Thursday, 27 August 2009

Navel gazing first year anniversary blog birthday extravaganza!

I've only just noticed that The Quail hit the ripe old age of 1 a couple of days ago (on Tuesday to be precise) - huzzah!

There have been 285 posts since the Quail's messy and protracted birth on August 25th 2008, starting with this one which covered the Mail's story of migrants allegedly coming over here and taking our houses. Things haven't changed much in Mail land since then: immigration continues to be called an influx despite statistics showing it's actually decreasing, foreign people are still accused of taking local houses and jobs despite the figures showing that actually they aren't, and gays, the internet, Labour, and cancer are all still prime sources of fear.

So what's changed in Quail land? I don't really like stat porn posts so I'll try to keep that sort of thing to a minimum.

As you might expect, there are more people reading this blog than there were a year ago (if there wasn't I probably wouldn't still be writing it). Monthly visitor numbers remained fairly stable for the first four months of the blog's existence, before seeing a 5x jump thanks to a mention on Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog about the 'Coffee gives your children cancer' story in January.

People seemed to remember The Quail after that and visits carried on rising slowly until April, when the 'G20 police brutality victim was a scummer' story was linked to by The Guardian, and The New York Times quoted a few paragraphs from the 'G20 protests: Good or bad?' post, which gave the blog a 40% rise in visits. I think it was around this time that some Quail stuff began being cross-posted on Liberal Conspiracy, and visits have been rising naturally ever since.

Incidentally, as testament to the power of cynical SEO techniques, and as an example of how visitor numbers aren't the be-all and end-all of blogging, the third most popular Quail post of all time is 'Cheryl Cole was once a child shocker', which contains the words 'x factor', 'photographs', 'girls aloud', and 'naked'.

Referring sites have made up over half my traffic in the last 12 months, and aside from those listed above, my top blogging buddies sending me visitors have been Enemies of Reason, Septicisle's Obsolete, Bloggerheads, Tabloid Watch, and, surprisingly, Iain Dale. Thanks!

More recently, I finally made it into the Wikio politics top 100 in July, and now sit at 86 (a couple of places behind the Mail's own Peter Hitchens). This month, The Quail was voted in at number 26 in the Total Politics list of top non-aligned blogs - although I don't pay too much credence to the poll itself, or how it's conducted, I do very much appreciate people for voting.

Is this getting too introspective yet? I think it is.

I'll wrap up by saying that when I started the Quail there were already a few blogs around dedicated (at least partly) to kicking the tabloids' collective arse, such as the excellent 5cc, Eric the Fish King, Alone in the Dark (now resurrected), and the ones mentioned up there. They were all doing it in their own inimitable fashion, and doing it very well, which is why I decided to go down a different route and try to get people to laugh at the Mail through satire. It seems to work - people realise just how silly the stuff in the papers really is, and how fine the line can be between some of the crap the Mail prints, and what I write. Some of their articles are literally beyond parody (most Littlejohn columns, for instance).

A year later, and the number of people pissed off with the lies, fabrications, intolerance, inaccuracy, fear and loathing found in newspapers is growing, and the old crew is joined by new blogs like Angry Mob, Tabloid Watch, Left Outside, Stirring up Apathy, Feminazery, No Sleep 'til Brooklands, a revamped MailWatch, and many more. All this is happening against a backdrop of dwindling newspaper circulations, a rise in right-wing politics, an increase in the number of PCC complaints, and exponential growth of online news sources.

These things aren't unrelated. I, and I'm sure my blogging associates would agree, don't want to see newspapers disappear, but we do want to see a better standard of journalism, and reasonable, objective, responsible news coverage that trusts readers enough to judge facts for themselves. Some newspapers seem determined to twist every fact and figure they come across until it bears no semblance to reality, just to push an agenda and sell a few more papers. This is the media equivalent of short-selling; it creates an unsustainable environment where ill-conceived actions build up, creating a high-pressure bubble of of past crimes ready to burst at the slightest snag. Alienating readers, lying to people, scaring them, and spreading untruths are not behaviours that can continue indefinitely. Readers are deserting print media because they can get everything offered by The Mail or any number of other newspapers for free online and not be treated like morons.

While the lumbering behemoths that are Britain's tabloids fail to acknowledge this, they are doomed to a fate entirely of their own creation, and can hope for nothing other than declining sales, tumbling profits, and the loss of trust.

Anyways, to bring this party to a close - thanks for reading, subscribing to, and sharing the stuff here at The Quail! Hoot hoot!


  1. Congrats! I've only been reading this blog since March , & love it. Keep up the good work.

  2. Will BBC ageism end Quail's Career asks immigrant in free car?

  3. There's rumours he'll be replaced by a sprightly young hummingbird before his third birthday :\

  4. As I'm late, happy unbirthday. We should all print and insert Quail stories into The Mail. They won't know the difference!

  5. Huzzah! Much love from all the cretins at the Mobar Gazette, keep it up.


  6. AlfredTurningstone28 August 2009 at 12:26

    keep up the good work :)

  7. Congratulations. Here's to another 25 years. Actually no. Hopefully the Mail will be gone by then

  8. Only a year? You are a bright young thing!

  9. Happy birthday, and keep up the good (and hilarious) work!