Techdirt 2016: The Stats.

from the another-year-in-the-books dept

Another yearly tradition around here is that, soon after the new year, we post some details about some of the stats we’ve got on visitors/commenters and such. It’s pretty fun, and this will be the 7th year that we’re doing it. For reference, here are the posts from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. For what it’s worth, for comment stats, we’re using our own internal logs, but for traffic we’re using Google Analytics, which isn’t perfect — and which many people block via tracking blockers, so the stats may not be entirely accurate — but since we’re focused on comparative info, it’s likely that the results are pretty good, since those who block trackers should have a somewhat proportional effect across the various years.

In 2016, we went back up to having visitors from 239 “countries” (as defined by Google Analytics… which I know bugs some people who insist there aren’t that many countries in the world) after a drop to 235 in 2015. Of course, at the bottom of the list, we’re talking pretty random places, so that’s kind of meaningless. At the top of the list, though, as always, is traffic from the US, which represented 65.66% of all our traffic. It’s almost always right around 66%, but has been dropping marginally the last couple of years (66.95% in 2014, 66.82% in 2015). In 2016, the UK passed Canada for 2nd place on traffic, but it was pretty close (6.45% of traffic, vs. 6.34%). Canada and the UK are always neck and neck in terms of traffic, with Canada nudging out the UK in 2013 and 2015, but the UK beating Canada in 2014 and again this year. Evens and odds. Australia and Germany, once again, retain their spots as the 4th and 5th biggest visitors — both of which have kept those spots for years. The next five countries are also the same: India, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand. The only difference in 2016 was that France edged out the Netherlands, which had been just slightly ahead of France the previous few years.

After India, the top Asian countries were the Philippines and Singapore, also flip-flopping (last year it was Singapore on top of the Philippines, but the year before it was the Philippines ahead of Singapore) — but the difference in traffic between the two is basically a rounding error. Japan and Israel (if you consider Israel part of Asia…) round out the top 5. If you don’t count Israel as being in Asia, then swap in Malaysia.

The top five European countries were already mentioned in the global top 10, but if you want to know the next 5 European countries, you’ve got: Spain, Italy, Ireland, Russia and Finland. This is a bit different than last year. Russia wasn’t in the list last year, but we had a few stories this year about Russian internet trolls that resulted in a bunch of comments yelling at us about how we were full of shit… so… hmmm… The entrance of Russia into the list bumped Norway out of the top 10, which is too bad. I like Norway.

Across both North & South America, of course, we get most of our traffic from the US and Canada, but Mexico, Brazil and Argentina make up the next 3, with Mexico passing Brazil after a few years of being behind. In Africa, as always, South Africa sent the most traffic. Before last year, the only real traffic we got from Africa was from South Africa, but last year there was a bunch from Kenya — we thought mainly because a Kenyan copyright lawyer had flipped out about a post we did on Kenyan copyright law and wrote an angry blog post claiming we were defaming Kenya. But, traffic from Kenya continued to be notable, coming in second after South Africa (about half as much traffic), and Nigeria was right behind Kenya. After that, there was much less traffic, but still some from Egypt and Sudan.

For basically every year, we joked about how we would get one single visit each year from Christmas Island, but last year, it went away. We wondered what we’d done to offend whoever it was… but this year they were back again, with one single visit. There were six “countries” this year that sent a single visit: besides Christmas Island, there was also Curacao, St. Barthelemy, Western Sahara, Guinea-Bissau and Tuvalu. For the second year in a row, we got zero visits from North Korea, after getting two visits in 2013 and an astounding four visits from North Korea in 2014.

As is always the case, the country with the longest average visits is… Gibraltar. But, as with every year, that’s because there aren’t that many visitors from Gibraltar, and one of them is one of our most prolific readers and commenters, PaulT, who takes credit for helping Gibraltar lead the charts in terms of average time of visit. If we look at countries that actually send significant traffic, last year New Zealand and Canada led the way for average time on the site. This year, India stepped up, followed by Canada and New Zealand (the US is next, followed by Australia). India also leads the way of major countries in terms of pages per visit, with New Zealand next.

