Techdirt 2017: The Stats.

from the closing-the-books-on-2017 dept

Another yearly tradition is, after the new year, we try to take a look at some of the stats on traffic and commenters and such. I know many sites do this before the end of the year, but we’re sort of a stickler for actually including the full year’s data, so ours comes out sometime after the new year actually starts (and once I have time to really go through the data). For reference, you can see these stories from the past seven years as well: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. As I’ve mentioned in the past, for comment data, we use our own internal logs. For traffic data, we’re using Google Analytics, which… has its own problems — and which I’m sure many people block. But as we’re using it mainly for comparative purposes, it functions as a “good enough” tool for those purposes, even if it may not be entirely accurate.

Every year it’s fun to see where visitors are arriving from — and this year Google says visitors showed up from 236 different countries (down three from last year). Since we’ve been doing this, US traffic has almost always been right around 67% of all our traffic, but this year it bumped up to 70.13%. The UK and Canada remain neck-and-neck and basically tied for second place, with the UK edging out Canada 5.9% to 5.8%. Australia, India, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Finland, and Sweden round out the top 10. The big movers this year were India passing Germany and Finland jumping into the top 10 (leapfrogging over Sweden) and pushing New Zealand out of the top 10.

Going around the globe, after India, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Japan round out the top 5 in Asia. The new entrant here is South Korea who had been much lower in the past. In Europe, we’ve already named the top 6 in the overall top 10 list, but if you’re wondering whose next: it’s Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Spain. Russia appears to have dropped off the list — despite quite a few stories mentioning Russia. Hmmm. In South America, Brazil represents exactly 50% of our traffic from that continent, followed by Argentina at 15%, Chile and Colombia each with 8%, and Peru at 7%. In Africa, last year we noted that in previous years most of our African traffic came from South Africa, with negligible amounts coming from elsewhere — though we started to see traffic from Kenya and Nigeria last year. This year, South Africa still leads, but with just 40% of the African traffic. Nigeria has jumped up in a big way with 23%, followed by Kenya (7%), Egypt (5%), and Ghana (4%).

There’s always some fun to explore down at the bottom of the list — and this year we see things like one single visitor from North Korea — which comes after two years of zero North Korean visits. Perhaps the country’s internet is opening up after all (that’s a joke for people who take things too literally).

As always, the country with the longest average duration visit is Gibraltar, and every year, PaulT takes credit for this as he should. Surprisingly, Bangladesh comes in second for duration on the site, and that’s with a decent amount of traffic (over 10,000 visitors). If we’re looking at larger countries with significant traffic, India, New Zealand and Canada seem to spend more time on the site than visitors from other countries.

As has been the case for a while, Chrome remains the most popular browser by far for visiting the site. While last year it broke 50% of all visits, this year it dropped to 48%. Safari is a strong second at 24%. Firefox checks in at 12%. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (4%) and Edge (2%) are barely noticeable — though they still beat Opera at 0.6%. Windows is the top operating system at 41%, Android is second at 23%. iOS is (again) close with Android at 21%. Macs are 10% and Linux is 3%. Chrome OS shows up at 0.5%. And a miraculous 0.01% of you visited Techdirt on an Xbox. Really: you don’t need to do that. I’m happy to see that I actually don’t have very good data on what ISPs most of you are using, as it’s showing up as “not set” for a bunch of folks, and the numbers on those who are revealing what ISP they’re using aren’t really big enough to determine very much. Hopefully, this means many of you are practicing good internet hygiene in cloaking information about your connection and what sites you’re visiting.

For the past few years we’ve been posting the following chart of where our traffic comes from:

As I said last year, we pride ourselves on the fact that so many of our visitors come directly to the site, rather than relying on social media or search, like so many other sites do. Some argue that this means we’re leaving traffic on the table by not focusing on pumping up social and search traffic. We like to believe we’re building a more loyal audience who visits us because they like what we do — and it also means we don’t have to freak out every time a platform like Google or Facebook changes an algorithm. It’s nice to see that our percentage of direct traffic has gone up this year, from 38.5% last year to 42.5% this year. Search traffic declined from 31.3% to 26.5%, while social went up a small amount from 17% to 18.1%.

For the sources that do send us traffic, however, Reddit leads the way (yet again), followed by Twitter and Facebook and Hacker News. Other specific sites that have sent us a decent amount of traffic include Instapundit, Drudge Report (though I think that was all from one story) and Popehat. For search traffic, most of the terms that sent a lot of traffic tended to be variation on “techdirt” — showing how many people use the search bar for navigation these days. Two amusing search terms that ranked fairly high: “can you plagiarize yourself” and “louie louie lyrics.” If you’re wondering why we got a bunch of search traffic on that one, it’s because of this 2015 story we did about the FBI spending years researching the lyrics trying to figure out what they mean and if they’re bad — before realizing that the Kingsmen must have submitted the lyrics to the Copyright Office.

