February 14, 2003
Hit Count Confusion

The counter at the bottom of the page turned over 100,000 hits in the last hour or two. I would be more excited if I believed the number meant anything. Earthlink's own 'Urchin' statistics package tells me that I've had 243,312 unique visitors in the same time period (just over 10 months). Hits should be more numerous than visitors. In fact, Earthlink reports 1,002,344 hits for the time period, so I guess I've passed a milestone one way or the other. But the fact that one counter reports ten times as many hits as the other makes me wonder whether either is worth anything at all.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at February 14, 2003 11:44 PM

Well, did you install the counter at the bottom of the page AFTER you started the site on Earthlink? Earthlink's numbers are probably correct if so.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on February 15, 2003 07:44 AM

They were installed within a few days of each other ten months ago, so any difference in date should be negligible. What's particularly weird is that the visible counter has a low standard for counting 'visitors': if I hit refresh it increments. The Earthlink 'visitor' total only counts the same person twice if the hits are at least half an hour apart. So the Earthlink visitor count should be much less than the displayed hit count, but it is actually twice as high. One or the other must be extremely inaccurate.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on February 16, 2003 10:56 PM

There are no accurate hit counters. Some can't count proxy servers, some count AOL as one hit whereas you generally get dozens, or even hundreds of visitors from AOL. The best you can do is have a few of them and take a guess.

And hits are a bogus method of measurement, anyway. An image counts as a hit. So if you have five images on your page, and I visit it, you get five hits. In reality, you have only one visit. Sitemeter counts visits, not hits. Most hit counters do that. WebTrends comes with my ISP service, and it counts both. I ignore my hit counts and go straight to the visit stats. Which are about thirty percent higher than Sitemeter on any given day. Go figure.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish on February 16, 2003 11:31 PM