We always point out that our city charts are a bit meaningless, given the hugely different populations in different cities, but the top five this year are the same as the past few years: New York, London, LA, Chicago and SF. SF and Chicago flipped positions. Washington DC retains spot number 6 for the second year in a row (after not being in the top 10 for a while), followed by Toronto, Seattle, Houston and Sydney (the same names as last year).

Once again, Chrome was the browser of choice for people visiting the site, this time breaking through the 50% mark with 51% of all visits being via Chrome. Safari was 22% and Firefox was 17%. Firefox was down a bit, while Safari was up quite a bit. There was still some Internet Explorer traffic (5%) and Microsoft’s new browser, Edge (2%) and even a tiny bit of Opera traffic as well (1%) and a bunch of other random browsers bring up the rear. Remember when Microsoft was a monopolist in the browser market and no one would ever catch up? Fun times.

For the second year in a row, Android edged out iOS visits, but it was still pretty damn close. Visitors using Windows visited more than 4x those using Macs (which surprises me a bit…) and we still have a small percentage (~3%) of visitors using Linux. Somewhat astoundingly, the majority of those Windows visits came from people still on Windows 7. I’m guessing that these are people visiting from offices where they haven’t gone through a (very, very necessary) upgrade yet. Windows 10 was the second most, but it was much lower than Win7 visits.

In terms of ISPs, Comcast leads the way, followed by Time Warner Cable. This should be no surprise at all, as those two dominate the market these days. Verizon has a strong third place showing, followed by Charter. AT&T is pretty far down the list, once again.

As for mobile devices, the iPhone easily leads the pack, with 31% of all mobile visits, followed by the iPad with another 12%. All the rest are tiny, tiny slivers of a huge variety of Android devices, none alone getting more than 1.5%. The most popular Android devices for viewing Techdirt are basically any Google Nexus model and any Samsung Galaxy S model (S5, S6 and S7).

As for where our traffic is coming from, this chart looks pretty similar to last years:

We really pride ourselves on the fact that so many people come directly to the site, as it shows the kind of loyal community we’ve built up. Of course, the one difference from last year is that the percentage from social has dropped — and that’s, no doubt, because we basically haven’t “played the game” on social networks to try to use them to drive traffic. This is something we’ve been talking a lot about internally. We certainly don’t want to go all clickbaity, like so many other sites, or those who completely game the system. But we know that social media drives traffic to lots of news sites these days, and we’re not nearly as effective there as we should be. It’s something we hope to work on in 2017. In terms of other sites driving traffic, Reddit continues to lead the way, followed by Facebook and Twitter. Hacker News is next, though much lower than the rest.

In terms of search traffic, most of the inbound searches are searches on some form of “Techdirt” or “tech dirt” which isn’t too surprising. In terms of other searches that drive some traffic, “Walter O’Brien” continues to lead the way for the second year in a row, as people do a search on the guy who seems to have fibbed his way to creating a TV show about his almost certainly fictitious life. We also seem to get a bunch of traffic to this story any time someone tries to figure out the lyrics to the song “Louie Louie.”

Now, onto the lists:

Top Ten Stories, by unique pageviews, on Techdirt for 2016:

