Happy New Year! As 2023 gets underway, I think it’s fun to look back at the past year and see how the website performed. Thanks to my web host and Google Analytics, I have quite a lot of data to dive into for measuring such things.
My annual caveat applies: this whole thing is just for fun! Running this website is a hobby for me, not something I endeavour to take too seriously, and even if no one was tuning in I’d still be writing because it’s something that I enjoy doing. I’m not intending to turn this website into a full-time job, nor am I interested in chasing “internet points” or going viral. So everything we’re about to discuss should be considered with that in mind!
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s reflect on the progress Trekking with Dennis made in 2022. This past year has been much less consistent on my side, with long breaks in between posts and a general slowdown in my writing. I wrote far fewer pieces for the website this year than I did in both 2020 and 2021, and the second half of the year in particular was much more sparse in terms of new articles, lists, and other posts.
That isn’t something I plan on addressing, at least not intentionally. As I said back in November when I last talked about this: the point of Trekking with Dennis for me is to talk about the subjects I fancy or that pique my interest at my own pace. In 2020 and 2021 I obviously found more things to talk about than I have this past year… and I’m actually okay with that. That doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets – there are films, television shows, and at least a dozen Star Trek episodes that I wish I’d found or made time to review in 2022. But I’d rather pace myself, take breaks when I need to, and continue enjoying what I do here instead of forcing myself to write to arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines and end up feeling burned out – or worse, no longer enjoying the creative process.
In short: if I find more time and energy to write in 2023 than I did in 2022, that’s great! But if not, that’s okay too.
The website saw some significant milestones in 2022. The final post of the year – my annual “End-of-Year Awards” piece – was the 650th article that I’ve published here since I began the project in November 2019. That’s quite a lot of writing! The total number of visitors that the website received in 2022 was just over 67,000 – which is an absolutely incredible number! That makes 2022 the best year on record for Trekking with Dennis, beating 2021’s visitor numbers by a little over 6,000. That may not sound like much (especially considering the massive year-on-year improvement from 2020 to 2021) but it’s an increase of almost 10%, which is pretty darn good. I’m running at almost the same level as inflation!
Another big landmark came on April Fool’s Day, when the number of total hits ticked past the 100,000 mark for the first time. That means that, since November 2019 when Trekking with Dennis first went live, more than 100,000 people had visited the website. I marked the occasion with a banner at the top of the website for a few days!
Readers once again came from all over the globe – from Tanzania to Finland and from Japan to Peru!
All that being said, I feel that 2022 was rather “front-loaded” in terms of visitors! Thanks to a couple of big posts about Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season (which we’ll look at in more detail in a moment) the website did impressive numbers in January, February, March, and into April as well, before things started to tail off in the spring. Don’t get me wrong, even the quietest month of 2022 was still nice and busy, but we definitely saw the majority of visitors in those first few months.
In total, I wrote 471,500 words in 2022. That’s as many words as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and James Joyce’s Ulysses combined! It is, however, significantly less than my word counts for 2020 and 2021, but again that’s because I wrote fewer pieces for the website this past year. It’s still a lot of words, though!
So let’s count down the top ten most-read articles that I wrote in 2022!
My piece about the truly awful Diablo Immortal takes the number ten spot, partly thanks to being published within a couple of weeks of the mobile game’s release. I detest not only Diablo Immortal itself, but what it represents: the worst excesses of an incredibly greedy video games industry. And I held no punches in my tear-down of the appalling little game, calling out publisher Activision Blizzard for one of the worst, scummiest mobile games of the year.
Significant line: “I was surprised when I began seeing ads for the game all over my social media pages, and even more surprised to learn that Activision Blizzard has only just finished pushing this absolute turd of a game out of its corporate anus.”
I had a ton of fun writing up this tongue-in-cheek clash between Star Trek’s first two captains – a debate that has persisted in the Trekkie community since The Next Generation premiered all the way back in 1987! I also had fun mocking up a poster for the article’s key image, basing it on the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match poster that I think a lot of folks would be familiar with. I end up sitting firmly on the fence at the end of the article after considering the cases for both Kirk and Picard – because I like them both too much to say that one is definitively “better!”
Significant line: “Most Star Trek captains who have followed embody elements of both Kirk and Picard’s styles of management and leadership while remaining distinct characters, but when it comes to the franchise’s first two captains, there seems to be a major clash of personalities.”
