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:

  1. Office Depot Sends World’s Worst DMCA Notice To Reddit
  2. Telco Astroturfing Tries To Bring Down Reviews Of Susan Crawford’s Book
  3. Obama Promise To ‘Protect Whistleblowers’ Just Disappeared From
  4. Oh Look, Rep. Mike Rogers Wife Stands To Benefit Greatly From CISPA Passing…
  5. Redditor Points Out The Flaws In SimCity’s Online-Only DRM, Gets Banned By EA For His Troubles
  6. If Your Cable Company Were Honest, This Is What Its Commercial Would Look Like
  7. Feds Threaten To Arrest Lavabit Founder For Shutting Down His Service
  8. More NSA Spying Fallout: Groklaw Shutting Down
  9. Online Retailer Says If You Give It A Negative Review It Can Fine You $3,500
  10. 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, and that was 14th in the comments list.

2013’s Top Ten Stories, by comment volume

  1. Unfortunate: ACLU On The Wrong Side Of A Free Speech Case
  2. Former RIAA VP Named 2nd In Command Of Copyright Office
  3. Comcast: We Won’t Terminate Your Account Under Six Strikes; We’ll Just Block Every Single Website
  4. Copyright Is Becoming Guilt By Accusation
  5. Man Who Raped 14-Year-Old Sentenced To 30 Days In Jail Because Girl Looked Kinda Old And The Internet Is Mean
  6. A Week Later: Reflecting On Aaron Swartz
  7. Details Of Various Six Strikes Plans Revealed; May Create Serious Problems For Free WiFi
  8. Pat Robertson: Murder Committed In Video Games Is No Different Than Real Life Murder
  9. ‘Bug’ Allows Same-Sex Marriage In Nintendo Game, Nintendo Releases Patch To ‘Fix’ It
  10. 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

  1. John Fenderson: 3604 comments
  2. Ninja: 3048 comments
  3. That One Guy: 2304 comments
  4. Rikuo: 2008 comments
  5. PaulT: 1849 comments
  6. Wally: 1495 comments
  7. nasch: 1337 comments
  8. That Anonymous Coward: 1296 comments
  9. Zakida Paul: 1266 comments
  10. 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:

  1. Karl: 249 comments (40.4%)
  2. John Fenderson: 191 comments (5.3%)
  3. Ninja: 182 comments (6.0%)
  4. That One Guy: 179 comments (7.8%)
  5. Rikuo: 158 comments (7.9%)
  6. PaulT: 139 comments (6.4%)
  7. silverscarcat: 119 comments (10.1%)
  8. Zakida Paul: 91 comments (7.2%)
  9. Gwiz: 86 comments (9.4%)
  10. Mike Masnick: 73 comments (7.4%)

Top 10 Funniest Commenters, based on how many times they got the LOL icon:

  1. Ninja: 54 comments (1.8%)
  2. DannyB: 42 comments (4.8%)
  3. That One Guy: 32 comments (1.4%)
  4. Capitalist Lion Tamer: 31 comments (18.6%)
  5. silverscarcat: 31 comments (2.6%)
  6. ChurchHatesTucker: 30 comments (11.8%)
  7. Rikuo: 30 comments (1.5%)
  8. That Anonymous Coward: 29 comments (2.2%)
  9. Violynne: 24 comments (8.9%)
  10. 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…

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Comments on “Techdirt 2013: The Numbers.”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Oooh, you've got some "Numbers"! Most would brag of substance,

the serious topics that came up and how answered. But you typify “teh internets” by only mentioning numbers, manifestly indifferent to how you get them.

A glance at the above lists show that FLUFF is your main content. “Office Depot Sends World’s Worst DMCA Notice To Reddit”, indeed. Gripping stuff there, Mike. And re-writing puff pieces for Google doesn’t really count.

But there is the 24 million figure, by which we can deduce that your statement that you make a living by writing is baloney. Not from here. 24,000 times the low (surely under a buck) CPM rate that and a couple others pay can’t add up to living in Frisco and jaunting around to alleged conferences. — But if re-writing does bring you enough to live on, then it’s yet another of the crimes of “capitalism”.

As for another number, of comments, that doesn’t count even bytes, so fanboy-trolls with one-liners are inordinately high. And since doesn’t count mine which I estimate at near 2000 just this year, it’s way off. But the listing pleases the shrinking pool of ardent fanboys.

Of course if you took real stock of substance: the court losses of Isohunt and that other for millions in damage, plus this I believe totally not mentioned just shows how Mike is wrong on both morality and law, which is a feat in itself:

A lawsuit against a man who ran websites which linked to episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy has ended in the most expensive way possible. The judgment, which awards Fox $10.5 million in statutory and punitive damages, is the highest amount ever awarded by the Federal Court in Toronto, Canada.

