The problem with site stats

All references in this post to OoL stats are from October 25th to November 2nd, remembering that those actually on November 2nd onwards would not have had time to accumulate properly.

I have a jaundiced view about site stats. At my own place, Sitemeter, Google analytics and WP itself give entirely different readings. One has me with a few hundred readers and another has me with a couple of thousand. Feeds usually outnumber visitors by a factor of about 3:1.  Google image searches are about one quarter of my visits.

OoL doesn’t have the image searches but otherwise it’s similar in profile.  One area which simply does not tell the tale is Comments. Within the time period just mentioned, these have been the top-rated posts:

What’s Being Left Out Of This Story? by Julia M [3 comments]

From the Silents to Generation Z, All your Homes Belong to Us by Longrider [36 comments]

It’s Not Been A Good Week For ‘Hate Crime’ Activists… [by Julia M [7 comments]

Catching on yet? by the Quiet Man [6 comments]

Take the test: are you a Home-Owner-Ist or a free-market capitalist? (1) by Mark Wadsworth [64 comments]

There are various observations on this and on related matters:

1. Witterings’, a couple of Julia M’s and all of mine come up, in our stats, as zero reads – i.e. no one had read those posts at all, not even ourselves. In my case, I’m willing to accept that because I write unpopular posts but with the other two, there’s something clearly wrong with it.

2. Mark, with 64 comments, must have been read by many people, working on a ratio of a certain number of readers for every comment. Julia had 3 comments only and yet she was read by most, in a ratio of 3:2 over the next most read. It also underscores that she is the engine room of OoL.

We used to have an all time reader widget and it showed World Core Curriculum as most read for weeks.  Turned out the count had jammed.  The current widget, which admittedly I put in, shows WCC not even on the list, i.e. under 452 reads. So what’s going on? Obviously there is a different algorithm used but it should still roughly reflect the state of play.

We used to have a page view on each post but they were so wildly different to what the other calculators were telling us that it was pointless.  Just as a matter of interest, below is what Word Press is telling us currently.

Top this day [Nov 1]:

Top past week:

Top past month:

We feel OoL is standing up quite well, given natural attrition, loss of the novelty factor and the way most people’s sites are going – the readership [meaning those entering the site] is certainly down on the Week 17, 2011 high but it’s still consistent.  On the other hand, the RSS subscriptions are high and that’s encouraging.

Regarding my own posts – they certainly turn many off but they also bring in another type of reader so it’s swings and roundabouts here.   I do worry that independent voices might be lost, just because our readers tend to tear into anyone saying anything the least bit out of the ordinary.  It needs a fearless writer to brave the OoL readership and speaking for myself, I quite like that “edge’ to the commenters – give me that any day over “look, I’ve posted a comment”.

Keep OoL going?  Why not, on current indications?   Should we be doing something different?  That’s for you people to tell us.

Quick word to contributors

When contributors prepare the text at their place and then insert it here [the usual way] a problem arises when the text is taken from their sites in Visual mode and put in here also in Visual mode.  This results in the text sometimes being quite skewed – not all the time, of course.

Have a look at this below [click to enlarge]:

I knew this would be so because the post was one block of print and that meant going into the edit facility and having a look at what had gone wrong.  Sure enough, as you see above, all sorts of “span”s abound and often “div”s as well.  If you look at the post as it is now edited, you’ll see it in paragraphs but that is only the case because I had to go through the text line by line in HTML mode and remove all the spans and divs, along with their associated chains.

You’ll see the result below:

This was not a long post by any means but imagine having to do that with one of mine.  Then multiply that by the number of posts OoL runs.

* The solution is this, if you transfer from your site to OoL:

1.  At your own site, go into HTML mode for your prepared post.  Copy it.  I usually do this with Command + A and then Command + C.

2.  With that on the clipboard, log-in to OoL, make a new post window come up, click on HTML mode, wait a few moments until it comes up … and paste.  I usually do this with Command + V but you can right click.

3.  Save to draft.

That’s really all it is.  It would save us a hell of a lot of time repairing posts [pretty please] and would mean we don’t need to go anywhere near the editing facility for your post.  If you transfer though by just copying from your front page or from your Visual/Compose mode, it will carry all the embedded instructions with it over to OoL and they sometimes clash with OoL’s embedded instructions.  Plus you might lose hyperlinks in the process because our Visual mode is really quite wonky here.

Of course, that refers to Blog2OoL transfer.  Where it does not usually matter is * Word 2OoL transfer.  There are rarely errors that way.

