Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “blog popularity”

Is someone tampering with blog stats?

There’s something weird going on with blog stats.

Yesterday our family history blog, Hayes & Greene Family History, got its highest number of daily visitors ever — 252.

BlogStatI didn’t post anything special yesterday — in fact I posted nothing at all, so there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason for the sudden rush of visitors.

But there was something else that was even stranger. I did post something on our other family history blog, on Blogger, rather than WordPress, and I happened to notice, when I updated it on Amatomu, that its ranking on Amatomu was higher than that of the WordPress one, which was a bit unusual. Ususally the WordPress blog fluctuates in the Amatomu rankings between about 220-250. But this morning it was down to 285, and now it is down to 816, on the very day that it seems to have got the highest number of visitors. The Blogger family history blog is usually somewhere in the 300-500 level, but yesterday it was suddenly up around 220.

Here are the current Amatomu rankings for my blogs:

AmatomuRank

The question I have is: why there such an extraordinary increase in the number of visitors on a single day, and why should it be accompanied by such a huge drop in the rankings, from 280 something to below 800?

The only way that could happen is if someone is manipulating the blog stats, and doing so in two different places — on WordPress to exaggerate the number of visitors, and on Amatomu to lower the rankings.

If anyone else has a better explanation, please let me know.

But I am more than ever convinced that blog statistics are completely unreliable and worthless.

Ranking blogs by Twitter followers

I recently came across a list of the top 100 Christian blogs ranked by Twitter followers — Top 100 Christian blogs ranked by Number of Twitter followers

…a Top Christian Blogs list with a difference. This list is ranked by another measure of influence that as far as I can see the other lists dont measure: Number of Twitter followers. Interestingly I found almost nobody in the top blog lists who didnt also Tweet, and the vast majority of them post all their blog posts as links to their Twitter feed (usually automatically). If you run a blog and don’t do that yet, its time you sort that out!

I find that rather odd, because I’ve never found a blog that tweets. Bloggers tweet, yes; but blogs, no. At least not in my experience.

And then someone I follow on Twitter tweeted this:

“People you may know” from @twitter is pointless. I don’t use Twitter that way; I don’t think many people do. I follow ppl I DON’T know! :p

And that made me wonder how people use Twitter.

I do follow a number of bloggers on Twitter, because I read their blogs, and want to know when they have posted something new. Similarly, I sometimes, but not always, tweet when I’ve posted something new on one of my blogs. But I tweet about lots of other things, and I’m sure a lot of people who follow me on Twitter never read my blogs at all. So I find it strange that one could measure blog popularity by the number of Twitter followers.

And what makes a “top Christian blog” anyway?

According to Amatomu (when it works), the “top” South African religious blog is a thing called Discerning the world which seems to specialise in venomous attacks on people and churches that the blogger doesn’t like. What she never bothers to tell us, though, is what she does like. Oh, and Adrian Warnock mentioned the absence of female bloggers in many “Top Christian blogs” lists. Well adding Discerning the world should help to remedy that deficiency!

I’m not sure how Amatomu calculates top blogs either. One that ranks consistently high is Dion Forster’s old abandoned blog, Dion’s random ramblings, which his current blog, An uncommon path, somehow never quite manages to catch up with.

Unlike @grahamdowns, whom I also quoted above, I don’t follow people on Twitter because I don’t know them or because I do know them. I follow them because I think they might tweet about stuff that interests me, whether I know them or not. And I often keep caught up by means of the daily digest of tweets, though its criteria for what is interesting don’t always coincide with mine. But that was how I found Adrian Warnock’s post in the first place.

What I find interesting, and use Twitter to help me to find, is not so much blogs as blog posts on topics that interest me. And for that Twitter is most useful if the tweets use hash tags. Adrian Warnock recommends Twitterfeed as a way of automatically notifying Twitter etc of new blog posts. But does Twitterfeed know how to use hash tags? (And, incidentally, that’s one reason I find blogs that ask you to log in before letting you comment annoying. Having to register to post one comment on one post that you find interesting seems a waste of time).

I use hash tags a lot to find tweets by people I don’t follow on subjects that interest me, and some of them, like #missiology, even produce a daily paper if enough people tweet on it.

Blog and browser popularity

A couple of months ago I read in a news report that Chrome had overtaken Firefox and Internet Explorer as the most popular web browser. Not among readers of this blog, it hasn’t!

Here are the latest stats for web page browsers used to view this blog:

A couple of months ago I also noticed a surprising increase in the number of readers of this blog apparently coming from Ukraine.

I thought that there might have been one or two posts that appealed to Ukrainian readers, but no, the trend has continued.

At first I thought it might be because I sometimes blog about the Orthodox Church, and there are Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and Russia, but I actually blog far more about the Orthodox Church on my other blog, Khanya, which had only five Ukrainian reader in the last month — there were many more from other countries with substantial numbers of Orthodox Christians, such as Greece, Bulgaria. Serbia and Russia.

