Kiwiblog in 2012

January 2nd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar
  • 3,300 posts
  • 3,444,831 visits
  • 761,016 unique visitors
  • 7,073,093 page views


  • NZ 2,882,850 visits
  • Australia 176,178
  • US 106,015
  • UK 71,559


  • Auckland 1,411,981
  • Wellington 754,635
  • Christchurch 272,428
  • Hamilton 84,753
  • Dunedin 68,343
  • Sydney 60,272
  • Melbourne 48,018
  • Palm North 45,243
  • London 38,660


  • IE 30.3%
  • Safari 21.8%
  • Firefox 21.2%
  • Chrome 19.9%
  • Android 3.6%

Mobile Devices

Note that almost 20% of all visits were on a mobile or tablet.

  • iPad 244,551
  • iPhone 229,373
  • Samsung GT-I9100 Galaxy S II 23,745
  • iPod Touch 12,020
  • Motorola MB525 DEFY 7,044

Search Terms

  • Greg King 3,779
  • Malcolm Harbrow 3,671
  • Paul Staples 3,073
  • Kermadec crunchy-wasp 2,802
  • Owen McShane 2,762
  • Matthew Hooton 2,537
  • Teapot tape 1,764
  • Cactus Kate 1,666
  • Wheedle 1,652
  • Whale Oil 1,527
  • Kylie Fullerton 1,514

I’ve excluded searches on the name Kiwiblog and my name.

3,300 posts is a scary number!


Some posts from the last year

December 21st, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

As an centre-right person it is no surprise I have supported most of what the Government has done. But that doesn’t mean there have not been issues where I disagree with them, or support something from other parties, or give an opinion that isn’t helpful to the Government. I’ve had a quick look through the archives, and below are a surprising large number of links:

I will use this post as a reference point for the next idiot who states that I always agree with National and never criticize them.

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2012 Kiwiblog Awards

December 17th, 2012 at 4:15 pm by David Farrar

Okay, have just closed voting in the 2012 Kiwiblog Awards. The winners are:

  • 2012 Press Gallery Journalist of the Year – Rodney Hide. An indication that many KB readers remain fond of Rodney – especially now he is free to write what he truly believes. Runner up is Patrick Gower.
  • 2012 Minor Party MP of the Year. Green Party leader Russel Norman takes this out, with Peter Dunne in second place.
  • 2012 National MP of the Year. Chris Finlayson takes first spot narrowly over Tony Ryall.
  • 2012 Labour MP of the Year. A lot of The Standard readers must have been voting as David Cunliffe wins this award. Readers show their sense of humour by having Rajen Prasad come second.
  • 2012 MP of the Year. Green Party leader Russel Norman beats out Steven Joyce. As many KB readers are not natural Green Party fans, that is a significant achievement. I’m sure Russel will include the award in his CV, and frame it to place on his office wall.

Thanks to all those who voted in the (unscientific) blog poll.

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9,000 users

November 13th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

This week Kiwiblog had the 9,000th user registration, which is what allows someone to make a comment.

We’re also a few posts away from 24,000 posts and are up to 912,000 comments. We’ll need a party for the one million mark!

There are 4,565 different tags or topics also which is a bit disturbing!


Want to help highlight the silly complainers?

October 26th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Just been looking at all the complaints that the Advertising Standards Authority has had to deal with this year. There are a staggering 523 complaints, and reading through many of them, you see so many people with a total lack of sense of humour. For example:

The direct mail flyer showed a picture of a cow that had attempted to jump over a steel gate, but had got stuck half way. The position of the cow over the gate appears uncomfortable. Above the image is the heading “Rural broad band… no more obstacles”. Further information about the broadband packages is listed next to the image. …

Complainant, C. Bateman, said: in part “This image is disrespectful to animals, is offensive to anyone concerned about animal welfare and even if it’s meant to be “tongue in cheek” it is not even remotely humourous.”

Oh Good God. And that is one of the more sane complaints.

Anyway this has given me an idea for a regular feature – focusing on the idiotic complaints people send to to various regulatory bodies.

But I need some help to do this.

What I’m after is one or two people who will say once a week on alternate weeks go to the websites of the ASA, BSA and Press Council and have a quick skim of complaints. Then all you have to do is send me a link and/or an extract of the ones which are basically seriously demented or show someone totally lacking in humour.

