Hardly Anyone Reads this Blog on Sundays

Thank you to all the people who have been reading, and linking to, Discourse.net.

Below I have a discussion of traffic trends, comments and comment deletions, and other bloggy stuff. If you're reading this directly, I've hidden it behind the “There's More” link so as not to bother people who have better things to do. If you are taking the feed, my apologies.

Traffic is at record levels: more than 750 800 people a day reading this blog directly according to sitemeter, with total pageviews running at 150% of that number. I didn't have sitemeter enabled for the first few months of the blog, but it nonetheless reports over 100,000 page views, and 72,000 visitors. On the other hand, my homepage counter, which tries very hard not to count a visitor more than once per day reports only 45,650 unique visitors to the homepage. Looking at my logs, its seems like a lot of people are finding some page here via Google or other search engines, and then going away. (If you want to know what people have been searching for during the last 24 hours, check out the colorful Zeitgiest; I suspect some of those searchers were disappointed.) The most perenially popular search term that finds this blog is “personality quizzes”, not exactly what I'd want to be known for, although this past week both “cement shortages” and “Janis Karpinski” have temporarily eclipsed it. My Google rank is higher for silly stuff like “how to pick up women” and “self deprecation” than it is for most terms linking to the posts I care most about. traffic graph

Two other things jump out from this clickable sitemeter graph of the past month: more traffic, and very much a six-day-a-week phenomenon. Perhaps it's because I tend to post less on weekends?

Of course, the real imponderable is how many people read this thing via the RDF and XML feeds. They're full text, so no click-through is needed. (I'm more interested in readers than traffic statistics.) The Feedburner service I use suggests that I have about 1500 hits on the feeds per day, with about three quarters of the people hitting the rdf and only 25% on xml. Hits may be some people hitting many, many times, or it can be a service hitting on behalf of its readers. Feedburner's guesstimate is, if I understand their tables right, 750 people/day, giving me maybe 1500 readers/day in all.

I have no idea how to feel about these numbers. Is it a lot? A little? In between? The TLB ecosystem suggests 'in between', ranking discourse.net in the 700-750 range for links (a mid-range Marsupial; I imagine I'll become a Mammal some day and plateau), and substantially higher for traffic (180th), but still well-down the power-law curve, perhaps a classic case of what Clay Shirky calls “Blogging Classic”.

In some way I feel quite surprised that 1000 or more people, if that's really the number, some of whom I don't actually know even from conferences, are interested on a more or less daily basis about what I have to say. (Thanks!) The private supportive email from friends and highpowered professional acquaintances has been especially nice. (Thanks!)

The statistic that surprises me most is this one: there have been fewer comments than posts. Now don't misunderstand – I'm not complaining. And the gap is closing as people comment more. Just surprised—am I that uncontroversial? Or is this blog just read by friends who recall how stubborn I am (“I've mellowed! I've mellowed!” I assured the visiting professor just last month. “That's scary,” she replied.)

Part of the comment number thing is that I prune hard — I've installed MT-Blacklist and mercilessly killed off commercial comment spam manually, and also removed the half dozen or so non-commercial idiocies I've received. (The most recent had an obscene email address and a gross comment.) I have not pruned political comments I disagree with, not even the one that said the Iraq atrocities are nothing than “frat house tomfoolery,” although I find that sort of remark very offensive.

I wondered whether to post any of this — it's a bit solipsistic, and not the sort of post I particularly like reading on other blogs. But then I figured, almost no one is reading on Sunday anyway…

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4 Responses to Hardly Anyone Reads this Blog on Sundays

  1. Alex says:

    But solipsism is the backbone of blogging! Er, I mean “introspection”… Introspection is at the heart of blogging.

    Given how many people are using Bloglines and similar server-based readers (I am), it’s especially hard to track. A web-bug would work for many of them, no?

    I don’t pay much attention to metrics for my own site. Despite telling my students to blog for a model audience, I’m not very good at that myself. Nonetheless, “how many” is less interesting to me than “why.” That said, I may code up a meter that parses the logs for the “how many” metric I’m most interested in: regular readers. That is, say, how many visit three times a month, seperated by at least a few days each time?

  2. Michael says:

    Quite a number of feed readers won’t pass any graphics; that presumably includes web bugs?

  3. Bob says:

    Interesting data, but Data won’t skin a cat. god, I can’t believe I just wrote that. But, I’m rambling so here goes. “There are thre kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” MT I only quoted that because you pumped out a lot of statistics and I can’t resist using that quote. Anyhow, I believe MT was against US imperialism and thought it semi-appropriate. I am really not saying anything, but beating around the BUSH for what I really want to say. I enjoy your blog and would like to contribute, but other than this I am a very careful writer. At least I try to be; emotions screw us up hard, don’t they?

  4. Alex says:

    Bloglines does pass some graphics (e.g., graphics from the “title” section); haven’t had enough experience with other readers to know.

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