Techdirt 2019: The Stats.

from the closing-the-books-on-2019 dept

Every year, a few days after New Year's Day, we post some stats about traffic and comments from the previous year (we do it a few days after New Year's to make sure that we actually have complete data for the year -- and also, because it takes a bit of time to go through all the data, and other work needs to be done as well). For reference, you can see our previous such posts: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. We still use Google Analytics for traffic data, mainly because it's the easiest to use, even though it is increasingly not the most accurate, in part because many of our readers (*cough* including me) will often block Google Analytics from recording our traffic. As we've discussed in the past, most "traffic" numbers are complete garbage, a fact that most people like to ignore because it benefits themselves. However, here we are only using the traffic stats for comparative or relative purposes, rather than absolute purposes -- which seems much more reasonable (i.e., we'll note which stories got the most traffic, but not detail how much traffic, since we're positive that number is inaccurate or misleading).

Once again, let's start with where people are coming from. The top of this list is basically always almost exactly identical. The vast majority of our traffic is from the US, with 67% (it's always between 67% and 70%). Number two, as always, is the UK, though this year it jumped up to 6.65% from 5.5%, and Canada remains third at 4.41%. India had jumped to 4th place (from 5th) last year, and it remains in 4th place again with 2.8% of our traffic. Australia is still in 5th with 2.2%. The next five are still the same: Finland, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Sweden, though Finland jumped over Germany to go from 7th to 6th. We noted that last year was Finland's first in the top 10, and this year it bumped up another spot. Not sure why we're moderately big in Finland, but it's cool by me.

At a continental level, the Americas represent 74% of our traffic (98.5% of that is North America), Europe 17%, Asia 7%, Oceania is 3% and Africa is 1%. Interesting to think about as we consider whether we can even continue to serve European traffic following the various anti-internet laws they've been passing over there. Overall, Google says we had visitors from 237 countries last year, down one from 238 last year, but up one from 236 the year before. Among countries that have become much more censorial, we notice our traffic has dropped precipitously. We used to get a fair amount of traffic from Russia but it's now barely a blip. We get more traffic from Austria and Denmark than Russia nowadays. We get about the equivalent amount of traffic from China as we get from Russia (i.e., not very much). In Asia, most of our traffic comes from India and the Philippines (with some Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Pakistan as well). Turkey? We get basically the same amount of traffic as we get from Russia and China. It's almost uncanny that we get nearly the identical traffic amounts from each of those countries.

Sometimes it's fun to explore the bottom of the list, which tends to be dominated by single visits from random islands in the South Pacific and various countries in Africa -- but not sure it actually tells us very much useful. It's interesting to see a growing number of visits from Cuba, a country whose internet access still remains very, very limited. We're back down to no visits from North Korea, after it sent us 2 visits the previous year.

In terms of technology, it's worth noting that Chrome, while still dominant, has dropped in the level of dominance. Last year it represented 49% of all visits to the site (same as the previous year), but this year it's dropped to 45.8%, with Safari jumping up to 21.5% from 17%. Firefox has dropped from 10% to 6%, which makes me sad as a Firefox user. In news that I'm sure is frustrating to Microsoft (and surprising to everyone), we still get 4% of traffic from Internet Explorer and less than 2% from Microsoft Edge. Most of the other browser traffic is various mobile browsers, so we'll breakdown operating system traffic next. 32% of our traffic comes from Windows-based computers, 28% from Android devices and 27% from iOS devices. Only 10% comes from Macintosh computers, which surprises me. 3% of our traffic is from Linux-based machines. Slightly less than 1% comes from Chrome OS. Oh, and 0.03% from Blackberry, 0.02% from "Windows Phone" and 0.01% from Playstation 4. Wow.

In terms of service providers, it's a little difficult to tell, because Google Analytics records the same ISP in many different ways (i.e., there's "Comcast Cable Communications LLC" which is listed separately from "Comcast" and "Comcast IP Services" and "Comcast Cable Communications Inc."). I'm sure there's a reason for all those different names, and I'm also assuming it's due to some lame rent seeking activity. So, my rough estimates are that about 10% of our traffic is carried by Comcast, around 7% by Charter, 6% by AT&T and Verizon each, and then lots of other smaller players.

