cvillenews.com Site Traffic?

Anonymous writes “So cvillenews.com has been up a while and seems to have a pretty decent crowd of regulars. But how about some numbers on the visitors the site sees? How much traffic does cvillenews get?” Keep reading for the answer.

The server that I host cvillenews.com on is in a bad way, and lacks anything in the way of decent logging tools and such. As a matter of fact, the drive that records logs ran out of space a few weeks ago, so I’m missing a few weeks of logs. So I’ve written a few shell scripts to extract some data from the log files, and I hope that this will suffice.

We’ll start off with the most useless of all statistics: hits. cvillenews.com gets between 1,000 – 9,000 hits per day. An average weekday sees about 4,000 hits.

We’ll take yesterday as an example to look more closely at a regular day. There were 6,900 hits from 263 unique users. About half of those users are from known-local addresses: intelos.net, cstone.net, cfw.com, virginia.edu, mediageneral.com, monticello.org, bnsi.net, charlottesville.org, ceva.net, rlc.net, cruchfield.com, snl.com, etc. etc. About a quarter come from possibly-local users connecting via aol.com, earthlink.net, va.sprint-hsd.net, starband.net, etc. And the remaining quarter came from interesting places like keck.hawaii.edu and c-span.org and unresolvable IP addresses. Some of our most regular users here come from that last bunch, mostly C’ville expatriates, from what I’ve gathered on the boards.

Taking a step back to the last week we see 1,033 unique users. (Due to dial-up modem users with ever-changing Internet addresses, that’s probably more like 800 or so.) The population increases to just over 2,000 if you look at a month. The conclusion that I draw from this is that we have a core group of a few hundred users that visit “obsessively” (see the recent poll on the topic), a thousand or so that visit regularly, and folks that discover the site and promptly forget it. (Or run screaming to the relatively safety of the streets after reading the discussions.)

Weekends are the slowest for traffic (and posts, consequently), as a sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy: why should I add news to the site, since nobody looks at the site on the weekends? So, of course, nobody looks at the site on weekends because there’s nothing new. Oh, well.

As long as I’m spouting statistics, I may as well point out how most people get here. The vast majority of visitors (well over 75%) simply type in the address or use a bookmark. This is good, because it means that random people aren’t finding the site due to crazy search terms in Google and wasting my bandwidth. Which leads me to search engines. None of them lead here except for Google. We get some pretty crazy results. Here are some recent terms that brought up cvilenews.com in Google and led people here:

Meadowcreek Parkway

meredith richards

ClearChannel monopoly

D&R Development

Gaylon Beights

Lee Danielson

aolian islands

bike box portland maine airport

curfew law scenario

Charlottesville local news

STEPHEN MALKMUS IS A SNOB

charlottesville recycling

david allen coe cum stains

domestic terrorism charlottesville

hook charlottesville

ice-cream environment vermont

ron martin appliances charlottesville

ludicrous mike tyson quote

cville weekly paper

Colin Rolph

oxymoron sculptures

why northerners suck

labor action group Charlottesville

Maurice Jones Virginia Charlottesville

michael spicer tortola

Charlottesville local news

Gaylon Beights

Judah Friedlander everyday video

Reid Nagle SNL Securities

cville waldo

george loper

kevin armstrong

law professor abraham student

malicious wounding law

progress on the budget with city council 2003

martin luther king plagerism thesis

Weird.

Anyhow, that’s pretty much the basic data that I can easily extract from these log files. I hope to get the site moved to a new server at my apartment in the next week or two, and I should be able to get some more useful data from that.

41 Responses to “cvillenews.com Site Traffic?”


  • And it seems like nearly everyone posts anonymously. Small town — gotta be discreet. Of course Waldo knows our IP addresses, or at least some of them…

  • And it seems like nearly everyone posts anonymously. Small town — gotta be discreet. Of course Waldo knows our IP addresses, or at least some of them…

    I haven’t been able to help figuring out who some users are, anonymous or otherwise. I figure if anybody wants truly anonymous posting, they can just use the chalkboard, anyhow. :)

  • Thank God for NAT and firewalls.