Of course the easiest way of all is for you to spend fifteen minutes preparing it at OoL but as we asked all contributors to remember – that ties up the editing facility and if in the process of editing you make any saves, each of those saves goes as a complete post to our database, even if you just changed a comma or full stop.

Thanks for understanding.


On my computer, when I click on anything in OoL, it takes about 30 seconds for the new page/window to come up.  I get around this by, for example, clicking on the post header on the front page, going to get a coffee, coming back and usually the post is up in its own window by that time.  If I need to go into Posts or Dashboard, I click and that’s another 30 seconds each time.  When I save a post, that’s another 30 seconds.  This doesn’t happen at my place or on most blogs.  It does happen on some, e.g. Barking Spider or others with much java going on.

Are you finding OoL slow or does it appear to be my problem alone?

Thanks again for your replies.

20 comments for “The problem with site stats

  1. November 3, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I paste text into notepad and then copy it into Blogjet to get rid of extraneous formatting.

    As for taking a pasting in the comments – yeah, sure, it does happen, but I don’t let it bother me. I can hold my own.

    • November 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      Blogjet has much going for it.

  2. November 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    What? Stat porn is no more real than porn porn? Awwwww, another illusion shattered. 😆

  3. November 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    As a simple reader I have noticed OoL often has a short delay between my clicking a link (or bookmark) and the page loading/appearing. It’s usually only a few seconds at worst, no more than I would expect accessing say a foreign newspaper or bbc archived article, but it does seem to be noticable, more frequent/longer than many other blogs.

    • November 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      Simple reader Woodsy? They’re the best kind. 🙂

  4. Greml
    November 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    ” … she [Julia] is the engine room of OoL.” My goodness, Mr Higham: are you suggesting the Laevophage is an old boiler?

    • November 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

      The Laevophage? 🙂

    • November 4, 2011 at 4:56 am


  5. November 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I tend to read through the RSS feed, largely because I have little time and most of my reading is done on the train. I do regret that this means I don’t have a lot of time to comment, but I read everything posted.

    I suspect there are a lot like me, reading through the feed on a mobile phone and unable to effectively comment.

  6. ivan
    November 3, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Stats will never be accurate because many people run NoScript and other script blocking add-ons to stop such things.

    • james Higham
      November 4, 2011 at 5:49 am

      Rendering it pretty useless then.

      • ivan
        November 4, 2011 at 9:36 am


      • Lord T
        November 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm

        Not totally useless just restricts what you do and you can always get the page impressions from the server. That does not require user cooperation.

        It boils down to how much work you want to do and if you think it is worth it.

  7. ice queen
    November 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Laevophage? left-devourer?

  8. November 4, 2011 at 5:33 am

    I haven’t noticed it being slow at all in recent days, but I have noticed it not loading at all on at least one or more occasion. Whatever it is, it usually fixes itself within an hour or so, though.

    As for site stats, they’ve always been the things I check the first few times after I get a plugin or Blogger incorporates them, and then…. I forget to check for the rest of the year!

  9. Chuckles
    November 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Woodsy42, We have some ‘extinction of the ungodly’ software that runs on the server and looks for nasties trying to hobnail-boot their way around, and that could be causing the hesitation you sometimes see.
    Or it could just be that the page is not currently cached by the server and needs to be recreated, and equally, it could be a big page, that’s taking a second or two to dowload, although we have very few of those on the site.

    James, a 30 second wait for a page is absurd, if it’s a ‘main site’ page you’re talking about, rather than an admin page.

    Not sure why it’s happening to you, as anything I try loads fully in under 3-4 secs, and I’m 100 miles away from the server?

    The limiting factors on speed on OOL are the outgoing bandwidth, which is adequate for our needs, and the admin section of the site, which has a lower priority set than the ‘front page’. Everything else is so over-specced as to barely register on a usage graph.

    • November 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      At this moment [just checked], it’s about 4 seconds but can be 30. It’s never almost instantaneous. This applies to clicking on the header on the front page and going to the single post page or anything in admin – no difference. I always load OoL in Safari because it crashes Firefox but that’s Firefox for Mac methinks.

      It’s never overly-bothered me as I go and get a coffee but it does happen more often than not. I’d imagine Sunday afternoon would slow it down.

  10. November 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Lazy bastards like me, you see. Read all my posts in the feedreader, and only click through to the page if I want to comment. Although presumably that counts me twice?
    still,, if you’re getting a lot of comments you must be on the right track. Incidentally, do you get much traffic from Facebook? Articles here are one of the most ‘shared’ by me, at least.

    • November 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      Funny you should mention that – I haven’t had a good look at how Facebook comes into it but do get the occasional comment there. I don’t actually know.

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