Mobile traffic continues to grow by leaps and bounds. We finally (finally, finally, finally) made our site responsive to make mobile browsing better, and so our mobile traffic numbers shot up. Last year it was 39% of our traffic. This year it was 55% of traffic (wow!). Looking purely at mobile traffic, the fight between Android and iOS remains pretty close. 50% of mobile visits are Android and 49% are iOS. The iPhone obviously was the most dominant device, followed by the iPad. When you get into Android devices, we see variations on Samsung phones leading the pack, with the S8, S9, S9+, Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy Note 9 all making the leader boards. The only two devices that weren't from Apple or Samsung were the Google Pixel 2 XL and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A. Going further down the list, we see more variations on the Google Pixels and Samsung devices. Eventually, pretty far down the list we start to see some Motorolas and some OnePluses. Much further down the list there are some LG devices. An Amazon Fire (?!?) and even a fair number of visits from an Essential Phone (?!?!?!?).

For the last few years we've highlighted the following chart of where our traffic comes from:

As we say every year, unlike nearly every other site out there, we do not focus on gaming social media for traffic, and truly wish to get as much "direct" traffic as possible, because that's how you build loyalty. So it makes me happy to see direct traffic remains our biggest source at over 40% and social is just around 12.5%. This may be naive. Basically every other site seems to focus on getting as much social traffic as possible, and it is, certainly a channel for generating traffic. But it's also fickle and leaves you completely at the whim of whatever recommendation algorithm those companies have designed and I'd rather focus on creating good content than worrying about some third party algorithm I have no control over (same goes for search traffic, for what it's worth).

Within social traffic, we get the most from Twitter, followed by Reddit, Facebook, HackerNews, Quora and then YouTube. Google obviously drives most of the search traffic followed by Bing and then DuckDuckGo (which is pretty close behind Bing). As always, many of the top search terms are clearly people using search as a navigation tool, as they just are variations on "techdirt" or "tech dirt." Some of the other top search terms that took people to Techdirt are surprising. There's "baby shark" coming in at the top, and also "UCF professor Richard Quinn." Not sure why people are searching on him, but the top result is our 2010 story on him, and his accusations against his students for cheating (and how he dealt with them). I don't know if he did something new this year that made a bunch of people search for him. Some other top search terms are perhaps less surprising: there are searches for copyright troll "Higbee & Associates" (many of which seem to be from people who received demand letters from Higbee) as well as Backpage and everyone's favorite SLAPP suit filing coal boss, Bob Murray.

And now it's time for the lists:

Top Ten Stories, by unique pageviews, on Techdirt for 2019:

  1. Colorado Town Offers 1 Gbps For $60 After Years Of Battling Comcast
  2. AT&T Execs Think It's Really Funny They Misled Consumers About 5G Availability
  3. The FTC's Settlement With Equifax Is Such A Joke, The FTC Is Now Begging You Not To Ask For A Cash Settlement
  4. Former Hotel Exec Gets Elected To Congress, Decides First Order Of Business Is To Destroy Airbnb
  5. ACLU Asks CBP Why It's Threatening US Citizens With Arrest For Refusing Invasive Device Searches
  6. Voting Machine Makers Claim The Names Of The Entities That Own Them Are Trade Secrets
  7. Ironically, Too Many Video Streaming Choices May Drive Users Back To Piracy
  8. Verizon's New 'Unlimited' Data Plans Still Have Very Real, Problematic Limits
  9. AT&T Loses Another 1.36 Million Pay TV Subscribers Thanks To Relentless Price Hikes
  10. How My High School Destroyed An Immigrant Kid's Life Because He Drew The School's Mascot

Once again, a pretty good mix of stories. I'm particularly happy to see that last story make the list, because I'm still angry about what my own high school did the previous year in destroying a kid's life. I'm not entirely sure how this came about but the 11th story on the list was actually a story from 2010 about professor who thinks students should be able to reuse their own papers for other classes. Number 12 on the list, for what it's worth, was about copyright troll Richard Liebowitz.

