The Winkler Post - An Independent Voice From West Texas
Monday, 26 January, 2015 09:19:33 pm Current Issue January 22, 2015
Last Updated: Monday, January 26, 2015 - 2:38:49 PM
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Closing In On A Million
John Reed ♦ January 22 2015 21:31:39

A few years ago, February 2010 to be exact, we were asked by a reader how many "hits" the Winkler Post received.  The exact number at that particular date has long been erased from our memory –not that it was ever committed to the gray-matter.  However, it gave us an idea, for an experiment that might allow a reasonable answer to a question that still gets asked on a fairly frequent basis... Wednesday, January 21, 2015 was the most recent.

Having created scores of websites as a web-services contractor and provided webmaster services since 1994 we have come to the realization that it's really not the "numbers" that count but, what the visitors do while they are in the building –so to speak, that makes or breaks a website.  Nonetheless, heavy traffic, no matter the business –brick 'n mortar or virtual, creates potential "opportunity"; giving the "numbers" a bit more of legitimacy.  That was in 1994 –before the advent of Google and Yahoo –and thousands of "robots."

In the early days of web commerce, when there were only a handful –three or four search-engines, their activities in "mapping" the web was of little or no concern, in terms of traffic-counts on any particular website and "page hits" actually meant something and were reasonably accurate.  Today, there are thousands of robots, a.k.a. "spiders", a.k.a. "indexers" roaming freely from website to website.  Each hunting for who knows what and, creating gazillions of page-hits; making an accurate count of hits –views by users with real eyes an impossibility.  Keep in mind, the "robots" have no eyes, no credit cards and could care less about the color of the site's background.  The robots are software driven, with no human evolvement until it comes time to harvest the content they have gathered from the sites they visited.  We'll save you from our geeky explanation and tirade concerning their use of OUR content.

Back to the numbers.  As of the 21st day of this month, for the month of January, there have been just shy of 500,000 page views of the Winkler Post.  In December of 2014 there were well over 600,000.  Sounds impressive huh.  Ahhhh, there's a catch: robots.

In February of 2010, in an attempt to give a reasonably accurate answer to a simple question, we poured over our log-files, filtering out robot traffic from "Real User's" traffic and we found that close to 80% of the traffic was created by robots.  At that time, we wrote a bit of software that would filter the traffic and count ONLY real users and implemented that software on the Home Page of the Winkler Post.  We began that counting experiment on March 1, 2010 and have updated the "filtering system" frequently, when we find a new robot, in an effort to keep that single page's "count" as accurate as possible.

At this writing, late Wednesday evening, the count is at 994,216.  Readers may see the updated count on the Home Page –at the very bottom of the page.

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