Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Some writers claim they obsessively check their Amazon rankings after a book is published - in spite of the fact that Amazon may represent only a fraction of their total sales.
Some bloggers worry about their blogger stats and either boast or bitch about the daily/weekly/sum total of "hits."
I suppose it's easy enough to acquire casual"hits."
Statistics are misleading and often lack necessary context.
But does it really amount to much in the scheme of things if someone from Ulan Bataar looking for "aunty sagging tits" flashes on your blog?
The far-flung globality only fascinates - and amuses - for a short while.
What matters is if they stop and read and hopefully comment.
Those blog visitors are gold.
Those visitors are the ones who share, who kindly help, from whom you learn, who delight you with their wit and insight and sheer ability.
Since my tech-child installed a stats-counter, this blog has acquired over 30, 000 "hits" - but I doubt if that number means anything in the vastness of Blogland - it has no context.
I have no idea if it is large or small. It is a formless fact.
It also lacks the logical caveats which would realistically and significantly reduce it.
For one, I often click on favourite blogs ( like Miss Snark) several times a day to read and enjoy additional comments.
Blogging is not a competition.
The numbers will not help you get published.
Small numbers don't mean you're dull and dead in the water.
Large numbers don't mean you're a scintillating guru, either. ( You can tell I was reading Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds last night, can't you?)
It's the real people who count, not the numbers.


S. W. Vaughn said...

Hear, hear! Great post, Bernita. You're absolutely right.

I appreciate your visits. :-)

Dennie McDonald said...

hmm... stats ... what can I say... I look at the numbers but only 'cause they make me laugh at times!

Bernita said...

Thank you, SW.
I visit you because you're interesting and thoughtful.I appreciate your blog.

The numbers that really count are those on your royalty cheques, Dennie!

kmfrontain said...

"The numbers that really count are those on your royalty cheques, Dennie!"

This is true, but the hit counters can give some indication how much your promotion is working compared to sales, and you can narrow down whether or not you've hit the correct target audience in this manner.

Bernita said...

Not that I know anything about it, KM, but wouldn't that work only if one had a single outlet?
Time delay in response would certainly confuse just which effort met with success and jumped the numbers. And, of course, there's the effect of unrelated news events that might incur interest.

Dennie McDonald said...

like I said... they make me laugh... that and buy me a burger...LOL!

Carla said...

I agree, commenters are gold. One hopes they are laying up wonderful karma somewhere :-) But I think you're unduly modest, Bernita - 30,000 hits sounds like quite a lot to me, though like you I have no idea of the context. When did your tech-child put the stat counter thingy in?

Bernita said...

Don't remember, Carla, though I think it's safe to assume it wasn't too long after she set up the blog toward the end of August last.
Don't think I'm being modest - just realistic.

Flood said...

I tell myself that the numbers don't mean anything. Unique visitors versus page loads versus comments versus time spent on the blog, blah, blah. So you are right. I do, however, try to make it a goal to adopt one new reader
per week; a new place to visit and a new visitor. I'm not to using the blog to become published, but to feel a part of the community that shares my interest.
When my books are published, I know that the goal will change. Then the stats will become more important. I think.

Bernita said...

When and if I am published, Flood, I plan to include my commentators on my acknowledgements page.

jason evans said...

Bernita, you have a successful blog under any analysis. And it's more than deserved! :)

Bernita said...

Jason, the success of any blog depends, to my mind, on its posters - particularly generous and encouraging ones like yourself.
Posters make a blog live - else one might as well be shouting down a well.

Martyn said...

I agree with that entirely. It's the comments and debates that you initiate that ultimately make a blog.

Bernita said...

Glad you agree, Martyn.
The numbers mean little; the people, a lot.

Robyn said...


kmfrontain said...

Time delay is a real bitch, yes. I'm always wondering what I did at the time and how long ago I did it.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I was going along the lines of "The only numbers that count are when you book sells through!"

Bernita said...

Numbers do count there too, Bonnie, from what I read.
The past is prologue - and we know what most of them seem to think of prologues these days.

M.E Ellis said...

Good post!

Followed you from Crabbycows! I'm not a stalker, honest!


Bernita said...

Thank you,ME, nice to see you - but, dayum, was kinda hoping for Jack the beanstalker to show up...

crabbycows said...

We'd have a counter on ours but we're so afraid it would only show us up as having the few loyal commenters we've got.

Not that we're vain or anything. No, it's not that AT ALL!


Bernita said...

Lady, dear, you've just begun.
Your count will go through the roof in no time!
Because you offer CRITIQUES!

Gabriele C. said...

I totally agree. I don't even have a statcounter for my blog.

I have visitors who comment so I know I don't talk into the air, and that's good enough for me.

Book selling stats? I'll leave that to my future publisher.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Gabriele.
Your blog is witty, absorbing, and individual, and I visit it every day because of that.

Gabriele C. said...

Thank you, Bernita. *blushes*

I should update daily, but I think the quality would lessen if I forced myself to post when I don't feel like it or can't come up with a good topic.

Somewhat regularly (2-3 posts a week) is the next best thing. What turns me off are blogs with no pattern in posting frequency at all - I don't mind if somenone updates once a forthnight as long as I know it's once a forthnight. ;)

Jpatrick said...

I think the best model is something like broadcasting; attracting and retaining readers.

Separately, I can assure you with complete certainty that Frank Lucarelli's skeleton is NOT Jimmy Hoffa. Maybe, one of these years, just maybe, you'll get to find out.l

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jpatrick.
Didn't think so, but then my mind spun on the intricate plot THAT would produce!
Skeletons are sure suspense.

I think you're wise, Gabriele ( as well as witty, etc.) and I think I will be cutting back myself.

Gabriele C. said...

But Bernita, you have interesting posts every day.

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