2019's Top Ten Stories, by comment volume:

  1. Content Moderation At Scale Remains Impossible: Vaccines Edition 1635 Comments
  2. The Ellen Show Issues Copyright Takedown On Transformative Video Commenting On Her Friendship With President Bush 376 Comments
  3. EU Puts An End To The Open Internet: Link Taxes And Filters Approved By Just 5 Votes 358 Comments
  4. Strike 3 Gets Another Judge To Remind It That IP Addresses Aren't Infringers 341 Comments
  5. Cop Peforming A Welfare Check Kills Woman By Shooting Her Through Her Own Backyard Window 320 Comments
  6. Gavin McInnes Files Laughably Silly Defamation Lawsuit Against Southern Poverty Law Center 308 Comments
  7. US Newspapers Now Salivating Over Bringing A Google Snippet Tax Stateside 303 Comments
  8. Our Legal Dispute With Shiva Ayyadurai Is Now Over 297 Comments
  9. LAPD Infiltrated An Anti-Fascist Protest Group Because The First Amendment Is Apparently Just A Suggestion 286 Comments
  10. Article 13 Was Purposefully Designed To Be Awful For The Internet; EU Moves Forward With It Anyway 282 Comments
Yet again, it appears that there is no overlap between the most commented stories and the most trafficked stories. Pretty much since the beginning of this list, we've highlighted this point, but many people still think that comments and traffic are equivalent. Anyway, you, uh, might notice that the top of the list here is a bit more than well, any of the other stories. That thread is fairly epic, but by "epic" I mean full of utter nonsense from at least one, and possibly more very, very stubborn, but very, very ignorant people concerning the topic at hand. That thread has also continued pretty much non-stop since that post went up, including more comments in the past few days. I would recommend not adding to it, but I imagine this post may unfortunately give that thread another boost.

And, with that, let's do the individual community leader boards.

2019 Top Commenters, by comment volume:

  1. Stephen T. Stone: 3988 comments
  2. PaulT: 3082 comments
  3. That One Guy: 2536 comments
  4. Scary Devil Monastery: 1658 comments
  5. Thad: 1597 comments
  6. Gary: 1596 comments
  7. Toom1275: 1332 comments
  8. bhull242: 1176 comments
  9. Wendy Cockcroft: 1044 comments
  10. ECA: 999 comments

A fair bit of new names on the list this year and a lot more comments. For example, 10th place on this year's list would have been 6th place on last years. Also, PaulT's reign at the top didn't last long. After years of being near the top of the list, and after years of That One Guy being at the top of the list, both were pushed down a notch by Stephen T. Stone who came in just short of 4,000 comments. Damn. PaulT and That One Guy both actually significantly increased their comments from last year, but Stephen could not be stopped. New entrants to this year's list include Scary Devil Monastery, Gary, bhull242 and Wendy Cockcroft -- all of whom have been avid commenters.

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. Stephen T. Stone: 1047 comments (26%)
  2. That One Guy: 668 comments (26%)
  3. PaulT: 529 comments (17%)
  4. Thad: 304 comments (19%)
  5. Gary: 223 comments (15%)
  6. James Burkhardt: 180 comments (39%)
  7. bhull242: 150 comments (13%)
  8. Mike Masnick: 133 comments (25%)
  9. Toom1275: 118 comments (9%)
  10. Anonymous Anonymous Coward: 108 (14%)

Once again, Stephen T. Stone has swooped in to take the top spot by a wide margin. Impressive. Last year, we noted that James Burkhardt jumped onto the list as a first timer and had the highest percentage of insightful comments with 24% of his comments reaching that level. This year both Stephen and That One Guy got to 26%, but James lapped them by getting an astounding 39% of his comments deemed insightful. Nice going James and please keep it up.

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. Stephen T. Stone: 118 comments (3%)
  2. Thad: 68 comments (4%)
  3. That One Guy: 52 comments (2%)
  4. Gary: 51 comments (3%)
  5. Toom1275: 38 comments (3%)
  6. Norahc: 24 comments (9%)
  7. Mason Wheeler: 21 comments (3%)
  8. Anonymous Anonymous Coward: 20 comments (3%)
  9. That Anonymous Coward: 17 comments (3%)
  10. Bamboo Harvester: 14 comments (2%)
As we've noted the past few years, it's definitely more difficult to get the "funny icon" than the insightful one, though that may just be a statement on the times we live in. Stephen retains his leadership spot as last year he topped this board as well -- but that also means that Stephen took a clean sweep of all three comment categories. Way to go, Stephen. The other standout on this list is Norahc, who had the highest percentage, by far, of comments deemed to be funny. Excellent job and do keep it up.

