: It sure beat the media big guys: An American serving in the Israeli army in Jenin called Howard Stern’s show on his mobile phone this morning and reported on the attack on Israeli soldiers there hours before the same news was on CNN (according to a colleague who monitored both). Just a guy with a phone.
Today in the Muddle East
: How dare the EU consider sanctions against Israel? Europe had better watch its anti-Semitic reputation.
: Powell offers observers to babysit a ceasefire. Uh-oh. We end up on the ground there; we end up the enemy.
: The Saudi crown prince warns that continued Israeli military action will endanger American interests. Is that a threat?
: The blind Egyptian cleric who masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center passed messages to his cohorts through his American attorney, now arrested.
: Rand Simberg is pissed at the church for being pissed at Israelis for answering sniper fire in Bethlehem — and not being pissed at the Palestinians who took over the church with weapons in hand. “Christians everywhere should be outraged.”
: There’s much buzz today about blog numbers — from John Scalzi (the first piece, the second) and in response from Matt Welch, Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, and Tom Tomorrow.
Well this is something I actually know something about. It’s part of my day job. I even did time — and, oh, yes, it was a sentence for bad behavior — on the Audit Bureau of Circulation committee that set definitions of page views, visits, unique users, and such for the online and publishing industry (alongside the Internet Advertising Bureau and others).
So here are the boring facts:
: A page view is probably the best measure for bloggers. That is defined, simply, as any page requested by a user. I count that in two ways: My ISP gives me stats that count the HTML files served as pages; I also use a counter that counts each time its graphic is called up on a page. I get up to a few thousand page views a day.
: “Hits” and “files” are meaningless. Each time a browser goes to a server to get a new image, that’s a “hit” on a “file” and obviously, the more files you have a page, the more hits you’ll have (thus graphically lavish Tony Pierce or Photodude would have more hits per page than the spare, Shaker Drudge or Instapundit).
: Visits are a bullshit measure. Some services count a visit as a continuous string of page views from one user or one IP address. But for many reasons, that falls apart quickly (you could go off to another site and then come back and you may or may not be counted as one “visit,” for example). Ignore visits.
: Unique visitors are a great measure — that’s the measure of actual people who come to a site in a day or, cumulatively, in a month; that’s the real circulation or, in ad jargon, the “reach.” However, the ONLY reliable way to count that is via registration or cookies (so each user has a unique identity). No small-fry site will have the technology to do that reliably.
Thus, I suggest that Blogdom settle on a standard for traffic bragging: page views. You count the actual HTML pages you serve (or you count along with a counter) and that’s the most accurate number to report.
Now to the real ego question: How big is big? Obviously, it’s not hard for a big media site with big media advertising to out-do a blogger. The sites I work on (at Advance.net each do tens of millions of page views in a month; as I’ve said before, just the high-school wrestling forums on just NJ.com can do 250,000 page views in a day).
I’d say that Glenn Reynolds’ 43,000 page views in a day holds up quite respectably next to that considering that he has no promotion, no advertising, and his content is essentially one-page deep.
More important, add Reynolds to Sullivan, Welch, Layne, all the folks on my right column (and, humbly, me) and you have a very respectable audience across Blogdom. That is growing. That is worth paying attention to.
: Update: Glenn Reynolds links to this item, causing traffic about traffic, and Rebecca Blood responds, via him, arguing against page views as the standard and in favor of unique IP addresses as a proxy for unique users and audience size. Only problem with that is, most counters and basic ISPs do not provide that data. And IP addresses do change if you keep coming back through, for example, AOL, so it’s a less accurate measure.
I’d say what we’re trying to measure is heat and buzz and page views do that well. Yes, people go to Instapundit often in a day and that’s because Glenn provides new content and real value about 22 hours a day (what does your wife say about all this, Glenn?).
There’s also some discussion of the value of search engine traffic. Anybody who finds a site via a search engine is, of course, quite valid; that’s how people find half the content on the Internet. Search engines that spider sites to catalogue them should not be counted but that’s more of an issue for big sites than for simple blogs (though we do get spidered); I’d count that as digital dust.
End of statistical nerdfest.