  • “There were 6,900 hits from 263 unique users”

    does this mean that the average user views the site 26 times a day or is that just how many people you can identify.

  • Thank God for NAT and firewalls.

    Yeah, so I only know who you work for, but not who you are personally. Though I’ve got a pretty good guess. :)

  • does this mean that the average user views the site 26 times a day or is that just how many people you can identify.

    Excellent question. Each hit is the transfer of a file. The front page of the site is 12 hits — 1 for the page, 1 for the logo (such as it is :), and 10 for each of the topic icons. Now, browsers cache images. Sometimes. So you might come back to the site, reload the front page, and only generate 1 hit, since the 11 images are already cached. Or maybe not. :) As you can see, hits are a really horrible metric of site usage for anything save for tuning server performance. To tell people how many hits that a website gets really doesn’t tell them a great deal.

    A far more useful statistic is “page views.” If you look at the front page of the site and the comments on 2 stories, that’s 3 page views for 1 person. I couldn’t easily generate this data from the log files, but I’ll work on extracting that this evening.

  • Waldo, I think it’s important that people be ALLOWED to post anonymously, without concern that their identities will be exposed to anyone, even the host. Especially when the host is himself a player in many of the topics under debate. Anonymity makes people less afraid to say what’s really on their minds. And that’s important in a Southern town like ours where people often feel compelled to sugar-coat what they say lest they make others feel uncomfortable. We might like it to be otherwise, but that’s the way it is. Unless someone is abusing the system or making threats on the life of the president or something, why not have a blanket practice of safeguarding anonymity for all your users?

  • Anonymity also seems to embolden people to be complete asses. Which might be nice in the “free speech” sort of sense, but really sucks in the “coherent, reasonable conversation” sense.

    I spent too many years as an IRC administrator, and the administrator of several message boards, to believe that total anonymity is always a good thing.

    With a lack of total anonymity, a greater number of people will think before they act. Hopefully.

  • Waldo, I think it’s important that people be ALLOWED to post anonymously, without concern that their identities will be exposed to anyone, even the host.

    Sorry, no can do. I’ve run far too many websites, BBSs and, like Lafe, IRC servers to do that. The pitfalls of such a setup are really, really huge in terms of both legal liability and security. That’s why I’m glad that the chalkboard isn’t in my hands, so if somebody threatens the president, it’s not of my concern. :)

    Unless someone is abusing the system

    At least one person is, I’m disappointed to report. Just this week I’ve had to block out an entire UVa subnet to make one particular troll go away. In the past, I’ve blocked other IP subnets after sites that attract national attention have linked to the site and attracted trolls. I don’t mind blocking, say, all Cox Cable users in Rochester (or whatever) for a week until the troll forgets about the site.

    Please don’t think that I don’t sympathize with what you’re saying: I absolutely do. And that’s one of the reasons that I created the chalkboard. I think that it’s important that people be able to express themselves entirely anonymously without any fear of identification. I strongly believe that anonymous expression is protected by the First Amendment and essential to our society. But every venue for expression need not allow anonymous speech, and cvillenews.com is not a venue that allows (or will allow) truly anonymous speech.

  • Power is not abused simply because it’s used. Waldo owns this site that I pay nothing to use. He can make any rule he wants and I can choose to abide by them or go somewhere else. He can probably guess who is posting this. I don’t care as long as he doesn’t broadcast it. If you don’t play nice in someone else house they can ask you to leave and not invite you back.

    I don’t always agree with Waldo but I am grateful for the chance to make my views heard/read. I am sure there have been times where blocking my post would have avoid a long string or two. Yet as look as I don’t put up profanity and stay on topic or have something amusing to say I don’t worry about being blocked out. Are simple manners such a terrible price to pay?

    PO

  • I’m curious — when you go about blocking a certain IP subnet, does that completely prevent those users from accessing cvillenews.com, or does it just keep them from logging in?

    As far as anonymity goes, I would be happy if there was a way to identify all the posts that belong to a unique anonymous user in a particular thread. In other words, all posts by “Anonymous X” would be identified as such, and posts by “Anonymous Y,” and so on…almost like a temporary unique ID on a per-thread basis. I’m sure there are technical reasons why this can’t happen, but it sure would make things less confusing.