If this appeals to you, just e-mail me. I think we’ll be doing a public service by highlighting the inanity of some of our serial complainers.

Probably looking to do one post a week highlighting no more than six inane complaints. I suspect a few names will reoccur!

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NZ First infighting

October 17th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Sam Sachdeva at The Press reports:

NZ First has been embroiled in infighting after a blog slammed the performance of some of its MPs, leaked party emails show.

Internal emails, passed on to The Press, have revealed discord within the party, with Christchurch MP Denis O’Rourke among those attacking their Whip and the party’s board.

The emails relate to a post by website Kiwiblog that used a range of statistics to rank Opposition MPs.

The rankings placed Canterbury NZ First MPs O’Rourke and Richard Prosser in the bottom five for the third quarter of 2012, along with colleague Asenati Taylor.

I wouldn’t say the blog slammed any of the NZ First MPs. In the post I did, I mainly just report the data. Rajen Prasad is the only MP I really gave much of a swipe to.

As I said in the post, the data is quantitative, not qualitative. However I think it has some value as it does at least show if MPs are being active asking PQs and doing press releases.

To be fair to NZ First MPs, many will always struggle as Winston hogs most of the media stories, and front on almost any high profile issue. But that is no reason you can’t still be churning out some releases and gathering data through PQs.

NZ First Whip Barbara Stewart emailed the rankings to the caucus on October 4.

She said they showed “how others are judging you”.

O’Rourke and former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams hit back, criticising the rankings and Stewart’s decision to email them out.

What is fascinating is not that MPs disagree, but that one of the MPs has leaked the e-mails to the media. Not a good sign.

O’Rourke said the rankings were “not even remotely interesting or relevant” and were “utter nonsense”.

“I find it hard to believe that anyone with any brains would actually take any notice of a stupid Right-wing blog site,” he said.

Hey, I resent the “stupid” comment! And yes my blog is from the right and I am known to be a critic of Winston, but the MP stats are not designed to be pro or anti any party or MP. They are designed to both reveal how much work MPs are doing in certain areas, and how effective they are at gaining media attention. I do them for Government Ministers also.

Williams said Stewart’s decision to place importance on the rankings was “a sad inditement [sic] on you as Whip and of this party”.

“[Q]uite frankly I do not want to receive these ‘nanny’ type sermons from you. Have better things to do than be preached at.”

It is interesting that Winston promised soon after the election that the caucus would elect a Deputy Leader by the end of March 2012. They still haven’t elected one. Is it because they can’t agree?

In response, Stewart warned the MPs that their performance had been noticed by the NZ First board.

“The number of contributions or lack of – that you make . . . is also being noticed. A picture is being created about you!”

I’m biased, but I think the data in the ratings can be of some use to a party. Certainly only of some limited value, but it allows a party to say why has Brendan Horan does 16 press releases and Denis O’Rourke only one? Now there may be a simple answer such as Horan has a portfolio that has been more high profile. So the data is not the answer, but at least allows questions to be asked.  Likewise why has Andrew Williams asked 22 PQs and Asenati Taylor just three?

So even I wouldn’t place huge reliance on the data, but that isn’t to say it can’t be of some value.

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A life ban

September 29th, 2012 at 9:59 am by David Farrar

Well done Peter Burns, or Dad4Justice.  You’ve joined the rare group of people who are now banned for life from Kiwiblog.

UPDATE: It was not Peter. See this post.


Parliamentary Analyst wanted

September 18th, 2012 at 1:17 pm by David Farrar

This year I have been doing a post on house sitting days detailing what is likely to occur in Parliament that day, with links to the bills, and some analysis of the questions and bills.

The main reason I started doing it, is I was a bit frustrated that there is nowhere else you can get this. Don’t get me wrong – the Parliamentary website has all the information on it, but the order paper is a pdf, and the questions are on a separate page etc. The idea is a one stop shop, making it easier for people to see what the “action” is on a sitting day – and get an idea of whether the debates will be on laws that parties disagree on, or on ones that are controversial.

I’ve been too busy to do this on a regular basis, as I am not always able to get online between 1130 and 1400 on sitting days.

