I write two of these State of the Stew articles each year: one at the end of the calendar year, and one around our anniversary. Those dates are conveniently about six months apart, which is good spacing for a snapshot. (Past State of the Stew articles live here.)

Gnome Stew went live on May 12, 2008, which is actually hard to believe — it’s such a part of my life now that it’s difficult to remember a time when it didn’t exist. I know these State of the Stews don’t interest everyone, but I’m a fan of transparency and I enjoy pieces like this when other sites post them, so I keep doing them.

The Numbers

I now have two sets of past numbers to compare to, 2008 and 2009, so hold onto your hats…

  • 1,990+ registered users, 28% growth (2009: 1,560+, 2008: 625+)
  • 3,700+ RSS and email subscribers, 26% growth (2009: 2,940+, 2008: 1,230+)
  • Over 233,000 unique visitors (28% growth) and 423,000 total visits (23% growth) (2009: 182,000 unique, 345,000 total; 2008: 188,000 unique, 316,000 total)
  • …of those 233,000, over 193,000 visited more than once (2009: 164,000 of 182,000; 2008: 128,000 of 188,000)
  • Over 734,000 pageviews, 8% growth (2009: 680,000, 2008: 619,000)
  • The gnomes have posted about 260 articles (820+ total; we posted around 300 in 2009 and 260 in 2008)
  • …which have attracted more than 3,000 comments (10,800 total; about 4,800 in 2009 and 3,000 in 2008)

Analyzin’ and Speculatin’

Holy shit! It didn’t really hit me until I calculated the growth percentages, but 3/4 of the metrics I track that way (subscribers, users, unique visitors; not pageviews) grew by about 25% in 2010. Wow! If we can keep that up in 2011, we’ll crack half a million unique visitors. That number is simply astonishing to me.

Time to advertise the Stew? The flipside of the growth numbers is that compared to ’08 (launch year) to ’09, the site grew more slowly. Maybe that’s natural, with a burst of growth initially followed by slower growth over time, but maybe it also means we need to start advertising the Stew a bit. We’ve gotten to where we are with close to zero paid advertising (a Kobold Quarterly ad in 2009, an Open Game Table sponsorship in 2010, and I think that’s it).

The Stew is now one of the two largest repositories of GMing material online: As of 2010, we’ve now surpassed my previous GMing blog, Treasure Tables, which has 750+ articles. Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips site, which has been around since 1999, has published over 500 e-zines, and each issue is (generally) longer than a Gnome Stew article; I’m pretty sure RPTips takes the #1 slot — for now!

An article every weekday: There were 261 weekdays in 2010, and that’s about how many articles we wrote — despite publishing our first book, Eureka, in June (a significant time-sucker!). We shoot for an article every weekday, give or take, so I’m glad we hit this goal again in 2010.

Comment volume is down: Comments went down by 38% compared to 2009, but we also wrote fewer articles in 2010 than 2009 (14% fewer); comments were on par with 2008, when we cranked out an astounding 260 articles in seven months. For 2010, we averaged 12 comments an article; for 2009, we averaged 16.

Did we write different kinds of articles in 2010 than in 2009, or has article quality dropped? I’m inclined towards the former: tutorial-style articles (among others, like reviews) tend to attract fewer comments, and it feels like we did more of those in ’10 than in ’09. Whatever the case, comment volume is a metric I’d like to see go up (or even stay flat) every year, not go down — comments are a huge motivator for the gnomes as authors. I’m honestly not quite sure how to encourage more commenting.

Milestones

We had three killer Gnome Stew milestones in 2010, as well as two related-to-the-Stew milestones. First, the direct ones:

  • We won an ENnie: The Stew was nominated for a GenCon EN World RPG Award (an ENnie) for Best Blog, and at GenCon 2010 we took the silver. For me, this was the culmination of a dream that started in 2005, when I launched Treasure Tables. Winning an ENnie absolutely rocked.
  • We published a book: A year in the making, we opened preorders for the Stew’s first book, Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters, in June. Thanks to a surge of momentum from Gnome Stew readers, Eureka has gone on to sell out at GenCon, receive rave reviews, become a bestseller on DriveThruRPG, and has sold over 800 copies to date. Publishing a book with the gnomes was an amazing experience, and seeing it do so well has been a bit surreal.
  • Our book was nominated for a Golden Geek Award: Much to my surprise, Eureka was nominated for a Golden Geek Award for Best Supplement just a few months after release. We didn’t win, but it rocked to be nominated.