And, with that, the 2019 books are closed and let's get moving on the 2020 comments. I'm sure there will be plenty to comment about.

Filed Under: 2019, techdirt, the stats


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:22pm

    ...I spend more time commenting here than is probably good for me, huh? 😅

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 9:18pm

    Mostly I give you bad data, not on purpose as it is set for general internet use. I hate targeted ads, so usually, not tonight, I use a VPN and other methods to slow down as much datamining as possible. I've read your stories here for years. I came here on the recommendation of the owner of one of your competitors when he shut his site down years ago.

    Occasionally my posts get caught up in your spammer/hacker/troll filters when they are active. Still I won't give up my VPN and prefer not to have an account.

    I find your topics useful. They help in my everyday life, often far ahead of the MSM, and more frequently never mentioned in them. In that your site is unique.

    Thank you for keeping me continuously informed. Often to the point that my fellow on-line peers wonder how I knew and came up with the current info they knew nothing about. If they ask, I refer them here.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 9:34am

      Re:

      I'd be curious to see numbers for VPNs, Tor, etc., as well as an estimate of how many people are blocking Google Analytics (e.g. IPs that were served pages or posted comments but don't appear in the Google data).

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Jan 2020 @ 9:21pm

    "We still use Google Analytics for traffic data, mainly because it's the easiest to use"

    Oh come on Mike, we know you use it because you are a Google shill. :)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 9:34pm

      Re:

      If Techdirt doesn't already, maybe they should file most posts critical of google in the 'shillin-for-google dept'

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

  • icon
    Tim Cushing (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 9:45pm

    Pretty sure I'm the guy giving you all the LG phone traffic.

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

  • icon
    Eldakka (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 9:52pm

    So the article about how difficult (impossible) content moderation at scale is, got the most third-party content?

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

  • icon
    bhull242 (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 1:30am

    Well, I saw this one coming…

    Regarding the comments in this article

    That thread has also continued pretty much non-stop since that post went up, including more comments in the past few days. I would recommend not adding to it

    Sorry!

    I have a bit of SIWOTI-itis, especially when it comes to vaccines and autism, so I couldn’t help myself!

    It didn’t help when, after a few weeks of no more garbage, someone comes in out of nowhere with a claim that human DNA from aborted fetuses is in vaccines, and that somehow “causes gender identity disorder”. I gotta say, I’ve seen a lot of claims from anti-vaxxers, but that was a new one.

    But yeah, I think I may have a problem… Maybe not like Mr. Stone’s nearly-4000-posts-in-one-year, but definitely a problem. Someone stop me!

    On the bright side, I have a feeling that that one thread was responsible for me making it into the top 10 commenters and the number 7 spot for insightful comments this year! I got a lot of posts in that thread that I worked really hard on. Here’s to 2020!

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

    • identicon
      Bobvious, 4 Jan 2020 @ 2:21am

      Re: Well, I saw this one coming…

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 6:37am

      I have a bit of SIWOTI-itis

      I, too, have this affliction.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 12:25pm

      Re: Well, I saw this one coming…

      But yeah, I think I may have a problem… Maybe not like Mr. Stone’s nearly-4000-posts-in-one-year, but definitely a problem. Someone stop me!

      Swatting down and exposing dangerously stupid and/or dishonest people isn't really a 'problem' I'd say, especially on subjects where lives can literally be on the line should someone believe the lies/falsehoods being spread.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 1:12pm

      Re: Well, I saw this one coming…

      In a vein of humor, I almost think people should get bonus points, to insightful AND funny, for using an xkcd link and using it well.

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

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 1:53pm

      Re: Well, I saw this one coming…

      Problem 2: Apparently when I try to be funny, I’m being insightful. Go figure. I’m too insightful for my own good.

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

    • icon
      catsmoke (profile), 5 Jan 2020 @ 2:58am

      Re: Well, I saw this one coming…

      someone comes in out of nowhere with a claim that human DNA from aborted fetuses is in vaccines, and that somehow “causes gender identity disorder”

      Someone who probably denies the fluidity of gender identity is saying that gender identity fluidity is caused by vaccines.