So what I thought I would advertise for is if there are one or more people out there (probably political science students, but can be anyone) who would like to become a Kiwiblog parliamentary analyst.  The position is unpaid, but could be good on the CV, and bound to help you pick up guys or girls in bars and clubs. :-)

At this stage, just looking for a comittment to do the sitting day posts. If I get two or three volunteers, could assign a day each. If people are keen, could expand over time to other stuff such as covering debates on controversial bills, scoring question time etc.

For the sitting day posts, what is required is:

  1. Copy and paste oral questions over at or after 1130 when made public
  2. Summarise number of questions for each party, and what topics party are asking on
  3. Award “pasty of the day” to the most sycophantic question from a Government backbencher
  4. List the first five orders or bills on the order paper, and link them to their parliamentary page
  5. Estimate which bills will be dealt with that day. Don’t worry if you get it wrong – I often do.
  6. Provide a summary of each bill, which includes date of introduction, its “owner”, its purpose (take from the very useful library digest), and which parties voted for or against it at previous readings or stages.

It normally takes me half an hour or so, so isn’t a huge time commitment – but the challenge is being able to do it between 1130 and 1400, when Parliament generally starts for the day.

If you are interested in becoming a parliamentary analyst for Kiwiblog, just e-mail me. No pay, not even at minimum wage, but the occasional beer or wine – and the chance to show your skills off to the world.

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New comments record

March 14th, 2012 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

The thread “Bain says parents made him strong” has set a record in terms of number of comments. It was around 500 or so on a Destiny Church thread, but the Bain thread is now 1,016 comments.

And no I haven’t read all of them, or even most of them!


Kiwiblog 2011 Stats

January 6th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

All stats from Google Analytics for 2011 calendar year.

Main Stats

  • Visits – 3,550,071 (2,993,948) – 19% annual increase
  • Visitors – 746,662 (718,046)
  • Pageviews – 7,082,230 (6,487,007)

Country of Visitors

  1. NZ 84.3%
  2. Australia 4.8%
  3. US 3.0%
  4. UK 2.5%
  5. Canada 0.6%
  6. Singapore 0.3%
  7. Japan 0.3%
  8. Germany 0.3%
  9. India 0.2%

City of Visitors

  1. Auckland 37.2%
  2. Wellington 23.3%
  3. Christchurch 8.5%
  4. Hamilton 2.5%
  5. Dunedin 2.0%
  6. Sydney 1.6%
  7. Palm Nth 1.6%
  8. Mechanics Bay 1.5%
  9. Melbourne 1.4%
  10. Nelson 1.0%


  1. IE 37.0% (-8.3%)
  2. Firefox 26.2% (-4.1%)
  3. Safari 18.1% (+6.1%)
  4. Chrome 15.1% (+4.8%)
  5. Android 1.1%
  6. Opera 0.9%

Operating Systems

  1. Windows 73.5% (-8.2%)
  2. Mac 14.0% (+1.3%)
  3. iPhone 4.4% (+2.3%)
  4. iPad 3.4% (++2.7%)
  5. Linux 1.5% (-0.1%)

Hosts (excluding ISPs)

  1. VUW 21,264
  2. MOJ 15,779
  3. MSD 10,865
  4. Massey 9,306
  5. APN 6,930
  6. Air NZ 5,707
  7. Fonterra 5,279
  8. Treasury 4,798
  9. MOE 4,755
  10. NZ Post 4,500
  11. Westpac 4,028
  12. Ak City Council – 3,759
  13. TVNZ 3,636


  1. 35.0% search
  2. 29.3% referral
  3. 35.7% direct

Search Terms (excluding Kiwiblog and my name)

  1. Cactus Kate
  2. Cathy Odgers
  3. Malcolm Harbrow
  4. Whale Oil
  5. Matthew Hooton
  6. Erin Leigh
  7. Labour List
  8. VSM bill
  9. Liz Shaw
  10. Mana Party
  11. Kate Sutton
  12. Owen Glenn
  13. Whaleoil
  14. Vote for Change
  15. The spirit level


  1. No Minister
  2. Whale Oil
  3. Facebook
  4. NZ Herald
  5. Dim Post
  6. Keeping Stock
  7. Cactus Kate
  8. Scoop
  9. The Standard
  10. NZ Conservative

Also currently Kiwiblog has had:

  • 21,188 posts, of which approx 2,800 were made in 2011
  • 790,704 comments, of which approx 140,000 were made in 2011
  • 4,020 tags
  • 7,514 registered commenters
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Read the author line

December 14th, 2011 at 4:09 am by David Farrar

For those who missed it, the post before this one was by Jadis, one of my guest editors. As it happens I disagree with Jadis on this, and think Shearer will lead Labour into the 2014 election. Hell if Labour didn’t roll Phil Goff for non-performance, then Shearer has nothing to worry about.

