Techdirt 2015: The Numbers.

from the so-many-numbers dept

It's become something of a yearly tradition around here, soon after the new year, to tally up some of the stats from the just completed year. If you'd like to look back at them all, you can see "the numbers" from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 when we started this little tradition.

In 2015, we had visitors from 235 countries -- down from 240 the year before. Of course, towards the bottom of the list there are very very few visits, and there is some debate over whether or not some of these actually count as countries. As always happens, visitors from the US gave us almost exactly two-thirds of our traffic (66.82% -- down just a hair from 66.95% the year before). Canada (just barely) nudged out the UK as the number two country, providing 6.54% of our visitors, with the UK at 6.46%. Australia and Germany round out the top five again. The next five countries are exactly the same from 2014: India, the Netherlands, France, Sweden and New Zealand.

Last year, we noted that the Philippines was the surprise winner for the second most visitors from Asia (after India), but this year Singapore passed the Philippines. After that there's Turkey (if you consider Turkey a part of Asia), Japan, Israel (same note as Turkey) and Indonesia. China provided very, very few visits, which isn't a huge surprise as we've been told at times that we've been blocked in the country.

The top countries in Europe, obviously, are mostly listed above in the overall top 10, but in case you're wondering, the next five top European countries are: Italy, Ireland, Spain, Finland and Norway. Again, these are the same countries as last year, but with a bit of movement among the countries (Italy moved up, while Spain moved down), but all five of those countries send a similar amount of traffic (between 2 and 3% of our total traffic for each of those five).

Across the Americas, obviously US and Canada are the two biggest (by far), but they're followed by Brazil, Mexico and Argentina (again, same as last year!). In Africa, once again, South Africa provides the most visitors, but unlike in past years where that was the only really significant traffic, this year Kenya drove a lot of traffic (perhaps because a Kenyan lawyer wrote a blog post, and a series of angry emails to me, where he cc'd others) claiming that my critique of Kenyan copyright law was "defamatory." Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria round out the top five.

For years we joked that we got no visits from North Korea, but in 2013 we got 2, and last year that doubled to four. In 2015, however, it went back down to zero. They must be really cracking down on internet access. Also, every year that we've done this, we've joked about the fact that we appear to get a single visit from Christmas Island... but that went away this year. Sorry to whomever I offended there.

As is always the case, the longest visits are from Gibralter (by an insane amount), and every year PaulT takes credit for this (thanks Paul!). If we look at countries that send significant traffic, the Kiwis down in New Zealand stick around the longest, followed by the Canadians. That's two countries somewhat well known for having friendly people, so they also seem to like spending more time on Techdirt. That rocks. Of countries that send a lot of traffic, visitors from India check out the most pages per visit.

Moving on to city data, the numbers here look pretty much the same as always: New York, London, LA, San Francisco and Chicago (identical to last year's list). The next five on the list changed a bit though. In 2015 it was Toronto, Washington DC, Seattle, Houston and Sydney. The big mover was... Washington DC, which hadn't been in the top 10 before. As I've noted in the past, it's tough to make too much of the city data, considering the differences in population.

On the technology front, Chrome continues to be the primary browser people use to visit the site (47.94% of visits), followed by Firefox (19.15%) and Safari (14.33%). Remember the good old days when Microsoft was abusing its monopoly power to own the browser market? Whatever happened to those guys? Mobile traffic continued to grow, but not that much. Last year it was about 36% and this year it 39%. For the first time Android has edged out iOS. In 2014 they were close, but iOS was 51% of mobile visits and Android at 44%. But in 2015, they were both at 47%, with Android just barely higher. Windows Phone makes up most of the rest, with a tiny few folks on Blackberry and Series40. Also, someone out there visits with Nintendo 3DS. Who are you?

Not surprisingly the iPhone represents 32% of all mobile visits and another 14% comes from the iPad. For Android devices, the Google Nexus 5 is the leader, followed closely by the Samsung S5 and the Google Nexus 7. In fact, basically all of the top Android devices are either Google Nexuses (Nexi?) or Samsung Galaxies. The first device that's not one of those is the OnePlus One... but that's the phone I use, so perhaps it distorts the stats.

Not surprisingly, the biggest ISPs for traffic are Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. I'm actually a bit surprised to see AT&T drop pretty far down the list, behind Charter and Cox.

The percentage of people who are coming "direct" to Techdirt, rather than from third parties, is increasing. Last year it was 30.5%. This year it's 38.5%.
To me, that's a good thing. Lots of sites spend lots of time focusing on gaming search engines or social media with click bait. We try to focus on building a loyal community of readers who like to come back. However, when people are coming from other sites, they're most frequently coming from Reddit (34% of our referral traffic), followed by Facebook and then Twitter. The big drivers of non-social traffic were: Instapundit, Daily Rotation, Boing Boing, Hacker News, Fark, Slashdot and Ars Technica. Not too many surprises there. Popehat was on last year's list, but apparently Ken White and friends have stopped linking to me.

In terms of search traffic, for the second year in a row (unfortunately), the single biggest driver of traffic were... searches for "Walter O'Brien" -- the guy who appears to have lied his way to a prime time show on CBS. Also, lots of searches on AT&T and Comcast...

