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January 03, 2003

Selling Short

Back when I was training people for door to door vacuum cleaner sales, the conventional wisdom was that November and December were the worst months to try and see people, because so many of the days were holidays, and the next worst times were during the summer months, because of the vacations.

The best times were October and March, because they had 31 days, and no travel holidays.

For the 5 years I was there, the wisdom held. October was always the best month, and December was always the worst.

I was reminded of that when I saw this story over at Quark Soup (link via Daily Pundit). He doesn't appear to have permalinks, so I'll quote in full for posterity.

DECLININGPUNDIT?

After the Trent Lott dislocation, many were crediting the blogosphere with originating the takedown. And perhaps they did initiate discussion (though I have yet to see any Congressional aid say they read a blog). In any case, one wonders if one blog -- the blog, perhaps -- hasn't reached a peak: Instapundit. For the 7th week in a row, Instapundit has failed to reach its peak readership.

One wonders if problems like these are not going unnoticed.

It may just be me, but I sense a kind of smarmy joy at the possibility. It seems....uncouth to take joy in the perception of another's misfortune somehow. Certainly it's premature, as the numbers don't really bear out that trend from my point of view.

I get the feeling that the vast majority of blog visitors read them on weekdays, while they are at work. Certainly mine do, and whenever I've bothered to check somebody else's numbers they tend to roughly follow that trend. What that means is that most people surf the Internet from work, and when they're not at work, visitor numbers are going to decline.

If you think of blogs as a product, what the above means is that people are most interested in our product when they're at work. So, the months with the most workdays in them are going to be the most popular. Once again, that's October and March. I can't see Glenn's numbers for last March, but October looks to have been his best month ever. The time to judge whether he's actually lost a step will be March, which is the next comparable month.

One final note. Quarks final link is to a blog post basically accusing the Instapundit of sending an ungentlemanly e-mail.

I mean, heck, Glenn Reynolds dropped the f-bomb when he heard about it and essentially called me and Liberal Oasis liars in an e-mail last night. I'm sure the folks at the White House will respond in a similar fashion. Sorry Glenn. It is true. I'm looking at it.

And isn't it humorous to see Glenn do his "Miss Manners" routine about proper e-mail etiquette within five minutes of sending me an e-mail with profanity in it. I mean, heck, I'm an adult but I wouldn't dream of sending an e-mail like that to someone. I get some pretty loony e-mail too from some of Glenn's supporters and I don't respond like that. And then he has the gall to fuss at me on his blog for what I sent him!

I've got no problem with the story, certainly e-mail lends itself to things of the f-bombs nature, but if you're going to make an accusation, put the evidence up for the rest of the world to judge. Not putting it up suggests that you're either lying, or have something to hide.

Update: Thinking it Through has taken issue with the explanation above;

Boy, you ought to read the pathetic excuse-making by Insty fans here and here. His numbers have to be down because of the holidays, right? You can tell it bothers them to think that Insty's numbers are going down. Since my record day for hits was the day after Christmas, that shoots a rather large hole through that theory.

And, BTW, I didn't see any need to share that e-mail with everyone in the blogosphere. I didn't make it up. It was embarrassing for Glenn and he apologized for it. I saw no need to embarrass him further. In fact, I only mentioned it after he preceded to lecture me about e-mail etiquette just moments after sending me a blue e-mail. Otherwise I wouldn't have said a thing about it.

And isn't it interesting when right-wing bloggers who support W, accuse lefty bloggers of lying? We expose rather large whoppers by W and the boys every day right here on this blog. Ah, it's the right's preferred method of argumentation -- smearing and name-calling.

I can't say I'm surprised.

I can say I'm surprised. Anyone who did even a modicum of reading here would soon discover that while I may be many things, I'm neither right-wing nor a supporter of W. Bill's right wing, yes, but also hardly a supporter of W. In fact, my politics have been measured. I'm left-libertarian, according to the Political Blogmap(Google cached version provided as it appears mentalspace's archives are either down or removed). It's a common reaction, to automatically assign politics and positions radically opposite your own to someone who has the temerity to disagree with you, but it implies sloppy thinking.

As to the smearing and name-calling, I did neither consciously, at least in the original post.:) I think Tom's referring to the bit about "Not putting it up suggests that you're either lying, or have something to hide." I'm used to people backing up assertions in their blogs with a link to or a copy of what they are referring to. That's precisely why I questioned the lack of an e-mail copy, because it is so pervasive a practice. A lack of documentary evidence for a particular allegation is simply much more striking in the blogosphere than in other media. I didn't consider it an insult, I considered it a warning of how people will react, and I stand by that warning. People will call a blogger on what they consider a questionable assertion, and I think it's the blogger's responsibility to anticipate that.

A lack of such evidence could imply a lack of experience, but to baldly call a stranger "newbie" is insulting, and I didn't want to do that. Tom's assertion that he didn't post it out of some regard for Glen Reynolds feelings is ludicrous, as it could hardly do more injury than the already published allegations. A published summary of the e-mail has the exact same effect as a published copy of the e-mail. Essentially, he had already shared it "with everyone in the blogosphere." If that was not his intent, perhaps Glenn will be getting an apology from him sometime soon. As Glenn is a gentleman, I don't expect to ever know anything about the content of said apology.

As for myself, If I said anything in my original post that hurt Mr. Spencer's feelings, he certainly has my apologies.

A couple of other points;

Since my record day for hits was the day after Christmas, that shoots a rather large hole through that theory

Tom has no publicly viewable counters on his blog, and thus no readily available evidence for the above claim. I'm detecting a pattern here. As in the case with Glenn's e-mail, we must take him at his word.

But, let's assume that he is not lying. I'll take Tom's claim at face value, just as I did his story about Glenn's e-mail. It still means nothing, again because without the documention a public counter gives, the claim has no context. I have no way of knowing if the daily readership for TiT is in the tens, the hundreds, or the thousands. The lower the daily readership, the easier it is to set records. Unless TiT's daily readership numbers are are equal or larger than those of Instapundit, then his conclusions are non-transferable. It would be the same as making claims about how people will cast their vote on election day after polling a sample group of inadequate size. I would think an assistant professor of history would realize this, but perhaps he was under deadline.

In any case, I did not dispute the conclusions about the decline of Instapundit. I simply said that until March arrives, we can't know for sure. The data set is too small to draw on, and nothing that's been said since has persuaded me otherwise. Once again, most people surf the Internet from work. October has 23 work days, and November and December have 18 each, or at least they did at my work place.

I've been a webmaster or a sysadmin for 5 years now, and most of the traffic patterns I seen all fit the "people surf from work" model. At my old dot-com, visitors and sales sucked wind in December, and October and March were always gangbusters, at least relatively so. Weekdays were always better than weekends, and Wednesday was normally the the best weekday. Sadly, I don't have any links to net32 traffic pages, because there have never been any, but feel free to call them up and ask them.

Now, given Instapundit's average of 23,043 visitors a day, those missing 5 days easily cover the decline in numbers for those two months. Yes, there are a comparable number of days in each month, but not all days have the same value. On average, weekends and holidays produce lower visitor counts. To reach an average of 23,043 visitors a day, Instapundit actually has to pull in more than that number during each day of the workweek.

January at least has 22 workdays, so it may be possible to tell before March, except that over 5% of Instapundit visitors come from .edu domains, and many if not all colleges are not back in session yet. As college students are among the most avid consumers of Internet content, I tend to doubt the January numbers will have any value in a comparison with October. One should be able to compare them to December and November numbers, though.

Posted by Bigwig at January 3, 2003 08:52 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
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