How many readers is 40 hits a day?

To follow up on my previous post (“Is Finkelstein totally clueless about the Internet”) with real data, I examine the stats of the log files on my server.

Below is a table generated by the log file analyzer Awstats for the first 2 months of my server http://landshape.org.

Month Unique visitors Number of visits Pages Hits Bandwidth
Jan 2012 7,361 18,526 71,689 204,718 3.02 GB
Feb 2012 7,081 16,422 113,111 233,158 7.67 GB

You can see the number of hits for January and February is 205K and 233K respectively, and the number of visits is 19K and 16K, about 10% of the number of hits.

The number of unique visitors in each month, that is the number of unique IP addresses that views of the blog originate from is 7K, or about 40% of the number of visits. This would be the best indication of the number of possible readers of the blog.

But this still exaggerates the number of readers, as many people land on the pages from search engines, recognise its not what they were looking for, and click away almost instantly – the ‘blink’ effect.

Below is a table of duration of visits, where it can be seen that 79% of visits last for less than 30 seconds.

Duration of Visit Number of visits Percent
0s-30s 1,322 79.4 %
30s-2mn 48 2.8 %
2mn-5mn 21 1.2 %
5mn-15mn 31 1.8 %
15mn-30mn 36 2.1 %
30mn-1h 46 2.7 %
1h+ 121 7.2 %
Unknown 39 2.3 %

Therefore the total number of effective readers per month on http://landshape.org is approximately 0.1*0.4*0.2 = 0.008 or close to 1%. So my guesstimate from yesterday was pretty damn close. The ratios on other blogs may be a little different, but not so different as to matter.

Case closed your honor. Your proposal to regulate blogs with more than 15,000 hits per annum or 1250 hits per month would impact all blogs with more than 12.5 readers a month, or less than one per day.

Is Finkelstein Totally Clueless About the Internet?

The Media Inquiry by Finkelstein Q.C. proposed on page 301 the regulation of blogs with more than a specific number of hits per annum, suggesting an equivalency with print media:

If a publisher distributes more than 3000 copies of print per issue or a news internet site has a minimum of 15 000 hits per annum it should be subject to the jurisdiction of the News Media Council, but not otherwise. These numbers are arbitrary, but a line must be drawn somewhere.

Does he know how many actual readers that 15,000 hits a year represents?

Of the total number of hits a small blog receives, at least 90% are due to search bots (like Google and Bing), spiders, spammers, rss readers and sundry malicious automata. As hits are usually identified with client requests, each image on a page, logo, thumbnail etc. is technically recovered with a single hit.

Lets be generous and say that 10% of hits could be identified with real people, around 75% of these are bounces, people who click away within a few seconds.

Of the real readers, they might browse a few pages, contributing 3 or 4 hits.

Therefore, the ratio of hits to readers is around 0.1*0.25*0.25 or less than 1%.

Conservatively, 15000 hits per annum translates into 150 readers once a year, or less than one reader per day. Many of these will be returning, reducing the unique number further.

Yet Finkelstein seems to suggest that 15000 hits per annum is equivalent to a publication with a print run of 3000 copies.

Given losses and returns, a small regional paper might reach 1500 people twice a week with that kind of print run, or perhaps 15000 unique people per year.

One can explain the derivation of Finkelstein’s figures of 3000 paper copies and 15,000 hits per annum by assuming that one blog hit is equivalent to a single paper reader.

So one must then ask, is Finkelstein totally clueless about the Internet? One would think that before proposing to regulate blogs they would have done their homework.

Finkelstein the new face of totalitarianism

Members of the Independent Inquiry into Media Regulation at Sydney University. In the middle is Chair of Inquiry Ray Finkelstein centre, Chris Young (left) and Prof. Matthew Ricketson (right)

When I started in 2005 fighting to defend normal scientific standards over the exaggerations and biases of climate science extremism, I never thought it would end up in a fight for free speech over left-wing totalitarianism. Apparently, based on the Finkelstein Media Inquiry, it has come to this.

Some comments from blogs, proposed in the report to be regulated by a new Ministry of Truth:

So it can’t happen here, can’t it? by Steve Kates:

But surely they cannot be thinking of looking at my opinion to decide whether I can be prosecuted? But if not that, what, precisely, do they have in mind? This is more than just a thin edge of the wedge. This is how it starts and this is not where it will end.

Its worth skimming the report to see what social scientists are up to these days. It’s something called “social responsibility theory” and its origins are apparently in totalitatianism, as well described on page 50.

Authoritarian theory, the oldest and through history the most pervasive, reflected societies which held that all persons were not equal, that some were wiser than others and it was those persons whose opinions should therefore be preferred; societies in which fealty to the monarch or ruler or tyrant was demanded of all and where the people were told what their rulers thought they ought to know. Totalitarian theory shared many of these characteristics, but contained one important additional dimension: the education of the people in the ‘correct’ truth.

Note that the Review is proposing regulating of blogs “with a minimum of 15,000 hits per annum” – a miniscule traffic that would include Niche Modeling.

If a publisher distributes more than 3000 copies of print per issue or a news internet site has a minimum of 15 000 hits per annum it should be subject to the jurisdiction of the News Media Council, but not otherwise. These numbers are arbitrary, but a line must be drawn somewhere.

The figure of 40 hits a day is even more ridiculous considering around 90% of hits are from bots, crawlers, spammers and the like. So basically any blog that is read by anybody would be captured in the Green/Labor Government net.

A government regulator installed to monitor and control the free press. What could possibly go wrong? – Gab

If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it. Ronald Reagan

The Finkelstein Report in over 400 pages attempts to justify its intervention into free speech, devoting considerable space to the topic of “market failure,” where it is claimed that a free press has lead to undesirable results, such as the creation of monopolies, unjustified harm to people, and an unjust coverage of issues like global warming. In raising the notion of “market failure,” they never argue for the moral and productive superiority of capitalism, to which we owe a free press, and the moral bankruptcy and destructive economic consequences of Green environmentalism.

Sign the Menzies House Free Speech Petition