Our traffic is nothing compared to Huffington Post, Daily Kos or most of your celebrity websites, but one million seems like a lot to me.

Here’s some history — corrections appreciated.  4&20 was started by the legendary Jay Stevens in February, 2006, as a progressive political blog (and vehicle to help get Jon Tester elected to the U.S. Senate).  Jay also mixed in some arts and culture and observations.  He held the position of chief contributor and site administrator until around April, 2007, when he was invited by Matt Singer to join Left in The West.

Jhwygirl took over as the main contributor and site administrator, although Jay continued to post from time-to-time.

I joined in June, 2007, followed by Rebecca Schmitz and, I think this order is correct: Jamee, problembear, JC, carfreestupidity, Duganz and Lizard.  Rebecca retired and Jamee moved on except for the occasional post.  Everyone else is still going strong.

Other occasional contributors included Jason Wiener, Matt Singer (particularly when his site crashed) and Ross Keogh (hey Ross, what’s happening with Mountain Water?).

Here are some stats: As of 2011, we’re averaging about 850 hits a day.  Our top day was 3,885 visits on March 5, 2009, the day of the natural gas explosion that leveled several Bozeman buildings and killed a woman.  We’ve logged 3,107 posts, 28,887 comments and 78,930 spam comments (most of them, thankfully, caught by the filter). Lately, most of our referrals have come from MT Cowgirl, followed by Wulfgar!, Left in The West and Intelligent Discontent, although this ebbs and flows weekly.

It’s been a great ride and I’ve learned a lot.  The current crew of contributors got together a couple of weeks ago for some celebratory beverages. I hadn’t even met most of them.  We all have different styles (we can’t even agree on a headline format) and different issues.  It’s what makes this site, well, different.

They are a well-spoken, out-spoken bunch of guys (jhwygirl couldn’t make it) and passionate about what they do and what they write.  I like ’em.  They want what’s best for our community, state, nation and world.

All that being said, I’m taking the hiatus I promised I would when we hit 1,000,000.  I have an addictive personality and I’m finding myself obsessed with this and other blogs.  I’m also a pitifully slow writer.  So, it’s time to take a break from the keyboard and deal with all the day-to-day responsibilities I prefer to avoid.  If I don’t, I’m afraid there will be an intervention in my future.

I know that the other very qualified contributors will pick up the slack.  I imagine I’ll be back, too, when some issue which I can’t ignore rears its ugly head.

Finally, blog traffic seems to have slowed at the Montana sites I’ve visited lately.  Blame it on the close of the 2011 legislature (which provided much fodder) or perhaps it’s this sort of spring-like weather.  It could also be the flame wars, between progressives, so apparent on these Montana sites.  I’d like to see less of that and more focus on the skanks in state and national politics who are selling your average Joe and Josephine down the tubes. Denny Rehberg immediately comes to mind.

4&20 is an ever-evolving site.  Thank you contributors, commenters and gentle readers for helping us reach one million.

  1. Thank you Pete, and everyone who puts these Montana blogs up. i’m sporadic at blogging but there’s lots to do in Billings to hold the powers that be accountable. i truly appreciate all the work that goes into blogging and all the folks who have contributed. Thank you.

    PS are there any Veterans for Peace on these blogs? they want me to start a chapter but ya know there must be 10 people to start a chapter… well the next nearest city is 300 miles away – the VFP membership shows 8 VFP’s in Helena and 9 in Missoula the rest of the 27 MT members are scattered from hell to breakfast. i’m hoping we can form a cyber chapter, have to wait an see what the VFP ppl think???

  2. ooops i meant to subscribe to this thread –

    so i might as well take another shot. i cannot get behind Tester no matter what. He’s a Baucus tool. The Dem party in MT is owned by Baucus and maybe a little by the Gov.
    GOOD on Brian for using his VETO branding iron!!! (he’s still a Coalman, formerly a DLC puppet)
    i’m working with some folks on a national Soldiers to Work Force project/bill/act – when Johnny Comes Marching Home where will he work? We don’t want anyone in uniform working in uniform !!! is anyone interested in this type of legislation???

    Will in Billings,

    • petetalbot

      Darwin aka Will in Billings. Thanks for your kind comments and also past comments. Good luck with further VFP organizing. I know there are a number of Veterans for Peace in Missoula and veterans who lean that direction. Maybe some of them even read this blog.

      While I appreciate your position on Tester, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I can’t think of a worse U.S. Senator than Denny Rehberg and will try to spend the time I used to spend on blogging to get Jon Tester re-elected. I think that honest criticism of Tester is appropriate and hopefully he’s listening but it’s time to put Rehberg out to (goat) pasture.

      • Pete, there are some Tester folks here in Billings – is there a need to link Tester supporters up or is everything in place for that?
        There was an MO sanctioned meeting here – to work over some progress on a Town meeting here 1 for Tester and the other for Rehberp.
        lastly my question i’d have for Denny – what’s the difference between Subsidies and Welfare?

        gotta hand it to the Oil Cartel – getting their subsidies and damn those poor women getting welfare from PP.