  • You are an unbelievably bitter, bitter man.

  • I’m curious — when you go about blocking a certain IP subnet, does that completely prevent those users from accessing cvillenews.com, or does it just keep them from logging in?

    Unfortunately, it keeps them from accessing cvillenews.com at all. It would be possibly for me to alter PHP-Nuke (the software that runs this site) to only keep them from posting, but it’s a lot less work to block them on a server level. One of the features of the software that I’ll be upgrading to (it’s getting closer to a maturity level that makes it usable) is that I can prevent subnets from posting rather than keep them from both posting and reading.

    As far as anonymity goes, I would be happy if there was a way to identify all the posts that belong to a unique anonymous user in a particular thread. In other words, all posts by “Anonymous X” would be identified as such, and posts by “Anonymous Y,” and so on…almost like a temporary unique ID on a per-thread basis. I’m sure there are technical reasons why this can’t happen, but it sure would make things less confusing.

    That’s something else that I could kind of do by hacking this software, but it wouldn’t be particularly reliable. As I imagine you remember, I’ve used to be pretty strongly opposed to ditching anonymous posting altogether. As time has gone on, I’ve seen that pseudonymous posting would make conversations far easier to follow, in addition to making individuals more accountable. The latter, as you point out, would be really helpful. And I can’t properly appreciate that most of the time, since I distinguish many anonymous users based on their IPs. When I browse while logged out, it really is a mess trying to follow a conversation.

    As I mentioned in the original posting, I’ll be switching servers before too long, and I’ll start beta testing PostNuke. (I intend to invite a few veteran cvillenewsers to help with that setup and testing.) If account registration is relatively simple (the current system is horrible), then I think we ought to ditch anonymous posting.

  • Though Waldo owns the server and the software and has the control, Waldo only owns this site under several conditions.

    Because we are the lifeblood of the site, Waldo is just as dependent upon us as a collection as we are upon him. If this is Waldo’s world, then is a sense it is also our world as well, and he is our guest-host. The key to this web-site is at least as much the sense of community and decorum held by the users as it is Waldo’s stewardship (though the two are certainly inter-related).

    If only using clean language, staying on topic and being interesting were the only requirements. Switch your threshhold to -1 and you’ll find one such post that has been relegated to the bin. In fact, I’d have to say that the vast majority of my posts have been on-topic responses. They are always either bumped up (when they are not too critical of this site or Waldo himself) or bumped down (when I become the more cynical dial-in user).

    I think that this whole thing has been very revealing of Waldo’s character (and I am not trying to insult him here — this is a norm-free observation). It would be very revealing of me, except for my relative anonymity (yes, I am using a uva dial-in, so I am associated with the University). I’ve sure enjoyed comparing this site, Waldo’s rule and the results from the other online communities I am involved in.

  • You’re right and you’re wrong.

    You’re right that we’re the lifeblood of this website.

    You’re wrong that Waldo owns this site under any conditions. The only thing conditional here is our readership. He can make a rule that says you may only start a post with “Waldo Rulez!” or risk being banned. I admit it’d be a silly rule, but it’s his to make. The cost to that is that people would leave.

    The true test of whether Waldo is a bitter despot, or a reasonable despot, is if we continue to visit his website. I’d say that so far, by that objective standard, he’s not doing too shabbily, eh?

    I realize that you may have personal issues with him, especially if you are the one that was banned. But look at it this way, if it were me being the despot here, you’d still be banned. So don’t be too hard on Waldo. He could definitely be worse. *eg*

  • Okay, so I re-set my threshhold to -1 and this is what I found:

    Just think, you could have avoided all of this trouble by being able to read the subtler messages. I suppose you are at least one of the people abusing the system? Power corrupts I suppose.

    My take is that it’s not only off-topic, but incoherent. I think it’s supposed to be an insult. In any case, I was better off not seeing it and am glad that it was relegated to -1 nowhereland, along with the obscenity-laced rantings that sometimes show up.

  • Care to hazard a guess? :)

  • I’ve got this litle thingy that pulls your XML list every 30 minutes or so. Am I now recored as hitting the site 48 times a day?