Visitors to Khanya blog for 30 days ending 2012-06-28


I haven’t seen any comments from anyone from Ukraine to say why they like reading this blog rather than the other.

Or perhaps Blogger’s statistics are just screwed up.

Blog statistics – countries

Amatomu have recently began revamping their web tracking, and are offering several new statistical comparisons. I’m not sure how accurate they are yet — one of the popular posts on this blog, Books to read before you die, dropped from most popular to zero reads the moment Amatomu brought in their new tracking system, whereas other trackers show that people are still reading it, so I think there are still some teething problems with the new systems.

But they are still interesting, nevertheless.

One of the new indicators is the countries people come from to read blogs, and I found it interesting to compare this blog with Khanya (my WordPress general blog) and with my Family History blog.

The MyBlogLog widget shows that most of the recent readers of this blog are from the UK. So I thought I would compare the Amatomu statistics.

Notes from Underground

Khanya

HayesGreene Family History

The family history one seems to have a higher proportion of visitors from Australia and New Zealand, which don’t feature on this blog.

I suppose that can be explained by having several recent posts on the Sandercock family, many of whom emigrated from Cornwall in the UK to Australia and New Zealand.

Khanya recently had a lot of visitors from Pakistan, which doesn’t feature in the statistics for the other two. I suppose that could be explained by a recent article about the use of Allah as the name for God, and Pakistan having a large Muslim population. But there is a discrepancy: the article was mainly concerned with a law in Malaysia prohibiting Christians from using “Allah” as the name for God in their publications. Why then do more Malaysians apparently feature as readers of this blog, rather than the other one? Could it be that Pakistan is planning a similar law, thus arousing more interest there than in Malaysia, where the law has apparently been in force for some time?

I’m also interested in Amatomu’s statistics about other things. In the two general blogs, this one and Khanya, Firefox is the most popular web browser. In the family history one, Internet Explorer is. I suspect that that is because family historians are less interested in computers for their own sake than most blog readers. For family historians, computers are primarily a tool and a means to an end, so they accept the default web browser that comes with their computer, as long as it works. Only when things go wrong will they look for something else. Other blog readers are perhaps more technically minded, and compare different kinds of software to find something they like.

Another interesting thing is the cities from which readers come, but I’ll save that for a post on the Khanya blog, where the WordPress platform handles graphics better than Blogger.

What’s up with Amatomu?

The Amatomo lists of popular blogs seem to have got really screwed up.

Consider this:

Fastest climbing blogs (overall)
Memoirs of a Self-Confessed Slut (+1453)

by memoirs-of-a-self-confessed-slut
The Spear Does Arabia (+1401)

by The Spear
Entropy (+1401)

by docmoo
Contact Online (+1370)

by David MacGregor
Travis Noakes (+1250)

by Travis

Contact Online has always been somewhere in the top 20 blogs in the religion section, until about a week ago, when it dropped right out of sight, and far from jumping up 1370 places, this evening it hit rock bottom:

65 Muslim Revolution

Proudly Muslim Blogger
| by Forwarders
66 nextchurch

A space to share and shape ideas and theology about what the next church should look like. A South African contribution to the emerging church conversation.
| by Andries Louw
67 Contact Online

An Anglican News and Commentary site from South Africa
| by David MacGregor

And the nextchurch one surely doesn’t belong down there either.

WordPress versus Blogger

I have three general blogs on three different blogging platforms, and occasionally I compare them to see which is most popular.

The blogs are Notes from Underground on Blogger (this one), Khanya on WordPress, and my LiveJournal. The graph from Amatomu below shows that the oldest, the LiveJournal one, has the fewest readers, while the newest one, the WordPress one, seems to have the most readers. Is this because readers prefer WordPress to blogger?


Actually the comparison is not quite fair to LiveJournal. Most liveJournal posts are read by friends on feeds, and very few people read the actual blogs themselves. Nevertheless, it does seem to indicate a preference for WordPress on the part of blog readers, though as a blog writer I find it has several limitations, notably that it does not support Javascript, so all sorts of widgets and things just don’t work.

But knowing which one readers prefer also affects the way I write. I now tend to be more careful about what I wrote on the Khanya blog, knowing that more people will probably read it. Notes from underground tends to get used for quick ‘n dirty posts, and the LiveJournal even more so, or even just for pointers to posts on one of the others, if I think some of my LiveJournal friends might be interested, and I hope that some of them may comment.

Interpreting Amatomu

Today this blog reappeared on the Amatomu radar for the first time in more than a month — it was ranked 200, and my other blog, Khanya was ranked 150 — nice round figures, so I thought it worth remarking on them.

