A four year retrospective

Tuesday 18 April 2017

We've reached the fourth anniversary of this website/blog, so a retrospective account seems in order.

This is the 169th post in that time. The site now averages over 400 page hits per day, and has attracted almost 350,000 since its inception. The "average" of 2,000 hits per article is pretty meaningless, however, as it disguises a very wide range of activity, from the tens of thousands for popular items, to barely 100 for the more esoteric. There is a brief account of the "greatest hits" below.

The site has a fairly successful Twitter presence (@E7_NowAndThen), considering its relatively local self-defining geographic interest. It has approximately 1,450 followers, and the feed has generated 3,800 tweets since its inception - with a regular modest flow of retweets and "likes" for most of them.

We try to retweet other messages that seem relevant to our website self-description. So, any reasonably local history items of note and, since we have stopped running a regular events' column (see below) we are happy to retweet notices of events happening within the Forest Gate area.

We continually try to learn and develop, thus over the last couple of years have published much more from two excellent local historians, Mark Gorman (Twitter: @Flatshistorian) and Peter Williams. Peter has provided the popular "Street where you live" feature, along with articles on his interests in fire history and transport. Mark's knowledge of Wanstead Flats is without equal and he has shared aspects of it generously on the site.

Decent indexing and cross-referencing on the site gets more critical the more material it embraces, so we have overhauled this recently. We hope, that as a result, the search engine on the home page and the tabs at the top of it have become far more useful for visitors to navigate. If in doubt - try them out!

We have started to tweet about notable local anniversaries, via the popular hash tag #OTD, and provide hyper-links to the appropriate articles.  This has been popular and successful in boosting the hit rate of the site.

We have greatly amended (no - let's be honest - effectively dropped) the "Events" panel on the home page, largely because there is SO much happening locally and it became difficult to manage effectively. Instead, we will gladly retweet any event in the area, when requested to do so.

We have dipped our toe into Facebook ( a medium to which we are largely adverse), to let local people know what we are up to, via the popular Forest Gate Life forum. So, a big thanks to them for letting us play cuckoo.

We know what is popular (in terms of hits) and what is not; but don't let that dominate the site's content. If it did, we would produce far more regular local good food and drink guides, and less on the history of Godwin school, for example. But we are not hits driven, so won't reduce posting about the less popular items within the site's overall scope.

If anybody is offering to write regular food and drink updates, for a hungry and thirsty audience, we would be happy to publish (subject to legal and decency provisos and a bit of sympathetic in-house editing). Just get in touch!

The site attracts considerable interest from topic-specific and family historians from outside Forest Gate, seeking help with their quests.  We average a couple of queries per week, and we are always glad to help, where we can.

Greatest Hits

The longer an article has been on the site, the more opportunities there are for people to visit it, unsurprisingly, therefore, many of the most popular articles are those that have been accessible for longest here.

The items on the lists below are hyper-linked - hit them to gain direct access to the article, or page in question.

The all time 5 most popular pieces

1. Fire Guts Famous Gym (April 2013)

5. Forest Pub Guide 2014 (August 2014)

All time most visited tabs

Five most popular hits from year 1 (April 2013 - April 2014)

1. Fire Guts Famous Gym (April 2013)

Five most popular hits from year 2 (April 2014 - April 2015) 

2. Forest Pub Guide 2014 (August 2014)

5. Crossrail and Forest Gate (January 2015)

Five most popular hits from year 3 (April 2015 - April 2016)

Five most popular hits from year 4 (April 2016 - April 2017)

In summary, there is a top five post on food and drink, on contemporary regeneration and a feature on a significant popular music venue in three of the four years of publication; and a feature on an aspect of Wanstead Flats' past in two of the four years.

And finally - thanks for visiting!  We are always interested to get feedback on pieces we have published and are open to suggestions and contributions for future articles.

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