Okay, now it's time for our big lists for 2015.

Top Ten Stories, by unique pageviews, on Techdirt for 2015:
  1. The Cartoonist Has No Idea How Net Neutrality Works
  2. After Endless Demonization Of Encryption, Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinated Via Unencrypted SMS
  3. Smoking Gun: MPAA Emails Reveal Plan To Run Anti-Google Smear Campaign Via Today Show And WSJ
  4. Remember That Undeletable Super Cookie Verizon Claimed Wouldn't Be Abused? Yeah, Well, Funny Story...
  5. Years Of Pretending Netflix Cord Cutting Wasn't Real Is Biting The Cable Industry In The Ass
  6. FBI Uncovers Another Of Its Own Plots, Senator Feinstein Responds By Saying We Should Censor The Internet
  7. Cable Proudly Declares Smart Shoppers A 'Lower Quality' Of Customer They Have No Interest In
  8. Happy Birthday Copyright Bombshell: New Evidence Warner Music Previously Hid Shows Song Is Public Domain
  9. President Obama Demands Critics Tell Him What's Wrong With TPP; Of Course We Can't Do That Because He Won't Show Us The Agreement
  10. Another Story Of A 'Fake' Brilliant Inventor? Is 'Scorpion Walter O'Brien' A Real Computer Security Genius?
You may notice that that last story, about Walter O'Brien, is actually from 2014, not 2015, but as mentioned above in the part about searches, it continues to get so much traffic that it made the top 10 trafficked stories in 2015. If you think that's not fair and want the tenth story that was actually written in 2015, it's: The Two Leading Presidential Candidates -- Clinton And Trump -- Are Both Mocking Free Speech On The Internet.

There's a pretty good mix of stories there. Net neutrality/ISP/cord cutting stuff gets a lot of attention, a few stories on copyright. Some free speech stuff. Politicians acting badly. Basically the key kinds of stories we regularly cover. I'm glad that you guys like them.

2015's Top Ten Stories, by comment volume:

  1. Microsoft Retrofitting Windows 7, 8.1 With Windows 10's Privacy-Invading 'Features': 344 comments
  2. All Of These Works Should Be In The Public Domain, But Aren't: 303 comments
  3. School, Police Chief Must Face Lawsuit Brought By Student Suspended For 10 Days For Tweeting 'Actually, Yes': 211 comments
  4. Parents Sue School, Claim Wi-Fi Made Son Sick: 211 comments
  5. Texas Police Arrest Kid For Building A Clock: 211 comments
  6. Smoking Gun: MPAA Emails Reveal Plan To Run Anti-Google Smear Campaign Via Today Show And WSJ: 199 comments
  7. Even If You Think Kim Dotcom Is Guilty As Sin, The US Government Stealing His Assets Should Concern You: 199 comments
  8. Hillary Clinton Wants A 'Manhattan Project' For Encryption... But Not A Back Door. That Makes No Sense: 198 comments
  9. Windows 10 Reserves The Right To Block Pirated Games And 'Unauthorized' Hardware: 191 comments
  10. Iranian Cleric Suggests The West Ban And Criminalize Negative Portrayals Of Muslims To Prevent Radicalization: 183 comments.
We point this out every year, but again it's worth noting that there's almost no overlap between the two lists above. Just because a story gets a lot of comments, it doesn't mean that it's getting a lot of traffic (often, it means that two or three people are engaged in a long debate). Similarly some high traffic posts don't get that many comments. There's only one story on both lists.

Next up: the commenters.

2015 Top Commenters, by comment volume
  1. John Fenderson: 3158 comments
  2. That One Guy: 2574 comments
  3. nasch: 2238 comments
  4. Uriel-238: 1886 comments
  5. tqk: 1691 comments
  6. Ninja: 1378 comments
  7. PaulT: 1305 comments
  8. Mason Wheeler: 906 comments
  9. Sheogorath: 808 comments
  10. DannyB: 703 comments
The top two slots are the same as they were last year, though John Fenderson's comment total was cut by almost 50% -- what a slacker! Either way, this makes four years in a row that John is our top commenter. That's quite a streak. PaulT is the only one who has been on this list every year since we started, and nasch only missed it one year. Also, last year I made the 9th slot myself, and I noted an oddity: I only seemed to appear in the lists for even years (2010, 2012 and 2014). And, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that I didn't make the cut in 2015. Such is life! But, watch out for my comments in 2016. The "newcomers" to the list this year are Uriel-238, tqk and Sheogorath. Nice work.

Top 10 Most Insightful Commenters, based on how many times they got the lightbulb icon:

  1. That One Guy: 356 comments (14%)
  2. John Fenderson: 232 comments (7%)
  3. Ninja: 104 comments (8%)
  4. Mason Wheeler: 96 comments (11%)
  5. PaulT: 92 comments (7%)
  6. jupiterkansas: 85 comments (13%)
  7. Gwiz: 78 comments (14%)
  8. That Anonymous Coward: 67 comments (14%)
  9. Roger Strong: 63 comments (11%)
  10. Uriel-238: 59 comments (3%)
That One Guy unseated John Fenderson for the lead in this category after the two were reversed last year (and the year before that John was in second while That One Guy was in fourth).