And, with that, we move onto the big lists:

Top Ten Stories, by unique pageviews, on Techdirt for 2017:

  1. Software Company Shows How Not To Handle Negative Review
  2. FCC Releases Net Neutrality Killing Order, Hopes You’re Too Busy Cooking Turkey To Read It
  3. The FBI Is Apparently Paying Geek Squad Members To Dig Around In Computers For Evidence Of Criminal Activity
  4. Dead People Mysteriously Support The FCC’s Attack On Net Neutrality
  5. Supreme Court Says You Can’t Ban People From The Internet, No Matter What They’ve Done
  6. Cops Sent Warrant To Facebook To Dig Up Dirt On Woman Whose Boyfriend They Had Just Killed
  7. FCC Plan To Use Thanksgiving To ‘Hide’ Its Attack On Net Neutrality Vastly Underestimates The Looming Backlash
  8. Sean Spicer Launches Witch Hunt Over The ‘Secure’ App He Just Said Was No Big Deal
  9. Michigan Lawmaker Flees Twitter After Reports Highlight She Helped AT&T Push Anti-Competition Broadband Law
  10. Techdirt’s First Amendment Fight For Its Life

Glad to see the net neutrality posts got a lot of love this year, though it’s not that surprising, I guess. As per usual, posts on the general theme of companies and governments behaving badly tend to be… popular. Perhaps that should be our official tagline…

2017’s Top Ten Stories, by comment volume:

  1. Techdirt’s First Amendment Fight For its Life: 413 comments
  2. Our Humanity: 398 comments
  3. The FBI Is Apparently Paying Geek Squad Members To Dig Around In Computers For Evidence Of Criminal Activity: 358 comments
  4. Defending Hateful Speech Is Unpleasant But Essential, Even When Violence Is The End Result: 322 comments
  5. Nazis, The Internet, Policing Content And Free Speech: 288 comments
  6. More Legislators Jump On The Blue Lives Matter Bandwagon: 268 comments
  7. Case Dismissed: Judge Throws Out Shiva Ayyadurai’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Techdirt: 259 comments
  8. One Twitter Account’s Mission To Make White Supremacists Very, Very Famous: 256 comments
  9. Ajit Pai’s Big Lie : 252 comments
  10. Techdirt Survival Fund: I Support Journalism: 248 comments

As we point out every year, the number of comments on a story is often not a good indicator of how much traffic it gets. This year, there were only two posts that show up on both lists. Perhaps it’s not surprising that this list differs from the traffic list in that it tends to stray more into “controversial” (read: political) topics than that first list. And, of course, those three posts about the lawsuit against us also received quite a lot of comments as well.

Okay, you’ve made it this far… so now we get to the part people are most interested in every year: the specific lists of individual commenters (well, registered commenters, at least). Obviously, we get a ton of anonymous comments or comments from people who put in usernames, but never register — but we can’t track those, so these lists are only to those who have actually registered.

2017 Top Commenters, by comment volume:

  1. That One Guy: 1839 comments
  2. PaulT: 1774 comments
  3. Roger Strong: 1527 comments
  4. Ninja: 1335 comments
  5. orbitalinsertion: 1122 comments
  6. Stephen T. Stone: 1101 comments
  7. Anonymous Anonymous Coward: 682 comments
  8. That Anonymous Coward: 680 comments
  9. Bergman: 666 comments
  10. MyNameHere: 657 comments

There’s quite a drop off between the 6th and 7th place commenters, huh? It’s nice to see some new entrants on the list this year — with some big names in the past dropping beneath the comment threshold. Of course, one commenter who made last year’s list under a different name is almost certainly on this year’s list with his “new” name. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one. It should be fairly obvious for regular comment participants… I also don’t know why, but I find it amusing that Anonymous Anonymous Coward and That Anonymous Coward came within 2 comments of one another.

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

  1. That One Guy: 328 comments (18%)
  2. Roger Strong: 239 comments (16%)
  3. PaulT: 191 comments (11%)
  4. Stephen T. Stone: 129 comments (12%)
  5. That Anonymous Coward: 111 comments (16%)
  6. Ninja: 102 comments (8%)
  7. Mike Masnick: 58 comments (17%)
  8. TechDescartes: 47 comments (17%)
  9. Anonymous Anonymous Coward: 46 comments (7%)
  10. Uriel-238: 42 comments (9%)

Not as many changes on this list, though it’s only the second year I made this list (with a much higher percentage than last year too!). That One Guy continues his reign at the top of this list — this is his third year in a row winning the top spot (by a wide margin each time). Roger Strong made a big jump from number 9 last year to number 2 this year, jumping past PaulT (among others) who was in second place last year only to slip to 3rd this year, despite a much higher number of comments getting flagged as insightful. Nice going everyone.