  3. I’ll just say thanks for your posts, Pete. I’ve definitely appreciated your perspective and your writing. I certainly understand the tension between other responsibilities and blogging and struggle often with balancing the two.

    I hope to see you back soon–when you’re ready to come back. :)

  4. thanks pete for your perspective. as you know i came on board late in 08 and missed a lot of the good stuff preceding. always look forward to your mostly positive and refreshingly insightful views. maybe we can expect a visit now and again after the primaries in 2012.

    have a great summer.

  5. ahnon

    a “hit” is a part of a web page – that includes images posted on a page, all of the little elements that make everything up on a page. therefore, when a “visitor” visits a “page” or “pages” (“page views”), there is a total number of hits that are aggregated during that “session”.

    a “visit” is someone going thru the site/blog. “hits” aren’t visits. therefore, there haven’t been one million visits to the site, but that’s a lot of components being logged. : ) “visits” tell you how many people are going to the site; “page views” and “hits” tell you how deep they’re going, how much they’re looking at.

    • petetalbot

      Thanks ahnon, I think I understand your info: hits versus visits versus views. I’m just an analog guy living in a digital world, trying to keep up. I wish we had stats on page views and visits — maybe we do, somewhere. I’ll leave that stuff to the other, mostly younger, contributors.

      • ahnon

        my pleasure : ) it’s also my pain, as my biz is online and it makes my head hurt, too.

        i think it sounds cooler to say “hits”, and it’s almost universally misused for that reason. but then, “hits” sounds cooler than “the stuff on your page that loads discretely”.

        ah, geeks…..

        anyway, i should’ve said before, “mazel tov!!!”

    • JC

      Actually, WordPress logs “views” which is a unique visitor visiting a page. SO the million views are real page views, and not just many “hits” per page lumped together. I don’t know why on the sidebar it references it as “hits” but that is inaccurate.

  6. If you’re referring to a break from comments as well as posting, then I am saddened indeed. We’ll miss you. Take care of yourself and return when you’re ready.

    • petetalbot

      It takes me almost as long to compose a decent comment as it does to write a post, so we’ll see. Rob, you’ve been a leader in Montana blogs, and now you’re balancing two sites while wrapping a big gig at your job, and maintaining a home life — keep it up.

      We’ve had some disagreements but not many. We’re all in this together and we excel at our sites compared to the right, IMHO.

      And keep us posted on Network Nations doings.

  7. Best wishes to one of my most favorite “responsible adults in the room” contributor on the BBird site.

    Though we frequently disagree, I have always found your comments well thought out and well written. You are a gentleman who always has a relevant and an interesting comment.

    I wish you well and hope you will stop back in to make a comment and argue a point when you find the time.

    • petetalbot

      Pogo, I’ve always appreciated the civil approach you take in your criticism here at 4&20, and you’ve helped to keep this site lively. Thanks and hope you stick around.

  8. JC

    Hey Pete, thanks for the post and the support! NIce getting to see you a few weeks ago. And it is nice to see a young crop of bloggers taking up the keyboards and ripping it up here!!

    Hope you don’t get too sabbatical’d out and forget to check in on us once in a while and put in your bit. I don’t know about the “responsible adult in the room” bit, but you know how to navigate a controversy with grace. Take care.

    • petetalbot

      Thanks, JC, it’s been a pleasure reading your stuff — always well thought-out, researched and written. Keep it up.

  9. lizard19

    sounds like we’ve made similar assessments about the amount of time spent away from the more important tangibles life provides, Pete. i’m glad we got the chance to all meet; next time we should definitely pick a less noisy venue. cheers.

    • petetalbot

      Keep that poetry comin’, liz. It’s good for me and gets me thinking. Does the same for others, I hope, too.

  10. Jesse Homs

    Congrats on 1 million hits, though I agree that its meaning is unclear. I get 3-400 “hits” per day, but my most well-read posts do not get more than fifty hits, and probably many fewer actual reads. Most of my “hits” are to old posts that for some reason turn up on search engines, including one that mentioned the name “Vince McMahon.” I also put up a picture of a pit bull with enormous muscles, labeling it “Roger Clemens dog.” That was, at that time, the most widely viewed post ever.

    Still, given the number of comments here and at MCG, it is obvious that this website draws a lot of interest, and far more than mine, so don’t go there. I’m just musing here that blog readership is very, very limited.

  11. Pogue Mahone

    You are one of the best bloggers. DO YOUR DUTY, DUDE! Come back soon. You can’t let the bastards win by default. The fight is the only thing. The good fight is the only life. And quitting altogether is not an option. Too many lefties wussied out long ago. That’s why we’re in the shape we’re in. Go down with pen (or keyboard) in hand. Come back with your keyboard, or on it!

    • petetalbot

      Thanks Pogue but I’m thinking the fight might be more effective if we take it to the streets, organize and work on campaigns that matter. Blogging has its role but I’m not sure it’s as important as we think it is. It’s great for raising issues and getting the word out, especially if it turns out direct action. And the dialogue is thought provoking. But it’s the direct action that’s what’s needed.

  12. Pogue Mahone


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