May 11, 2002
Hit Count Madness

I'm wondering what the Hell is going on with my hit count. I had noticed that my on-page counter was ticking faster than usual yesterday and today, and my log page (Earthlink's Urchin) now tells me that my hits more than doubled yesterday, with all the new ones coming from Virginia Postrel's site. What's weird is that she doesn't seem to have mentioned me or linked to me since May 1st, more than a week before.

Here are the figures:

Total hits for the last few days: I had 300 on Sunday, May 5th, which is roughly my average since moving to my new domain a month or so ago. Back-to-back (well, 24 hours apart) Instapundit links raised my totals to 587 on Monday and 614 on Tuesday. The numbers quickly dropped down towards 'background' levels, with 452 on Wednesday and 388 on Thursday. Then on Friday, I had 813. Wow!

Total referrals from Postrel since the 1st: After she linked to my story about Imelda Marcos' shoes on May 1st, I had 44 referrals the same day and 101 the next. (That fits the usual pattern. It appears that linkers usually work late at night, while readers mostly come by the next day -- probably when they're supposed to be working.) The numbers quickly subsided to a slow trickle: 15, 5, 6, 4, 7, 3, then 13 on the 9th (huh?) and 437 (wow!) on the 10th.

So what happened? I can think of a number of possible hypotheses:

1. Did she link to me, send masses of readers my way, and then delete the original link? That seems unlikely, not least because her link would have to have been complimentary enough to send many more readers than the first time.

2. Did Postrel's own hits suddenly increase so massively that even the tiny percentage who would have read her blog all the way back to the 1st and then followed the link to mine was enough to massively increase my total? With all the attrition along the way, I would think that her hits would have had to increase by 10,000 or even 40,000 per day to do that. How likely is that?

3. A variation on the previous hypothesis: Perhaps not all that unlikely, given recent developments in the Blogosphere. Could I be getting a second-hand overflow from Kausfiles? Various bloggers (sorry, I didn't keep track) have assumed that Mickey Kaus' move to Slate would bring him a huge increase in readers. (His new page is so ugly and so disfigured by infuriatingly persistent popups that I've been visiting it a lot less often myself, but that's another story.) Is Kaus getting hundreds of thousands of new hits, sending tens of thousands of them on to Postrel, with hundreds of these then continuing on to follow even links that are half-way down her very long page? If so, Kaus' move to Slate is even more of a revolution in blogging than I had thought.

The problem with this is simple: If I recall correctly -- too late to check now --, one of the few bloggers Kaus permalinked on his old site was Postrel, but his new site doesn't seem to have any non-Slate permalinks. (Is that another kind of revolution in blogging?) So this hypothesis seems plausible, but impossible.

4. The boring hypothesis: Has Urchin just gone insane? They once reported zero hits for a day on which others must have read my blog, because more than one blogger linked to items in it, and did so before midnight. On the other hand, yesterday's numbers were otherwise quite detailed and self-consistent, with the usual trickles of hits from the usual links.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 11, 2002 07:59 PM