I actually think he has a very decent chance of becoming Prime Minister.

I’m on holiday until early January so Jadis will be doing the odd guest post, as well as possibly other guest editors.

I’ll still do a bit of blogging, but will be less regular.

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Kiwiblog this week

November 25th, 2011 at 10:48 pm by David Farrar

From Google Analytics.

  • 38,110 unique visitors
  • 105,531 visits – of which 10,000 are to the mobile version
  • 213,626 page views


  • IE 33%
  • Firefox 24%
  • Safari 19%
  • Chrome 18%
  • Android 2%

Operating Systems

  • Windows 70%
  • Mac 13%
  • iPhone 5%
  • iPad 5%
  • Android 2%
  • Linux 1%

Top Visit Sources

  1. Ministry of Justice
  2. Datacom
  3. VUW
  4. MSD
  5. APN
  6. Air NZ
  7. Massey Uni
  8. Min of Ed
  9. Westpac
  10. Cant Uni

Top Referrers

  1. Whale Oil
  2. No Minister
  3. Facebook
  4. NZ Herald
  6. Keeping Stock
  7. Cactus Kate
  8. Trade Me
  9. Stuff
  10. Scoop

Top Search Terms

  1. Kiwiblog
  2. David Farrar
  3. Erin Leigh
  4. Bradley Ambrose
  5. Cactus Kate
  6. Kate Sutton
  7. Supplementary Member
  8. Matthew Hooton
  9. Labour List
  10. Who is the child abusing comedian

Top Pages Visited

  1. So much for a panel of undecided voters
  2. Blogroll
  3. Caption Contest 32
  4. KB back up
  5. General Debate 21 Nov
  6. A vote for NZ First is a vote for a new election
  7. Labour’s campaign hits full stride
  8. Must read blogs
  9. Goff savaged
  10. General Debate 20 November 2011


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Kiwiblog tomorrow

November 25th, 2011 at 7:16 pm by David Farrar

The Electoral Act states in Paragraph (g) of Section 197(1) that it an offence at any time on polling day (before 7 pm) to publish any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any elector as to the candidate or party for whom the elector should or should not vote, or any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any elector to abstain from voting.

This means I will not be posting any material after midnight that could be seen as influencing any elector as to how to vote, or not to vote. I am asking all those who comment to do the same. The law should be interpreted broadly, so do not post comments tomorrow on any candidate, MP or party, current issues or policy.

It is not my intention to disable commenting, just as I don’t expect Trade Me will close down their forums for the day. If any commenter does post a comment that could be considered in breach, I will be happy to supply their e-mail address and IP address to the Electoral Commission. I will also delete the comment and suspend the account.

If a number of people act retarded and post stuff they should not, them I may stick moderation on for comments so they do not appear automatically. I’d rather not do that, unless necessary.

I’ve already voted. I voted today for National, for Paul Foster-Bell, for change, and for STV. Whether or not you vote the same as me, make sure you vote before 7 pm tomorrow.

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KB back up

November 18th, 2011 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

Massive dos attack is why we were down from around 6 pm yesterday. Some people are not so much into this free speech concept.


Stuff on bloggers

November 5th, 2011 at 1:31 pm by David Farrar

A lengthy article in Stuff on bloggers. A good read. They profile Whale Oil, myself, Public Address, Dim Post and Robyn Gallagher.


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Kiwiblog Crossword

July 15th, 2011 at 10:53 am by David Farrar

Thanks to John Stringer for this crossword. It is intended to be a weekly feature.

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Kiwiblog Outage

July 6th, 2011 at 4:42 pm by David Farrar

Kiwiblog will be off air this Sunday between 6 am and midday approx. The server it is on is being cleaned and moved.


King v Farrar

June 14th, 2011 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Am very amused by this story on Stuff:

In the spotlight over whether the taxpayer has funded Labour’s party activities, deputy leader Annette King has taken a pot shot at right-wing Stuff blogger David Farrar. …

King said Labour was very careful about what its staff did during paid time at Parliament.

