Even less of a fan of blog stats

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/03/12 03:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2006/03/12/549675.aspx


As I mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of blog stats. I really do seem to break a lot of the obvious, common sense 'best practices' to help drive traffic to the blog (for example, any time I hit a topic that gets a lot of traffic I stay away from that topic as if I had just picked up something that I really want to set down and walk away from).

But also as I said in that other post, I was really interested in the whole Web Views vs. Aggregate Views ratio. Since the latter is basically the subscribers while the former is the people who look at individual posts in the browser (either directly or via clickthrough), the ratio just seemed interesting to me.

Here is the info for the last 11 months (thanks to Calvin Hsia for the script that provided the data; I stripped out the actual raw numbers since they are not relevant here):

Month Ratio
Apr 2005 1.88
May 2005 1.06
Jun 2005 1.16
Jul 2005 1.41
Aug 2005 1.35
Sep 2005 1.72
Oct 2005 1.50
Nov 2005 2.03
Dec 2005 1.78
Jan 2006 0.98
Feb 2006 0.84

I kind of like the direction things seem to be going in, since as I tend to syndicate entire posts rather than excerpts, the only good reasons to click through are

  1. to get a version of the page most likely to be free from typos;
  2. to look at the comments.

I will assume it is mostly #1. :-)

I like it mainly because I don't always have the answers, and sometimes the comments do. Lots of good resources get put in there!

Of course these raw numbers don't give much indication of what kinds of posts interest people enough to look at them directly, and just before I started looking at that I realized that it would make me like someone who was having their behavior driven by the clickthrough rate. Which is something I'd like to avoid for the time being.

So suddenly the numbers aren't as interesting to me as they were a short while ago. Fancy that!

Or perhaps I am just over-analyzing it now. Hugh had a great cartoon the other day that may be relevant:

Kind of puts it all in perspective, I think.... :-)

So, in the end I guess I'll even quit looking at these numbers too. Maybe nobody is reading the blog -- hell, maybe even the people who comment don't bother to read it. As I pointed out in this post, sometimes I need to be reading what I write.

On the other hand, maybe lots of people are reading. If so I hope you are enjoying yourself. I'll write up a slightly more relevant post right after I get this one up....


# Sebastian Redl on 12 Mar 2006 6:04 AM:

Have you considered that some RSS readers, such as Thunderbird, load the actual HTML article as if they were browsers?

I tend to click through when I want to comment.

# David.Wang on 12 Mar 2006 8:49 AM:

Funny how several people seem to be wondering about "blog stats" all in a short period of time. For example, see:
http://blogs.msdn.com/heatherleigh/archive/2006/03/03/543019.aspx (and of course read all the comments...)

Personally, I treat the stats as just an interesting data blip and keep fuzzy stats.  Blogging is not a popularity contest, nor do you have to cater to your constituents. It is best to concentrate on being yourself, and the content naturally weeds out the right crowd.

Based on blog stats, I have a rough idea what my readers like, what draws comments, discussions, etc, and what topics are useful through the test of time. Interesting Info? Yup. Does it affect what I write in the future? Nope. I just stick to my original "point" and write whatever I want that is consistent.

//David

# Michael S. Kaplan on 12 Mar 2006 1:24 PM:

A worthy point, David (I guess it came up for me since Calvin had just sent out mail that he had updated his data to grab the most recent data, perhaps that is an inspiration for several people?).

In my case, it is not always (or even not usually!) where the most comments go that serves to drive content since if that were true this blog's content would be entirely different! So I am definitely not using such a "pulse" to drive content....

# Michael S. Kaplan on 12 Mar 2006 1:25 PM:

Hi Sebastian!

Yep, FeedDemon does the same -- thats why I gave the two reasons for clicking through as being "looking at the one with some typos fixed" or "looking at the comments".

:-)

# Dean Harding on 12 Mar 2006 5:49 PM:

I usually click through to look at the comments. But also because the posts look nicer in my browser compared to an Outlook auto-preview window (I use NewsGator for my feed viewing)

Besides, if you looked at the stats on my blog, you'd wonder why I bother to post at all! Most of my views come from google searches looking at my more technical posts... or people clicking on my name in some of the MSDN blogs where I comment... Oh well :p~

# Michael S. Kaplan on 12 Mar 2006 7:12 PM:

Before this blog started up, I had another blog that at first no one and then almost no one knew about -- it was more interesting for the fact that no one or almost no one at all was reading it. :-)

But I do read yours, so there is one....

# Nicholas Allen on 13 Mar 2006 3:46 PM:

I'm not sure I believe the stats that Calvin's tool pulls from.  Since I started a new blog recently, I was able to check the monthly stats against the stats reported by controlpanel.  According to controlpanel, I had about 4 times as many RSS hits as web hits.  According to the monthly stats, I had about 3 times as many web hits as RSS hits.  Both counters had about the same number of web hits but differed on RSS by a factor of 10.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 13 Mar 2006 5:29 PM:

Well, there is that, too. Lucky for me I decided it wasn't interesting anymore. ;-)

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