For more than a month now this blog has been ranked somewhere in the 230-240 range, so why did it suddenly shoot up to 200, and reappear in the top 30 in the News and Politics section? Not because there were any more readers, apparently. The number of readers has remained fairly constant for the last few days. So it must be because there was a drop in the number of readers of the other blogs on Amatomu, no doubt caused by the long weekend, and blog readers going away to where there are more interesting things to do than read blogs.

So where have all the blog readers gone?

I somehow can’t imagine that most of them have gone to Moria, even though a very large number of South Africans do go there on the Western Easter weekend — the top bloggers on Amatomu somehow don’t seem to be the type. No doubt from today until the end of the week we will be able to read on their blogs what they have done, and this blog can sink back into obscurity again.

The other question raised by this is why the number of readers of this blog, even though it did not rise, apparently did not drop off as much as some other blogs. And perhaps that is answered by the Amatomu stats as well. Nobody seems to have read much that I have posted in the last week, and there haven’t been many comments on recent posts. The most popular post, by far, remains one I wrote several months ago, commenting on a list of books to read before you die. It’s still top with 232 reads over the last 30 days. The second one, Easter – Christian or pagan, which was posted even longer ago, has shot up, with 111 reads. Perhaps that explains why there hasn’t been such a drop off.

The other thing that needs some explanation is why my Khanya blog, which I started a year ago, is more popular than this one — it is ranked 150 on Amatomu, whereas this one is at 200.

The only reason I can think of is that WordPress blogs are more popular than Blogger blogs. I started the Khanya blog on WordPress at a time when many of the blogs I read were switching from Blogger to WordPress, because of the “new and improved” Blogger, in which many of the features no longer worked, and there seemed to be a mass migration to WordPress as dissatisfaction with the reduced functionality of Blogger increased.

But that doesn’t explain why readers seem to prefer WordPress blogs to Blogger ones, and the Amatomu statistics don’t give much of a clue about that. They reveal the phenomenon, but they don’t explain it.

Any ideas?

The world’s 50 most powerful blogs | Technology | The Observer

When I see this list of the most influential blogs in the world and realise that I’ve not read any of them, I know how far out of touch I am with popular culture.

Of course I’ve always thought being countercultural was better, but being countercultural when you don’t even know the culture you’re being counter to is rather difficult. So over the next fortnight or so, time and Telkom bandwidth caps permitting, I hope to go through this list and fill in the gaps in my education.

The world’s 50 most powerful blogs | Technology | The Observer

From Prince Harry in Afghanistan to Tom Cruise ranting about Scientology and footage from the Burmese uprising, blogging has never been bigger. It can help elect presidents and take down attorney generals while simultaneously celebrating the minutiae of our everyday obsessions. Here are the 50 best reasons to log on

The world’s 50 most powerful blogs | Technology | The Observer

When I see this list of the most influential blogs in the world and realise that I’ve not read any of them, I know how far out of touch I am with popular culture.

Of course I’ve always thought being countercultural was better, but being countercultural when you don’t even know the culture you’re being counter to is rather difficult. So over the next fortnight or so, time and Telkom bandwidth caps permitting, I hope to go through this list and fill in the gaps in my education.

The world’s 50 most powerful blogs | Technology | The Observer

From Prince Harry in Afghanistan to Tom Cruise ranting about Scientology and footage from the Burmese uprising, blogging has never been bigger. It can help elect presidents and take down attorney generals while simultaneously celebrating the minutiae of our everyday obsessions. Here are the 50 best reasons to log on

What people read on blogs

Amatomu, South Africa’s answer to Technorati (and much better than Technorati) provides statistics to show which blog posts are most popular, and some of the results are unexpected, to say the least.

By far the most popular post on this blog over the last 30 days is Books to read before you die. Admittedly it’s a fairly recent one, but it seems to attract ten times as many readers as the next most popular one, on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Very few readers leave comments, though.

On my WordPress blog, Khanya, the current favourite post is The appearance of Jesus Christ, which was posted over 6 months ago, on 23 June 2007. It is quite a short post, which mainly makes reference to discussions that were taking place on a couple of other blogs. But again, very few people who visit it comment, so I’ve no idea if they’ve found what they’re looking for.

The second most popular post on Khanya is a bit of a cheat, however. It was, like this one, wondering about what got people reading certain blog posts rather than others, and was inspired by some remarks of a blogging friend (whose blog has since closed), who was wondering much the same thing. The post is What to do on Sunday if you’re bored? and I think I must have been pretty bored when I wrote it. And so must most ofl the other people who read it, since it still seems to be popular, in spite of being over four months old. Far fewer people seem to be bored on Tuesdays, though!

But apart from the “bored” posts, I still wonder what makes people read some posts rather than others, and yet the most popular ones seem to receive relatively few comments.

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