Techdirt 2013: The Numbers.
from the off-to-the-races dept
For the past few years, in early January, we’ve done a post summing up some of “the numbers” from the previous year. If you’re interested, here are the posts for 2010, 2011 and 2012. To be honest, coming into 2013, I actually expected the number of visitors to drop from 2012. 2012 was abnormally high because of the influx of traffic we received due to being one of the key media sources concerning the fight against SOPA, which drove a tremendous amount of traffic early in the year. Therefore, I was kind of shocked to look at the actual numbers and saw that we continued to grow (slightly) in traffic in 2013 as compared to the previous year. In 2012 it was 24.2 million visits and in 2013 it was 24.5 million. While that may seem small, if we removed the SOPA specific bump from 2012, it actually shows a pretty good increase. In terms of the all important “unique visitors,” we went from 14.2 million up to 14.7 million in 2013. 14.7 million unique visitors? Wow!
We had 3,860 posts in 2013, up just slightly from 3,758 from the year before. Comments actually declined a bit. In 2012 there were over 200,000 comments, but last year there were 163,187. It’s interesting to see commenting go down a bit, though I’m not sure it means a whole lot. As we note every year, there’s very little correlation between comments and traffic. And, we’ve certainly seen parts of the discussion move elsewhere, such as to Twitter and Facebook, which could explain the slight decline in commenting. Also, quantity of comments has little to do with quality, and we had plenty of excellent comments in 2013.
We had visitors from 238 different countries in 2013, meaning just about everywhere. For the last few years, we’ve joked each year that it appeared we had received no traffic at all from North Korea, but this year I’ll note — amazingly — that it appears we received two whole visits from North Korea. For each of the past couple of years we’ve also noted a single visitor claiming to be from Christmas Island — and that holds true yet again this year. From a quick glance at the map, the only countries I can see (meaning maybe not some tiny island nations) where we received no traffic at all are Chad and Western Sahara. Next year! In 2012 we’d mentioned no visitors from Turkmenistan, and yet in 2013, we got a whopping 69 visitors from Turkmenistan. We’re unstoppable!
The top countries provide no surprises. The US represented 68% of visits, and once again Canada, followed very closely by the UK, were in the next two positions. The rest of the top 10 was identical: Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, India, France and New Zealand. In Asia, traffic from China continues to be limited (we’ve heard multiple reports of being blocked at times there), so it’s no surprise that in Asia, not only are India and Japan ahead of China, but so is Singapore, the Philippines and South Korea. Even Malaysia is creeping up on China. In South America, Brazil continues to send the most traffic, while South Africa continues to lead the way in Africa.
As in the past, visitors from Gibraltar stuck around the longest (by far…) but we’ve chalked that one up to PaulT claiming to leave us open all the time. Oddly, folks in the Caribbean seem to stick around for quite some time as well, as Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas and Aruba make up slots 2, 3 and 4 on the chart of time spent on the site. Brunei is in 5th place. I’m going to guess we have a “small sample size” issue here, as the statistician kids call it. If we go to the continent level, folks in Africa and Oceania spend more time on the site than Europe and the Americas, but we’re talking very small differences in time at this point.
Looking at cities, New York and London remain our top two cities sending traffic. Los Angeles, however, makes the somewhat surprising leap from 6th place in 2012 up to 3rd place in 2013. I’m going to try not to read too much into that. Next up are Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Houston and Washington DC. Once again, it’s difficult to read too much into city data, since the populations of cities are so different and normalizing it per capita is probably a hell of a lot more trouble than it’s worth.
Once again, lots of our traffic comes from frequent visitors. 9% of our traffic (a slight bump from last year’s 8%) comes from people visiting more than 200 times. Thank you to the loyal daily visitors! You guys rock.
