The Thinker

Watching you

I’m curious about my readers. How many of you are visiting my site? Which entries are you reading? Which of my entries are the most popular? Do I get repeat readers? Until recently I didn’t have answers to many of these questions. But a couple days ago I installed SiteMeter code on this web log. What I’ve discovered has been interesting.

Most of us who have web logs own our own domains. Typically we can’t afford to own our own servers, so we share space with others using a web host. This is called virtual hosting. My web host, like most, bundles in a free web statistics tools. This tells me which pages are being read, when they were read, number of pages served per day, amount of data transmitted, etc. However these tools aren’t terribly useful. In my case I have two domains parked inside this one domain. The tool can’t zero in on the domain that is this web log and consequently I can’t get much in the way of useful information.

Fortunately with SiteMeter I found I just had to add a snippet of HTML to the bottom of each web page and it will figure out the rest. I chose an unobtrusive SiteMeter icon and slipped it at the bottom of each page. (Go on, scroll to the bottom to see it. You know you want to.) It works a little like a browser cookie. Basically by viewing this page you are telling the SiteMeter web site a bit about yourself, such as the page you are viewing, when you viewed it, whether you viewed other pages, etc. SiteMeter just records the information and provides a very lovely way of arranging the information in a useful fashion. Not only do I get statistics, but lots of lovely colored graphs.

It will take a few weeks to get some meaningful statistics, but already I’ve learned that I will never be as popular as DailyKOS. Still it’s nice to know that my site is being read. I’m averaging about 20 visits a day to my site (not including me hitting it during the day). What interests you? Pretty much everything. What else do I know about you?

Well, not to worry. I don’t know your name. I don’t know your credit card numbers. But I do know:

– Your Internet Service Provider (ex: cox.net)
– The page you viewed, and when you viewed it
– If you visited more than one page, how long you stayed on the previous page. This gives me an idea if you actually read my page or were just skimming.
– Some idea of how you got here. Most of you don’t come onto my main page, but directly hit one of my individual entries or archives. This suggests you were doing a Google or MSN search on something and found my entry.
– Your time zone. Not surprisingly, most of you hail from the United States
– Your language, or rather what language your browser is set for. Not surprisingly so far it’s been entirely English.
– Your type of browser. Nearly 9% of you are using Netscape or Mozilla. Good for you. (Do yourself a favor and download Mozilla Firefox today!)
– Your operating system. 45% of you are using Windows XP to view my site. 5% of you are using a Mac.

If I used the paid version of SiteMeter I’d probably have more interesting statistics to see. But I don’t expect I will.

But I’d like to thank you for reading my little web log. I hope it is worth your time to come here. It’s nice to know that the time I spend creating entries (often an hour or more) is being read by someone other than myself, my friends and the occasional family member.

Please feel free to leave a comment on any entry. You don’t have to lurk anonymously.

 

One Response to “Watching you”

  1. 2:00 am on March 5 2004, Michael said:

    Hi Mark, I found your site a little over a year ago when I was told by the whois database that the domain name I wanted was already taken. I was bummed but I kept coming back for your excellent writing and clean designs. In fact, I completely STOLE your 3 column by tables layout a few months ago (though I ended up using CSS because I couldn’t get the liquid tables to work right). Anyway, I come back almost everyday. Thanks for writing. Michael

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