Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Meta-Blogging 18: Binging on Statistics [Updated]

By now, everyone who maintains or reads a blog knows that Technorati, which tracks linkage within the blogosphere, is having some serious trouble keeping up with the traffic. Technorati is, at least, being upfront about its problems: on its blog, Richard Ault admits that the number of people coming online have posed a challenge and that events-driven spikes break the water pitcher. David Sifry, another of the in-house Technorati bloggers, uses the company engine to find blogs discussing troubles with the technology, then goes into the thread to try to mollify upset users with apologies and promises.

Most blogs use sitemeter or statcounter to track brute click-throughs, but in order to find out what sites are linking to you, a sitemeter user has to pay for an upgrade. Stephanie, of sillybean.net, provides a comparative analysis of some of her favorite tracking tools, usefully dividing them into categories of "free" and "not-free." Her favorites, unsurprisingly, are "not-free."

While it's annoying that the best-known and most-used link-tracker is imploding, this is also an occasion for self-reflection. I've outsourced that part to someone else.

Joe Carter, of the Evangelist Outpost, tells his tale of recovery from statistics-addiction, how he woke up from the dream that his blog would magically transform into influence and leverage.

Don’t Believe Your Own Press Clippings -- On the eve of New Year’s Eve 2003, Hugh Hewitt made the following prediction for National Review Online:

The Evangelical Outpost and Powerline become the must-read blogs of '04.
Perhaps you've heard of Powerline, an obscure little blog that led the way in exposing Dan Rather and the Memogate story, gained the attention - and begrudged admiration - of the major media, and receives an average of 1 million hits a month. Oh, and it was named Blog of the Year by Time magazine. Okay, so Hugh looks like a genius with that pick. And the other one?

Um, not so much.


The lesson: Don’t let praise go to your head. Your blog is only as good as the work you produce.
While I wouldn't exactly ascribe Powerline's fame to good works, per se, the moral lesson of eggs, baskets, fame, head, and so forth is unimpeachable. Carter also experienced highs and lows in print media, the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem (attaining #12 status!), and being linked to by Glenn Reynolds.

Okay, a moment of self-reflection after all. Blogging is different from writing in most analog fora because it's possible to get instant feedback--and it's possible to track precisely how people are coming to your writing. As an anonymous schtup who didn't overcome any editorial or publishing standards to get my writing out there, the temptation to trace the paths that *miraculously* led readers to my door is overwhelming. But it does get distracting. Trying to figure out whether the reason a post kept getting hits was an incoming link or random googling could keep me bopping around the net for hours--or could cost me 15 bucks a month. And then you have to ask yourself why it matters.

I'd better wrap this up, as I'm running into some trouble installing my Statmeter account.

[UPDATE: Despite the snarkiness, I was indeed in the process of installing Statmeter.

I have a Sitemeter engine in place, and yesterday it was telling me that I was getting 50 hits that day rather than the usual, well, five or so. It seemed logical to assume that someone with a more numerous readership had linked to me. Since I've only the free version of Sitemeter, I could figure out to which post incoming posters were coming and whether they clicked on any other posts in my site, but not what site had generated such interest in my "Blogging at Work" post. I tried a Technorati search, tried googling that url, to no success.

Installing Statmeter, however, does give one a log of one's readers' entrypages--as well as their pathway through one's site. [I'd like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to my obviously very bored Canadian readers!] Statmeter, although incredibly slow to load, has found Galleycat's link to this page. As of an hour ago, Technorati couldn't find this almost day-old link.

If anyone can suggest a reason for me not to disable my Sitemeter and Technorati accounts, which I know slow down the loading of my page, please inform me.

Joe Carter's comments still haunt this update, btw.]

[UPDATE 2: Galleycat linked to this site on Monday, July 11th, at 4:24pm. As of 11:20, on Thursday, July 14, a Technorati search still fails to register this link.]


Blogger David:

Thanks for the interesting thoughts and feedback. Sorry that things haven't been working very well for you of late. Listening to your users is a hard discipline to get used to, but boy is it great. And it has helped us to understand ourselves better, as well as more deeply understand what you and our other users want.

So, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work. We just rolled out a bunch of bug fixes and performance improvements, please do go and have a look at the site and try out some searches. Not everything is consistently fast, and there are still some searches that time out, but things should be significantly better than before...

And we're going to continue to work and improve and focus on being of service to you and our other fantastic users.


7/14/2005 03:25:00 AM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

I'm somewhat mollified.

But I just did a Technorati search for this site and still didn't find the Galleycat link.

But you've mollified me sufficiently that I'll leave the Technorati code in for a while longer yet.

7/14/2005 06:12:00 PM  

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