Over the last few years, we’ve noted that visitors using Chrome as their browser continued to clime rapidly up the charts. It’s still up there, but holding steady in first place with 37% of our page views. Firefox stays in second with 22% and Safari (which last year jumped over IE) remains in 3rd place with 12%. Amazingly, there are still IE users out there, representing just under 10% of visitors. Remember back when the government decided Microsoft had an unfair advantage in monopolizing the browser market? Fun times. Windows still dominates on the OS front, representing 53% of traffic. Macs are 13%. Linux has a paltry 4%.
Mobile traffic continues to grow. It was 29% of our traffic in 2013 (22% from phones and 7% tablets). Last year we noted that Android had surpassed iOS for the first time, but this year iOS went way back over the top, representing 16% of all visits and Android getting 12%. There were a few visits from Windows phones and a tiny, almost inconsequential amount from Blackberry devices as well. Considering everything else in this paragraph, it won’t surprise anyone to find out that the iPhone and the iPad were the top two devices to access the site, by far. The top Android phone was the Google Nexus 7 with the Samsung Galaxy SIII and the Galaxy Nexus very close behind. I’d say all three were about equal in terms of visits.
As we’ve noted in the past, the days of the site relying on “search” for traffic seem long past. Direct visits and social sites drove much more traffic than search. Referrals from other non-search, non-social sites were also important (though less than search). Reddit continued to drive the most traffic of any site, followed by Google, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Yahoo, Fark and then HackerNews. We got just a bit of traffic from Google+, Techmeme and Netvibes. The biggest blog traffic came from BoingBoing, Popehat, Instapundit, Slashdot and BroadbandReports (in that order).
Last year, we noted that while most of our search traffic came on variations of “techdirt”, there were a few other important keywords as well, including “sopa,” “acta,” and “cispa.” This year, beyond a bunch of variations on “techdirt” there was also… “prenda law” “prenda” “carmen ortiz” (if you don’t remember, she was the federal prosecutor behind the Aaron Swartz prosecution), “verizon customer service” and “kleargear.” Some oddities: “george rr martin copyright maximalist” drove over 1,000 visits. How many people are actually doing that search? And, honestly, when I do it, no Techdirt post shows up in the first few pages. Weird. Also we had nearly 1,000 almost certainly disappointed visitors who searched for “hookers on facebook.”
Okay, on to some more specifics of what got lots of traffic. Here’s the top 10 list. And, yes, the first one isn’t much of a surprise (take a guess where that traffic came from). Not too surprising, but good to know (from our standpoint) is that many of the stories that got the most traffic were ones that we “broke,” rather than commenting on someone else’s articles. We tend to focus on doing more analysis than reporting, but perhaps we should increase our reporting efforts…
Top Ten Stories, by Unique Pageviews, on Techdirt for 2013:
- Office Depot Sends World’s Worst DMCA Notice To Reddit
- Telco Astroturfing Tries To Bring Down Reviews Of Susan Crawford’s Book
- Obama Promise To ‘Protect Whistleblowers’ Just Disappeared From Change.gov
- Oh Look, Rep. Mike Rogers Wife Stands To Benefit Greatly From CISPA Passing…
- Redditor Points Out The Flaws In SimCity’s Online-Only DRM, Gets Banned By EA For His Troubles
- If Your Cable Company Were Honest, This Is What Its Commercial Would Look Like
- Feds Threaten To Arrest Lavabit Founder For Shutting Down His Service
- More NSA Spying Fallout: Groklaw Shutting Down
- Online Retailer Says If You Give It A Negative Review It Can Fine You $3,500
- NSA Whistleblower Ed Snowden: From My Desk I Could Wiretap Anyone: You, A Federal Judge Or The President Of The US
Next up, we have our list of the most commented on stories in 2013. We point this out every year, but number of comments rarely correlates well to traffic. And, in fact, none of our top 10 most commented posts were in the top 10 in traffic. In fact, looking through the top 20 stories for comments, only one appears in the top traffic getters (the story about “protecting whistleblowers” disappearing from change.gov), and that was 14th in the comments list.