  • I’ve got this litle thingy that pulls your XML list every 30 minutes or so. Am I now recored as hitting the site 48 times a day?

    As a matter of fact, yes. I’m glad you mentioned that. Now, that only counts as one visitor, but that does count as 48 hits. I should have filtered out requests for the XML at the time that I queried the above data and provided that separately.

  • In fact, I’d have to say that the vast majority of my posts have been on-topic responses. They are always either bumped up (when they are not too critical of this site or Waldo himself) or bumped down (when I become the more cynical dial-in user).

    About 25% of your posts are grossly off-topic. About 70% are flames or trolls. 5% are neutral or, in this case, coherent.

  • I’m guessing Rob W.

  • Right company, wrong employee. :)

  • You assume too much. There is more than one person with a UVA dial-in account in this world and there is more than one person who thinks that your iron fist rule is amusing. Find me 70% flames or trolls — you make things up.

  • There are several conditions inherent to the World Wide Web, several restrictions on what he can do. He has great flexibility, but not complete flexibility.

    I don’t think that your true test is any sort of true test. Despotism is a measure of the extent of power, with the usual connotation that it is being used inappropriately (or being wielded by someone without full ability). The reason no one here minds his despotism (except those that do) is that the majority of the people here love him so much they’d do just about anything to stay in line.

    My issues don’t come from being banned (come on, if I was banned, how come I’m still here?). All of my annoyance (and as you’ll see if you read around in here, there are more than me — here I am just talking about me) stems from Waldo -1’ing a message because he didn’t understand it and then refusing to discuss it. And, I suppose, I get some amusement watching him lord over this place; as I said before, I like comparing this message board to some of the others I’ve been to.

  • In the message I was responding to, Waldo said:

    At least one person is, I’m disappointed to report. Just this week I’ve had to block out an entire UVa subnet to make one particular troll go away. In the past, I’ve blocked other IP subnets after sites that attract national attention have linked to the site and attracted trolls. I don’t mind blocking, say, all Cox Cable users in Rochester (or whatever) for a week until the troll forgets about the site.

    I am sure that you now see that I am responding to the trouble of the unfortunate blocking? I suppose I can’t really respond to your claim that it is incoherent — I find it relatively simple. I will explain:

    #1. If Waldo had wielded his sword a little bit more delicately and had taken time to try to read the messages before banning them in mass, the constant critique would not have appeared.

    #2. If abuse of the system is what leads to trash on the system, and that is what Waldo is claiming all these -1’s are, and, given #1, then Waldo is one of the people abusing the system.

    Fairly clear, I think. Again, I suppose it could be a message board requirement that everything be spelled out, but I would hope that in a town dominated by a major University, on a computer-based discussion group, you could expect a little more of the audience.

  • I don’t really know that there is all that much that could get worse, if only because I’ve nothing too lose. I suppose I’d prefer (like I suppose the rest of you would) reasoned, intelligent discussion. But, it seems that the only time there is discussion of any real sort, it is about me and the others not falling exactly in line. You all seem to feed off of us.

  • You assume too much. There is more than one person with a UVA dial-in account in this world and there is more than one person who thinks that your iron fist rule is amusing. Find me 70% flames or trolls — you make things up.

    I’ve only had to moderate down posts from ppp-##-#.itc.virginia.edu. 14 of them. 21 of them I left at 0 because they were merely off-topic. Every one of them was running MSIE 5.5 on Windows 98. Every one of them was written by the same person. This doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out.

    At this point, I’m moderating down your posts for the sheer sport of it. If you don’t like that, get your own website. It’s about that simple. I’ve used this example before, and I’ll use it again. I’ve invited the general public into my living room. The one stipulation is that you not be a jerk. If you’re a jerk, you get kicked out of my living room. You have no fundamental right to be in my living room, any more than I have a fundamental right to be in yours. Either you can leave politely, or I’ll eventually get sick of inviting people in and lock the door. I’d rather you do the former, because I’d hate to shut the site down. But if I had to deal with your nonsense for another couple of months, I would. It’s simply not worth the aggravation.

