Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lies, Dammed Lies, and Statistics

If I remember my geometry correctly, you can't plot a curve from a single point. And while it's possible, it's generally not a good idea to plot a curve from just three points either. Which is what I'm about to do. So, if you're some kind of statistics nut (or you know, like an actual scientist), look away now.

Stonekettle Station has been online for a month now, 34 posts, 35 if you count this one. I've been collecting stats on this blog since the first post, using an online service. Daily, I look at page loads, unique visitors, returning visitors, first time visitors, etc. If you look down at the bottom of this page you'll see a grayed object labeled "Secret UEU Monitoring Device", that's the HTML code which provides the link to the statistics service. I do this not because I have some pathological need to collect statistics, but because I'm interested in how a new blog site grows and develops over time.

Currently I'm averaging between a hundred and two hundred visitors a day. Around two dozen regular readers, who view the site at least 3 or more times a day. Another dozen regulars who view the site at least once a day. The stat chart shows a steady increase in readership, of around 2-5% daily. Considering that I've done nothing to promote this site, and I've only been at it for a month, I'm pretty satisfied with how things are shaping up (and personally, I can't believe that with those kind of numbers, advertisers aren't just beating down my door. What? Did you say something?).

I've noticed something interesting, or at least interesting to me.

And again remember the above disclaimer, I'm looking at only three weeks worth of data (or three expanded data points). It is possible to plot a curve using only three points, the curve isn't likely to be all that accurate, but you can see the basic online. This is what I'm seeing:

I get the largest number of visits on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday through Friday visits are about 80% of Monday/Tuesday. Saturday and Sunday, not so much. The weekends show about 5-10% of the peak weekday traffic. Looking at IP addresses, a significant fraction of the weekday traffic is coming from corporate or government gateways, weekends show almost no corporate or government IP addresses.

Hmmmm, again, hard to make high confidence observations from only three data points, but it would appear that many of you folks visit on company time - and don't waste your preciously weekend time by surfing my site. Can't say I blame you. Looking at the data graphically, it would appear that most of you spend Monday and Tuesday surfing away your weekend hangover and not really getting much done. Somewhere around Wednesday, that sense of "Crap! I've got to get this done by Friday" kicks in and traffic steadily declines the closer to quiting time on Friday. Saturday and Sundays you're all obviously out hunting dinosaur fossils or playing bingo at the YMCA.

Nothing earthshaking, I just find it interesting.


  1. You're a popular guy. :) And you've got a lot of online charisma that comes clearly through the text.

    Where did you get your statistics thing? Now I'm kind of curious what it'd say about my blog (though I'd be surprised if I had more than half a dozen regular visitors).

  2. MWT, I'm using StatCounter.com

    The site gives full directions and HTML code to set up stat collection on your blog. There's a free limited version and a much more sophisticated paid subscription. Pretty painless, I'm very happy with it.

  3. I'd agree with MWT. Your online persona at other well travelled sites attracts people.

    I, too, have thought about putting a stat counter on my site, but I'm thinking it would only confirm my own half-dozen readers. Maybe down the line when I'm at loose ends some weekend.

    Congrats on the success of you blog, Jim! It's well-deserved.

  4. Funny, in person, my personality tends to repel people!

  5. Well of course I look at this from work. What do you expect me to be doing there.

    Actually during the day I get plenty of 3 or 5 minute breaks. I also track your site through the RSS feed so I can see when you update. My RSS feeds don't work well at home, though (I'm on dial-up, can't get cable modem at my house, and DSL is WAY out of line in price).

    Over 100, very cool. I think I normally get around 25 unique visitors a day (I can't track RSS, I know of about ten others who only look there and seldom comment). Hey, pretty soon you'll be tracking your technorati ratings, like, every day.

  6. Steve, the statcounter I have installed shows RSS feeds as a line item in the list. And I can usually tell somebody came in through the RSS feed because their entry page is listed as a specific entry vice the top level Stonekettle Station main page. Not hard and fast, but I don't really care how they got here, just that they do :)

    As to Technorati, both the posts on Apple ended up there. Why? I don't know. I'm not a big fan of the site, I hate how it's formatted, just doesn't work for me. But, hey, obviously I'm in the minority on that.

    Obviously a large number of folks who visit don't comment. But I'm getting a large amount of email from people who aren't comfortable putting their words on a blog. Mostly military (go figure), and I certainly understand and agree with them regarding comments. Prior to my retirement I was pretty careful with what I posted, you'll notice now that's no longer the case.

  7. Yeah, that's how I get most feedback on mine too - people just catch me on the Instant Messengers or one of the IRC chats I sit in. Some of the entries have inspired some interesting conversations. So I know it's not a total waste of time. ;)

    I installed my copy of the statcounter yesterday, and so far it shows 11 unique visitors, but some of them look like random traffic that were looking for something else. I can already tell this is going to be the new toy that sucks up my week this week.


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