Applied Mathematics: By The Numbers, A Website's First Year

by Foster Kamer

It's Math!

Numbers, charts, and graphs are all around us. What do they mean? What connections can we make from them? Who will help us understand the things they say? Our resident statisticians, that’s who! They will attempt to explain the digits that shape your world. This week: We take a look at the data for a website that has recently celebrated its one year anniversary.

“Uneven numbers are the gods’ delight.” — Virgil

“Back to back,
I did what you won’t.
Men lie,
Women lie,
Numbers don’t.
Ain’t nothin’ changed ‘cept the year it is.
I think I have to send you a reminder,
Here it is.
” — Jay-Z

This website’s initial readership could casually be divided into two groups:

  1. Those came here not having known the previous work of the site’s business and editorial proprietors and, furthermore, the various contributors.
  2. Those who came here already way too familiar with the work of the site’s proprietors and contributors.

The former group, however, will have to empathize for a moment with those who arrived here on The First Day, which was exciting, and wonderful, but also foreign and slightly nerve-wracking. Maybe you asked yourself:

  • Is my computer working correctly, or is that the design?
  • Is this “Butterfinger Blast” advertisement some kind of post-Urban Dictionary joke?
  • Will Tina Brown or the masses of Tumblr cut the proprietor named “Choire” before he gets a chance to tell us how to pronounce the name of his site, after having concerned ourselves with the pronunciation of his own name for so long?

It’s also possible that none of this was a concern to you at any point. But what’s undoubtedly true is that the American media industry was not a hopeful place in April 2009. And it was especially so for a blog whose tagline was “Be less stupid.” And a blog that was allegedly driven by smart, funny, original editorial content that we knew would decidedly eschew concentrated social media presences, SEO trickery, inflammatory headlines, a flashy design, meaningless ranking systems, and basically all the other fancy things that other editorial titles with much (self) ballyhooed launches arm themselves with from the onset. The kind of blog whose head you want gently tilt on your shoulder, and put your arm around, and assure that there was very little it could do that would result in your not being there for it when it started to get verklempt over sponsored advertising. The kind of blog whose main advertiser pulls out right before they launch (“Boxing Day; In the balls.”) but still proceeds as planned anyway, the kind whose publisher’s relationship with its Cat is a thing.

Let’s be honest: In April 2009, this kind of blog was very likely fucked. And in April 2010, it likely still is. [Awl Publisher David Cho very vigorously disputes this, for the record. — Ed.]

But here we are, a year later.

And here are the numbers to prove it.

[Counter-Upper’s Note: The following numbers were taken on the evening of Monday, April 19, preceding the first birthday, which would be April 20th. If you are a high school student and you are reading this and you’re strangely thinking about using this for some kind of report, well, you are plucky! But we are humans and one of us has a kid so sometimes we get all crazy-eyed and maybe end up a number or two off, and we’d feel really bad if your teacher counted the numbers of ours you used in your report — which you’re more than welcome to do, regardless — and knocked you down a grade for getting some wrong. That said, we’d totally go to bat for you.]


Average Number of Posts Per Day: 22.75.

Bylines, Alex Balk: 2887
Bylines, Choire Sicha: 1865

Here is a pie chart representing those two numbers:

"In fairness to Choire--actually, you know what? Fuck that guy." - Alex Balk


Total Contributors: 114

Post Counts

Balk: 2887
Choire: 1865
Dave Bry:Â 401
Mary HK Choi: 85
The End of the ’00s: 51
Chris Lehmann: 42
Maura Johnston: 41
Tom Scocca: 41
Abe Sauer: 39
Natasha Vargas-Cooper: 30
David Cho: 25
Matthew Gallaway: 21
Emily Gould: 21
Seth Colter Walls: 17
Awl Staff: 17
Miles Klee: 16
Melissa Lafsky: 15
Marisa Meltzer: 14
Simon Dumenco: 12
Doree Shafrir: 12

"This depresses me on so many levels." -- Alex Balk


Number of Theme Songs: Not one, but two!

Number of Books Spawned from Awl Columns: Two (known)
Authors of These Books: Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Chris Lehmann.

Number of Books Spawned from Jay McInerney’s Three Week-Old Wine Column or Other Websites With Multiple Theme Songs Written By One of Our Time’s Most Veritably Underrated Singer Songwriters: None, bitches.

Hope for a Whiskeytown Reunion Expressed in an Alphanumeric Symbol: âˆž


First Time the Awl Newsletter Was Mentioned: June 4, 2009.
Last Time the Awl Newsletter Was Mentioned: Two Weeks Ago.
Last Time the Awl Newsletter Was Sent Out: I DON’T KNOW YOU TELL ME CHOIRE.


Number of blog acquisitions by The Awl: 1
Number of blog acquisitions by Gawker
: 1
Number of days since The Awl’s acquisition announcement as of April 20, 2010:
Number of days since Gawker’s acquisition announcement as of April 20, 2010:
Number of aforementioned blog acquisitions launched into verticals or integrated three months after acquisitions as promised
: 0.
Number of logos:
Number of logos entered for Design Our Logo Contest: No idea but I still think mine was pretty solid.


[Note: Now we will switch it up and make the numbers bold instead of the titles behind the numbers. We don’t entirely know why but think it will look better. Okay. Here we go.]

The 17 Most Commented Posts:

On the matter of Matt Cherette: 265
On the matter of A Small Child Lost in a Balloon: 217
On the matter of The Tiny Pool Of English Words Actually Used: 217
On the matter of The Top 50 States: 208
On the matter of Being Lost: 177
On the matter of Walking Out of Movies: 176
On the matter of A Correspondence Between Tom Scocca and Keith Gessen: 168
On the matter of The Oscars As They Happen, The Second Part: 167
On the matter of The 30 Best Punk Songs on YouTube: 164
On the matter of Cooking Steak: 157
On the matter of Not Liking Avatar: 143
On the matter of Ke$ha: 141
On the matter of A Calendar to Benefit Charity: 139
On the matter of Regarding The Awl’s Readership: 132
On the matter of Fat Fetuses and Felonies: 129
On the matter of The Possibility of Inglorious Basterds Winning an Academy Award: 126
On the matter of The State of the Union: 126

Always bet on bear


[Okay. We’re going back to the old way of doing things now.]

Posts tagged “Knifecrime Island”: 14
Posts tagged “Summer of Death”: 10
Date of last Summer of Death post: September 22, 2009
Date of first Knifecrime Island post: November 19, 2009
Gap between “Summer of Death” and “Knifecrime Island”: 55 days.


Number of Posts: 5937.

Number of Years Old: 

Age at Which One is Bar Mitzvahed: 12 or 13.

Forthcoming Feel-Good Sentences To Leave You With On A Friday: Just one.

Congratulations everyone for being a part of this thing, and here’s to much more of it.

We hereby declare this study signed, certified, sworn for, and closed.

-Christopher Conklin and Foster Kamer

God love Christopher Conklin and Foster Kamer, but holy crap was this crazy!