Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Stats and Dat

I'm utterly opposed to blog stats. I think they distort the reason for writing and reading blogs and play no useful function what so ever. I can see that there may some useful information contained within them, but none that can't be obtained in other ways, and in any case people only use them in order to throw their weight around.

For me a blogs value is in its usefulness. Is it interesting? Does it cheer me up? Does it give me information I need or will find handy? Does the blog come with weird pictures that I can steal and put on A Laptop for Every Donkey? Comments can be interesting but two hundred petty minded squabbling retorts aren't worth five thoughtful responses. In other words numbers don't tell us everything.

That said stats in general are my joy. Which means sooner or later they are going to make their way here. But the stats I'm interested in aren't the incoming but what going out. Let's look at the quantitative values then. In this first, green, graph we have the monthly post rate for the last two years.

you can see from this that there have been two solid periods of posting (from July 06 - March 07 and from Jan 08 - the present) with one dip. Already you can see how that 91% post rate I mentioned previously was seriously undermined by that eight month dip.

If we draw this out a little by taking a rolling average it helps us look at the trend in the stats a little more easily. I've calculated a rolling average by adding the month I'm looking at with two months before, two months after and then dividing by five. It essentially smooths out the odd blip either way.

That's much clearer don't you think? And it shows how the first solid period tapered off whilst the current one saw a far harder acceleration out of the dip. I was pretty run down August/September 07 and quite ill so it's interesting that although I was spending more time at home the slowing down is really very obvious to see from these stats. Something that might be worth adding is I also think the posts in this period were less were worked and thought out than normal too - so it's not even as if less posts meant better quality - quite the reverse in fact.

One last way of drawing these out before a bit more qualitative data. Here we see a visual display of the changing in rolling average from month to month. In other words in a particular month was the *trend* towards more posting or less?

Again by looking at this you can see that although on the first graph the two strong periods look at first glance to be quite similar they are in fact qualitatively different. When the blog began it went straight in to things with a real momentum, a momentum that gradually faded (down to ten posts a month at one point I think).

However this current period is one of consistent improvement. The rate of improvement dips in this last month, but that's because once you've built yourself back up to a strong *rate* you're going to plateau at some point - I'm clearly reaching that point. Which is good news for me as it doesn't mean I'll be constantly increasing the number of daily posts until I'm writing one a minute.

Now I can tell you exactly what happened recently. I made some new years resolutions to snap out of the doldrums - and it worked! Looking at them now I see that after only half the year I've pretty much actioned the lot. Green bloggers, commenting more, Carnival of Socialism, A Laptop for Every Donkey, the right hand column, quantity and quality, keep having fun and guest posters - all eight resolutions... that's got to be some sort of record!

Of course they aren't completed projects and Green Home is yet to be launched - but I'm certain that by Green Party conference in September we'll have a working site to toast with warm organic champagne. I guess it shows what you can do if you want to turn things around, draw up a plan and then set to work - it's not even felt like a chore, good stuff.

Just need to get the Carnival back on its feet again after its flurry of activity.

One last set of stats before we move on to some politics. What have I been posting about, at least according to my tags.

  1. Democracy 85
  2. Green Party 73
  3. The left 55
  4. Cambridge 51
  5. War 50
  6. Culture 50
  7. Blogging 49
  8. Labour 42
  9. Latin America 41
  10. Thinking aloud 41
It's not an exact science of course. I've changed the way I've used tags over time, and certain topics I should have split up near the beginning - so discussing specific elections and musings on what democracy means should really have gone into two different sections - but to pull them apart and back date it all is a bit too much of a chore to be honest.

I'm slightly surprised at how high the Green Party is here as I've always though of myself as an independent socialist blogger who happens to be in the Green Party rather than a Green Blogger per se, but I think it reflects the fact that whilst other topics I'll talk about then move on I've blogged at conferences with ten, twelve posts in a row which it seems has skewed the stats a little.

Anyway I've found looking at the numbers quite interesting and it will be interesting to compare this to next years stats, if I'm still going that is.


Barkingside 21 said...

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

Albert Einstein

Natalie Bennett said...

As someone this into numbers, you really should be looking at incomings as well - you'd have such fun! How many readers have you got in Takikistan? Just why did someone with this weird search term get here?... etc, etc.....