Just little ol’ me.

Yeah, something I mentioned in passing the other day, about inflated site or hit numbers. You all know this already, though. Right?

It was in the context of linking to someone in the Hikosaemon crowd. The video, according to YouTube, had something like close to 10,000 hits, and I just cautioned that you don’t know if the number is credible. You have to be careful with the Japan-side bloggers, because, quite often, they are blogging to a small crowd. But some want you to think that more are watching or reading. I am not saying that that was the case with that video, but my general rule is to doubt big numbers.

This is one reason that I am becoming a bigger fan of Klout–although, yes, I know, Klout has its drawbacks. For one, it’s highly doubtful that they are catching your reading or visiting here, on WordPress. But they seem to be pretty good at tracking Twitter activity. Twitter and Facebook. Most social media metric services are in their infancy, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer.

How bloggers used to try and “up” their authority was to open their Sitemeter tracker. I always kept mine closed, because if you visit me, that is your business and mine, but not really anyone else. But other bloggers liked to have it open, to show anyone clicking on the icon, that they were being read by dozens upon dozens every minute. This was through the use of either a bot, or some paid service in the Third World, where the people sit around all day and click sites.

It didn’t take more than a few weeks for the blogging community to realize that there was hokey-pokey going on. But inflating stats kept going on, and many people were mislead by the tricks. Barry Ritholtz had a good piece about this years ago, and I remember it in the context of Daily Kos—who was a known numbers faker among the internet savvy, but not the cable and news media.

Even today, some bill his site as the premier online get-together for Democratic activists. But if you visit Quantcast, you find he’s only got about 11,000 “addicts” (people who visit the site at least 30 times a month). It’s basically a few hundred people in the big states who park themselves on Kos all day. One percent of “addicts” make up 30% of the visits to Kos (U.S. figures). Another 35%, so-called “regulars”, are about 50% of visits. These are people who visit more than once in a month, but less than 30 times. The average regular visits the site maybe 4 or 5 times a month.

In contrast, Jane Hamsher’s FireDogLake has about 16% of the people making 77% of the visits. Those 16% are 50,000 people. Fifty-thousand “addicts”. Plus another 52% bringing in 20% of the visits, as “regulars”.

Clearly, Jane Hamsher’s site is vastly more of an online community than Kos. But it takes Quantcast to make that clear. Klout hasn’t caught up to that yet. Jane has a lower Klout than me, but 1,000 influences–although the FireDogLake twitter feed is a lot higher.

Jane Hamsher is a big name when it comes to the progressive blogosphere. Even Kos, yeah, Kos. And they have cable media to help them out.

So when I read Japan-side stuff, and I see these Hamsher-Markos type numbers on things, I am just rubbing my chin. Hmmmm. Is this number real?

So much of what involves foreigners in Japan, and the internet, is manipulated. If you do enough reading–and I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know–the first question has to be: is this Japan-side foreigner manipulating me? If so, how?

Now, is everybody doing it? No. Does it go on a lot? Yes. Does it just involve stats? Come on. Stats on the net is like number ten or eleven. Most times, it’s: “here’s my pitch for you to believe!” And it’s either selling you something or telling you something. With you coming out worse off for taking the advice or listening.

When I get come to by the various gaijin people living in Japan, it’s because I am not interested in using the internet to play all the various games. I am Little Ol’ Me. I am still amazed when certain people get all worked up about Little Ol’ Me. I wonder about them, because I am just Little Ol’ Me.

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8 comments

  1. Hikosaemon (@hikosaemon) · February 14, 2012

    I’ll agree, I see blogs and even vlogs sometimes and I think to myself that they must be doing something to fiddle the numbers… It’s also true you get a lot of misfit gaijins who end up in Japan, and the web is where many feel most at home, and they will get very deeply into their web based hobbies. You mentioned Klout – I’ve run into a few “social media gurus” whose primary goal in life seems to be talking about social media and getting higher Klout scores… That’s something I’ve never gotten – I’d like to think (granted, I’m biased) that such sites should favor people that actually generate meaningful content of some sort or another. It is interesting to see the number of sites built around gamifying Twitter by incentivizing behaviour designed to raise people’s Klout scores and other metrics. It was also hilarious to see how many users of such sites were destroyed by Klout changing their algorhythm recently – ironically, it hurt the people that care about it the most, but fact is, it was those kinds of clowns having such high scores that made me not take Klout seriously in the first place, and I think awareness of that perception forced the rejig.

    Anyway, I’m rambling… I know the YouTube community pretty well in Japan. I don’t think much cheating goes on from people within the community, if only because they know they’d get caught and called out – but some loners around the fringes… perhaps. I don’t think it’s that widespread in Japan anyway. Blogs, I don’t really know or care. The social media stuff is the most interesting, just because of how manipulated it is. Who knows. But yeah, I wonder sometimes too.

    … but, I’m also careful not to speculate out loud in public naming names when I don’t know for sure. I think you’d want to be careful about calling out people who create content – they take such speculation as an attack on their credibility an[d] the integrity of their content. I discovered MutantFrog’s blog after the quake, and damn if it wasn’t one of the best and balanced blogs out there covering the goings on back then. I don’t know anything about the allegations you raised, but if it gets high numbers, I would have simply assumed it was because the writers there do a good job of writing.