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

  1. DannyB: 35 comments (5%)
  2. Roger Strong: 34 comments (6%)
  3. That One Guy: 33 comments (1%)
  4. Violynne: 23 comments (7%)
  5. Ninja: 22 comments (2%)
  6. Mason Wheeler: 17 comments (2%)
  7. jupiterkansas: 16 comments (2%)
  8. John Fenderson: 15 comments (0.5%)
  9. TechDescartes: 14 comments (35%)
  10. That Anonymous Coward: 11 comments (2%)
Continuing a trend we saw last year, it's getting harder and harder to get the funny icon with any real consistency. But, a special callout needs to go to TechDescartes, who appears to have just shown up on the site very recently, but is getting an insane number of funny comment awards (and a bunch of insightful comments too). Keep it up! It reminds me of the old days when Karl used to dominate the insightful column (come back Karl!).

Okay, that's it. I think we've now officially closed the books on 2015 and I look forward to an eventful 2016...

Filed Under: 2015, numbers, statistics, techdirt

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  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 3 Jan 2016 @ 8:42am

    Ironic Proof

    Of how much can be learned from "metadata"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 4 Jan 2016 @ 1:53am

      Re: Ironic Proof

      Can't decide if funny or insightful, voted both!

      I wonder if you can "connect the dots" in a way that links Techdirt to some meth lab or something. Tim?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2016 @ 10:20am

    Population adjusted data?

    Canada (just barely) nudged out the UK as the number two country, providing 6.54% of our visitors, with the UK at 6.46%. Australia and Germany round out the top five again.
    How about population-adjusted data?

    Population in millions (from CIA World Factbook):
    • United States 321.4
    • Canada         35.1
    • United Kingdom 64.1
    • Australia      22.8
    • Germany        80.9

    With Canada having about half the population of the UK, but the same number of visitors, it looks like a population-adjusted number would be about twice the UK's traffic.

    You could also adjust cities for population, but that gets a little bit more fuzzy because the edges of cities are a bit more fuzzy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2016 @ 10:54am

      Re: Population adjusted data?

      Or, instead of adjusting the numbers by raw national population, you could instead adjust the numbers by internet user population.

      Internet users in millions (2014 estimates) (from CIA World Factbook):
      • United States 276.6
      • Canada         32.4
      • United Kingdom 57.3
      • Australia      20.2
      • Germany        70.3
      It's an interesting question as to whether the raw population or the internet user population is a better basis from which to adjust the relative attraction of the content to a national culture.

      Either way, I'd like to see the adjusted numbers, please.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vinnie, 3 Jan 2016 @ 11:21am


    How do those hits get categorized? Or are you unable them? I'm I an awful person for (almost) always reading only through Feedly? (For what it's worth, I do share a lot of posts on social media, so at least I'm giving you some hits indirectly.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2016 @ 12:04pm

    As the most famous and influential commenter on this site, this list amuses me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mat (profile), 3 Jan 2016 @ 4:37pm

    The 3DS

    I was on the road, the tablet was dead, and I was bored and needed something to read. Mystery solved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Cerberus (profile), 3 Jan 2016 @ 4:52pm

    The plural of "nexus" is the same, "nexus"

    Nexus is of the 4th declension, which is why the plural is "nexus", identical to the singular.

    Most words on -us are of the 2nd declension and have a plural on -i. So "nexi" is plain wrong; "nexus" is the best option; and "nexuses" is probably an acceptable alternative.

    Some words on -us are of the 3rd declension, such as prius and pectus. Then the plural in unpredictable, but usually ends on -ora (priora and pectora).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Cybe R. Wizard (profile), 4 Jan 2016 @ 1:09am

    "In 2015, we had visitors from 235 countries..." :

    Membership within the United Nations system divides the 206 listed states into three categories: 193 member states,[1] two observer states, and 11 other states. The sovereignty dispute column indicates states whose sovereignty is undisputed (190 states) and states whose sovereignty is disputed (16 states).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 4 Jan 2016 @ 2:22am

      Re: "In 2015, we had visitors from 235 countries..."

      and there is some debate over whether or not some of these actually count as countries

      Also, not all countries are members of the UN. There are more countries signed to entities like the IOC or even FIFA than the UN, no?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 4 Jan 2016 @ 4:20am


    Are there numbers on access through the RSS-feed?
    I am curious how many others are using it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 4 Jan 2016 @ 1:25pm

      Re: RSS

      I am curious how many others are using it.

      I seldom use any of the web (for news) except via RSS.

      While I'm here, about that number of countries vs. sovereign nations question, I'd just like to mention Texas (or even Quebec). I suspect a lot of people on both sides of those borders would happily fight to the death over that issue, and a lot of people would likely love to see that happen too.

      RIP Ian Murdock. Damn && sniffle, sniffle! :-(

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 4 Jan 2016 @ 8:41am


    Thanks, Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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