Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dave Turns Five

Hello readers, and fellow mechanical pencil people.

Five years old. I’m somewhat surprised I’ve made it to my fifth birthday. Well anyway, various people have pointed out to me that very few regular ‘weekly plus’ blogs make it to five years, so this is a significant anniversary and a little contemplation and celebration seem in order.

Around about six years ago I somehow tripped across Pencil Revolution, was hooked, and flushed with revolutionary zeal, I started this blog on 30 January 2006.

I once read somewhere that the secret to long term blogging is to “Blog what you love” and I guess that’s worked for me as I have enjoyed publishing this blog. On the technical side, learning the ins and outs of publishing a blog, improving my photography skills, learning a little HTML and so on has kept my interest up. On the pencil side I’ve certainly dramatically increased the size of my collection, which today stands at about 700 mechanical pencils, plus heaps of other things like leads, catalogues and ephemera. It’s fair to say this blog has not helped the focus of my collection, rather the reverse, leading me down all sorts of divergent pencil pathways. Still, I guess that’s part of the fun.

Blogs are inherently designed to be read from the most recent entry to the oldest. If you reversed that and read this blog from the first post to the most recent I think you would see the standard of my reviews improve, my aversion to rubber grips decline and my pencil-photography skills improve. There would also be my battles with PAS (Pencil Acquisition Syndrome), NID (Notebook Inferiority Disorder), boozy-sirens and sundry other problems that folk have to watch out for. Of course you would also see me learn lots of things about mechanical pencils and the companies that manufacture and sell them.

Besides all of that, one of the main things I like about this blog is the interaction with you, the readers. I really do enjoy getting comments and emails from you. At the risk of offending some by omission, I must make mention of several long time fellow pencil bloggers who have communicated with and helped me for a large part of this blogs life, so, in alphabetical order – Lexikaliker, Pencil Talk, Pencils11 and The Uncomfortable Chair. Also of course the aforementioned and recently resurrected Pencil Revolution. Thanks guys. There are of course many other bloggers and correspondents I should mention, but there are too many of you to mention individually, especially Henrik, so I hope you won’t be offended. Thanks to you all.

Perhaps above all though, I have been very pleasantly surprised at the generosity of so many of you out there. People who I have never otherwise met or corresponded with, just contacting me and saying, “Hey, I’ve got a couple of pencils I thought you might like. I’ll send them to you”. I really do appreciate your generosity, and I have tried to keep the cycle going, although I’m sure I’ve ended up receiving more than I have given.

Right then, some numbers would seem to be appropriate, just for posterity. When I was writing this post about a week ago, this blog contained 476 posts with 6,206 comments. Which is my favourite post? Well that’s a tough one, but certainly one of the first that always springs to mind when I think of that sort of thing is The Pencils Of Vice.

I guess though blog readers have a different favourite, because the article that has enticed the most people to actually take the time to comment on it is my review of the classic Pentel Sharp Kerry with 127 comments.

Of course there are “lies, damn lies and statistics” and that’s certainly the case with trying to measure anything to do with blogs and websites. I employ numerous reporting packages, and the differences between them is frequently mind boggling, but taking a bit of a statistical average, I can give some ballpark figures. Over the course of this blog there have been about 900,000 visitors who have generated about 2.6 million pageviews, but these days I get about thirty thousand visitors and one hundred thousand pageviews per month. Strange but true, there appears to be a mechanical pencil season, a specific month when the stars, moons, planets, biorhythms and all that stuff align such that mechanical pencil madness breaks out on the internet. The month of MP Madness is October. October 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 each set a new all-time record for the most visitors per month! The most frequently viewed article on this blog is “Lead Size and Hardness”. It’s then a long way back to second where my reviews of the Pentel Sharp P205 and the Pentel Sharp Kerry continually battle with each other for the silver and bronze medals.

For the static pages of ‘My Top 5’, ‘Top 10 General’ and ‘Top 10 Drafting’, the most frequently viewed is ‘My Top 5’ with ‘Top 10 General’ a fair way back in second. As for regular readers, well the blog currently has 201 public Blogger Followers, there are about 850 feed subscribers, and 489 people voted on my  reader survey although that was way back in March 2010. Not surprisingly most visitors are from the Anglosphere, with the USA accounting for about 56% of all visits, followed by, in order, the UK (9%), Canada (6%), Australia (3%), Germany (2%), Japan (2%), and then Turkey, Brazil, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan and India all at around 1% each. My Flag Counter has 194 flags, thus recording visitors from 194 different countries/territories around the world. The last flag added was that of Rwanda. ClustrMap makes it clear where the home of mechanical pencildom is…at least as measured by visits to this blog. A big Hello then to Los Angeles, you MP nuts! Your northerly cousins up there in San Francisco follow closely behind, then London and New York. Actually, as a source of American visitors, the state of California is so far ahead, that the next two US states added together (New York and Texas) still don’t get near California.

Well, that seems like enough contemplation and other carry on, so I wish you all well, thanks for reading this blog, please carry on reading and commenting, and maybe I’ll see you in another five.

Now, as you know I’ve never really been one for giveaways, but as part of these birthday celebrations there will be a series of giveaways throughout the month of February. The giveaways are mostly items from my collection, but will culminate in what I think is a real whiz-banger, thanks to some generous sponsorship from Cult Pens. That’s the reason for the new headline and sidebar references to Cult Pens. Quid pro quo. So, if you are doing a little writing instrument shopping then I would encourage you to check out their website, and spend your money with them. As a bonus, they are actually nice folk too. Anyway, the first giveaway kicks-off shortly and I hope you will all enter. You gotta be in to win.

So, in closing then, happy pencilling my friends! May your lead stay strong and unbroken.
Ka kite ano.


