Chemmy and I are pretty big nerds (big, sexy nerds) so of course we've been watching our site stats like hawks towards the end of the month to see how things would pan out. Thanks in large part to everyone here October was once again a record-setting month as, for the fifth month in a row, our site visits and page views surpassed the previous high. During the 31 days of October we saw 17,757 visits come to Pension Plan Puppets, and probably only 10,000 were us checking on the site, which resulted in 65,149 page views.
With every increase I look back to my first post at SBN and the modest goal that I set to bring visitors the best writing I could and to give them a platform to contribute and build the community:
In short, I hope to build a community of Leaf fans discussing their team because when they inevitably break our hearts we'll all need a digital shoulder to weep on.
In my entire time (two and a half years) I have only had one negative incident but it actually helped me re-emphasise the entire purpose of running this site:
We run this site for fun. No one makes any money off of this site. I don't want to have to make posts like this one. There are community guidelines to ensure that newcomers understand what they are getting into when they join our growing family. If you are thinking of joining or commenting more then I suggest that a good idea is to get the lay of the land to get a sense of the vibe. No one's asking you to assimilate but recognize the environment that we are trying to develop.
This picture really does capture the prevailing vision of the site:
I can't thank the regular commenters and contributors enough for what they do to make running this site such a pleasure for Chemmy and myself. There are a great many that have registered or just lurk and if you have something to say then you definitely shouldn't be shy. Looking at any post about Mats Sundin or Firing Howard Berger and you'll see some spirited debate but, surprising for the internet, everyone here keeps it clean. We're just a goofy bunch of Leaf lovers that love talking about our team. So how can you become part of the fun? I am glad that I asked that question:
Register - Registering is a piece of cake (on the left hand side, might not actually taste like cake) and it gives you one passport to over 150 team-specific websites so you can follow all of your teams in almost as wonderful an environment as this one. Obviously, Leaf fans do it better (that's what she said).
Comment - Agree or disagree with what is written? Fire up the best commenting engine ever made in the history of the interwebs and let everyone know. Follow the community guidelines and people will welcome you. Arguments can get heated (Sundin owes the Leafs something) but at the end of the day we're all on the same side.
Fanshots - Did you come across an article or picture or quotation or video that you think everyone here would enjoy? Fanshots are quick hit items that you can use to share your find.
Fanposts - Do you have something that you've been meaning to get off your chest? A look at the Leafs' powerplay efficiency over the past decade or a study of the Leafs' (lack of) drafting prowess in the 80s? Write a fanpost and share your views with the site. The best fanposts can get promoted to the front page (if that's your bag baby) but they'll all be appreciated as efforts towards discussing our team.
Recommendations - So far this tool has been used pretty sparingly but as the community grows, and the amount of content grows with it, recommendations are a great way of highlighting the best contributions to the site. You can recommend any post, fanshot, fanpost, or comment. If enough people rec a fanshot or fanpost it gets moved to the recommended section. It's a great way to recognize your fellow Leaf fan for a great contribution. You can do the same with comments except all that happens is that the comment turns green (it's weird, we did it once, and I am trying to get it changed to blue).
Buzz!, Digg, Share on Facebook - You'll see those buttons on the stories that we decide to highlight whether because we think they are newsworthy or because they are really good. If you agree, click on any (or all!) and help spread the word about the post. Hopefully the increased visibility will attract even more fans to share in the community.
The big thing is that there are tonnes of ways for you (the reader, lurker, commenter) to either begin contributing or expand your contribution. At the end of the day this site is only as good as the community it fosters (which is why it's already 11th in the BallHype rankings. Look out Mirtle! We're only 149th overall but Deadspin is hearing footsteps) and I think that Leaf fans still have at least a couple of other gears so keep it up/start it up.