Unexpectedly Intriguing!
August 3, 2005

Political Calculations(TM) recently lost its mind and hosted the Carnival of the Capitalists for the week beginning July 25, 2005. The entire event was highly successful and went off with only minor hitches. In the interest of making life easier for those who will host such an event in the future, I'm providing the following data and information from my experience.

Getting the Call

After volunteering to host the Carnival some months ago, and getting listed as an future host, I received an e-mail on the day the previous week's Carnival of the Capitalists was posted from Jay Solo, who organized the Carnival of the Capitalists. He provided access to the Carnival's e-mail account at Gmail, and let me know that posts for my week's Carnival had already begun arriving.

The Posts Begin to Arrive

After getting Jay's e-mail, I logged into the Carnival of the Capitalists' e-mail account, and began reviewing the submissions. I did this daily - accepting most and rejecting those submissions that were either off-topic or spam that had slipped past Gmail's spam filters. Over the course of the week, traffic was light, then picked up on the weekend before my edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists. The following chart shows the number of submissions received by the number of days before the Carnival, as well as the number of posts accepted for inclusion:

CotC Submissions

Overall, 41 posts made the cut to be included in Political Calculations' edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists.

Organization

The key to managing the Carnival is organization. Fortunately, Brian Gongol had already made the job of organizing the Carnival easy by creating his Microsoft Excel template (a 52KB Excel spreadsheet) and instructions on how to host the Carnival of the Capitalists.

With the spreadsheet template, it only required half an hour to a full hour a day to review and add newly submitted posts for that week's Carnival.

Adding a Twist

I decided in weeks prior to the Carnival that I would add a special twist to make Political Calculations' edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists stand out from all previous editions - I would use a dynamic table format that would allow the entries to be sorted according to category. Political Calculations makes extensive use of tables in presenting data, so I already had the look-and-feel situated, and previous experience in using the feature. For those who would like more information on how to implement the dynamic table sorting feature into their blog or website, detailed instructions are available at The Daily Kryogenix, where the code was developed.

Aside from the dynamic table feature, I reduced the number of columns and created some new, larger icons to go with the different categories. Altogether, I probably spent 2 to 2 1/2 hours working on the overall appearance of the Carnival.

Going Online

I was ready to post Political Calculations' edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists shortly after 4:00 PM on Sunday, July 24. I posted the Carnival, double-checked one last time that all features were working and that no errors made it through, then sent Jay Solo an e-mail saying that the July 25, 2005 edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists was now online.

Site Traffic

Shortly after notifying Jay that the Carnival was now online, InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds let the world know, and then the world came! The following chart is from Political Calculations' Sitemeter statistics:

CotC Site Statistics

Political Calculations doesn't publish on weekends, and traffic normally ranges between 30 to 70 unique visitors per day on Sunday. You can see the InstaPundit spike take off immediately on Sunday evening, peaking at 750 unique visitors on Monday, then dropping off to Political Calculations' normal daily weekday volumes between 120 and 200 unique visitors per day on Thursday and Friday.

In reviewing the site statistics, InstaPundit accounted for all of the posts on Sunday, and just over half of the posts on Monday, then essentially dropped from being the major referral for the Carnival afterward. Sites that track the most popular posts in the blogosphere, such as Blogdex, took over the referral lead for the next day. By Wednesday, the referral lead was taken over by a combination of other blogs, which accounts for the bulk of Political Calculations' Carnival-related site traffic for the rest of the week.

Conclusion

The Carnival was a success and the dynamic table feature in particular was very well received. I hope this helps gear all you future Carnival hosts for the experience, and gives you get a good idea of what to expect, as well as how to maximize your productivity in the week of your hosting duties. Good luck, stay organized, and post early!

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