Why the Internet Suddenly Became Interested in My Ramblings on Paraguay

This past Sunday night, I posted The Consensus Bureau’s top 101 tweets of 2012. On Monday, I checked the traffic, to see how many people had looked at the post. The traffic had spiked to 222 views! A bit more than we’re used to. Were people that interested in The Consensus Bureau’s tweets?


As it turned  out, no, they weren’t: they were actually interested in… a blog post I’d written about Paraguay a year ago???



When I checked again today, I saw that today’s traffic, while not as high, was again way higher than the average; and again, it was all to that post on Paraguay. So what gives? (Sidebar: “What gives?” can’t be conjugated in the past tense, can it? A shame. “What gave??”)

Fortunately, I could see that we were getting all this traffic from a particular article on Mental Floss,  which got republished on Yahoo!, and even ripped off on an Italian site. They all had a link to my Paraguayan blog post.



Turns out the article in question was about pairs of countries with similar names that get easily confused (although note that Oakland and Auckland were listed as “countries”). Somehow, the author had found my blog post and decided to link to it. This, despite the fact that my blog post doesn’t show up on the first page of hits for any of the searches I’ve now tried.

Nifty! But why the sudden interest in countries with easily confused names? Ah, yes: as the beginning of the article made clear, it was all due to the way Americans thought Chechnya was the same place as the Czech Republic; and of course Americans wouldn’t care at all about Chechnya if not for the incident at the Boston Marathon. OK, not so nifty after all, considering the tragic root cause of this spike in traffic.

In any event, I’m glad the world is finally noticing the printing goof on that Paraguay book. Maybe my copy will now increase in value, like those stamps that have the airplane upside-down…

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