19 August 2017

Happy 10th Birthday, BOS Blog!

Happy Birthday, Butterflies of Singapore BLOG!
10 Butterfly-ful Years!

Time certainly flies! I remember going on an outing to the Kekek Quarry at Pulau Ubin with fellow nature enthusiasts Ria Tan and November Tan. Both of them were already active nature bloggers back then, and I recall asking fellow nature enthusiast Ria Tan (of the Wild Singapore fame) how she found the energy and discipline to write about all things nature in Singapore for so many years. Back then, her WildSingapore! website and blog were in their early years but already had a good following of readers.

Another source of inspiration was Dr Wee Yeow Chin's Bird Ecology Study Group (BESG). Back in 2007, Dr Wee was already an avid nature blogger (and still is today!), writing not just about birds and featuring pretty pictures or records of sightings of birds, BUT he shared observations and behaviour of birds - which went beyond just bird watching for the sake of watching birds. There were more in-depth discussions about birds in specific habitats, what they did, their behaviour and instincts and much more information.

I also remember vividly, Dr Wee's words of wisdom that he shared with me, and also penned in the comments section of my first blog test-post on 16 Aug 2007 - "Congratulations to the Butterflies of Singapore blog. An excellent effort to share information on these fascinating creatures. After all "knowledge not shared is knowledge lost." Indeed, Dr Wee! Very wise advice!

And that was how it started. I set up an account in Blogspot, one of many blogging platforms that I reviewed. Then I studied many other nature blogs to learn how others wrote. I thought of how I wanted the blog to look, and the approach that I wanted to take to share information to anyone in cyberspace who was interested to read about butterflies. A concern that many veteran bloggers often advised would be - how long do you want to write on blogosphere? In other words, is what you started sustainable?

Very apt advice about sustainability. There are probably millions of blogs out there. A large percentage of bloggers are occasional posters and many have fallen by the wayside as the attraction of blogging or just writing some thoughts on blogosphere was nothing but a passing fad. After a bit more consideration and researching, I started posting articles regularly only in Nov 2007, and setting myself a modest goal of at least one article per week.

Looking back, the Butterflies of Singapore blog has become a weekly routine into the blogging world for me. It was a good platform to share what little extra that I knew about butterflies, nature conservation and Singapore's environmental efforts. It was also a good stress relief for me, to practise my writing skills and improving my vocabulary at the same time. The discipline of ensuring that I had at least one article per week appeared daunting at times. But after a few years of practice, it became quite easy to compose, write and pepper the articles with photos from ButterflyCircle members that literally added colour to the blogpost. But I also had help...

At the last count on the data on the blog, there are 836 posts (including this post) since Aug 2007. (Nothing much to shout about, and a very modest count when compared to Dr Wee's BESG site). Whilst the majority of the articles have been written by me, my sincerest appreciation goes to the many contributors, regular and once-off, for their assistance and effort to write articles for this blog. Special thanks in particular to Horace Tan for his numerous excellent life history articles, which are obviously very popular amongst butterfly enthusiasts. Thanks also to the following writer-contributors to this blog (in alphabetical order) :
  • Sunny Chir
  • Goh Lai Chong
  • Federick Ho
  • Dr Lee Ping Chung
  • Loh Mei Yee
  • Bobby Mun
  • Tan Ben Jin
  • Ellen Tan
  • Dr Horace Tan
  • Dr Wee Yeow Chin
  • Dr Melissa Whitaker
  • Anthony Wong
  • Mark Wong
My deepest appreciation too, to the many photographers (too many to name here), without whose excellent photos, this blog would not be as colourful and interesting.

Blogspot has also tracked some statistics about this blog, and these are some of the information that are interesting to note. Unfortunately, the auto-tracking only started in May 2010 to the current day, so there are about 3 years of data missing. Nevertheless, the information is useful for would-be bloggers who are thinking of starting something of their own.

Overall, in the past 7 years or so, the number of pageviews has crossed the two million mark. Of these views, the top country is (not surprising) Singapore, followed by the USA and so on. Taking into account spambots and all manner of strange technological monitoring apps, the audience demographics by country is quite interesting, especially where there appears to be a lot of Russian audience to this blog.

Amongst the top 10 most popularly-viewed articles, the Life History of the Baron appears to be the most visited post by far! Again, it may be spambots or some technical glitch on someone's computer that has constantly hit this article. Or perhaps there is someone out there who has a deep interest in the Baron's life history! Amongst the other articles are the Butterfly Proboscis, and several other Life History articles. A couple of the 10 most viewed articles probably also benefitted from being cross-posted on other websites like the NParks site or shared on social media and other digital portals.

This blog has survived for 10 years. So what next? What else can improve the blog? We've featured many butterflies, their ecology and habitats, nature conservation, plants, travelogues, life histories, butterfly photography, research, community engagement and many more feature articles that went beyond just butterflies. Is it time to retire and close down the blog? Or are there still many other stories about butterflies that have yet to be told?

Until then, it's still a memorable milestone to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Butterflies of Singapore Blog.

Text and photos by Khew SK