Deconstruction of Falling Stars

Congratulations to anyone who read my post about Banshee as default media player in Ubuntu in the past week. You’ve formed part of an interesting social experiment – an analysis into the habits of people who surf the internest, and specifically the kind of people who visit a page with a dry topic like media players for a Linux distribution. A team of dedicated lemurs in the background have been carefully taking note of who has visited, from where, and using what, to allow a thorough analysis. And I want to share those numbers with you.

First, the summary. I am aggregated in two places – Planet Ubuntu-UK and Monologue. The former accounts for almost no hits, so isn’t statistically interesting. The latter accounts for a lot. Because I aggregate full posts, I don’t know an exact number for how many people read – but I can make an educated guess, thanks to the image embedded in my post (which even aggregators would have displayed) of approximately 4800 unique people. Of those 4800, 1825 visited my website directly (so the remainder use an RSS client or read the post on one of the two sites I mention). I only have statistics for people who form part of those 1825, but of those, most people were using Firefox 3.0 (1348, or about 73%) and most were using 32-bit Linux (649, or about 35%). The highest number of visitors did not give an HTTP referer, which usually means they clicked a link from a non-web-browser (for example, a Twitter client or IRC client or RSS client).

So far, so mundane. Does this get more interesting? Actually, yes.It gets interesting thanks to that HTTP referer field, and tracking where people came from and when. Firsly, the post went online at 13h on Sunday 19th. Early visitors came from Monologue. At 18h, I posted it to a sluggish Free Software-focused Digg clone called FSDaily. Traffic levels remained low, until a surge about 24 hours later when the post made the FSDaily front page. As that surge ended, a new one began, when Miguel de Icaza posted about it on his blog, which is syndicated to places like Planet openSUSE and Planet GNOME. This accounted for a big spike in traffic, which you can see in the graph below:

Midnight on day 3 was the first mention on Planet Ubuntu, in the blog of James Westby. 4 hours later, Alex Launi posted about it too. Both were pretty positive in their linking, and Planet Ubuntu accounted for more spikes in traffic. For the curious, here are the complete top-ten referers for the full 179-hour period:

Referer Unique visitors
No referer (e.g. RSS client) 514 224 155 146 122 111 88 73 64 43

The Google visitors are people using Google Reader as their RSS aggregator. is some foreign website that posted a link just before stat capture ended for this little report.

So. Is there a point to all this? Yes, actually. The original intent of this experiment was to see how many visits I would get from folks who are “anti” what I do, i.e. people attacking me for my post rather than supporting me. Personally, I don’t like FSDaily and find it incredibly slow, but I knew it would be a good place to be noticed by my detractors. And notice they did – at around 11h on day three, I was linked to by a FUD site – let’s call it Moycott Movell to protect its identity. Moycott Movell spends an awful lot of time crowing about its billions of readers and visitors, and how it’s so incredibly popular it needs dedicated servers to deal with its thousands of daily visitors. Just how many of Moycott Movell’s visitors, though, read their sources? Well, let’s see. You can see the top ten above, and they’re not on it. Where are they then? Hm….. Oh, here we are, 15th place, with a whopping 17 visitors. The biggest site for anti-directhex resources on the Internest, and only 17 of Moycott Movell’s readers think it’s worth clicking the link to see out-of-context paraphrasing in its original context. This means one of two things – either their usage figures are a lie, or their readership have no interest in fact-checking. And either option would be fascinating, wouldn’t it?

7 Responses to “Deconstruction of Falling Stars”

  1. How odd that I don’t see Epiphany listed as a web browser in there. Is it counted as part of Firefox?

  2. @Jonathan Pryor, Urgh, looks like it. Here’s an Epiphany UA:
    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en; rv: Gecko/20080528 Epiphany/2.22 Firefox/3.0
    I’ll tweak the regex used by the software, hang on

  3. @directhex, Okay, Epiphany is 3rd most popular browser, with 3.6% of readers. That 3.6% was misreported as Firefox, which is still the most popular. It knocks any version of IE out of the top three though :p

  4. Any stats on Opera?

  5. @Seth,
    Opera 9.6 1.91% 35
    Opera 10. 0.54% 10

  6. Hey, I don’t mean to mess up your stats, but I only dropped by for the B5 allusion!


  7. @Carlos,

    Heck, that’s what caught my attention too, though I was looking for Mono articles.

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