2013’s Top Ten Stories, by comment volume
- Unfortunate: ACLU On The Wrong Side Of A Free Speech Case
- Former RIAA VP Named 2nd In Command Of Copyright Office
- Comcast: We Won’t Terminate Your Account Under Six Strikes; We’ll Just Block Every Single Website
- Copyright Is Becoming Guilt By Accusation
- Man Who Raped 14-Year-Old Sentenced To 30 Days In Jail Because Girl Looked Kinda Old And The Internet Is Mean
- A Week Later: Reflecting On Aaron Swartz
- Details Of Various Six Strikes Plans Revealed; May Create Serious Problems For Free WiFi
- Pat Robertson: Murder Committed In Video Games Is No Different Than Real Life Murder
- ‘Bug’ Allows Same-Sex Marriage In Nintendo Game, Nintendo Releases Patch To ‘Fix’ It
- Copyright Lobby: The Public Has ‘No Place In Policy Discussions’
And now on to the commenters. The top two spots for most prolific registered commenters are actually exactly the same as last year, so John Fenderson and Ninja each retained their gold and silver rankings. There are some other familiar names as well, and a few newer names, but if you’re a frequent reader of the comments, I’d imagine you’ll recognize all of these. There are, of course, others who comment without registering, and some of you might fit into this list as well, but we have no real way of tracking it without registration. For what it’s worth, this is the first year I fell off of the top 10 list. I came in at number 11, though, with 986 comments.
2013 Top Commenters, by comment volume
- John Fenderson: 3604 comments
- Ninja: 3048 comments
- That One Guy: 2304 comments
- Rikuo: 2008 comments
- PaulT: 1849 comments
- Wally: 1495 comments
- nasch: 1337 comments
- That Anonymous Coward: 1296 comments
- Zakida Paul: 1266 comments
- silverscarcat: 1183 comments
Last year, we also noted how frequently people got the “insightful” lightbulb or the “funny” LOL icon, as we think it’s important to not just highlight quantity, but quality. We also looked at how frequently someone’s comments hit those thresholds. That is, for every comment you made, how often did it get voted to “insightful” or “funny.” Last year we noted that Karl just clobbered pretty much everyone with having 22.1% of his comments judged insightful. No one else came close. Amazingly, he beat that this year by nearly doubling his rate of insightfulness, with an absolutely astounding 40.4% of his comments being voted insightful. We may have to dig around somewhere to come up with some sort of an award for that.
Top 10 Most Insightful Commenters, based on how many times they got the lightbulb icon:
- Karl: 249 comments (40.4%)
- John Fenderson: 191 comments (5.3%)
- Ninja: 182 comments (6.0%)
- That One Guy: 179 comments (7.8%)
- Rikuo: 158 comments (7.9%)
- PaulT: 139 comments (6.4%)
- silverscarcat: 119 comments (10.1%)
- Zakida Paul: 91 comments (7.2%)
- Gwiz: 86 comments (9.4%)
- Mike Masnick: 73 comments (7.4%)
Top 10 Funniest Commenters, based on how many times they got the LOL icon:
- Ninja: 54 comments (1.8%)
- DannyB: 42 comments (4.8%)
- That One Guy: 32 comments (1.4%)
- Capitalist Lion Tamer: 31 comments (18.6%)
- silverscarcat: 31 comments (2.6%)
- ChurchHatesTucker: 30 comments (11.8%)
- Rikuo: 30 comments (1.5%)
- That Anonymous Coward: 29 comments (2.2%)
- Violynne: 24 comments (8.9%)
- Dark Helmet: 24 comments (6.0%)
For the past two years, the only person who made both of those lists was Leigh, whom we then hired — and this year he made neither list! Poor Leigh. We keep him plenty busy with lots of stuff, though, much of which you’ll hopefully be seeing soon. And it’s nice to see a bunch of commenters make both of these lists this year. Nice work, everyone.
Once again, thanks for a fantastic 2013 and we’re looking forward to an exciting 2014. We’ve got a few new tricks planned, so stay tuned…