Lies, damn lies or statistics

“Sir,–It has been wittily remarked that there are three kinds of falsehood: the first is a ‘fib,’ the second is a downright lie, and the third and most aggravated is statistics…..” These are lines from an anonymous correspondent writing to the editor of London’s National Observer in 1891. (Mark Twain in 1906, later popularised the expression attributing it to Disraeli in its more common expression “Lies, Damn lies and Statistics!).

Producing stats!

In April of 2010 we penned some lines on the first year that we operated this blog headed “Are you paying attention?” This looked back at some of the stats and gave our thoughts on the operation of the blog over that period.

As the year turns perhaps it is a good time to have another look at what has happened statistically not only on this blog but also on the other blogs and websites we operate under the Read-out Instrumentation Signpost banner. During this period we also became much more active on some other “social media” platforms, notable twitter, facebook and LinkedIn. Some of these have personal sharings as well as business postings. The facebook page is however Read-out Instrumentation Signpost Fanpage on facebook is a handy way of keeping up with our blogs as it is automated automatically as a new blog is published.  As these came online they effected the stats sometimes greatly sometimes less so. We will endevour to point out what we think effected the stats. The quote above should always be born in mind however when dealing with statistics. Remember the figures are probably factual but the interpretation may be highly subjective!

First we will look at the stats for this (WordPress Instsignpost’s Blog) blog  which we started in April 2009. In all there were 186 posts in 23 catagories and 309 tags which generated 114 comments since we started.

Here is a pictorial representation of the site viewing stats.

Views of Instsignpost’s Blog (WordPress) April 2009 – December 2010 – Total 11,668

So what’s behind the figures?

The first few months were obviously the start of things up to August 2009 when there was a doubling of views due we think to the use of twitter and facebook to publicise entries. Then it trundles along steadily at between the high 300s and the low 500s Then suddenly it leaps to 700 in July and from then on increases to an average of over 1000 a month! What happened?

We did something new, for us, and we talked about it on our blog: Sponsorship! A new departure for Read-out Signpost. This was agreed in June and almost immediately we noticed an upswing in viewings of our blog, from 440 in June to 760 in July and August, 999 in September and thereafter over 1000. Whether that was the catalyst or not we cannot prove but it is an interesting coincidence is it not?

Now let’s go to the most popular pages. Remember the older pages will have been on-line longer and this will effect the comparative relationship between pages. Nevertheless they are interesting to look at. Obviously the Home page will head this list but what visitors see on this page will vary from time to time.

Popular Pages – period 1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 2010

Page % Popularity
Home page 60%
Stuxnet – not from a bored schoolboy prankster! 6%
Radar level measurement best practice 4%
The next HMI Revolution 4%
Wireless committees get their wires crossed 3%
Wireless strain gauge sensors 3%
Taking Invensys seriously! 3%
Understanding the psychology of climate change scepticism 3%
Top Ten Tips for the Industrial Trainer 3%
More on wireless 3%
Level detection of foaming media 2%
Innovation is everwhere! OpsManage EURA meeting in Paris 2%
Wireless convergence? 2%
Conquering complexity 2%

(In passing it might be of interest to see which pages topped the list since the blog started. After the home page these were Taking Invensys seriously! – Jul ’09,  followed closely by Conquering complexity! – Nov ’09) and then, Stuxnet – not from a bored schoolboy prankster! – Sept ’10)

And where did our viewers in the last twelve months come from (other than search engines)? Here are perhaps some surprises.

read-out.net 30%
longwatch.com 16%
linkedin.com 11%
twitter 11%
networkedblogs.com 10%
instsignpost.blogspot.com 9%
en.wordpress.com 5%
student-loan-consolidation.com 4%
factorywidgets.com 3%

There is little surprise in the number to come from our own website read-out.net, but some of the others might surprise.

Finally what searches were carried out on the site? Here again there are some surprises (or maybe not). Obviously the Stuxnet malware was playing a lot on peoples minds and wireless was of interest too.

Search terms (1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 2010)

stuxnet timeline 24%
usb stick 20%
invensys blog 15%
white usb stick 7%
abb fieldkey 7%
signatures 6%
peter zornio 6%
stuxnet 4%
isa 100.11a 4%
wireless instrumentation 4%
jim pinto Invensys 4%

Our second bog on the blogger site, instsignpost.blogspot.com, is used primarily to publish press releases we receive, mostly product information, appointments, company news etc. Though set up shortly after the WordPress Blog coverd above, we did not start collecting stats until mid August 2010. There are usually a number of these blog pages published each day and as maybe imagined there is a formidable amount of information now mounting up here. Prior to the setting up of this blog site we would publish a very brief account of a press release and link directly to the website of the vendor. We have changed this in that we now link from our news page directly to the press release which has a link to the vendor’s own site.

Viewers of our Blogspot 15th Aug to 31 Dec 2010: Total - 3,607

We would not expect so many people to visit individual pages here unless they had a specific interest in the topic of the release.

During those four months we had 3600 visits looking at almost 6000 pages and spending an average of 3.2 minutes on the site. According to these figures about 30% came from the US and 15% from Ireland followed by Great Britain, India, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong.

We have recently instituted one other blog which includes press release from events where a multiplicity of releases occurs say at events. Links to these releases are included in our general report on these events. This blog is entitled Conference Releases. The conferences and events covered to date are listed in the right hand column of this blog. Visits to this site (instituted about two months ago) seem to be settling at one or two hundred a month.

The main Read-out site seems to be holding its own these days. Set up in 1994 we didn’t start taking stats on the site until the year 2000. Then we had a visitor total of around 500 a week and that steadily incresaed over the decade sometimes exceeding 6000 a week but setting at around 4000. Like all stats we have a healthy scepticism about these figures however they are useful to estimate activity on the site. These stats are provided by our site host – Verio – using a program called Urchin.

Sessions v Page View

The bars (Sessions) show the trend of activity on the website in terms of Visitor Sessions over time. A ‘Session’ is defined as a series of clicks on your site by an individual visitor during a specific period of time. A Session is initiated when the visitor arrives at your site, and it ends when the browser is closed or there is a period of inactivity. Sessions quantities will vary to some degree based on what type of visitor tracking method is employed.

The yellow area behind the bars shows the trend of Pageviews over the same time. A ‘Pageview’ is defined as a request from a visitor’s browser for a displayable web page, generally an HTML file. Urchin’s configuration controls which file extensions are treated as Pageviews. In general, images and other embedded content, such as style sheets and javascript, are not considered to be Pageviews. The default time-frame is one month.

As regards the most popular pages always surprising to us is the fact that after the home page, the most popular page is the Acronyms Page followed by News and Events. We have been listing stats for this site over the years on our Stats Pages! Because our facebook page is automatically updated from our blogs the news appears first there and thus appears up to 24 hours before our main page are updated.

The web and social media are exciting and sometimes unexpected methods of reaching out and the above figures are of interest of course but as we said in the intro they can be used to show what ever you want them to say. Our own conclusions are that they continue to show the increasing interest in our sites from the Automation Community throughout the world.

And remember when you examine the figures of any site that aphorism: “Lies, damn lies and statistics!”

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