Tuesday, January 26, 2010

RationalWiki: Year in review

Lots has happened since the start of 2009, it was January 4th that RationalWiki opened up on our own dedicated server residing in the corner of my room and while there have been ups and downs I think over all it has worked out well for the site. Plenty happened on the site but this post is not about that. Instead I wanted to take a look at a years worth of fun statistics that very few people usually get to look at.


Lets start with the overview then shall we:

So over the course of 2009 we had just over 825,000 unique visitors. This is measured by unique IP addresses so take it with a grain of salt. It means essentially that 825,000 different IP addresses have requested data from our site.

Close to 1.6 million "visits" over this time period as well. Visits is hard to clearly define, but its an attempted measure of someone who comes to the site, stays on the site, then leaves. That counts as a single visit. So the same person will usually have multiple visits to the site a day.

Pages and hits are tough to really do much with on a wiki since by the nature of the software they have a tendency to be inflated.

Bandwidth, you guys sucked 584 gigabytes of data through my internet line. That's the equivalent of:

  • 600 standard music CDs
  • 124 feature length films
  • All the books and journals in the library I am writing this in now

Plenty of other fun measurements, but its a lot of data. All the text on the wiki right now takes up about 12 gigabytes of diskspace. That's a lot of text.

Matters of time:

A graph of usage based on the days of the week and then hours of the day:

What this tells us is a few things, our most active days are Monday-Thursday, we drop off on Friday and a lot on Saturday, increasing slightly on Sunday.

The vast majority of our usage is between about 7am-5pm EST. While our active user base is fairly geographically distributed, the majority of our traffic still comes from US based sources. Combining the days and the hours that we seek peek popularity I think RationalWiki is popular for people who are at work.


This is some information about "where" are visitors are coming from. There are a lot of problems with it so don't put much stock in it. This work by trying to find the top level domain for who a user is, if you are an ip address you are an unknown. But a lot of people you can actually trace back to the TLD of their ISP. The .com is mostly US based traffic, from there you can see we pull a lot of traffic from Hungary, more on that latter. Also the UK and Australia domains are up there as well.

On what?

Here is a question that pops up every now and then on a wiki, what are people using to see our site?

As you can see the windows operating system is the dominate OS of choice. However, the dominate Microsoft browser is actually less than a third of our traffic. Firefox dominates that category. Good for you guys! Now if I could just convince you all to install Linux....


This data is a little harder to visual, so take my word for it. Our largest referral sites for the year have been reddit, fark and something awful forums. Reddit accounts for something like 65,000 refer hits, fark closer to 50,000, and something awful about half that again.

However we did have a few interesting referrals. The google translator (http://translate.googleusercontent.com) is rapidly becoming a major source of traffic. A few random blogs in various languages have also been linking to us. For example, a few popular gaming blogs in Hungary linked to us on Poe's Law while discussing the "anti-spore game website."

Is it time for hu.rationalwiki.com? Probably not.

As for search engines themselves:

As you can see google is the dominate one here. Followed by stumbleupon which is more "social bookmarking" than search engines, but we can pull in a lot of traffic from a popular book mark on stumble upon.

But we all probably need google was our main search engine referrer, the real question, and often the more perplexing of all, is what people search for when they find us?

Poe's Law and gerbling:

So let us start with the big ones:

So people found RationalWiki searching for 150,000 different things. About 65,000 searches were people looking directly for us. Another 10,000 were people looking for conservapedia.

Of course the big one, by far, is Poe's Law. It has sucked in a lot of search engine traffic. When you combine the blog links and the searches it accounts for a large number of the people coming to our site. It is a fun success story, we need to find more "poe's law" articles to write people!

Gish Gallop and our Esther Hicks article get an honorable mention here as well.

Really though the vast majority of searches are for a random things. Here is a sample:

  • historical contingency
  • project blue beam wiki
  • gerbiling
  • venomfangx
  • golgi bodies
  • trilateral commission logo
  • fun ways to master bait
  • homotoxicology
  • st. isaiah - archangel of divine mercy
  • maltheism
  • infant damnation
  • bridgewater triangle
  • should the government provide healthcare
  • world s largest rat
  • mythical goats
  • recipe for donair sauce

Monday, January 18, 2010

Some stats updates

I haven't done much in the way of a stats update in a while. I think the last one I really talked about was back in October. While are total numbers in visitors has stayed fairly constant the actual shape of the traffic has changed some what.

Previous months our traffic has been shaped by major events, where we get lots of spikes and valleys. Lately we have been getting less spikes (with a few exceptions) but our base traffic level has increased substantially. So we are getting 5k-6k "visits" a day now, where as even a few months ago we were at 3k-4k with spikes of 8k-9k.

Our incoming link data is also changing a bit. Previously, it was dominated by one or two major links from places like reddit, or something awful. Last few months its been spread out across a whole lot of mid-range blogs, covering a wide range of topics. Poe's Law still nets us the most links, but things like Gish Gallop, and other more specific articles are starting to get a lot of "passive linking" as well.

I think this change in traffic is also reflective of changes we are seeing on the site itself. We are now pushing 170+ active editors, recent changes no longer allows me to see everything that happened in a day, and we are starting to feel those growing pains as we work out management issues on the site.

Short version: more people are coming to our website every month, and the traffic pattern is becoming closer and closer to what I consider our ideal, of lots of incoming links in the style of "go here for more information about this topic." This is good for our site, good for our mission, but is also causing growing pains. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out over the next year.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Site down

I am aware of the issue and working on bringing it up as we speak. It is a software issue which means this shouldn't take too long. Updates to follow.

Update: Still working on it. My initial optimism is now met with existential pessimism. Any apache experts want to chime in on this one?

Update 2: Alas, once again my existentialism dies in its infancy. The site is back up, go forth, and be fruitful or something.