Video game spotlight: Banished
In 2022 I kicked off my “video game spotlight” series, in which I plan to take a look back at some of my favourite games of all time. The first title to get the full write-up treatment was Banished, an indie town-building game that makes regular appearances on other lists here on the website. Since I’m far too late to reasonably call a piece like this a “review,” I settled on “spotlight” as a name, and I had a lot of fun talking about why Banished is such good fun. Hopefully I’ll add to this series in the new year; there are at least a dozen games I plan to shine a spotlight on in future!
Significant line: “The fact that I’m still playing [Banished] almost eight years later should tell you how I feel about it!”
I wrote this piece at the end of February, just days after the war in Ukraine kicked off. I wanted to highlight a few Star Trek episodes from different parts of the franchise that, at least in my opinion, make for great escapism. The episodes I chose are almost all lighter in tone, with themes of humour, family, and coming together front-and-centre. If I were doing the list all over again there are certainly more episodes I could include, but overall I’m happy with my picks. And if the list helped even one single person find something to watch when they were feeling low, then it’s been a rousing success.
Significant line: “A future where humanity has succeeded at conquering not only the problems of today but also many of the baser, more primitive aspects of our own nature holds an appeal that can be difficult to put into words…”
As the title suggests, this list – which was also my most-read piece about gaming in 2022 – shows off ten games that I consider to be decent alternatives to Hogwarts Legacy for anyone who doesn’t want to play or support the game. I wanted to contribute something to the discussion around Hogwarts Legacy that was a little more positive and that didn’t just consist of saying “J.K. Rowling is a horrible bigot who hates the Harry Potter fan community.” She is, and she does… but that isn’t what this piece was primarily about. As above, if it helped even one person find something to play, I consider it a success.
Significant line: “Hogwarts Legacy, just like the rest of the fictional setting that J.K. Rowling created, is not irreplaceable.”
It’s hard to say what this piece is about without spoiling Season 1 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Suffice to say that I came up with several theories about Una Chin-Riley – a.k.a. “Number One” – and where her story may go when Season 2 rolls around. I had fun putting the list together, as well as stepping back to consider her role in The Cage, where she might be during the events of The Original Series, a connection to Star Trek: Enterprise… and much more besides.
Significant line: “I’m looking forward to welcoming back Captain Pike, Una, and the rest of the crew – and getting a satisfying end to this storyline, too!”
This theory – that I only wrote in November – has been racking up a lot of views! Without spoiling anything, a new character named Captain Vadic is being billed as a villain in Star Trek: Picard’s upcoming third season, and I took the opportunity of her appearance in a trailer shown off at Comic-Con to consider a few possibilities for her origin and what her mission might be. If my current track record with theories is anything to go by I’m going to be wide of the mark by miles… but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a ton of fun to speculate!
Significant line: “As much as I like the idea of Vadic having a major connection to an event in The Next Generation or one of the films, if you forced me to place a bet right now, in November 2022, I’d have to put my money on her being someone brand-new…”
This theory did huge numbers in the first quarter of the year – while Discovery’s fourth season was running. I was ultimately disappointed by the way this storyline ended, but it was still fun to delve pretty deeply into the history of Star Trek to consider some potentially interesting character possibilities. It isn’t possible to say too much more without getting into spoiler territory! I had fun making up a rather jokey key image for this piece, too!
Significant line: “With Discovery taking an unplanned six-week break, we’ve got a little time to settle in and collect our thoughts.”
Shortly before Star Trek: Picard Season 2 premiered, I put together this list of episodes that I felt might have a connection of some kind to the upcoming story. I focused on what we knew about the season from pre-release trailers and marketing material, and selected stories that focused on time travel, the Q Continuum, Guinan, and the Borg Queen. I like to think that basically all of the episodes that I put on the list did something to inform the story of the season, even if I’d probably make a few changes in hindsight!
Significant line: “I think we’ve hit most of the key subjects – at least, those that we’re aware of at this early stage – and got a good mix of stories…”
So we come to the most-read article that I wrote in all of 2022! Blowing all of the others out of the water by several thousand hits, this theory about Q that I wrote in the aftermath of Picard Season 2 is clearly of interest to Trekkies! Partly, I must say, that’s because of how poorly-explained parts of the story of Season 2 ultimately were (the season isn’t one of my favourites, if you didn’t know). But regardless, I found it interesting to take what feels like an incomplete, muddled story as the starting point for another of my Star Trek theories, and even if we’ll never know what really happened, I hope that my guesswork at least makes sense and feels consistent with what we know of Q and the Q Continuum. I can’t say more without seriously spoiling the story of Picard Season 2.