      If whoever made this claim does possess both opinions at the same time, then they are—even now—doubtlessly suffering an existential crisis, racked by throes of cognitive dissonance.

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

      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 5 Jan 2020 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Re: Well, I saw this one coming…

        In all fairness, they seem to be uninterested in the “gender identity” portion of the claim. That part appears to be dropped. They seem far more interested in the part about human DNA being in vaccines, and how that may lead to problems. I believe they are currently suggesting that cancer, autoimmune diseases, and/or other mutations can be caused by human DNA in vaccines.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 5 Jan 2020 @ 5:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Well, I saw this one coming…

          I believe they are currently suggesting that cancer, autoimmune diseases, and/or other mutations can be caused by human DNA in vaccines.

          No polka-dotted skin, penchant for spontanious combustion and/or increased chance to just suddenly float into the sky? Tisk tisk, they're really slacking off, if they're going to pull random things from their backside they should be going all-in on it, it would be just as believable and convincing.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 11:19am

    LOL By every single available metric, Techdirt's popularity has been tanking for some years now, each one worse than the last. But go ahead and believe Masnick's BS excuses for it...

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 11:46am

      You must know that by visiting the site and posting comments here, you’re helping those “tanking” metrics. For someone who comes off as not wanting the site to keep going, you’re not exactly helping your own cause there, champ.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 12:14pm

        Re:

        Did Masnick even talk about trends in the total yearly visits (I don't recall reading that)? Seems suspiciously like the OP is just making up a talking point to argue against.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 2:46pm

      Re: To rework an old phrase.

      Who is more the failure? The failure who runs a modestly popular niche blog? Or the failure who posts achingly jealous comments on said site?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 5:34pm

      Re:

      Except for the metrics that are specifically up, which you are obviously ignoring. Specifically, direct traffic is up, mobile traffic is WAY up, and comments are also up.

      So, actually, by several metrics, Techdirt's popularity is actually growing.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2020 @ 6:45am

      Re:

      Shiva Ayyadurai lost, antidirt.

      Get over yourself.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 2:07am

      Re:

      Like... I'm not even sure what you expected to achieve with this snipe. "Bwa ha ha ha, now you're slightly less popular"? What did you think all the "pirates" were going to do? Visit your spectacular blog where you chronicle the achievements of Evan Stone and Andrew Crossley? Suddenly start paying tribute to the glorious Cary Sherman? Pay for more expensive cable services and eat the Reese's Pieces falling from Ajit Pai's backdoor?

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Monkey (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 12:35pm

    malformed anchor

    bullet 2 in top 10 by comment volume has broken closing anchor:

    The Ellen Show Issues Copyright Takedown On Transformative Video Commenting On Her Friendship With President Bush /a> 376 Comments

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

  • icon
    bhull242 (profile), 4 Jan 2020 @ 1:48pm

    I think part of the reason you’re getting so many more comments this year is the improved mobile experience. It’s way easier to use now on my smartphone.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 2:06pm

      Re:

      Yeah definitely easier to comment since the beta / new format. Prior to that i almost never commented if i had to read td by phone.

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

  • identicon
    bob, 4 Jan 2020 @ 2:33pm

    Your link to 2010 article from this page is broken.

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

  • icon
    Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 6 Jan 2020 @ 6:10am

    Avid commenter

    I comment when I have something to say rather than to just get my name in there, so I'm surprised I had posted that many comments. Thanks for the name check!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 9:37am

    Different names

    I'm sure there's a reason for all those different names, and I'm also assuming it's due to some lame rent seeking activity.

    More likely, that's just how the names show up in the WHOIS data for the IP blocks. Probably different employees, maybe from different business units, registered those blocks over time, and Comcast never assigned anyone the task of unifying those records. Some of it probably came from acquisitions, though I suppose that could fall under "rent-seeking".

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 7 Jan 2020 @ 9:28am

    Hah, I dropped off from the lists. It's been a rough year indeed. But I'm glad we are seeing new faces here! Fear not, Ninja is still reading just not commenting that much. Also, the comments started with a bang eh? Several funny and insightful right off the bat.

    Competition is becoming fierce!

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


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