Popularity Contest

A lot’s happened recently, triggering a lot of discussions as to who we are perceived to be.

As I was thinking about social networks, I also took some time to upgrade this website’s log analyzer. I have switched to Piwik, for various reasons:

  • it’s not too heavy on resources
  • it’s capable of loading statistics offline (I don’t want to have something that loads yet another resource)
  • it supports DoNotTrack, which means that I’ll see users only if their DoNotTrack flag is off

Of course, that last feature kind of removes some of the information, but to be honest, I don’t really care about who the visitors are personally, I just want to detect trends, and see if anything stands out.

Thing is, I started wondering about why I was looking at these things only after it was working properly. It’s not like I have a lot of visits anyway, and my work doesn’t really depend on that number. So why are these stats interesting?

Ego Trip

When you write something that gets published, there’s an obvious satisfaction at seeing it being read. And an even bigger satisfaction for me at seeing it re-read over the following months.

A few weeks ago, I read about the whole “echo” business (generating hits/visits just by having linklist-type blogs, which feed off each other). Can’t say I’m surprised that it’s common practice, and will continue to do so as long as advertisement revenue is indexed by the number of hits/visits the page gets. However you look at it, that’s one of the few statistical analysis that’s objective, and therefore can be automated. Besides, what ad-selers want is to bee seen as often as possible, and page hits give you that exact metric.

It’s a flawed way of looking at a readership, but unfortunately the only one that’s available.

Another ego factor is seeing what websites send their readers to you. Apart from generating some traffic, some of the referer’s reputation transfers back to you (if it’s a positive link, of course, not if it’s a this guy is a moron kind of link… and even then, it potentially is interesting if your point is thought to be good, even if he original link disagrees).


This blog is about various things… This post is a more general kind of reflection, whereas there are more math or computer oriented contents. Seeing which posts or pages are generating the most traffic gives me some data points on what I’m potentially good at, or what I do that might interest people.

I’ll stop the wondering that this statement might incur by saying that the more general kind of post generates about 1/4 of what the tech/code ones do. And on the rest of the site, the vast majority is taken by customer-specific sections of the site.

Most people who come and read this know where to go, they don’t really find me by accident. And most of them come back for the same reasons.


So why should I care about statistics, if I pretty much know already who comes and reads what is written here? Popularity has never been my priority, and is beyond my reach anyhow, although I do prepare my coffee in a fussy way, and have a clicky keyboard ( look it up, some people said it works ;) )

It may be as simple as “I like crunching numbers“, or that I have a lot of fun seeing which search strings led to this site.

It may be because I want to keep track of which pages or posts are more popular, in order to update them as they become obsolete.

But in the end, I think it’s just a geeky thing to do: making sure I know how the things I do are acquired/read, in order to try and deduce the way they are used.


Anyway, to anyone who happens to be reading this (either on a regular basis or not), thank you! The ultimate goal of publishing something is to have it be read. And that’s all there is to it.


Leave a Reply