The Tenth Anniversary of Wickersham’s Conscience

Boreal Owl, Aegolius funereus, the first photo posted on Wickersham’s Conscience, November 29, 2008

Ten years ago today, on November 29, 2008, the first blog post on Wickersham’s Conscience went live.

That post was read in the first week by . . . a total of eight readers.

The U.S. and, for that matter, most of the world, was mired in George W. Bush’s recession, Barack Obama had just been elected President and America was learning painful lessons about Sarah Palin. We thought things were pretty bad. We had no idea.

At the risk of further demonstrating WC’s magpie sensibility, WC will take advantage of the anniversary to have a look back at some 3,516 blog posts written over the last ten years

Two years after that first post WC’s blog reached the high point in readership during Joe Miller’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate. The 119 blog posts on Joe Miller’s various failures as a political candidate and human being make Miller the most common political topic. WC’s 95 Theses on Joe Miller for a long while the most common externally linked post on Wickersham’s Conscience. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but it was Joe Miller and his gift for putting his foot in his mouth that put the blog on the map.

But Joe Miller’s distinction has since gone to WC’s first post on the Dunning-Kruger Effect, WC’s attempt to understand half-term Governor Palin’s appeal to the Tea Party movement. The blog post is linked to articles in Wikipedia and in critiques of Sarah Palin. It’s one of the handful of nearly new ideas that have appeared in the blog.

Another very nearly new idea was WC’s thesis that former Cub outfielder Hack Wilson, whose 191 runs batted in during a season is still the record some 88 years later, suffered from fetal alcohol effect/fetal alcohol syndrome. If WC is right, it transforms Wilson’s story from one of tragic failure to one of triumph over a crippling condition. WC could do worse.

The most popular post is the regularly re-discovered Field Guide to Trolls, originally published in 2011 and updated in 2013. An astonishing 11,000 folks have read it. As WC has said before, it was written as a spoof of bird field guides and to mock the various kinds of trolls the internet has spawned. Hey, it was a slow day and WC was low on ideas for posts. It just goes to show.

The second most popular post is WC’s screed about how easy it is for Alaska’s convicted felons to possess firearms. And the law of unintended consequence is in full force: most of the readers seem to be family and friends of convicts.

The third most popular post was WC’s first attempt to make an attractive photo of downtown Fairbanks. The Anchorage Dispatch News – Wickersham’s Conscience has outlived that newspaper – thought a cheap shot at Fairbanks was pretty funny, and published the link. WC suggested to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that it should return the favor and pay someone to try to take an attractive photo of downtown Anchorage. But they never followed up.

The most common topic on Wickersham’s Conscience – as it should be – is birds. The 208 Bird of the Week posts contribute to that,1 of course, but birds, birding and bird photography are what WC enjoys writing about the most. Photos posted on WordPress, which hosts Wickersham’s Conscience, are not well protected. Bootleg copies of some of WC’s bird photos are all over the internet. So it goes.

So. Ten years. Who’d a think it? WC wonders what will happen next.


  1. Bird of the Week was conceived by Jeanne Devon, by the way, long-time owner of The Mudflats, Alaska’s most successful blog until Jim Wright and Stonekettle Station. Jeanne persuaded WC that it would sell photos from WC’s bird photo sales site. She was wrong; sales through the link have been negligible. But it’s been a lot of fun to write and cross-post. 

3 thoughts on “The Tenth Anniversary of Wickersham’s Conscience

  1. Congratulations and thank you for the wonderful memories. Joe Miller was certainly a piece of work! But my favorite will always be the epic failure on the Oregon beach involving the blowing up of the whale carcass.

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