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.


  1. Awesome! I was just looking through our back stats, and I was seriously impressed by how much our hits have grown just over this past year. Thanks for keeping it going!

    Tom Moore

  2. If we see another year of similar growth, how long until we need to server upgrades to handle the traffic?

  3. Honestly, it is hard to predict. One thing that a higher base level of traffic means is that we are more susceptible to slashdotting effects and from smaller surges. So far though we have only had minimal issues with spike traffic so the server can handle it.

    The other thing is that spike traffic is different from sustained traffic. If 10,000 people all try and view the same page at once the server is going to have more problems then if 10,000 people visit different parts of the site distributed over a few hours. Sustained traffic is easier to "support."

    The problem is where do we go from here as far as hardware upgrades? Eventually it is not RAM or processing speed that's the bottleneck. The basic software architecture can start to play a role. At that point you need multiple sources for the website. That means you need another server, a front end to shape traffic, and a way to consistently mirror the content.

    There is also a hardcap on my bandwidth that I have available to upload data. That is built into my ISP and difficult to upgrade.

    If the site continues to grow there will be a point where I can no longer practically host the site in the corner of my room. Hopefully by then I won't be living on a graduate students "income" and other options will be more easily available.