    Soon, we’ll have distributed moderation here (that is, every user will get a chance to moderate), and you’ll have to complain that nobody understands the rare genius of comments like “Bullshit fuckface. Eat a cock,” “cvillenews.com can eat a dick,” and “Fuck you asshole!” People just don’t understand the insight in random comments about “old man-ranch” and “I’m gonna git you, sucka.” Yes, your rare insight and intelligence will be lost to the fools — fools — that populate cvillenews.com.

  • “But, it seems that the only time there is discussion of any real sort, it is about me and the others not falling exactly in line. You all seem to feed off of us.”

    You obviously haven’t been reading the last week or so’s worth of postings. Conversations have been proceeding fairly rationally on a wide variety of topics, and pretty much none of those topics have been “oh those naughty anonymous posters.” If you were all moderated away, the majority of posters (to which you do not belong) would carry on merrily. You are not the lifeblood of the community.

  • Analog is a nice free web stats program that you can run on any *nix box against almost any server logs. I would be interested in knowing about browsers/platforms of cvillenews traffic…

  • I just post annon because I’m lazy.

  • I’ve only had to moderate down posts from ppp-##-#.itc.virginia.edu. 14 of them. 21 of them I left at 0 because they were merely off-topic. Every one of them was running MSIE 5.5 on Windows 98. Every one of them was written by the same person. This doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out.

    Perhaps you haven’t had to, but you have modded down some of my posts not from that IP. You’ve also modded several up. In addition, as I said above, I am not the only person posting from the dial-in. You are absolutely wrong that every one of them was written by the same person.

    Further, I never said I don’t like you moderating my posts down. I have no problem with you moderating them down — I just like questioning it. I look forward to distributed moderation. As I’ve said more than once, what I get out of all of this is the ability to see how the different ways of running message boards work. More for me, I suppose, if you do switch to distributed moderation.

    I do think that nearly one hundred percent of this board understands that, at least on this message board, the-band-that-can’t-be-mentioned is essentially nonsense. A post saying as much, on-topic and in rather moderate language was the one that got this all started.

  • “cvillenews.com is not a venue that allows (or will allow) truly anonymous speech.”

    Well, I’ve never run a website like this, so I’m not aware of all of the hassles that go into making this kind of a forum run smoothly (and I’m sure there must be many–speaking of which, thank you Waldo for all of the thankless work you do here). And I can see now that there are times where knowing the identities of posters can be beneficial. But it’s still a bit of a shame that our anonymity is not protected here. I myself have been a fairly frequent poster to this site. I’ve often written things here that I didn’t totally agree with, either to stimulate discussion or to challenge folks (and myself) to explore an issue from a different angle. And trust me, many of my posts have spurred some really good discussions here. My housemate does the same thing. I suppose you might call our behavior “trolling” (being an Internet ignoramus, I’m not totally sure what that term means, but I think I have an idea). I never would have written half the stuff I’ve written here if I had had to attach my name to it. And now I find out Waldo is attaching our names to it. Given this knowledge, will I be more careful from now on about what I write? Certainly. Will this make for tamer postings? Yes. Will this make for better discussions? Doubt it.

  • If you were all moderated away, the majority of posters (to which you do

    not belong) would carry on merrily.

    Cecil,

    Trust me — you have no idea who is posting relevant things here and who isn’t. I know of several people who post under different names and from different places, and who participated heavily in the last week or so’s worth of postings that you deem so valuable. They also happen to be the same people who you think could be moderated away safely. It’s intrinsic to anonymous posting: you don’t know who’s who. Please don’t try to pretend that you do.

  • No, this is Rob W.

    You should be getting more than one visitor from over here, though… there’s a few people that hit your site from here.

  • Analog is a nice free web stats program that you can run on any *nix box against almost any server logs. I would be interested in knowing about browsers/platforms of cvillenews traffic…

    I really like Analog, but it’s ceased functioning appropriately on this server. The cron job runs, the files update, but it only reports dates up until last September. Dunno why.