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. Roger Strong: 138 comments (9%)
  2. TechDescartes: 74 comments (28%)
  3. Stephen T. Stone: 24 comments (2%)
  4. That One Guy: 24 comments (1%)
  5. That Anonymous Coward: 17 comments (3%)
  6. Toom1275: 15 comments (5%)
  7. Vidiot: 13 comments (9%)
  8. stderric: 13 comments (5%)
  9. Ninja: 12 comments (1%)
  10. MyNameHere: 11 comments (2%)

Last year we noted that TechDescartes had shown up towards the end of 2015 but still managed to make it deep into the list of funniest comments that year, and then last year TechDescartes absolutely dominated the leader board. However, this year, Roger Strong leapfrogs over TechDescartes with a huge number of funny comments (though TechDescartes still has an astoundingly high batting average). There’s a pretty spectacular drop off after those two. Some of you commenters need to up your funny game — especially when it appears that at least one of the winners on this list is there sarcastically (I’ll leave it to you to figure out who).

Okay. With that, the books are closed, and folks need to rev up their commenting engines to get a jump on 2018’s list… See you in the comments.

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Comments on “Techdirt 2017: The Stats.”

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K`Tetch (profile) says:

traffic by country

it’s pretty inevitable that US tops the chart. a US based site, in English, it’s going to be that no matter what.
Perhaps unique visitors by population percentage would be a different matter – after all, the real test is not how many read it, but what percentage. 10% of a tiny country reading it says more than 0.001% of a large one even if thats more people.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Surprisingly, Bangladesh comes in second for duration on the site, and that's with a decent amount of traffic (over 10,000 visitors)."

Oh, SUUUUUURE… You do know that’s one of the poorest third-world countries, right? Highly unlikely know American language or care enough to stay on site? Not a hint of doubt on the numbers?

But WHERE is your overall figure for unique visitors? The one I want. Do I just miss it after two careful scans?

Just percentages mean you’re, ahem, “not being completely transparent”…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Surprisingly, Bangladesh comes in second for duration on the site, and that's with a decent amount of traffic (over 10,000 visitors)."

And you omit my discovering ZOMBIES! Here’s just top of those stats, the FOUR known to have INEXPLICABLE SIX YEAR GAPS:

Advocate (changed to Keisar Betancourt and back!) 5 Sep 2013 from 18 Aug 2007

dickeyrat: 3 comments TOTAL in SEVEN years! Aug 17th, 2017, Jun 23rd, 2011, and Jul 10th, 2010!!! On May 1st, 2017 Dec 15th, 2016

Real zombies! Now, THAT’S a unique feature of Techdirt! You should talk up reader loyalty! — I hope that a larger site gets interested in “accounts” here…

Eldakka (profile) says:

Re: "Surprisingly, Bangladesh comes in second for duration on the site, and that's with a decent amount of traffic (over 10,000 visitors)."

Highly unlikely know American language

You mean English?

Since Bangladesh was part of the British Empire for ~200 years, wouldn’t you think it likely that at least a few % of the population can speak, read and write English? As a country of 150 million people, even if only 1% could read English, that’s still 1.5 million people.

However, after checking out wikipedia (something you could have done – but then, those who are wilfully ignorant don’t tend to do any sort of research, do they?) , it is actually quite a sizeable % who can read/write English:

Bangla is the official language,[231] but English is sometimes used secondarily for official purposes (especially in the legal system). Although laws were historically written in English, they were not translated into Bangla until 1987. Bangladesh’s constitution and laws now exist in English and Bangla.[232] English is used as a second language by the middle and upper classes, and is widely used in higher education.

I would suggest that there are many millions of Bangladeshi’s who have a better understanding of English than you seem to have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Back to "Comment Held for Moderation" lie, too. -- How many times have I seen that?

About literally a thousand times, I’d say. In 2015, I noted up to 25 tries to get through. It stopped for a while after was stated would be a change — as did the censoring — now both are back.

Oh, and “Resend” still usually works, a block at first try is what prompted this comment.

Anonymous Coward says:

The one statistic that’s curiously missing is the number of articles written by each of Techdirt’s writers. Who was in the lead this past year? It certainly seems that Techdirt’s founder has been taking a back seat while letting the others do most of the daily writing chores (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

A few other ‘missing’ stats that might be fun to see (or not):

*commenters that draw the most replies/rebuttals
*commenters with the most hidden comments
*commenters with the most replies from Techdirt staff

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