And for the indirect milestones:

  • John published the Silvervine Games RPG: After seven years of development and extensive playtesting, the Stew’s own John Arcadian published Silvervine Games, a cinematic RPG that puts narrative and thematic controls in the hands of the players. The amount of work that went into this game is staggering, and if you haven’t checked it out I recommend it. Congratulations, John!
  • Scott opened Crazy Squirrel Game Store: The Stew’s own Scott Martin opened a gaming store! Located in Fresno, CA, Crazy Squirrel Game Store is the kind of LGS I wish was L for me: well-stocked, staffed by friendly folks, and dedicated to what makes brick-and-mortar stores awesome — customer service, events, gaming space, and folks who know games. If you’re in the area, stop by!

And lastly, as an easter egg for those of you who slogged through this whole number-fest, I’d like to publicly announce that we’re working on our second book. Written by all 10 gnomes, it’s due out in 2011. All I can say at this time is that it’s not Eureka 2 — but it is a resource for GMs, and one we think you’ll love.

Thank you!

As we wrap up 2010, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who reads, comments on, shares, and loves Gnome Stew. We love writing this blog, and we love helping GMs have more fun GMing. Thank you for helping the Stew continue to be the most widely read GMing blog on the planet — you rock!

Happy Stomp on a Dwarf’s Baby-Maker Day New Year! Gnome Stew OUT!

About  Martin Ralya

A father, husband, writer, small-press publisher, former RPG industry freelancer, and lifelong geek, Martin has been gaming since 1987 and GMing since 1989. He lives in Utah with his amazing wife Alysia and their awesome daughter Lark in a house full of books and games.



7 Responses to The State of the Stew, 2010

  1. Happy Stew Year! Congratulations on reaching the grand old age of 2. Make sure to subtract one from your Strength and Constitution to reflect your infirmity.

    A suggestion for a gnarticle (gnessay?) — DM motivations. Why are you the DM? What do you hope to get out of it? Why are you starting a new campaign, and why *this* campaign?

  2. it commentses or the fat hobbit gets eaten, precious!

  3. Scott’s game store is indeed the Bee’s Knees. I live a few miles, and I’m in every Wednesday for D&D Encounters, as well as maybe once per week additionally for other shopping and events. We’ve needed a game store like this in the area for a long time. There was another a few years ago, but the economic crash killed it. I’m hoping that Scott and his wife keep Crazy Squirrel going for quite some time.

  4. Thanks Doc! Needless to say, this Squirrel/Gnome’s fingers are crossed. I wonder if that’s an available hybrid class these days…

  5. You say that you would like to see more comments after articles. I for one read Gnome Stew almost every day, and when I don’t, I catch up on the articles the next time I get on here. That being said, I say I must have commented, other than right now, only two or three times. I love your advice and it has helped me immensely, but I feel I don’t have much to contribute to the articles with a specific comment.

    I just want you guys to know that your site is great and to keep up the great work, even if readers like myself do not share their voices often. Thanks!

  6. @ Martin: About the Crazy Squirrel Games store…. Having such a cool store so close is a blessing and a curse. Because it is also about having the willpower NOT to be there on a daily or weekly basis. My 40 minute drive to reach the squirrels is about the only thing that keeps my time(and money)spent there down to a level that my wife considers to be “reasonable.” :D

  7. @hattymchappy – Thanks, hatty! I know lots of folks get great mileage out of the Stew without commenting, and that’s how I enjoy most blogs I visit personally. And I totally understand not feeling like you have a lot to add: This happens to me, too. Thanks for the kind words!

    @BryanB – That’s it! I’m moving to California. Damn you, Scott!

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