Sunday, December 19, 2010

Who the heck is reading this thing?

When I was writing my post last week I noticed a button I hadn’t seen on the home page called “stats”. I clicked on it and saw that it was, in fact, stats on my blog. It was more interesting than I would have thought.

I can check on which posts were the most visited, what websites visitors came from and what countries the audience is from. I was curious enough to add a tracker a few months ago to see how many visitors I had (about 1500-1600 in the last 5 months) which number surprised me a little, but it is still hardly The Huffington Post or TMZ, I know that because I just checked the 15 most popular blogs and those two are, respectively, nos. 1 and 2. I never heard of any of TMZ before or any of the following 13. The Huffington Post though has 28,000,000 visitors a month, or roughly ninety three thousand times more than mine. But, I feel the quality of my readers is far superior (a sycophantic compliment to you, if you weren’t paying attention).

So, what is my most popular post ever, you are wondering. It is not even a contest. Chimeras, coydogs and a really strange chimp is by far the most popular, having 687 page views since it was published on April 30, 2007. If that seems like an embarrassingly small number of visits, the stats have only been kept from June 22 of this year since I turned the tracker on. I am extrapolating that there have been several thousand visits in the past three and a half years since it was written, but, of course can’t know for sure. It is more than five times as well visited than the next most visited post.

I’ve learned from stats that its popularity has little to do with me, but more to do with the popularity of searches on Google for Oliver the Chimp, a rather interesting primate who was thought for a while by some to be half human/half chimp. He’s been around for a few decades, but, a in recent years his owners had his dna read, and he’s just a strange ape that prefers people to other apes, walks and looks somewhat in the same way we would imagine a caveman would and is unusually bright and obedient.

The particular post is still being read a lot compared to my others. It has 145 page views this month, more than 3 times more than the next favorite. It has almost 4 times as many views as the next favorite this week and 3 times as many today.

Out of the approximate 4,600 page views I’ve had since June 22 this year, here are the most popular posts of all time:

Chimeras, coydogs and a really strange chimp – April 30, 2008 – 687 views
Death Match: Socrates v. Thoreau – March 28, 2010 – 131 views
A mountain man is an amazing man – June 14, 2007 – 97 views
Thomas Jefferson and the Decl. of Ind. – March 7, 2009 – 79 views
Look, it’s their opinion – Snyder v. Phelps – October 10, 2010 – 54 views

Some of those are among my personal favorites. The second one compares Socrates and Thoreau’s views on what we can call civil disobedience to the law. The third one is on the almost indestructible and definitely undersung mountain man, Edward Rose, who is to some extent unique in that he was a black mountain man. Not that there weren’t other blacks in the mountains in the early 19th century, but there are very few we’ve heard about. The fourth article was a look at how overstated is the acclaim Jefferson gets for writing the Declaration. The fifth one is on a very recent Supreme Court case.

When I check the most popular for the month, it changes slightly in that Chimeras . . . is still number 1 and Death Match falls to number 5, with the middle three being the last three posts I wrote. I presume they are up there for exactly that reason – they are recent.

Clicking on this week though, the picture changes again. Chimeras is still by far the first, but then it is followed by a post on the Mayan Calendar (March 14, 2010), a very recent post next, then A Mountain Man and fifth, Most Valuable Olympian (August 14, 2008). The one on the Mayans was probably up there because for some reason I started off the post trashing Mommy bloggers which resulted in what passes for a firestorm of angry mommy bloggers commenting. If I switched my name to Mommyblog, I would certainly get a lot more hits. The one on the Olympics is my rating of the most valuable Olympians for each of the modern Olympics. It has the makings of a pretty good book, now that I think of it.

And when I click on those viewed today, Chimeras is still number one, which the Mayan piece, Edward Rose’s each with one visit as well as one each for Tales from Herodotus (June 20, 2010) and Toughness Personified: George Chuvalo (a post on one of the toughest boxers who ever lived). I really enjoyed writing that last one, as he is an inspiring story.

Checking on my referring URLs, in other words, what led many of these visitors to me, most of it was Google, from one site or another, also Microsoft’s Bing, and a, which is written in the Cyrilic alphabet. I can’t read it, so I have no idea what it is or why people would come from it to my blog. Some accidental link perhaps?

These stats also show me the keywords that led to my site. This is how I know it is searches for Oliver the chimp that make that post so much more popular than others. Apparently, there isn’t enough on the internet about him if they are getting directed to little ole me. Six of the top ten keyword searches had to do with Oliver. The other most popular keyword searches leading searchers to me were “wacky supreme court cases,” “to what extent was Jefferson a plagiarizer,” “when Criton asked Socrates how to bury him . . . ,” (seriously, that’s a search) and the bizarre “fulfilling her favorite fantasies venice knight”. No idea how that last one leads anyone to one of my posts.

The locale of the audience also surprised me a bit. Of course, overwhelmingly, most visitors are from the U.S. (2,869), but –

Russia – 184
Germany – 183
United Kingdom – 181
Denmark – 124
Netherlands – 107
Canada – 96
Slovenia – 64
China – 31
India – 29

Russia? Denmark? China? India? Slovenia???? Who knew?

Those were all time figures. When I check this month, it didn’t change all that much, but Latvia and Romania popped in place of India and China. Yes, I was very popular in Latvia this month. 21 page views. Could be one person looking 21 times, of course. But, what were they (or he/she) looking at? Could there be a sudden interest in Oliver the chimp in Latvia this month? Stats doesn’t tell me.

When I checked on it for the week, Slovenia was now number 2, more than a fifth of the page views of the U.S. How’d that happen? France, Hong Kong and Hungary pop in and Latvia, Romania and Denmark out.
I have no explanation for any of that. My hope is someone from one of those visitors from those other countries will comment and let me know why they are looking. Then again, I’m told that a great deal of the time readers aren’t able to comment when they want to, so maybe not.

Next week is my fifth annual Holiday Spectacular which I prepare for each year by not thinking about it until I start writing it. But, you aren’t going to want to miss it.


  1. Fascinating stats David. Who knew you are internationally read? Could you please send me some of your readers who are interested in getting the Headsprout Reading Program (to learn to read in English, not Cyrilic) which Ithey can buy through my teacher account for 50% off! It's a great deal. They can go to to get it. (I don't have too many of them, so they should hurry.
    PS I'll have Alonit take a look at the Cyrilic page - I'm pretty sure she reads it in her "Languages no one uses that I know" category.

  2. Ah, the life of my blog. I get a comment which is both Spam and from a family member at the same time.

    There's a second comment from her I was emailed by blogger but for some reason I don't see it published here. Anyway, it explained the is a Russian home remodeling site. So, naturally, you can see why people would jump from there to here - as I so frequently talk about home remodeling in these hallowed pages. Actually, listening to my friends talk about home remodeling so much was one of the reasons I started blogging - so I could talk about something besides kitchen cabinets and babies.

  3. The reason your Jefferson blog got so many hits is because one or two people read it and said,"Can you believe this idiot? Jefferson OVERSTATED? Call Uncle Shmuel he's gotta read this." And the incredulous just kept passing it on and on.... and next thing you know Mr. Popular.

  4. You know, if I outlive you, on your deathbed, I know you are going to ask me to come closer so you can whisper "I hate to admit it, but you were right about Jefferson." A morbid fantasy, but I'll place it 50 years from now.

  5. You're becoming a regular Matt Drudge or Glenn Reynolds!!

  6. More likely just a drudge (small "d").


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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .