Tuesday, February 18, 2014

After Dark, February 18, 2014

What does One Million Mean?
The strange numbers of the internet
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

This week our editor-at-large Richard Burnett put on his Montreal Gazette blogger's hat and wrote about a CharPo milestone: 1,000,000 pageviews.

What does that number mean? Well...I'm about to tell you.

CharPo uses two different stats services. One is the numbers this site - Blogger - provides us - a very basic service. The second is Google Analytics, a more complex service where numbers are created by a cookie dropped into each visitor's computer when they visit this site. (The coding for that is hidden in an unobtrusive little bar that appears on the page when you come here. See if you can find it.)

Our million is a question of very simple addition and subtraction. The real number - as basic as you can get it - is actually closer to 1.4 million; three years, CharPo-Canada, CharPo-Toronto and CharPo-Montreal (the last two sites now discontinued). From this we subtracted all the pageviews that came from countries which seem to only exist to screw up the internet by hacking it: Russia, the Ukraine, China. Now we also knew a lot of these pageviews were by search-engines cataloguing the 4000+ articles we've published. We also subtracted a 100,000 pageviews generated by dorks who go to a good review of their Fringe show and refresh the page (ie: create a pageview) over and over again to inflate pageview numbers to their review. (Because of this frequent phenomenon we no longer show which articles are the "most popular" on the site itself.)

So, as you can see, the 1 m. number is both wonderfully right and enragingly ambiguous.

Now I'll share with you the real numbers - from that little spy on our page, Google Analytics. (We're only going to share with you the numbers which refer to CharPo-Canada and not the discontinued sites...and it is up to January 30.)

Over the 20 months since the launch:
- We have had 100,000 Unique Visitors (the number of unique computers the cookie was dropped into)
- Those UVs have aimed at this site 165,000 times (meaning each computer visited 1.65 times)
- The total number of pageviews from the aforementioned 100,000 is 269,000

Nice numbers, but let's get to real things...
- Our Unique Viewers, based on the last six months, averages 7000 per month (with that number higher during summer, lower at Christmas). That's the number of computers that visited our site each month.
- We've averaged about 9,000 Visits per month. (That's the number of times those computers visited the site over the month)

We are told these are good numbers for a hyper-specialized site. (We know we're not Amazon.)

Now let's have some fun.

In the last month (a good month because performing arts are in operation across the country) the visitors to our site looked like this: 
- 54% men, 46% women
- 60% under 35, 40% over 35
- 6000 came from Canada, 600 from the US, 100 from the UK
- Top 10 cities where we were read - in order of readership size, largest to lowest - Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, New York, Calgary, Cambridge (MASS), Mississauga. (But we particularly like our three readers in Gothenburg, Sweden. Hej, Killen!*)
*Hey, Dudes!
- And, an odd one, 5.4% of our readers also like sports (Google is omniscient...)

I know I've probably overwhelmed you but one goal here is that the next time you read or hear about internet numbers, that it's way more complicated (and fascinating) than just a number.

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