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Aid Watch addresses an unexpected embarrassing problem

We’ve noticed a strange phenomenon on Aid Watch: our April 10, 2010 post Famine Africa stereotype porn shows no letup has also shown the least letup of any of our posts, showing up with traffic day after day. It is now the fourth most popular post of all time on Aid Watch. I was rather slow to figure out what was going on, which just shows what being raised as a Methodist in squeaky-clean rural Ohio can do to you.

The rest of you have already figured this out. “Africa porn” (and variations) is a very popular search term on Google, for reasons apparently not related to the finer points of dignity and empowerment of malnourished people. Those searching this term frequently get our post, as our crack research team verified (we were the fourth site listed on said search, sites 1 through 3 reportedly cannot be described in a family blog). Our stat team found 721 searches like this over the past month that wound up at our site.

I am really not sure what point to make based on all this. Choose any of the following:

  1. We have a big opportunity here to educate perverts about economic development.
  2. Africa has more potential than previously realized in the adult entertainment industry.
  3. Metaphor attempt: “just like entrepreneurs trying innovations, we never know whether or why a blog post is going to succeed.”
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  1. John wrote:

    Just stick some google ads on the page, watch the money flow in and relax :) After all there is no such thing as bad page views, just misinformed ones.

    Posted August 22, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Permalink
  2. Ted wrote:

    Before I read below the link fold, I thought you were implying that people were googling ‘famine porn,’ which would have been much more disturbing.

    Posted August 23, 2010 at 3:18 am | Permalink
  3. Matt Richmond wrote:

    This. Is. Hilarious.

    I think you should take this into consideration on all future titles.

    Try to find clever ways to incorporate the words:

    “3 way”
    “Girl Next Door”


    Posted August 23, 2010 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  4. Annelies wrote:

    I agree that there’s probably a way to leverage this :) The pornography industry was the first to monetize the web — there’s got to be some way to use this drive to drive economic development.

    It could also be a barometer of sorts, as in this story: “In porn, a story of Iraq’s politics”

    Posted August 23, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink
  5. Gilleen wrote:

    This is a funny story, and despite apologetically admitting you were raised as a Methodist in Ohio, it is extremely lame to refer to people who would look up “Africa porn” online as “perverts.”

    Love the blog.

    Posted August 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Permalink
  6. William Easterly wrote:

    Gilleen, so now it’s politically incorrect to insult perverts?

    Posted August 23, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  7. Gilleen wrote:

    I don’t think it’s politically incorrect to insult anyone, if you give a good reason. Are you honestly saying you think people who look up porn on the internet are perverted? Sorry if you do, but I guess that’s about 80% of young people, so…perverted generation.

    Posted August 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Permalink
  8. Gilleen wrote:

    That being said, hey, the more hits, the better.

    Posted August 23, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  9. Stephen Smith wrote:

    I have to posts – one on prostitutes in Cambodia and another on an Asian sex scandal – that get the same sort of hits.

    Posted August 24, 2010 at 1:20 am | Permalink
  10. Jeff Barnes wrote:

    You have discovered a good way to manipulate your performance indicators that is completely unrelated to your global mission. You are now learning how to be a successful aid contractor.

    Posted August 24, 2010 at 7:11 am | Permalink
  11. Will wrote:

    I used to manage online communications for an international child protection agency and we would come across this problem all the time. When we posted stories about sexual abuse there would always be a disturbing rise in sex related search terms referring traffic to our site. Luckily with Google Analytics you could see that people were (thankfully) always disappointed with what they found and moved on elsewhere. It raises the importance of having a solid child protection policy though – changing names, using photos that don’t identify children etc. You really never know who is looking at your content, or why.

    Posted August 25, 2010 at 2:00 am | Permalink
  12. Louise wrote:

    While living in Cairo and observing what passes for fashion there, I once wrote a blog post called “Sexy Hijab.” It proved astoundingly popular!

    Posted August 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

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    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

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