UNIX.com End of Year (EOY) Report (2019)

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The Lounge What is on Your Mind? UNIX.com End of Year (EOY) Report (2019)
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Old 12-18-2019
UNIX.com End of Year (EOY) Report (2019)

Here is a quick EOY report for 2019.

2019 has been a year of "downward trend reversal" for UNIX.com. In fact, if we compare total Google search impressions from the peak days in December 2019 to the peak days in mid December 2018, traffic is up 43% percent. That is a very respectable growth trend considering that tech Q&A sites like this one were hammered down by changes in Google's algorithm in 2019 (which I have described in a number of posts this year). You can see this "hammering" in the following graph starting in mid March of 2019 and reversing around May 2019 when all my changes to the site started to work. Naturally, the end of every year sees a downward trend until the seasonal holidays are over in January of the next year.


I continued to update our code in 2019 with an exhausting amount of coding in 2019 which mitigated 100% of legacy issues from the "old day" of running code not built for mobile or Google's changes. These changes (documented in various posts on the site) included:
  • Supplementing discussions with related unix and linux man pages when the discussions were short and, therefore penalized by Google (the so called "soft 404 error" by Google)
  • Completed the first phase of a 99.99% responsive (mobile friendly) view.
  • Numerous changes to the code to increase speed and enhance performance overall.
  • Created a new YT channel for UNIX.com.

All of the changes above (and others not mentioned) have contributed to our current situation of an over 40% increase in visitors to the site compared to over a year ago.

In addition, I coded a number of changes not related to Google and SEO overall, including:
  • Completed the new user badging system (phase one) as suggested by one of our moderators (Ravinder).
  • Completed the revision of our very legacy UserCP (Control Panel).
  • Completed the trial of a "Live Chat" system (now abandoned due to lack of user interest) also suggested by one of our moderators (Ravinder).

Also, even with all that coding work; I wrote a mountain of code to deal with the constant barrage of rouge bots, DDOS like attacks from misconfigured bots and spammers, and more; which I will not go into in this quick 2019 status update.

These changes did not go without unintended consequences; and the changes I made to the site (some technical, some administrative) caused some stress and tension in our strong and (often very opinionated) moderator team; and the results were that we lost a few of my favorite moderators. Actually, I predicted this would happen back in 2018 when I began implementing the coding and administrative changes needed to reverse the downward trend for forums, overall. My experience, like yours, is that you cannot please 100% of the people; so I had to made some difficult and sometimes hard choices. The results speak for themselves. The site is now mostly 100% mobile compliant according to Google Search Console and overall, our traffic is up nearly 50% over a year ago. The site is faster and more robust. In fact, the monthly visitors is back above 2017 levels, reversing a downward trend for tech forums in general.

In a nutshell, I am pleased to have reversed the downward trend which began a few years ago when I was not heavily involved in the site and was out scuba diving, enjoying life and exercising a lot. However, I am not sure about the future, as video continues to dominate tech knowledge sharing more and more, and Google has made it clear they believe the future is video, not text.

As everyone knows, sitting at the computer and coding is not good for the body, and my amazingly good health when I was scuba diving and very active (not on the computer so much) has gone down a bit since I started this "trend reversal" work. This is normal of course. We all, as technical people, know what happens to our overall health when we sit and work at the computer. Sitting is not good. That's one of the prices we pay for our work as IT professionals.

So, if I could summarize 2019, at least from my point of view, it would be like this.

I worked very hard at the big 34" computer monitor in 2019 to reverse the downward trend of UNIX.com visitors (forum visitors in general). This hard work has caused my health to go down a bit (gained a bit of weight and loss some muscle mass); but my overall health is still very good overall. I do need, however, to get away from the computer more. Visitors to the site are way up over 2018 (and 2017 I think) and the site is faster and more robust than when I started this coding marathon. In addition, changes to the site caused some stress and departures of a few people; but regardless of my experience and talents, I cannot please 100% of everyone 100% of the time. In addition, nor do I want to please 100% of people. That would not be sincere or honest.

At the end of the day (as they say), I am the one responsible for defending the site against DDOS attacks at 3AM, moving the site to another datacenter when a business decides to shutdown, reconfiguring the site when legions of bots from China and other countries start ravaging the site, and insuring the site is secure against the 24x7 barrage of hacking attempts. For the past few years, I have been the only person doing these admin and coding tasks.

To the many people who have been very supportive over the past year. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your help, good ideas and encouragement.

To those "entitled, long time members" who were critical and not very supportive of the changes I have made (or how I have gone about making those changes on a live, busy site) since 2018 and during all 2019, I continue to wish you the best, value your many contributions, and appreciate your answers to many user questions related to unix and linux. Thank you very much also.

For anyone tuned in to the web, we all can see that video (mostly YouTube) tutorials dominate the knowledge sharing on the web these days. For example, I learned VueJS, HTML5, Javascript, and more (just about everything related to full-stack web dev in 2019) watching YouTube. Recently, I have been working on some IoT (Internet of Things) M2M (machine-to-machine) applications with Arduino boards, shields and sketches. All of that "new knowledge" has come from YouTube videos. In addition, when I was starting to rebuild my electronics lab this year, all my research was from YouTube videos. Rarely did I go to a forum and when I did, there was a lot of more "noise", and much less "signal", than watching and browsing videos on YT.

It is clear to see that the old days of "forums" and logging into a site for Q&A has been (and continues to be) supplanted by video tutorials and reviews. I am old enough to remember when new knowledge in tech came from hardback books; and back in those days I spent a fortune on the latest tech books (which I gave away to charity many years ago). Then, knowledge sharing moved to forums and blogs; and then to social media; and on to video.

Someone pointed out to me that this site is one of the best managed and maintained forums related to unix and linux on the Internet today. I mentioned to them that I see that video (mostly YT) will continue to grow and the role of forums and blogs will continue to diminish. However, this advisor pointed out to me that there will always be a need for people to have a good forum / venue they can go to when they are stuck and want to interact with others to solve problems.

This means that UNIX.com remains an important site for the unix and linux community; so I will continue to improve the site in 2020, with a focus on additional mobile improvements. Hopefully, I will create more video content as well. But, before I start writing new mobile site code, I have some Arduino M2M projects I want to do and also want to take a break from tech a little and exercise and relax more; spend more time with family and loved ones. I'm glad the 2019 holiday season is upon us.

I wish each and everyone of you a very healthy, safe, prosperous and loving holiday season. As I am often reminded by others, this site still sees around 1 million unique visitors a month and so our cause here continues to be noble, helping those in need of help in their technical problems and issues.

I thank everyone at UNIX.com for your contribution to the global unix and linux community, this site, and to your family and friends.

Have a very warm and happy holiday season.

PS: If any mod sees any typos (there always are when I post), please feel free to correct them. Thanks!

Last edited by hicksd8; 12-18-2019 at 11:16 AM..
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