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Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Small Sunday Number Ponder

Just a small Sunday morning ponder about numbers...

For reasons that are much too complicated to explain (which is to say, I don't know what they are) the website at www.neilgaiman.com is subscribed to two completely different statistic trackers, to let the webmistress know how many come to the site and where they come from and so on. Mostly, I think we have two trackers because they tell us different things. Only one of them, for example, lists the searches that bring people to the website, something that is normally a very useful tool for a blogger who is otherwise completely out of ideas -- it's like the comedy store comedians who, when all else fails, look out at the audience and say "Hey, is there anybody here tonight from New Jersey?" (you may need to insert somewhere else in place of "New Jersey" depending on where you live and whether or not you have comedians there) and figure that should get them some laughs. You should always be able to get an amusing and interesting blog entry based on the fact that people turn up at your site having googled for Awesome Cameltoes or Jam-smeared Scouts or Cleavage Tentacles or something. I remember waiting for the arrival of the stat thing that would give us search phrases like a kid waiting for Christmas, only to discover that, month in and month out, the phrases that people seem to turn up here with are pretty much always the same, and they aren't very interesting. Here's April's top twenty search phrases, with numbers, from Google:

1 neil gaiman 6,881
2 sandman 616
3 gaiman 481
4 neil 413
5 american gods 366
6 "neil gaiman" 267
7 neverwhere 220
8 the sandman 204
9 mirrormask 191
10 neil gaimen 175
11 neil gaiman blog 166
12 dave mckean 155
13 neil gaiman sandman 135
14 sandman comics 130
15 blog 124
16 sandman gaiman 108
17 neilgaiman 99
18 anansi boys 84
19 neil gaiman journal 76
20 gaiman blog 65

(And the only thing that I found odd about that is that if you Google the word "Neil" using "I'm Feeling Lucky" it brings you to this journal.)

And it continues like that, on and on and on. You have to get down to #322 before you get "Naked Pillow Fights" -- although at #399 we discover that one lone person searched for "dinosaurs and the bible space and time cavemen paintings buy tape" and down below that there's one sad "gaiman wet t-shirt" which left me wondering what the person was looking for and why, and one "Cthulhu sex" which left me wondering whether they'd liked it when they found it. (Although it probably took them here.)

But I've wandered off the subject. So. Two different trackers-of-stuff. And this morning, with them both opened (looking at where people go on this website, so I sound intelligent next week when I talk to HarperCollins about what we're going to do in the Big September Redesign) for the first time ever, I wondered if they said the same things...

And they don't.

According to one of them, for example, there are 65,822 people in the UK reading this, making 7.97% of the traffic to the site. According to the other, in April the UK gave us 44,707 visitors (and 4.43 % of traffic).

They both seem to agree that we only had one person in from Mongolia, and one person in from Albania. But one of them reported about 150,000 more visitors to the site in April than the other did (about 850,000 as opposed to about a million), although the one that saw 150,000 fewer people overall also saw 130,000 more people from the US than the other one did. They even disagree on pure "hits" -- one sees 11.5 million in April, the other 11.3 million. If anyone has an explanation, I'd love to know what it is. In the meantime I shall resolve to take internet statistics with even more grains of salt than I used to.

(None of the numbers having to do with this website and journal mean anything anymore. The last time they meant anything was around September 2001, and I learned that we had around 20,000 readers, and decided not to stop because, well, 20,000 readers was an awful lot of people. These days it's no longer an awful lot of people, it's just abstract numbers.)

(Which reminds me -- according to http://www.livejournal.com/syn/list.bml?page=1 there are 10,445 readers of this blog's syndicated livejournal feed, while according to the officialgaiman's page at http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=officialgaiman there are 4,918. Anyone have any idea which is accurate?)

Hi Neil,I just thought you might want to mention to your fans in the Philippines that the bookstore chain that's holding your book signing in July has set up a mailing list where fans can get updates and news about the event. It's at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gaiman_fullybooked/. Can't wait for you to get here! Cheers,Tania Manila, Philippines

I'm looking forward to it as well. (Did you know that there were 1484 visitors to this site from the Philippines last month? Well, that or 2,557, depending on which counter you believe.) Consider it mentioned.

And before I go off and start the day, Bob Sheckley's flying home.
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