”We have looked at it and we have made sure they are doing what is appropriate for them to do.”

Other parties should also check their staff, she said.

”Because I have no doubt that in the past someone like David Farrar setting up his blog, a lot of it was done within Parliament.

”I’m not accusing him of using Parliamentary time but every party has to be careful of what they do in their own time, in their own equipment and in Parliamentary equipment.”

Farrar admits he was working at Parliament when he set up the blog in 2003, and over the nine months he spent working in the National Party’s leader’s office he occasionally blogged from Parliament.

”But the blog was hosted on the NZ Pundit server in Dunedin. No Parliamentary resources were used.

”I worked an 80 hour week, they were getting free time from me, so the taxpayer didn’t pay for my time.”

I literally laughed out loud when I heard Annette was talking about eight years ago in 2003. And as I told Danya, my blog was never hosted on servers paid for by Parliament. Gordon King from NZ Pundit hosted it back then.

I definitely did blog from Parliament during the nine months cross-over with working there, but did this openly and under my own name. I actually think parliamentary staff should be encouraged to blog – so long as they do it openly like with Frog Blog.

But with me, it was very much as an individual. I did not seek permision from, or even inform in advance, any MP or staffer that I was starting a blog. For me it was just continuing on the debates I had been having in Usenet since 1996.

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Kiwiblog staff wanted

June 13th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

With work so busy for me, plus the pressure of regular columns on other sites, I’m finding it difficult to do as much as I would like to on Kiwiblog. I’m not going to, and never would, do an Iain Dale and stop blogging – I enjoy it too much for that.

But what I am going to try, is to see if there are any readers interested in helping out with Kiwiblog. These are not paid roles, but volunteer roles. A chance to contribute, and if you really want have a fancy title :-)

These are the roles which I have identified as most useful to me for now.


  • Do regular posts of political events – who’s on Backbenches, Q+A, The Nation as we receive them, and iPredict newsletter updates.
  • Set up the General Debate to appear at 8 am for each day
  • Correct any obvious typos in my posts
  • Approve any comments held in moderation (normally from new posters)
  • Clear the spam queue
  • Embed a Daily Dilbert Cartoon
  • Feed quotes into the Quotes Collection

Data Monkey

After someone who is a whiz on Excel. Don’t need to know all the fancy advanced features, but is good with data. I’d like to do more data analysis on Kiwiblog, but don’t have as much time to to do it all myself.

An example of what I am after is the planned series of posts on Electoral Reform. One of the posts will be on how porportional each of the five systems are. So what I am after is someone who can use the Gallagher Index to calculate the proportionality of the result for each election from 1996 to 2008, and the average over the five elections.

Then ideally to also model what the results of each election would have been under SM 90/30 and FPP, and to also calculate the Gallagher Index for each of those scenarios. Then one can compare the average proportionality (or not) of FPP, SM and MMP.

None of this is particularly difficult – it just takes time to enter in the data for 5 elections, create alternate results for 10 further scenarios, and then calculate the index for each.


Kiwblog used to have a regular cartoonist. If you want to take up the spot, send me a couple of cartoons.


We have the wonderful nature photos by Chtonoid every Friday. But what I am after is someone in Wellington and probably someone in Auckland who can attend significant political events (marches, rallies, demos etc) and take some photos for Kiwiblog.

So if you are interested in helping, e-mail me.


The Fred Hollows Foundation

June 2nd, 2011 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

Back in 2009, I had what I thought was a great idea. To have a Kiwiblog charity voted on by blog readers, and that we could then use the blog to fundraise money for, and organise fundraising events around.

Readers voted and selected the Fred Hollows Foundation. That was great. I met with them, and with Give-a-little who kindly offered to be the donor system. I also had various readers offer to help.

And then I got busy, and remained busy. And months went by and I hadn’t had the time to properly organise online widgets for donating, arranging a schedule of events such as debates and quiz nights etc. So then I though maybe I’ll make them the 2011 charity instead of 2010. But I still never managed to find the time, and then the earthquakes struck and that wasn’t the time to try fundraising for another cause, and then we’re getting close to the election and I realised that realistically I had over-committed and couldn’t  deliver what I wanted to.