  1. No, A Judge Did Not Just Order Apple To Break Encryption On San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone, But To Create A New Backdoor
  2. 71% Want The Dark Net Shut Down, Showing Most Have No Idea What The Dark Net Is
  3. 56% Would Drop ESPN In A Heartbeat If It Meant Saving $8 A Month On Cable
  4. President Obama Claims He Cannot Pardon Snowden; He’s Wrong
  5. Once Again, Piracy Is Destroying The Movie Industry… To Ever More Records At The Box Office
  6. How The US Government Legally Stole Millions From Kim Dotcom
  7. AT&T Mocks Google Fiber’s Struggles, Ignores It Caused Many Of Them
  8. Congrats, FBI, You’ve Now Convinced Silicon Valley To Encrypt And Dump Log Files
  9. As Its CEO Continues To Claim It Doesn’t Throttle, T-Mobile Spokesperson Confirms Company Throttles
  10. Forbes Site, After Begging You To Turn Off Adblocker, Serves Up A Steaming Pile Of Malware ‘Ads’

It should be noted that the Kim Dotcom story is actually from 2015, but still got a ton of traffic this year, in part because Dotcom has kept a link to it as his pinned tweet, and any time there’s some news about his still ongoing cases, people tend to go to that story. If I try to squint and find a pattern in those stories, I’d say people seem to like when we call out bullshit claims from legacy companies or government. Not a surprise, but still interesting.

2016’s Top Ten Stories, by comment volume:

  1. No, A Judge Did Not Just Order Apple To Break Encryption On San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone, But To Create A New Backdoor: 343 Comments
  2. Holy Crap: Wells Fargo Has To Fire 5,300 Employees For Scam Billing: 283 Comments
  3. FBI Boss Blows Past Policies, Guidelines, His Own Staff To Bring Back Clinton Email Investigation: 235 Comments
  4. NBC Delayed Story About Trump’s Access Hollywood Recording Over Fear That He Might Sue: 220 Comments
  5. Our ‘Copying Is Not Theft’ T-Shirt Seems To REALLY Upset Some People: 210 Comments
  6. What The Election Means For Stuff Techdirt Cares About?: 202 Comments
  7. Homeland Security Wants To Subpoena Us Over A Clearly Hyperbolic Techdirt Comment: 197 Comments
  8. Hillary Clinton Looks At Her Campaign’s Many Missteps, Decides To Blame James Comey For Her Loss: 185 Comments
  9. Somehow Everyone Comes Out Looking Terrible In The Effort For Election Recounts: 177 Comments
  10. President Obama Is Wrong On Encryption; Claims The Realist View Is ‘Absolutist’: 175 Comments

Once again, as we point out every single year, there is almost no overlap between the stories with the most traffic… and those with the most comments. Just because a story gets a lot of traffic, doesn’t mean it gets a lot of comments, and just because a story gets a lot of comments, doesn’t mean it gets a ton of traffic. Though, it is a first this year that the top story is the same in both lists (and that’s the only story that is in both lists). Most of the most commented stories here are political stories, and the long comment threads tend to be a small group of people throwing political feces back and forth at one another. I’m so glad the election year is over.

And, now… onto the commenter lists, where a king has been deposed.

2016 Top Commenters, by comment volume:

  1. That One Guy: 2306 comments
  2. Ninja: 1577 comments
  3. nasch: 1299 comments
  4. John Fenderson: 1275 comments
  5. PaulT: 1271 comments
  6. Uriel-238: 1081 comments
  7. DannyB: 1024 comments
  8. Whatever: 882 comments
  9. Padpaw: 845 comments
  10. That Anonymous Coward: 825 comments

The deposed king would be John Fenderson, who led the list of most prolific commenters for four years running until this year. John — who has always been a wonderful contributor here at Techdirt — stopped commenting back in August. I hope everything’s okay, John. That lets That One Guy finally jump into the top slot, after coming in second for a few years. PaulT maintains his position as making the top 10 list every year we’ve kept track, and nasch continues his streak of making it every single year… except one. The newcomer to the list this year is Padpaw. Nicely done. Also, That Anonymous Coward returns (barely) to the top 10 after missing it in 2015.

