Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Tuesday, November 30, 2004day link 

 Article Views
I'm trying to produce statistics on how many views each article gets in this weblog program. Which is more tricky than it might seem.

One can either see articles in the front page, the most recent at the top. Or one can click on a detail link and see it in full. Now, if the poster has chosen, like I do, to put the whole article in the portion that shows on the front page, the only reason to click on the detail link is if one wants to leave comments. Or it is if one comes from an outside link, which normally will link to the full article.

So, I can easily count how many people view the full article by itself. But many more people will just read it in the front page. So how do I count that? I do have a log of accesses to the front page. But how much of that would I count as views of the individual articles. Like, if there are 10 articles that show in the front, do I assume people only read the first one, the first two, or all of them?

I suppose I can make some arbitrary assumptions. Like, my current plan is to apply all views of the front to all articles posted within the last day before that, or the most recent 3 articles, whichever number is highest. That's maybe reasonable fudging, but not exactly 'correct'.

If, for example, I don't get around to posting anything for a week, then lots of people will come by and they'll all see the same article at the top. And when the stats are added up that article will look like it was terribly popular, even though it wasn't.

And then there are RSS feeds. Should I not count them? Should I assume that each RSS user looks once at each of the articles they pick up?

Hm, maybe that's why I notice no other blogs having view counts for their articles. Nobody knows how to calculate them. But then again, I don't really see anybody else having graphs for number of overall readers, and that's a good deal easier to calculate.
[ | 2004-11-30 01:25 | 7 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Open directory of RSS feeds
picture Robin Good suggests a directory of freely re-distributable RSS feeds. Which is a fine idea. I'm not aware of any being in existence. Well, there are some nice directories of feeds, like NewsIsFree and Syndic8 where one can subscribe oneself to thousands of feeds and make one's own personal news portal. But can one mix and match from them to offer one's own feeds? Is the content really licensed for re-distribution? Mostly that's left vague. One might assume that if anybody is offering an RSS or Atom feed it is because they don't mind that one does whatever one feels like with them, but that isn't generally the case. The content is still in principle copyrighted, and various kinds of licenses might be implied.

Robin had a bit of an argument recently with another news site, as he took the liberty of creating an RSS feed of their articles as a service. Articles which are really just assembled from other public news sources. And they felt he was somehow bereaving them of income by stealing their content without asking. But why shouldn't he?

The answer should really be a directory of feeds with clear Creative Commons types of licenses. I.e. people would state explicitly whether it is public domain, whether they need credit, whether it can be used for non-commercial purposes, etc. Which cuts off a lot of red tape as you right away will know what you can do with it. And it opens the door for better tools for constructing custom feeds out of other feeds. The Algebra of Feeds like Seb Paquet called it.
[ | 2004-11-30 15:16 | 2 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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