Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lying with Statistics After All

I said I didn’t know how to lie with statistics, but Dirk has inadvertently shown me that actual intent is not required. After taking a look at mine (you can do the same by clicking on the Site Meter icon at the bottom of the page), he remarked “I also thought that it was interesting that though Macs have a little less than 3% of the market in the US, 11% of your visitors used them.” That’s skewed because Kristen and Dirk both have Macs and they are repeat visitors. The Firefox stats are also abnormally high because that’s what Jesse uses. (Although I'm on some email lists where you would think that almost everyone uses Firefox.)
On the other hand, that sort of statistic exists for webmasters who want to see whether they are going to ruin their audience’s viewing experience by inserting code that’s too advanced for their browser, or only works at a particular screen resolution. So for that kind of calculation, it doesn’t matter whether the visitors are repeats, what counts is that they are spending time at the site.
My statistics also aren’t always accurate about location. It’s not surprising that someone in Berkeley shows up as being in Oakland (which is next door), or that a company’s computer makes it look like employees were sitting at its headquarters across the country, but I haven’t figured out why my parents are shown as being in Atlanta. I don’t know if they have ever even been to Atlanta.
The country statistics are more reliable, I think. The US shows as providing about 60% of site visitors, give or take a few points depending on the day you look. The Netherlands are currently ahead of Russia and the Czech Republic (which are represented mainly by Kristen and Jesse). Canada and the UK always provide a respectable trickle of visitors. Japan, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Brazil are currently on the graph but there have also been visitors from Australia and Denmark. I still find it amazing that people I don’t know come to this site, but quite a few come using the Next Blog feature, which is entirely random and can take you to anything from a politician’s campaign blog to a student’s grumbles about bad homework grades to photos of the local exhibitionist. (Or, of course, something you might actually want to read.) There is freedom of the press in blogland, at least for now.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also use Firefox, but more importantly for statistics I usually use the portal to read my blogs. It checks them frequently for updates, and I wonder if most of my statistics are therefore listed as coming from the headquarters of If you are not familiar with it, then I recommend taking a look. It is very convenient.


December 04, 2005 4:37 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I have seen a few accesses, but not all that many, so I don't know whether using them to read blogs actually shows up at all on Site Meter or if it's just when a person first signs up to do it.

Email me one of these days and tell me what you're up to. Did you end up hosting Thanksgiving? Have I been missing anything exciting?

December 04, 2005 6:34 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I tend to switch back and forth between Safari and Firefox, depending on what else I'm doing. It could be my imagination, but I've found some sites work better/faster with Safari.

December 04, 2005 9:50 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Probably sites designed on Macs using Safari are the ones that work better on Safari. When I was designing my original website, I kept switching between Netscape and IE to make sure it was compatible with both. Life is so much easier (if somewhat less original) with templates.

December 04, 2005 10:45 PM  

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