    I spent a few hours last night attempting (and failing :) to upgrade Apache/PHP/MySQL, so we’re getting there…

  • Anonymous,

    I was responding to the anonymous who wrote “it seems that the only time there is discussion of any real sort, it is about me and the others not falling exactly in line. You all seem to feed off of us.” The claim is patently false–there is plenty of discussion on the board that doesn’t revolve around the hi-jinks of naughty posters.

    It may be true that the same people who post “bullshit fuckface! eat a cock!” and “*slap* naw, you didn’t” and things of that caliber are also posting intelligent observations on other threads. It’s also true that at a party in your own home, you can have a guest who in one room pulls down his shorts and urinates all over the sofa and in another room engages in an intelligent discussion. If I’m the host of the party, I’m still going to throw the asshole out of my house, and if I’m the other partygoers, I’m going to say good riddance, no matter how scintillating anonymous can be when he’s not being an asshole.

  • Cecil writes: Anonymous, I was responding to the anonymous who wrote . . .

    Cecil (and other registered folks),

    I’m scratching my head, wondering why you (and other registered folks; Waldo included) respond to this flamebait. You do know that showering these trolls (and their perhaps imaginary housemates who too bait/troll anonymously) with attention only encourages them, right?

  • Given this knowledge, will I be more careful from now on about what I write? Certainly. Will this make for tamer postings? Yes. Will this make for better discussions? Doubt it.

    Posting things you don’t agree with, playing the Devil’s advocate, and being contentious are not necessarily trolling. Debate is a lovely way to pass the time and fully flesh out any given issue. Please don’t let your lack of total anonymity keep you from posting useful arguments or information to any subject.

    I contend that you can be contentious, argumentative, etc without being a total horse’s ass. Waldo doesn’t make a habit of (never has, to my knowledge) sharing the identities of anyone on this site that posts anonymously. So post away.

    If you can manage to do so without making personal attacks or being overly obscene, I doubt you have a thing in the world to worry about.

    Personal attacks and obscenity never add any sort of useful content to a discussion. This other “Anonymous” (maybe you! I have no idea) seems to think that getting attention in that way should be, for some reason, “acceptable” because people wouldn’t pay attention to him/her otherwise. At least, that’s the way I read their argument. And I have zero sympathy for their (self-made) position.

    On the other hand, you (assuming you’re someone else, based on your the above particular concern) seem more concerned about being able to freely add useful content. Please don’t be concerned! It’s safe for you to do so.

    As for Waldo and your anonymity…

    I get the feeling he’s the kind of guy that would look at a subpoena from a local business worried about comments made on this site and answer “Gosh, that’s too bad, the darn e-machine just gave up the ghost last night.” (rm -rf /)

    Then again, I could be wrong.

  • If I’ve read this post correctly, you’re saying:

    1) He is too restricted! Just ’cause!

    2) That’s not a real test, ’cause people love him so much.

    3) Waldo -1’d me and it pissed me off, so I’m seeing how much I can piss him off without getting banned again. And I read other message boards.

    My responses:

    1) Fine. He can’t make himself fly with his webserver, but that wasn’t the kind of restriction I was talking about. He can make any silly rule he wants to, and we, collectively, have to live with it or leave.

    2) I don’t know Waldo. Never met the fellow. I can’t claim any “love” for him in the sense that you imply. The reason I don’t mind his “power” is because I have yet to see him abuse it. If he did abuse it, I would mind.

    3) I don’t think where your “issues” come from matters. Manners are the grease that allow people who don’t know and/or agree with each other to rub together without bursting into flame. Not using them causes people to burst into flame, get mad, and typically gets people banned. You choose your own path, I suppose. :)

  • I’m scratching my head, wondering why you (and other registered folks; Waldo included) respond to this flamebait. You do know that showering these trolls (and their perhaps imaginary housemates who too bait/troll anonymously) with attention only encourages them, right?

    You’re absolutely right. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Your site has been a most useful source of insightful information on day to day issues. You appear to have a fairly well balanced set of contributors (liberal, conservative, dem and rep) so that many normally unseen sides of an issue are brought to light. Anonymous, or otherwise, I try to read all inputs (no matter how painful they may initially appear)for a balance that isn’t available in any of the other local media.

    Thanks.

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