2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 340,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 15 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 194 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 1716 posts.

The busiest day of the year was May 8th. The most popular post that day was Reduce your waste with a toothbrush? Yes.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were stumbleupon.com, ligiapop.com, wordpress.com, google.com, and forums.macrumors.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for tussionex, ipad, edit exif data, beatrix potter, and drobo review.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Reduce your waste with a toothbrush? Yes. May 2010
66 comments

2

Automatic redirect from HTTP to HTTPS August 2007
52 comments

3

Don’t play with Tussionex May 2009
91 comments

4

Hardware review: WD My Book World Edition II June 2007
228 comments

5

Editing EXIF data in photos November 2006
27 comments

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A tally of my post ratings

On July 28, 2008, I installed the WP-PostRatings plugin on my blog, and since then, watching what and when people rate has been an interesting experience. If you haven’t yet enabled ratings on your website, it might be a worthwhile effort to do so, because you’ll get another sort of feedback about your content beside the usual reader comments. I think many people who are too shy to comment, or those who haven’t got the time to do so, would still like to give me an idea of what they think about my articles by a quick click on some stars, and that’s very helpful to me.

By now, I’ve gotten 1,339 post ratings. Considering I’ve had the plugin installed for 533 days, that works out to 2.51 ratings per day. Since 7/28/08, I’ve had 374,756 unique visitors, 415,857 visits and 595,078 page views on my website. That means 0.23% of my page views yielded a rating.

Let’s compare that to my comments for a bit. Since that same date, I’ve had 1,754 comments posted to my site, or 3.29 comments per day. That means 0.29% of my page views yielded a comment. It’s slightly better, but not by much, though I should specify that, by and large, the folks who commented didn’t leave ratings, so that means I got feedback from two different sets of readers.

Still, if I combine the two types of feedback together, it means I got 0.52% of my readers to give me some sort of feedback. I’m interested to find out how these percentages stack against established benchmarks, so if any of you can point me to the benchmarks, please do so.

Even if my feedback stats may or may not be something to brag about, I can be happy about the quality of my ratings. My rating score is 6,370, which means my average article rating is 4.76 out of 5. I like that.

I thought I’d tally up some of my highly rated and most rated articles below, for historical reference.

These are my top ten highest rated posts:

  1. Hardware review: Drobo (5.00 out of 5)
  2. The underrated Betta fish (5.00 out of 5)
  3. Matrei im Osttirol (5.00 out of 5)
  4. Hardware review: WD My Book Studio Edition II (5.00 out of 5)
  5. Hardware review: Elgato Turbo.264 (5.00 out of 5)
  6. Automatic redirect from HTTP to HTTPS (5.00 out of 5)
  7. A Dell order and return experience (5.00 out of 5)
  8. American habits (5.00 out of 5)
  9. Hardware review: Logitech Alto Connect Notebook Stand (5.00 out of 5)
  10. A few words on the economic crisis at hand (5.00 out of 5)

These are my top ten most rated posts:

  1. Hardware review: Dell S2409W Flat Panel Display – 61 votes
  2. Stranded in Frankfurt thanks to United Airlines – 21 votes
  3. How I got cheated on eBay – 14 votes
  4. USPS Priority Mail is anything but that – 13 votes
  5. Hardware review: Second-Generation Drobo – 12 votes
  6. Hardware review: Drobo – 11 votes
  7. Big problems with the WD My Book Pro Edition II – 11 votes
  8. The underrated Betta fish – 10 votes
  9. WD TV is better than Apple TV – 10 votes
  10. Using the economy as an excuse to shortchange employees – 10 votes

These are my top ten posts with the highest scores. The list is a combination of the highest rated and most rated lists. It’s the posts that have gotten the highest and most ratings.

  1. Hardware review: Dell S2409W Flat Panel Display – 61 votes
  2. Stranded in Frankfurt thanks to United Airlines – 21 votes
  3. USPS Priority Mail is anything but that – 13 votes
  4. How I got cheated on eBay – 14 votes
  5. Hardware review: Second-Generation Drobo – 12 votes
  6. Hardware review: Drobo – 11 votes
  7. The underrated Betta fish – 10 votes
  8. WD TV is better than Apple TV – 10 votes
  9. Using the economy as an excuse to shortchange employees – 10 votes
  10. Big problems with the WD My Book Pro Edition II – 11 votes

These are my ten lowest rated posts:

  1. When it comes to home computers, k.i.s.s. and forget it! (1.00 out of 5)
  2. Pet snakes in the Everglades(1.00 out of 5)
  3. Elie Wiesel: biography of a Holocaust survivor (2.00 out of 5)
  4. How many of my photos were stolen? (3.00 out of 5)
  5. Why I turned off comments at Flickr (3.00 out of 5)
  6. The Exakta EXA Ia analog camera (3.00 out of 5)
  7. A lesson in civics and citizenship (3.00 out of 5)
  8. Romania’s orphanages still a bad place for children (3.00 out of 5)
  9. More about Cartoon Network (3.00 out of 5)
  10. Fat clothes for fat people (3.29 out of 5)

It’s enlightening to see that some articles I care about happen to be on this last list, and it goes to show that no matter how attached I as an author can get to something I’ve written, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will resonate pleasantly with my readers.

It’s been an interesting experiment so far, and I plan to continue it.

