Social Media

social media icons

Okay, Futility Closet finally has accounts on Facebook and Twitter!

A million thanks to Meaghan Walsh Gerard for setting these up. There are other accounts on these platforms using the Futility Closet name, but none of them are ours; this is our first foray into social media.

I hope to add some further social accounts, but first I need to get the hang of these — I’m still finding my way. Thanks for your patience!

Social Media?

Many thanks to everyone who’s contributed ideas or support since my New Year’s plea. Our traffic is still dwindling, but I have at least the beginnings of a plan to address it. The first step is to establish a presence in social media, which I’ve been neglecting entirely.

To start, it seems wise to consolidate the existing accounts that people have established in our name. There are accounts using the name Futility Closet on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ — if you control one of these and would be willing to transfer it to us or to take it down, please write to me at When we have the “official” accounts up and running, I’ll post the details here. Thanks.


Many thanks, everyone, for all your messages in response to my 10-year anniversary post, in which I asked for your ideas as to how we might keep Futility Closet going. It generated such a huge number of responses that I fear I won’t be able to respond to everyone individually. I’m reading and carefully considering every idea, and then I need to talk to some people in order to refine a plan. I’ll keep you posted as we go along. I really appreciate all your expressions of good will and your contributions, both creative and material. I hope we can find a way forward, if only for the chance to keep writing for such a wonderful audience.

If you’d been meaning to reach out and haven’t yet, please do — I always want to hear from you. You can reach me at

10 Years

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of Futility Closet — I started it on January 1, 2005. I don’t have any plans for a big celebration, but I wanted to share some thoughts about where the site has been and where it’s headed.

Over its lifetime this site has served 78 million pageviews, vastly more than I’d ever dreamed of when I started. But traffic actually peaked four years ago, and it’s been dropping steadily since then. I left my job in April 2013 to devote myself full-time to Futility Closet, and in the ensuing period we’ve published two books, 39 podcast episodes, and a thousand blog posts. In that time we’ve had record amounts of media attention, fan mail, new readers, and general good wishes, but traffic and revenue have continued to drop.

Practically everyone is struggling these days, and I don’t think there’s anything unique about our situation. The main reason I’m writing is to see whether anyone can suggest new measures that could help us to support the site, things we’re overlooking. Should we be exploring other formats? Is there some feature or functionality that would make the site or its content more appealing or useful, or some means of monetizing the content or soliciting support that we haven’t thought of and that might be more effective?

I’d like to keep going — my notes contain hundreds of items that I want to research and write about, and to judge from the response, particularly last year, you like what we’re doing. We’re very grateful to everyone who’s made donations to help keep us going, both here and on the podcast’s Patreon campaign. But if we can’t reverse the decline I’ll have to consider stopping.

You can reach me at I’ll post any updates below. Thanks.

01/03/2015 Update: Many thanks for all your ideas and support! I had hoped to be able to respond to each individually, but there are so many now that I don’t think that will be possible. But I’m reading, considering, and appreciating every message, and Sharon and I are both very grateful as well for your financial support. Please keep your suggestions coming. I’ll write more later once I’ve gotten organized and considered the possibilities. Thanks again.

01/26/2015 I think we’re going to start by working on social media. The first thing to do is to establish a findable presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. If you control one of the existing Futility Closet accounts on those platforms, and would be willing to transfer it to us, please write to me. Thanks.

Two Futility Closet Books!

FC book covers

Futility Closet: An Idler’s Miscellany of Compendious Amusements and Futility Closet 2: A Second Trove of Intriguing Tidbits, are available now at Amazon. Both contain hundreds of hand-picked favorites from our 10-year archive of curiosities — perfect for your winter solstice peculiar-fact-sharing needs. Some sample items from the first book’s index:

gaiety, of bespectacled horses, 35
hallucination, useful in enlivening Bristol, 94
Nazis, poorly informed regarding Irish railway schedules, 36
chili sauce, and estate planning, 25
softball, at North Pole, 67
whinging, vaudevillian, placated, 86
corned beef sandwiches, weightless, 170
Nagel, Conrad, induced to reflect wearily upon his romantic choices, 116

Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder says, “Futility Closet delivers concentrated doses of weird, wonderful, brain-stimulating ideas and anecdotes, curated mainly from forgotten old books. I’m hooked — there’s nothing quite like it!”

Reading List

FC book covers

Just a reminder — the new Futility Closet book, Futility Closet 2: A Second Trove of Intriguing Tidbits, is available now at Amazon. It contains hundreds of hand-picked favorites from our 10-year archive of curiosities in history, literature, philosophy, mathematics, and art. Some sample items from the index:

communists, driving habits of, 73
trombones, and hair loss, 139
prayers, Canadian, private, whether, 179
James, Henry, not a refulgent fireball of novelistic rigor, 174
plunges, earthward, righted dangerously, 111
whales, exasperated, 193
Carroll, Lewis, beset by asparagus, 174
Story magazine, hard up for Ws, 19

Pair it with our first book, Futility Closet: An Idler’s Miscellany of Compendious Amusements, for twice the oddity!

Available Now!

Futility Closet 2

Today marks the official launch of our new book, a collection of hundreds of hand-picked favorites from the site’s 10-year archive of the marvelous, the diverting, and the strange — the perfect gift for people who are impossible to buy gifts for, or for yourself!

Like the website, Futility Closet 2: A Second Trove of Intriguing Tidbits contains hundreds of entertaining oddities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics, plus scores of amusing inventions, curious words, and beguiling puzzles.

“A wild, wonderful, and educational romp through history, science, zany patents, math puzzles, wonderful words (like boanthropy, hallelujatic, and andabatarian), the Devil’s Game, self-contradicting words, and so much more. Buy this book and feed your mind!”— Clifford A. Pickover, author of The Mathematics Devotional

Futility Closet 2 joins our first book, Futility Closet: An Idler’s Miscellany of Compendious Amusements, which reviewers have called “funny, interesting, thought-provoking, and completely original” and “a most entertaining compendium of unusual knowledge.”

Buy them now on Amazon!