Part of the plan was that I would donate 10% of the gross advertising income of Kiwiblog to Fred Hollows Foundation. Today I donated $10,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation, as my contribution towards their wonderful live changing work. And for those mathematicians out there, no that isn’t 10% of the gross advertising income – it is a much much higher percentage.  But I feel it is what I should do to make good on what I hoped we could achieve.

At some stage I would still like to try using this online community to organise fundraising events for charity, such as celebrtiy debates and the like. But realistically that would need a part-time organiser, not someone with around four jobs like I have.

Anyway the point of this post is not to highlight my donation, but to encourage yours. if you enjoy reading Kiwiblog every day, and appreciate the thousands of hours that has gone into doing 50+ posts a week, then you can show your appreciation by donating to the Fred Hollows Foundation. They are one of those charities where even a modest donations can make a huge difference, because in some of the countries they work, they can restore sight for just $25.

You can donate to them at this link, or by clicking on the widget at the top of the left sidebar. Please do so if you can.

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Off the grid

April 2nd, 2011 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

From tonight until Tuesday I’m in Tora, which is on the south-east coast of the Wairarapa. It’s outside Internet and cellphone coverage, so apart from those posts i have done in advance, and time delayed, no fresh content until Tuesday.

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Is it time to publish a name and e-mail address?

March 14th, 2011 at 9:00 pm by David Farrar

A commenter who just received enough demerits to get him a suspension, has taken to e-mailing his displeasure to me. His four e-mails in the last hour have said:

  1. Littlle fat shit i will return
  2. david Farrars blog is a gay site
  3. kiwi blog encourages CHINESE TAKEOVERS OF NZ BUSNESS
  4. Your latest post was pathetic for a fat whimp like you,is that the best????? opps pure national arse licking, well arse licking

Very strange, my last post wasn’t even on politics, but on an upcoming film I want to see.

The scary thing is that he gets a vote.

Anyway if he keeps e-mailing me I’ll publish his name and e-mail address.  And I think his temporary ban is very close to becoming a life-time ban.


WordCamp NZ

January 28th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

This blog runs on WordPress. It started life originally as a Movable Type blog, but a few years ago we migrated it to WordPress, and I have to say it made a huge difference. Not only was the blog heaps faster (as it did not rebuild the whole site after each post), but the functionality was greatly improved. And even better, one had thousands of WordPress plugins one could utilise to add on more features.

So being a big WordPress fan, I’m really looking forward to attending WordCamp NZ on Sat 19 and Sun 20 February. It is being held at Te Papa.

The guest speakers are a mixture of local and international, including John Ford from Automattic – the company behind WordPress. Local speakers include Julie Starr, Lance Wiggs and Richard McManus. I’m also talking for a bit about the challenges of a blog with over 600,000 comments on it. There’s also sessions commercially focused such as Search Engine Optimisation.

You can register to attend on the wordcamp website. Cost is only $85 for the weekend.

I’m hoping I’ll come out of it with some good ideas about ways I can make Kiwiblog better.

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Kiwiblog search terms

December 23rd, 2010 at 8:25 am by David Farrar

Was interested that the second most popular term for finding Kiwiblog (after Kiwiblog itself) is “Julian Assange”. I was surprised I would be on the first page of Google hits for his name, and even more surprised when I stuck his name in that Kiwiblog came up as the second hit after Wikipedia.

Someone is stalking Rex Widerstrom as his name is in 9th place for search terms and the NZEI death sqauds are hunting Peter McKeefry who is in 11th place.

Very amusing that we have a tie for 21st place with 179 hits each between “donkey sex” and “trevor mallard labour leader’. Is it 358 random searches or one person searching for both terms 179 times? :-)


Iain Dale retires

December 20th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Iain Dale is the most widely read UK blogger. I read him and Guido almost every day.

He announced last week that he is going to stop blogging. This has made news not just in the blogosphere, but also in the mainstream media.

Looking at some of the reasons why Iain has quit, I can understand his decision. There are times when it does get pretty challenging.

Well, I am afraid this is the blogpost where I tell you that I am giving up blogging. This decision has been coming for some time and was nearly made a month ago, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it then. Well, today I can.