Significant line: “As Trekkies and as fans who’ve followed Q’s journey over the span of more than three decades, it definitely feels like there’s a missing piece of the puzzle.”
So those were the most-read pieces of 2022!
But wait, there’s more! There are posts on the website going all the way back to November 2019, and some of them had a pretty big year too! Before we wrap things up, let’s look at the top five most-read posts from previous years.
Star Trekkin’ – a number one hit!
Although it seemed not to light up the board when I first published it in August 2020, this piece about the 1987 pop hit Star Trekkin’ has since become one of the most consistent performers here on the website! It was one of the most-read pieces in both 2021 and 2022, and I look forward to seeing if it will make the cut again this year! In the piece I talk about the history of the song and its composition, as well as my own thoughts and personal connection with it. The song is a fun one, and well worth a listen for any Star Trek fan.
Significant line: “The song was – perhaps understandably – rejected by several record labels…”
Another piece that didn’t seem to get a lot of attention at first, my theory about Discovery Season 2 gained a lot of traction in 2022. It’s hard to get into specifics without spoiling things, but suffice to say that one of the main storylines in Discovery’s second season felt like it was setting up an origin story for the Borg – one of the Star Trek franchise’s biggest and most iconic villainous factions. In this piece I consider why it felt that way and whether it’s possible such a story was attempted and then abandoned, leaving behind clues in its wake.
Significant line: “I know for a fact that I’m not alone in having speculated that Discovery Season 2 was setting up an origin story for the Borg…”
This piece kicked off 2022 with a bang – and saw the year end on a high note, too. In 2020, with practically every major New Year event both in person and on television being cancelled, I put together a short list of things to watch instead, as well as time-stamps for getting a specific scene or line on screen at the stroke of midnight. The post did exceptionally well at New Year in both 2020 and 2021, and the same thing happened again in 2022, even with many in-person and televised events returning. This is one of those pieces that gets practically no views all year long, but then sees one massive spike over a relatively short period of time!
Significant line: “I’ve never been particularly impressed by fireworks. A professional display can be fun to see if you’re there in person, but on television much of the impact is lost.”
I’m not surprised to see the most-read article of 2021 continuing to do well. But I stand by what I said last time: I think a lot of folks are clicking on this piece looking for a “how-to” guide or walkthrough to achieve a specific ending to Mass Effect 3 – and that’s not what it’s about! The article takes a look at the different endings of the Mass Effect trilogy from a narrative point of view, and I tried to consider which would be the “best” – subjectively speaking, of course.
Significant line: “Like it or hate it (and my god do some people hate it) Mass Effect: Legendary Edition retains the three-and-a-half possible endings present in the Mass Effect 3 Extended Edition DLC from 2012.”
Earlier I talked about how 2022 was kind of “front-loaded” in terms of hits… well, here’s one of the main culprits! My theories about Unknown Species 10-C – a faction from Discovery’s fourth season that was shrouded in mystery – did absolutely huge numbers while the season was running, as many Trekkies were clearly just as interested as I was to learn more! I put together a whopping list of some twenty-six possibilities from past iterations of Star Trek, and if nothing else it was a lot of fun to speculate about how any of them could potentially connect with the story of the season.
Significant line: “Right now, this is one of the biggest mysteries in Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season – and one of the most tantalising storylines that the series has ever teased us with.”
So that’s it!
Those were the most-read articles and columns of 2022 – and with that, I think that about wraps up our look back at the year. I tend not to go back and re-read things that I’ve written very often, but once a year it can be fun to take a step back. Taking a look at the pieces folks are most interested in doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to try to write more of that type, but it’s certainly interesting to see what people are most likely to click on!
As I said, 2022 was a year of ups and downs. The website broke records and passed milestones, but at the same time I definitely felt the need to take a break and to write less frequently. That doesn’t mean I’m not still having fun – but in order to preserve the enjoyment and not feel like I’m under pressure or in danger of getting burned out, I need to recognise my own limitations and take a step back when necessary. Perhaps that’s the lesson of 2022 – at least for what I do here on the website!
Stay tuned, because in the days ahead I’ll be looking forward to some of the entertainment experiences that lie before us in 2023 – some of which, all being well, will get the full review or write-up treatment here on the website when they’re ready! And if you missed it, you can take a look at my annual End-of-Year Awards, in which I dished out a few make-believe trophies and medals to some of my favourite films, games, and television shows of 2022.
I hope this was a bit of fun, or at least a mildly interesting look back!
– Dennis, Tuesday 3rd January 2023
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