WordPress Stats plugin has gone cuckoo

For over a month now, I have been unable to rely on the official WordPress Stats plugin. (I say official because the folks that made WordPress also made this plugin.) It, all of a sudden, started assigning all site visits to the same article, so that all of my stats became completely skewed. Let me explain it with a screenshot:

WordPress Stats has gone cuckoo

Instead of seeing the proper distribution of site visits by titles, which is what happened in the past, almost all of the site visits get assigned to a random post. I have no idea any more which titles get the most traffic for a given day. I know this is wrong because I’m also using Google Analytics. Here’s a screenshot of the 20 most popular titles for the past 30 days.

Google Analytics Content by Title

I like WordPress Stats because they aggregate the data almost instantly, whereas there’s a 3-4 hour delay with Google Analytics. Sometimes they even correct the data a day afterward (this happened to me recently) so you can’t rely on their figures until 24-36 hours after the fact [reference].

I stopped using WordPress Stats for a while, hoping the problem would somehow work itself out, but when I re-activated the plugin, all that happened is that it started assigning all site visits to a different random post. Whoopee…

If someone at WordPress reads this, please let me know if it’s something I’m doing wrong, or if it’s something that you’ve got to work out on your end. I posted about this problem in the WordPress forums, but I have yet to receive a reply there.

The new and improved Google Analytics

I’ve just been playing with the new Google Analytics interface, and wow, that’s a seriously cool improvement over the old one! Google announced this a few days ago, and I waited to see when the change would take place in my account.

I logged in a few minutes ago and was given a choice between using the old interface and the new one, which is still in Beta. Chose the new one, of course, and was blown away by the overhaul! My gosh, it’s clean, crisp, much easier to use, and it lets you dig down as much as you want to, but doesn’t overwhelm you if you just want to get the bird’s eye view.

What I also like is that they’ve buried the AdWords campaign tracking stuff down toward the bottom, and it’s even less visible than before. That’s great for me, since I’m not currently running any AdWords campaigns for ComeAcross, and wasn’t tracking the conversion anyway. My traffic’s pretty much organic, and it’s been steadily growing since I launched my blog last year.

You’ve got to have a look when you get a chance. Log in, and definitely play around with the new interface if you’re given the option. You will not regret it! I criticized Google Analytics for their hard-to-use interface in a previous post, but that was before this gorgeous new overhaul.

Now if they’d only fix their persistent login issue… Just about every other Google property knows I’m logged into my account and lets me right in, but Google Analytics always asks for my password, and that’s a bit annoying.

Getting good site stats

I’ve been using both Google Analytics and FeedBurner‘s own Site Stats service simultaneously for the past couple of months, and I thought I’d give a comparison of the two.

They both use little JavaScript snippets that you copy and paste into your web pages. They’re both good at eliminating false traffic (bots, etc.). That’s where the similarity ends.

Google Analytics gives more detailed feedback that’s targeted toward marketers and webmasters. It’s also tightly integrated with Google’s AdWords program, so you can track the success/conversion of your campaigns. But, it’s got so many options and menus to dig through, that it’s hard to use overall. You really need to spend some time learning it.

On the other hand, FeedBurner’s Site Stats service is simple and easy. They present the data in a way that’s easy to understand. And while at first you may think you’re not getting all of the data that Google Analytics provides, in practice, I’m getting all the data I need. It’s just organized so much better, that I need to go through less menus to get at it.

Want to know the best part? FeedBurner’s Site Stats provides almost instant feedback on what’s going on with your site. Yesterday, one of my posts about Zooomr got dugg, and made it to Digg’s front page. It was already more than three hours since it had been dugg, yet Google Analytics provided me with no data to indicate the Digg traffic. FeedBurner was right on top of it. I’d been getting data almost instantly and could monitor the traffic very nicely. This has been the case all along. I’ve been using Google Analytics since May of 2006, and I knew there was a significant lag, so I couldn’t use it to monitor my live traffic — I could only tell what happened to my site afterwards.

As any web developer will tell you, the ability to monitor your site traffic live is a huge benefit. What’s even more important is the ability to get great customer service. FeedBurner provides that, and has done so from the start. When I email them, I know I’m going to get a reply from a real, live, person, not a bot, and not a canned reply. That’s really cool. That’s why, even though their Site Stats service is free, I opted to purchase their detailed feed stats, and pay a little every month for that. It’s much better to pay a little and get something worthwhile, than always go with free and get what you pay for.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Google Analytics. It’s a great service. But Google’s getting bigger and bigger these days, and they’ve never made it very easy to get in touch with one of their “humans”. Just a few days ago, I had a question about my AdSense account, and needed to get in touch with a person, because I couldn’t find the answer in their documentation. I emailed them and got an auto reply back, which said I should reply back with certain further information if I wanted to reach a human. I did that, and I got what looked like a canned reply, so I’m not even sure if it was a human being, or another auto reply. Not fun, and my problem still didn’t get solved.

On the other hand, I know the FeedBurner folks. I met a few of them in person, and I know the others via email. They’re real, helpful people. So if I were to recommend a stats service to you, I’d say go with FeedBurner’s Site Stats. That is, unless you absolutely must monitor your AdWords conversion campaigns through Google Analytics. Or use both services, and do your own comparison. I think in the end you’ll be happier with FeedBurner, like I am.