The rise and fall of Gilbert Arenas’s…web statistics

Does a story get popular because a lot of people write about it, or does a popular story just get picked up by a lot of people?

I made a mistake the other day. I wrote about Gilbert Arenas  faking an injury to get Nick Young playing time.

There is no point in writing about the same topic that everyone on the Internet is giving their personal takes on. One article begets 300 opinion pieces. But who knew so many would weigh in about Gilbert Arenas on Tuesday night and Wednesday (Oct. 12 and 13)?


Gilbert trend report. From Google News.

Gilbert trend report. From Google News.


It was just such a quirky story,  I should have known how popular the tale would become; people still listen when Gil speaks.

As you can see to the right, over 100 sources picked up the Wizards game story late Tuesday. Most of these were  reprints across dozens of daily newspapers that carry NBA write-ups, but some sly websites probably picked up on Gilbert’s funny quotes that appeared in the same Associated Press game story ESPN picked up.

The real firestorm came after the announcement that the team was fining him; over 200 sources mention Gilbert Wednesday afternoon. Again, a lot of websites are running the same AP copy. But a lot of people are doing what I did: regurgitating and not offering anything new.

I just got my hands on a Nintendo Entertainment system, which my family purchased over 20 years ago. A retro game diary is a cool writing idea right, maybe I’ll try that?

It was discouraging to find that most everything old has already been covered. A search for “ghosts and goblins nes,” an impossibly difficult platformer I was going to write about, yields 56,000 results: cheats, reviews and FAQs on a 25-year-old game.

But in that case, at least that old stuff is new to someone; young people rediscovering retro games perhaps. It’s still not a bad idea for a regular writing segment, and I still might do it. But at this point, and even as of Wednesday morning, most of the people who care about Arenas already read the news.

My bad.

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