    Peace

    • hoofin · February 14, 2012

      Hikosaemon, you make a lot of interesting points, which is why I like your material on your sites.

      I don’t know if the gaijins who end up in Japan are “misfit”. It seems to be a monicker that gets stuck on all the gaijins revolving in and out of Japan. So this has got to be a couple million people worldwide by now. (The estimated population of Japan-side American citizens is about 50,000–but it is hardly the same 50,000 as five years ago.)

      I agree with you, though, that there are Japan-side gaijins with a lot of extra time on their hands, and an internet connection. This is even true for “working” gaijins, like people in the JET Programme. The extra-time surfers sit there and populate the online community of foreigners on the internet. I don’t know if it’s making trouble that they’re after as much as they are bored witless at that moment, and use the internet to kill time.

      The two-edged sword of Klout is that it is producing a credible number, about something. It’s just, no one can feel confident about what it is. There are a lot of influential people on the net, and any number who aren’t. Additionally, people who are strong in just Japan are going to have lower numbers. This is usually the giveaway when someone is inflating. Because there is no credible story that can be built around why there would be such overseas attraction to Japan-side expat blogging or vlogging.

      You also said, in the context of Mutant Frog:

      I’m also careful not to speculate out loud in public naming names when I don’t know for sure. I think you’d want to be careful about calling out people who create content – they take such speculation as an attack on their credibility an[d] the integrity of their content.

      Well, here is a story for you. Since I am someone who started blogging before most, I was aware of the ruse that some bloggers use to jack up their Sitemeter numbers. (I was sitting at the keyboard in the days when sites like Daily Kos were very small.) So when I see a site that lets me click on the Sitemeter icon and view the visitors’ IPs and whatnot, and I want to know how they are doing with traffic, I do it.

      On a few occasions, I sat on Mutant Frog’s Sitemeter counter for an hour or so. Just left the page open. In that hour, Sitemeter was saying they had, like, 100 hits. The only one going through and clicking pages was me, out of Pennsylvania (and Tokyo back in the day). So Sitemeter is saying some wild number of hits everyday (like a few thousand), but there was no other evidence to show. (I have the screen shots of one visit in my screenshot file, but I’d have to go back digging.)

      This, to me, was saying “bot”.

      I agree with you that they have good content. And I’ve had lunch with “Lord Nathaniel” when I was in Tokyo. (We know, I am sure, who Lord Nathaniel is, but let’s keep up the ruse.) However, if another guy like Roy Berman is going to trackback here and say, “how dare! how dare!”, well, were they running a bot on their Sitemeter counter? And what purpose was it, other than, when visitors hit the icon, they were reporting numbers higher than what hit the site? If he wants to leave a message at mine and say, “how dare!”, well, I don’t buy someone saying “we personally” never misled, when they are linking to a Sitemeter counter that was set up to show 4,000 hits a day.

      They are nice guys. They have a good blog. They were not getting 4,000 hits a day.

      Hikosaemon, I am sure that you see this go on. A blogger has a question about some big to-do going on in the Japan-side expat world. Or even a little to-do. And the one question gets put out. Just one easy question. Like, “can you answer it?” And the person goes away. Who is one now? Chris Johnson. (Not to pick on him, just to say.) “Chris, was your visa in good order (did you have the right visa) before you left Japan?” This is the key question, that doesn’t get answered. I’ve had short dialogues like that with people ranging from [someone representing] Ron Kessler to Terrie Lloyd. It’s just a simple question, and not privacy–it goes to some spinning being done via the internet. They go away.

      I appreciate your comment here, and the content you are producing over at your sites.

  2. SBS · February 15, 2012

    You appear very obsessed with web traffic statistics. Why is this? Why should it matter at all how popular other sites are or are not? Do you find your interactions with your readers to be unsatisfying, and therefore search for ways to feel more fulfilled?

    Or are you just baiting for more traffic? I could understand if your blog was monetized, but since it is not, your behavior comes across like that of a schoolboy who’s slice of pizza was unfairly smaller than that other kid’s.

    It’s nice that you were blogging before most of us were out of diapers. Since then, web technology has changed. Significantly. For example, the two webkit-based desktop browsers, safari and chrome, respectively contain a “Top Sites” and “Most Visited” feature that can show fully-rendered previews of your most visited sites in any new browser window. Safari can be set so that, each and every time a new tab or window is opened, each and every one of your top sites is pinged for an update.

    Let me reiterate. Each and every time I open a new tab, I contribute traffic to my top sites, and I open a ton of new tabs each day.

    MFT is in my top sites, though your blog is not.

    If my super-niche blog consistently gets 1000 page views per day, then you’d better be darn certain that a high-quality site like MFT is getting much much more.

  3. Durf · February 15, 2012

    Mutantfrog had a very broad readership in the foreign journalist and diplomatic communities in Japan, not to mention among Japan-interested readers elsewhere in the world. It was producing serious takes on an interesting range of issues that got attention in few other media channels, as well as comment threads with participation by a pretty energetic and engaged group of web surfers. I don’t find four-digit figures at all surprising, and to me your surprise says more about your lack of knowledge about MFT and who was reading it than anything else.

    • hoofin · February 15, 2012

      I used to also follow it, before it went on hiatus due to technical difficulties. There was a lot of good stuff. It did not get 4,000 hits a day.

  4. Pingback: Just Little ol’ me #2: Metrics are interesting! | Hoofin to You!

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