You’re going to have to produce some substance to keep me interested the next year.

Mike’s re-writing relies so heavily on “old mainstream media” that he’s quite undistinguished.

out_of_the_blue: the only commenter with an army of clones! (Foolishly lying in apparently attempt to make Techdirt fanboys hate me even more! — Is that possible? Have I missed a way to do that?)


CharlieBrown says:

Re: Oooh, you've got some "Numbers"! Most would brag of substance,

Here’s a first: You get an “Insightful” vote out of me for that comment. Why? Because if you read through all his hatred, I think he raises some good points that give food for thought.

I don’t agree with some things, while others I do, but the main reason for this comment is that it did make me stop and think. See? Even the most hated can make a good argument when they put their mind to it!

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Oooh, you've got some "Numbers"! Most would brag of substance,

>> And since doesn’t count mine which I estimate at near 2000 just this year, it’s way off. But the listing pleases the shrinking pool of ardent fanboys.

The colour Green doesn’t suit you OOTB…

Maybe.. just maybe if you want your name immortalized in print by the person you secretly have a crush on (sorry Mike but it has to be said.. and WE ARE SORRY!) – it would e a good idea to actually REGISTER your name as a commentator since people with registered accounts are the ONLY ones who can be counted properly. What a concept hey?

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Oooh, you've got some "Numbers"! Most would brag of substance,

“And since doesn’t count mine which I estimate at near 2000 just this year”

As Mike said, he only counted comments from registered accounts. There’s no way for him to count comments from unregistered users, since there were quite a few of us parodying you. Was Mike supposed to read ALL comments named OOTB and figure out which were yours and which weren’t?
Bet you’re wishing you had created an account now? If you ask me reeeeeeeal nice, and admit just how much of a troll you are, I might you the registered OOTB account.

RD says:

Re: Oooh, you've got some "Numbers"! Most would brag of substance,

Since this is a New Year, let me just say for one last time:


Seriously, you come across like a jilted lover or something. If you see NO value in this site, then




But please for the love of all that is holy, stop with your insane rambling about how the site somehow falls short of YOUR singular view on how and what topics should be covered. The site obviously isnt for you, since you disagree with it ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME.

There are MANY, MANY other sites on the net that I am sure would cater to your sensibilities much more. Try, or perhaps Go, find them, and maybe you can finally be happy. Or at least NOT HERE.

Just Sayin' says:

Comments declining

Mike, you should not be surprised that comments have declined, considering that you use censorship to control activity, and allow the report function to be used as a “downvote” system that hides comments enough to take them out of the discussion.

When you remove or limit what the other side has to say, you in turn limit the amount of feedback from people who support you. I think that if you looked at the numbers, the 20% reduction in total comments for the year is more like 40% in recent months, as Techdirt has turned very unfriendly to comments that don’t entirely support you and pat you on the back.

To this day, you continue to filter out and “hold for moderation” many comments, without any other reason except not liking what the writer has to day. Nobody here wants to admit it, they all think it’s just people pushing the report button, they don’t realize that you use shameful censorship tools to limit discussion.

The numbers are there, more and more I see posts you make with less than a dozen comments because, well, you are no longer encouraging discussion and thinking, just preaching to the choir who have gotten tired of typing “amen” comments.

Good luck in 2014, the tide has already turned and you didn’t notice it at all (willful blindness?)

Just Sayin' says:

Re: Re: Comments declining

I didn’t say that. I said that by delaying comments, by censoring comments, and by allowing the report button to be used to quickly silence opposition, Techdirt loses comments because there is nothing to discuss, really. It just becomes a series of “you so right Mike!”.

It’s basically killing off the opposition, which turns the place into a one sided discussion. It pretty much removes the point of commenting for many.

(ps: I made my comment on jan 4th at 5:16 and it didn’t appear on the site for more than 24 hours. Techdirt is very careful to dampen down comments that are not entirely supportive of the site)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Comments declining

With a tiny sliver of exceptions, the comments that get hidden are abusive, insulting, off-topic, or spam. They are certainly not hidden because they fail to support the “official TD line”. If that were the case, how do you explain all of the comments that offer actual debate and counterarguments that don’t get hidden?

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Comments declining

I’m 99.99% sure that Mike and the other TD staff are in favour of gay marriage. I remember a few articles where I and the others had a debate on that topic with people who were against it. Those people did not “toe the party-line”, but their posts never got hidden. They were able to give their views in a sane and polite manner unlike certain people I could name.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: what about "most censored" ?

just because you believe Masnick does not censor, does not me he does not censor..

But people (and Masnick) knows he does, if Masnick chooses to lie to your about it, or if you have not asked him does not mean he does not do it.
It just means he lies, (IF he says he does not censor)..

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: what about "most censored" ?

