As we look forward to some of the entertainment highlights of 2021, I wanted to take a moment to look back and reflect on how the website did over the last year. 2020 was my first full year of running Crazy Uncle Dennis, and thanks to both my platform and Google analytics I have a lot of data about the site and how it’s been performing.
First, I thought it could be fun to run down my top five most-read articles of 2020. Obviously I’m excluding the home page and any other non-post pages. Let’s start the countdown!
At time of publication this article did alright, but wasn’t exactly lighting up the board. As the release of Cyberpunk 2077 edged closer, however, I began to see an uptick in views. In the article I argued that, while Cyberpunk 2077 may ultimately be a good game, the ridiculously inflated hype bubble was likely to leave at least some players underwhelmed. Because this was published before the game’s release, the controversy the game ultimately generated was not yet known. Despite that, however, I’ve been around the games industry long enough to know an over-hyped title when I see one!
Standout line: “There will be things players can’t do, limits to customisation, and perhaps even the odd bug or glitch that snuck through testing or couldn’t be patched before launch.”
In defence of Luke Skywalker
I was pleasantly surprised to see such a big response to my essay about Luke Skywalker. I didn’t expect to see it in the top five most-read posts considering it was only published at the beginning of December, but I guess that says a lot about how folks responded to it. When I first began working on the website, this was one of the pieces I had in mind. I made several attempts to begin writing it earlier in the year, but I couldn’t get the words out the way I wanted and it ended up being re-written several times before I was happy with it. I know that The Last Jedi remains controversial, but I hope this essay at the very least presents a different side of the argument.
Standout line: “I absolutely see Luke’s characterisation as a mental health story, and not only that, but one of the better cinematic attempts to depict mental health in recent years.”
You guys loved this idea, apparently! With one episode left (at time of publication) it’s still technically possible – and would be an interesting way for the season to end! I had speculated that the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager – or rather, a backup copy of him from the fourth season episode Living Witness – could still be active in the 32nd Century. Bringing Robert Picardo back would have been fun, and would have tied Discovery to the 24th Century Star Trek shows. We did see some connections this season, but there aren’t many characters who could easily cross over. I didn’t necessarily expect this to happen, but there’s no denying it would’ve been cool!
Standout line: “If I were writing it, the way I’d see him involved would be working alongside Burnham, Saru, and the crew of Discovery to restore the Federation.”
This is the second of two of my standalone Discovery theories that apparently people responded to! The odd thing about this one, though, is how many folks were reading it weeks after the season premiered. We knew as early as the first episode that this theory – in which I postulated that warp drive may not work at all – was not true. Yet this piece continues to get clicks, perhaps from folks who haven’t begun watching the season.
Standout line: “In order to understand this theory, we need a basic refresher course in how warp drive works in Star Trek!”
Out of everything I wrote in 2020, this article was the runaway winner in terms of readership – more than three times as many people read this as read any other piece on the website. In this article, which was published back in March, I argued that Star Trek having a new home on CBS All Access (soon to be rebranded as Paramount Plus) should be the catalyst for Deep Space Nine and Voyager being remastered in HD. And the fact that so many of you have been reading and clicking on this post seems to validate that! I plan to follow this up and discuss options for upscaling or remastering older Star Trek episodes at some point this year, so stay tuned for that.
Standout line: “From a branding point of view, it isn’t a great look for CBS All Access to be offering some of its content for its flagship franchise in DVD quality. Netflix doesn’t do that, Amazon Prime Video doesn’t do that, and Disney+ certainly doesn’t do that.”
So those were the top five most-read articles and columns – out of a total of 226. When I started the website I had a few ideas for articles that I wanted to write – some of which have still not been published – but I had no idea I’d end up writing so many pieces on a range of subjects over the course of a year.
Not all of them performed as well as those above, though, so now let’s count down the five least-read posts!
I love a good documentary, and in this relatively short piece to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day (the end of World War II in Europe) I highlighted a couple. On the day it was published it did okay, but only picked up a handful of views. Looking back, if I were writing it now I’d make sure to give it a better header image which might’ve inspired a few more clicks; as it is now it doesn’t look very professional! But even in May I was still getting to grips with the site and how images worked. I will continue to highlight documentaries that I like – and I note that my piece on the Netflix documentary series Pandemic: How To Prevent An Outbreak did much better.
Standout line: “I’m going to look at two documentaries in this article, one British and one American. They both look at the same conflict from the same side, but with very different perspectives.”
