Wednesday, January 02, 2008

WHERE THE RIGHT THING READERS VISIT

Ever since The New York Times Syndicate encouraged me to maintain a blog in association with the weekly ethics syndicated newspaper column “The Right Thing,” I have been curious about how people use the blog site.

While I’m still not quite sure how the blog is used unless readers post a comment or e-mail me, I do have a sense of what specific columns they’re visiting while on the blog. Of course, this still doesn’t give me a clue about how people are using the blog or how they ended up at a particular column.

Still, I thought it might be of interest to take a somewhat random look at what columns have been visited over the past hour or so.

By far the two columns that readers are gravitating to most are the one I wrote this past Sunday looking back at the previous year’s columns based on some reader input into what I was thinking at the time I wrote some columns in particular (see
THE RIGHT THING: WHAT WAS I THINKING?) and the one I wrote the previous week about the most and least ethical people of the year (see THE RIGHT THING: THE BEST OF YEARS, THE WORST OF YEARS). Since these are the two most recent columns, I suppose it’s not a surprise that most blog traffic is to these two installments.

The reason for the other columns visited most often recently is a bit more baffling.

The top visited piece by different readers in the past hour or so was
A BANK ERROR IN YOUR FAVOR IS NO GAME, a column from April 2006 in which I looked at what people do when they receive too much money in error from a bank or other financial institution.

And then these columns ranked similarly in visits over the past hour or so:

SOUND OFF: WHEN BOSSES CHEAT, responses to the question about what to do when a colleague tells you that a boss asked her to help him cheat on his expense report. This column originally ran in June 2006.

A UNIVERSAL QUESTION, a column asking if universal blood donors are obligated to refrain from doing anything (such as international travel) that might take them out of the donor pool. This column appeared in September 2006.

SOUND OFF: MAKING AMENDS, which asks readers about whether Liz Seccuro was right to turn in William Beebe, the man who had attacked her 20 years ago when both were students at the University of Virginia after he got in touch with her to apologize. It appeared in March 2007.

The column about the man who kept his mailbox key so he could check in on his old mailbox that now belonged to someone else so he could get his catalogs (THE RIGHT THING: THINKING INSIDE THE BOX) is another popular destination. It originally appear in September 2007.

A May 2006 repost of a column I had written for the Sunday New York Times in August 2003 about using selective information when making your point (CAN TRUTH BE TOLD WHEN USING SELECTIVE INFORMATION?) got a bit of traffic as well.

So did the question I asked readers about in December 2006, about whether actress Patricia Heaton was right to spy on her kids' e-mail, an admission she made on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien and that appears at SOUND OFF: PARENTS WHO SPY ON KIDS.

The column about the reader who wanted to know if it was OK to burn CDs borrowed from her local library onto her computer so she could replace her old cassette tape collection (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) that appeared in March 2007 still was getting visits in this past hour.

And the update on Malden Mills and Hewlett Packard posted in January 2007 with links to earlier columns on the topics (MALDEN MILLS, HEWLETT PACKARD UPDATES) was among the columns visited as well.

When I wrote WHY OH WIRELESS? in March 2006 it resulted in a lot of references and discussions on other blogs and websites and it still is up there among the pieces frequently visited.
Last January I posted a column about the deleterious effects of naming a building after someone who gets convicted (see TAINTED NAMES REDUX). It was on the list of top columns visited in the past hour or so as well.

There were other columns visited less frequently in the past hour too.

As I said, I’m not sure what the list of top visited columns in the past hour or so says about readers since I have no idea why they visited where they did. Unless they tell me, I have no idea who they are.

I do have an idea where some of them are from including, in the past hour or so: Colorado, California, Florida, Ireland, DC, Seattle, Iowa, Virginia, France, Chicago, Canada, Boston, Italy, New Jersey, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, United Kingdom, New York, Spain, Maryland, Connecticut, Germany, Mississippi, Arkansas, Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, North Carolina, and Denmark. Some of this is driven by where the column appears in newspapers. But the international visits reflect the broader Internet audience the column has since so far it only appears in newspapers in the United States and Canada.

You can encourage your daily or weekly newspaper, regional magazine, or favorite website to carry the column. Ask them to contact Sales Manager Ana Muñoz at munoza@nytimes.com or 212.499.3333 or send them to the contact information that is available at http://nytsyn.com/saleinfo.html.

I’m glad readers continue to revisit current and past columns. I imagine if I waited an hour and then took another look at where readers were visiting a whole different group of columns would appear as most frequently visited.

In the meantime, I continue to respond to stories or questions from readers about challenging ethical situations in which they find themselves. You can e-mail me at rightthing@nytimes.com.

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