Top 10 Most Insightful Commenters, based on how many times they got the lightbulb icon:
Parentheses shows what percentage of their comments got the lightbulb

  1. That One Guy: 355 comments (15%)
  2. PaulT: 115 comments (9%)
  3. That Anonymous Coward: 110 comments (13%)
  4. Mason Wheeler: 87 comments (16%)
  5. Ninja: 84 comments (5%)
  6. John Fenderson: 67 comments (5%)
  7. DannyB: 66 comments (6%)
  8. Uriel-238: 64 comments (6%)
  9. Roger Strong: 52 comments (8%)
  10. Mike Masnick: 29 comments (6%)

I think that’s the first time I made this list, actually. Neat. Last year, That One Guy also led this list with 356 insightful comments. He’s apparently slipping with just 355 this year. Slacker.

Top 10 Funniest Commenters, based on how many times they got the LOL icon:
Parentheses shows what percentage of their comments got the LOL icon

  1. TechDescartes: 46 comments (26%)
  2. That One Guy: 38 comments (2%)
  3. Roger Strong: 30 comments (5%)
  4. DannyB: 29 comments (3%)
  5. Mason Wheeler: 24 comments (4%)
  6. Ninja: 22 comments (1%)
  7. That Anonymous Coward: 17 comments (2%)
  8. TheResidentSkeptic: 11 comments (11%)
  9. AricTheRed: 9 comments (17%)
  10. Vidiot: 9 comments (7%)

Once again, we see that it’s a lot harder to get enough people to think you’re funny than insightful. Except for that TechDescartes guy. Last year, we noted that he showed up at the end of the year, but still was able to jump onto the top funniest list with a bunch of funny comments, and with a full year under his belt, that let him jump to the top of the list, and with an astounding 26% hit rate. AricTheRed and TheResidentSkeptic buck the trend with decently high funny percentages as well. Nicely done everyone.

And, with that, we’ve closed the door on 2016… and on to 2017. We’ll be back tomorrow with regular posting.

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Comments on “Techdirt 2016: The Stats.”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

I guess I'm a wash for your stats...

Most of my stats would be coming from a Windows VM (win7) running on Linux, with the IP geolocation pointing to either UK or Canada (or sometimes the US or India). I usually block Google stats. And I’ve neglected to create an account here since I first started visiting in 2003.

But then, I won’t be throwing off any stats, since my anomalies have been pretty standard over the years ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy new year everyone!

Ninja (profile) says:

Not bad. My stats reflect how much I like to read and interact here ๐Ÿ˜‰

As for john, I noticed he vanished for a while. Life can be an asshole so I do hope it’s only one of those moments it hits you like a truck but you are still good enough to make a come back. When you follow a site, interacting or just lurking, you start paying attention when people vanish. I personally get that emphatic worry when they disappear for more than one vacation period.

nasch (profile) says:

Windows 7

Is it really that surprising? After all the problems with the Windows 8 launch, and the Windows 10 privacy debacle, I’m not at all surprised that there are a lot of people still on Windows 7 (me among them). If MS comes out with something that looks appealing maybe I’ll take it. Otherwise next time I need a new computer I may finally switch to Linux and VM or dual boot if I need Windows for something.

DannyB (profile) says:

More Funny than Insightful?

> Once again, we see that it’s a lot harder to get enough people to think you’re funny than insightful.

Not necessarily.

I scored higher in funny (#4 with 3% of my comments) than I did with insightful (only #7 with 6% of my comments).

Therefore I obviously found it more difficult to convince people I was insightful than funny. With half as many comments (3% vs 6%) I convince people I was more funny than insightful.

Sometimes I try to be inciteful but more often my porpoise is to be funny.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I thought I recalled Techdirt ranking somewhere in the 6,000 range globally, and higher in the US, though maybe the rank was in the 6,000 range in the US. With a global rank that is pushing 30,000 as of this post, and a US rank of 11,556 of this post, Techdirt’s unique visits have dropped dramatically. Even as recently as Feb.-Mar. 2016 Techdirt was around 18,000 globally.

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