An amazing tech demo
This piece looked at an Unreal Engine tech demo, one which I felt was as close to photorealism as I’d ever seen in a “game.” Even on my PC, which is several years old and is by no means a powerful gaming rig, Mýrdalssandur, Iceland looks outstanding, and it’s not always possible to tell you’re playing a game, such is the level of detail. I thought it was a great preview of how games could look in the years ahead. But I’m a geekdom and gaming writer, not a tech writer, and perhaps this piece just didn’t find favour with this website’s audience – even though I maintain its subject matter is interesting!
Standout line: “The imagery would fit right in with CGI created for the big screen – and looks a heck of a lot better than many of the CGI environments present in films from just a few years ago.”
Children of Mars – a review
At the time I felt that my review of Children of Mars did okay, and it did – by the standards of how many hits the website was getting then. For a short while it was even the most-read piece on the whole site! But this was January 2020, and the number of hits I was getting at that time is much smaller than I’m lucky enough to see a year later. So it’s not a big surprise to see it as one of the least-read pieces. I didn’t like Children of Mars on the whole, its overly-artistic, music-heavy style just wasn’t my thing.
Standout line: “The sequence where Mars comes under attack is worth watching for anyone intent on tuning in for Star Trek: Picard, but as I said it’s barely a minute long, and the rest of the episode, while interesting in concept, ends up being little more than fluff.”
As above, this was an article I wrote back in early January 2020 which likewise did okay by the standards of the website at the time, but has been eclipsed by other pieces written since. It’s also very topical, even more so than episode reviews, as it took a look at the premiere of Star Trek: Picard. This article was also a short one, which may be another reason why it was quickly forgotten.
Standout line: “When I’ve said in the past that it’s an absolutely amazing time to be a Star Trek fan, some people will have shrugged. But with such a huge amount of content coming, there really should be something for everyone…”
So we come to the least-read article of 2020. And it’s one in which I stepped away from the usual output of the website – entertainment and geekdom – and turned to the world of professional sport. It was also a piece that was topical, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and for both of those reasons perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that hardly anyone read it! Despite that, I don’t feel that the website needs to be confined to a single topic or series of topics. There’s room for me to talk about other things – and as I’ve said before, I don’t do this for clicks, I do it because I enjoy it. So while this piece about football was the worst-performing of the year, it may yet be a topic I revisit in future… if I have something to say!
Standout line: “But this situation is not only unprecedented, it’s one which the Premier League and the Football Association seem to have had no contingency plans for.”
So those were the top five least-read articles. Or the bottom five, if you prefer to think about it that way!
Let’s talk numbers. In 2020, over 14,000 of you visited the website. That’s an absolutely insane number of people! When I started writing I had no idea that my articles and columns would be read literally all over the world, but I’ve had readers from every continent except Antarctica! I’ve also seen the website’s readership grow month by month, such that December was the most successful month of the year in terms of hits.
In the first couple of hours on the 1st of January 2021, I’d surpassed the total number of clicks for all of January 2020, and by midday all the views for January and February. When I first started putting together the bare bones of this article I was planning to tell you that the best day for the website was back in October; I saw a big spike in views around the time Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiered, with folks checking in with a couple of my big pre-season theories. But to my surprise, December 31st blitzed right past that and became the site’s best day of the year – and best day ever. That was caused by a lot of people reading my article on what to watch at New Year, but that piece was a couple of weeks old so I was surprised to see it take off!
Just going purely by categories, gaming is the most-discussed subject on the website. But adding up all of the various Star Trek categories, the Star Trek franchise beats gaming handily! I added eighteen posts to my “greatest hits” page in 2020 – a couple of which may not stay there forever! But those are the pieces I’m most proud of, and I’d encourage you to take a look at some of those articles and essays if you have time.
Across the 226 articles from 2020, I wrote a staggering 718,796 words.
To put that into context, I wrote more words on this website in 2020 than: Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Atlas Shrugged, Gone With The Wind, East of Eden, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit combined, or Moby-Dick.
Now I’m not saying that what I’ve written is objectively better than all of those famous works of literature. But… if someone wanted to read the most words possible, and didn’t care what those words were about, my website offers more to read than any of them. Just sayin’!
So that was a self-congratulatory look back at last year. I’m astonished at the positive response to Crazy Uncle Dennis and the pieces I’ve written here, and all I can really say is thank you. I’ll keep working on the site moving forward, discussing the topics I’m interested in, remaining positive wherever possible but also criticising where I feel it’s deserved, and hopefully continuing to have fun along the way!
Thank you for your support in 2020, and I hope you’ll check back regularly across 2021 and beyond.
– Crazy Uncle Dennis
Thursday, 7th January 2021
All properties mentioned above are the copyright of their respective studio, developer, distributor, company, etc. Some stock images courtesy of Unsplash. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.