Let’s see, compare Mike’s reputation, versus yours

Mike has stated multiple times that he does not delete comments that get caught in the spam filter, unless they are spam. They might take a bit to get released, due to the volume the the TD staff has to wade through at times, but they are released. You on the other hand claim that he does.

Yeah, if the choice is between ‘Masnick is lying’, vs ‘You are lying’, I think most people here know which one is more likely, and you’re fooling yourself if you think you come out on top in that comparison.

Just Sayin' says:

Re: Re: Re:2 what about "most censored" ?

The claim is that Techdirt has intentionally sent some people’s comments into the “hold” file so that they are released so far out of sync with the discussion as to be nearly meaningless. It’s censorship by limiting some people’s speech.

Knowing that the “moderation” pile will take 24-48 hours to review, it’s a very effective way to keep some people from participating in the discussions. This is one of those cases where you may not like it, but Mike is manipulating the flow of comments to keep certain views and opinions out.

Oh, and it’s not an IP block – it’s much more sophisticated than that. Shifting IPs or even browsers will only allow a couple of comments through before the offending users get tagged again as “ignore until later”, and get chucked back in the moderation pile.

Techdirt is being very dishonest about this, and Mike never directly addresses it. I wish he would explain why my particular comments ALWAYS end up in moderation – I don’t spam, I just don’t agree with Mike and I am more than willing to call him out on it.

Just Sayin' says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“You’re a joke. Any fool with a search engine can look back and see your responses come as early as half an hour later following the post.”

I would say you are the fool. The date and time stamp on the comments are the time I make the comment, not the time they are released. The easiest way to tell there is an issue is because people like you don’t answer me for a day or two, and then suddenly you are all over me like a dirty shirt. That’s because you didn’t see my comment until much later after the comment timestamp. It took you 18 hours to answer me… why? You were on here repeatedly commenting in between. Perhaps you just couldn’t see my comment?

Why not ask Mike? He hates to admit it, but he loves the power to censor people he doesn’t agree with.

Anonymous Coward says:

“but perhaps we should increase our reporting efforts… “

I thought Techdirt wasn’t about pleasing everyone but about posting what interests you.

My advice, just be yourselves. Don’t change. That’s one of the reasons I like this site, Mike and others post based on what interests them and not based on what gets the most pageviews. Not that there is anything wrong with breaking stories and getting pageviews just don’t make this site revolve around the ratings.

Just Sayin' says:

Re: Re:

“My advice, just be yourselves. Don’t change. That’s one of the reasons I like this site, Mike and others post based on what interests them and not based on what gets the most pageviews.”

Your kidding, right? Techdirt is pretty much famous for bandwagon jumping, and then working hard to jam the same keywords and phrases over and over again to drive viewership. It certainly works, during the whole TSA thing traffic was huge, and Techdirt owned almost every TSA keyword in Google.

If there is a bandwagon around, Techdirt jumps right in front of it with the skill and grace of a heavily caffeinated gazelle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Apparently you are a bandwagon jumper for being here. Why don’t you leave.

and TSA criticisms are hardly jumping the bandwagon. The MSM buries this stuff as much as possible and they are very lenient with anything the TSA does. They would complement the agency, claiming everyone is for it (and they used to), a whole lot more than they do if the Internet would let them get away with it and any MSM stories about the TSA that come out avoid criticizing it. Criticizing the TSA is pretty much going against the mainstream media bandwagon.

You’re the TSA and government bandwagon jumper and for all we know you’re a paid shill. At least with Mike I can identify him.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

and, yes, when it comes to stopping pointless government waste that

A: Does nothing to stop terrorists.

B: Wastes taxpayer dollars

C: Invades our privacy

then yes, I am absolutely a bandwagon jumper. Or would you rather be the bandwagon jumper that prefers to give more money to government in return for nothing?

This isn’t kindergarten. These are serious issues involving serious discussions. No one here cares about being called “bandwagon jumpers” or other elementary school names. Grow up or don’t expect anyone to take you seriously if you insist on acting like a little child and throwing out elementary school names when the adults are talking about serious issues.

Karl (profile) says:


Also we had nearly 1,000 almost certainly disappointed visitors who searched for “hookers on facebook.”

Hey, how do you think I found this site? I know it sounds weird, but after you work your way through the first 10,000 hits, the pickin’s get really slim.

Anyway, thanks for the insightful votes. I think the higher percentage this year had to do with a lower overall post count. Quality over quantity, as they say.

That Unregistered Person says:

Analysis = Awesome!!!

Yes, the original reporting drives new traffic to the site, and obviously there’s a need for that. But what keeps ME here is Mike Masnick’s insightful analysis. Please don’t reduce THAT at all!

Original reporting is the sizzle. Masnick’s analysis is the steak. The other reporters & analysts are the A1 Steak Sauce!

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