There’s no single reason, but let me try to explain as best I can why I can no longer blog in the way I have been doing over the last five years. First of all, let me say what it’s NOT about. It’s got nothing to do with the Conservatives being in power. There’s this myth that blogging in government is less interesting than in opposition. I’ve never bought that argument. I think I have been quite open in making clear when I think the coalition have got things wrong, but I accept that is not the perception, and probably never will be.

I agree it is not less fun in Government. I thought it would be, but I am finding no shortage of things to blog on – in fact my challenge is the topics I miss out due to lack of time or resource.

I’ve been thinking of going through the year’s posts and counting the number of times I have criticised or disagreed with the Government. It’s several score at least.

The truth is, I no longer enjoy blogging and I think that this has been evident for a few months now to my readers. I hate the backbiting that goes along with it. I hate the character assassination that is permanently present.

I’ve always said I’ll give up if I don’t enjoy it. But unlike Iain I don’t get too bothered by the haters out there. The more someone spews venom at me, the more I think that I must be doing a good job for them to feel so threatened. If someone I respect criticises me, I take that very seriously – but they tend to do so in non-personal terms.

So I can’t see myself ever giving up because of the haters. Quite the opposite – it encourages you even more.

I no longer enjoy the pressure of feeling I have to churn out four or five pieces every day. I used to enjoy sitting in front of the TV at home in the evenings and writing blogposts at the same time. I can’t do that any longer as I am on the radio every weekday evening. And when I am in the office during the day I have two companies to run. Something has to give.

This is where I can totally empathise with Iain. Once upon a time the blog was not an “obligation”, just fun. But I do feel a sense of (mainly self-imposed) obligation to try and do around 8 – 10 posts a day, to cover off major issues and to be topical.

There are days and weeks when I am exhausted from trying to manage the blog, actually earn money from Curia, contribute to InternetNZ’s activities, do various media obligations, and a near non stop range of meetings and speaking arrangements.

Even getting up at 5 am doesn’t leave enough time, and friends have to put up with me trying to catch up on a backlog of e-mails while watching DVDs on a Friday night.

To cope with what will be an even busier in 2011, I will be soliciting some volunteers to help with certain aspects of the blog. I’ll provide details in January. I’m also going to learn the value of the word “no” and start declining speaking requests – not all of them, but some of them.

And if I am honest, I now feel that my blogging is having a negative effect on various aspects of my business and broadcasting life.

I estimate I could probably double my income, if I gave up blogging. Partly due to the extra time I would have to do business development – in six years of business, I’ve never responded to an RFP or solicited a client. It has all been word of mouth. Also the blog makes me too risky a choice for many government sector clients.

I’m working 9am to 10pm five days a week. I enjoy it. I relish it. I thrive on it. I’m running a very successful publishing company which is, I believe, on the brink of great success. I’ve achieved a lifetime’s ambition of having my own daily radio talk show. I am not about to put either of those things at risk. And frankly, I’m not going to put my health at risk either. As I said above, something has to give in this life I am now leading, and I am afraid it is the blog.

The health factor is real also. I left Parliament, partly because of the insane hours. They’re not as bad as when I was at Parliament, but it is a long way from a 40 hour week.

But at the end of the day, my challenge is to get a better balance, not to give up blogging. I’ve actually been debating politics online since 1996, and blogging is just a continuation of that. If I can get the balance right, I hope to blog until I am happily (or grumpily) retired.

I have also decided to give up all party political activities, as they too have hampered aspects of my business and broadcasting career in the past. I am, and will remain, a Conservative supporter, but that’s as far as it goes.

I made that decision after the 2005 election, and it was the best thing I have ever done. I will attend the odd party conference if it is interesting, but have managed to avoid any roles or offices.

The only party role that might interest me in the future would be on the Board of Directors, but I suspect it would be incompatible with my blogging as you can’t really have a Party Director criticising a National-led Government, even mildly.

Finally, I’d like to thank all my readers for sticking with me through good times and bad over the last five years. To the many enemies I have made along the way, I’ll just say in a very Nixon-esque manner, just rejoice in the fact that you won’t have me to kick around any longer. For the moment, anyway. For the most part, I have enjoyed the blogging experience and made a lot of friends through it.

Iain’s departure is a real loss to the UK blogosphere. I always enjoyed his blog, as he was very reasonable and fair. And it was a great way to keep up with UK politics.

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