Only the severity and duration of the celebratory hangover are in question.

PS - Just so you know, the month of February will be mostly giveaways, there won't be much in the way of normal postings.


Gunther said...

Happy birthday, Dave, and all the best for the next five or perhaps fifty years! ;-) Thank you so much for sharing your extensive knowledge and for your invaluable contribution to the world of mechanical pencils!

frou-frou said...

Hi Dave

Happy Blog Birthday!!

Thanks for feeding my pencil obsessions for the last few years and making me feel 'normal' about it.

Here's to many more years, Fiona xx

Nikira said...

Happy Anniversary and thank you for sharing. Always pleasure to read and look and learn.

Stephen said...

Congratulations and happy birthday! Five years is quite an accomplishment. Your blog has deservedly become the key source for information about mechanical pencils.

As well as all the fun and education us readers have enjoyed, I think a wide range of vendors and manufacturers can and should thank you for motivating sales and promoting education in the area. I know I've bought a few items after reading reviews. ;-)

Well done, and best wishes for the future!

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Dave, on five great years - and on this blog becoming synonymous with mechanical pencils!

Palimpsest said...

Happy birthday and many happy returns, Dave. Here's to the next 5 years!

Julie said...

I am one of the 850 feed subscribers! Thank you Dave for the generous information about MPs and all the best for the future, fellow kiwi!

Anonymous said...

More than bunch of knack, your block is a candle that maintain my fire while ambling in bookstore and stationery store.

Buying favorite pencils and introduce them to my friends that, for example, there are this kind of pencil that can turn around, that can sustain lead until 1mm, etc. Colored their writing experience!

Keep walking, what you love :) I also walk,too.

Good to see you....

1962PENCILS said...

Happhy birthday Dave!

Thank you for all the brilliant work, commitment and effort you put on this blog. I wish you a bright and prosperous future.


2nd_astronaut said...

Congratulations, Dave!

I am again and again impressed by your steady commitment on this blog: besides the Christmas break, most times I come here I can discover a new entry.

BTW, in order not to let sentimentality take over: I am awaiting a review for the Ohto body knock sitting next to the veuve cliquot ;-)

dzyner said...

Happy blog birthday !

Wish you many many more years of blogging about our favorite topic - mechanical pencils :)

Three cheers to Dave !

Dwscamel said...

You're a magnificent story-teller. Even the humble pencil can become a discussion piece, even for five years, with the right talents and craziness :).

Thank you for your commitment to this blog and your readers. Happy birthday DMP!

Anonymous said...

Keep on Blogging!!!!!!!


Matthias said...

Happy anniversary! What a great blog, I hope there will be many more years of DMP blogging!

Ethereal Winter Wind said...

Happy Birthday! To celebrate you should buy more pencils ;) I just recently bought a nice new pencil that I think you would like. Here is a link: . They make a really good mechanical pencil and a mean fountain pen as well, which I also have. The fountain pen has become a sort of the darling of the fountain pencil community as it was designed from input of it. Plenty of information can be found about the fountain pen on FPN but very little can be found about the mechanical pen, anywhere. I hope you can bring this pencil into the limelight, as I think it is a great pencil.

ThirdeYe said...

Congratulations Dave! Here's to 5 more.

Henrik said...

Better late than never.
Happy birthday from me too, may this craziness never end.
Oh, the TWSBI pencil(mentioned above) look just "Dave - ish".

razide17 said...

Happy fifth blog birthday. Since discovering it last last year it been a constant source of information and entertainment.

Have a few celebratory drinks but don't chew the pencils.

All the best for the future.

Kiwi-d said...

My eyes are slowly regaining the ability to focus...not sure I would recommend mixing the bottles pictured.

Thanks for sending your wishes.

Alberto said...

Congratulations indeed! your thorough coverage and informative posts have certainly helped me make informed decisions when shopping for new sketching tools and researching the newly released graphite leads

James said...

Thanks Dave! Congrats on your five years.

I stumbled across this blog, while trying to clear a lead jam in a Lamy Vivo. The info here saved it. Since then, my mechanical and wood pencil collection has grown.

John said...

Many Congrats, Dave! One of these days, we can meet on the same continent for a pint and pencils. :)

Calculi said...

Congratulations on 5th anniversary! It is for me by far one of the most innovative and amusing way of blogging. I really love to read it in my feed reader almost everyday. You blog helped me reinvent my interest for mechanical pencils and I thank you for that. I hope you continue this tradition. :-)

Akis said...

Congratulations Dave,

Always a pleasure reading your blog....

Best wishes for at least five more years..

Anonymous said...

Happy fifth! And for acting like a nexus of all pencil kudos


Ovidiu said...

Happy birthday Dave, and please keep up the great work you did with this site.

Penmaniacs said...

Keep up the fantastic work Dave, your blog always maintains a positive and uplifting note. DMP is a safe haven for mechanical pencils lovers in a world of hate......and pens.


Armi said...

Congrats! Keep it up.


Anonymous said...

You wonder why "Lead Size and Hardness" is the most frequently viewed article?
Try Google and you'll get 28.000 results for that phrase.

Now take away the first word ... and you know, how they came here :D


Kiwi-d said...

Ahhh, so you think they are looking for methods to improve their biceps!

Anonymous said...

Davesmechanicalpen--- <- just saw that! *eek*


Unknown said...

Congratulations! You're a big boy now!

I just found your site within the last week. Enjoying it very much with all the great and fun info, except for that Pelikan pencil review that was, ummm, well, wrong comes to mind. LOL

But you acquitted yourself wonderfully by quoting Samuel Clemens in your birthday post.


Beel Zebub, from Boston, MA. USA