5550opinions: 2016 a Year of Blogging in Review

This post shares data on how to grow a Rotary blog and some of the traps that may occur when you get too political.

By John Borst, PP Rotary Club of Dryden, ON

Believe it or not, it is tough to write a blog, any blog but writing about Rotary International appears to be quite a challenge indeed.

Here is an illustration of how much patience and perseverance it has taken to grow District 5550’s blog 5550opinions:

Views: March 13, 2011 to Dec 26, 2016

 Year Total
2011 1,399
2012 5,266
2013 3,414
2014 6,596
2015 9,568
2016 21,403


Here is what the above chart looks like as a graph:


For all intents and purposes, 2016 looks like a banner year and clearly it has been. However, a closer look reveals an anomaly.

Of the 21,403 views, 9,902 views came from just one article. In fact, it wasn’t even first published in 2016. The article is “The Importance of Wearing the Rotary Pin” and it was published on January 17, 2013. In 2013 it was only viewed 87 times; in 2014, 127 times; in 2015, 6008. This year in the month of June alone, it was viewed 4,153 times. So here is a shout out of thanks to all those anonymous Rotarians who posted a link to it at their club’s or their own personal FaceBook page.

stats-2016-posts-top-tenThe graphic to the left shows the top ten pages in order of views. “The Importance of Wearing the Rotary Pin” accounted for 46.26% of all page views. The remainder of the top ten combined had another 6538 page views or 30.54%.  So, the top 10 pages made up over 75% of all pages viewed. There are counting the Home page/Archives 198 pages. This means 188 articles accounted for less than ¼ of the page views an average of only 26 views per article. Considering that the next 10 articles accounted for almost exactly 10% of the page views the remaining 178 articles averaged only 16 views. Clearly, a majority of articles had between 0 and 2 views over the whole year.

If you wonder why my posts put so much focus on America, take a look at where the “visitors” come from. U.S. Rotarians make up over 30% of all views which is nearly identical to their proportion of RI’s membership. Add in the Canadians and that rises to 40%


2016’s biggest challenge

Without a doubt, my biggest challenge has been trying to write about Rotary during the turbulence wrought by America’s presidential election. In my mind, Rotarians are justifiably proud of the high moral standards set for them by RI’s Four-Way Test and 4 part Object. Those two components establish the foundation upon which every member’s fitness to be a Rotarian is judged.

As those who follow 5550opinions no doubt know, I caused quite a storm when I wrote a fictional piece centred on the suitability of the character of one of the Republican candidates during the Primaries to be a member of a Rotary club. Many were downright angry because it was, in their opinion, too political. Yes it was political, not because I wrote and said the candidate should not be the Republican candidate but because I challenged Rotarians to ask themselves if they were going to make a decision about a person’s character who wanted, at the time, to be the presidential nominee, by the standards of the Four-Way Test and Rotary object or were they going to turn a blind eye to the all too obvious.

I did it again when I asked Rotarians to consider the implications for Rotary of the results of that election when that same candidate was the winner of the Electorial College vote. This time it wasn’t about the candidate it was about us as Rotarians. It was about the double standard and the hypocrisy between actions and beliefs. It was a replay of the old question of whether the emperor is wearing any clothes.

In fact, it got so bad some Rotarians contacted my District Governor and after the executive considered the question, I was asked to remove the piece.  And so Wethe4 was born and 5550 is left in limbo.

I want to conclude this year with an excerpt from my very first post on March 13th, 2011, titled “Speaking out within Rotary

Each of our meetings is closed with the 4 way Test. Recently, RI Director-elect Lars-Olof Fredricksson in an article* “A new look at global ethics and The Four-Way Test” asks: “Is it right to be dishonest for a good cause?” It is a question we should apply even to our own organization. If we are being truthful, fair to all concerned and strive to do it for the benefit of all, then Rotarians must speak freely about the organization. Hiding our concerns under a barrel or being critical behind a leader’s back is not the way Rotarians should build goodwill or better friendships.

Six years later and the role of the Four-Way Test, the object of Rotary and the ethics of being a Rotarian is more important than ever.

May 2017, the year of our Foundation’s Centenary, be the most successful ever and may Polio finally be banished from the Earth.

*The link to Lars-Olof Fredricksson is no longer available on the new RI website so I have posted it at Wethe4. “A new look at global ethics and The Four-Way Test