Dear Chicago Poetry fans,
I want to discuss the issue of where ChicagoPoetry.com stands in the World Wide Web as far as our traffic is concerned, mostly so that I can have something concrete to point to when the nay-sayers out there rise up again to doubt the reach of this website.
Dear poets, ChicagoPoetry.com is valuable to our poetry scene. Reporting the poetry news isn't about copying stuff off of other websites or from emails, only to paste it onto a blog. A professional job requires analyzing that information, editing that information, checking the facts and sometimes commenting on that information, but most importantly, getting that information to the people: it's about getting "traffic".
ChicagoPoetry.com has the traffic, and lots of it.
This article will include a lot of technical stuff, so if you're not into numbers feel free to skip it. However, if you are at all interested about the true reach of this website, you may find the following of some value.
First, what is meant by traffic? As far as I'm concerned, traffic is simply how many people find and look at my website. When an individual finds and looks at my website, I call it a hit. When the same person looks at several different pages on my website, I call those "page view hits".
ChicagoPoetry.com is set up with several tools that document not only how many hits this site gets, but also where those hits come from. For example, if you have a link to ChicagoPoetry on your website or at your blog, and someone clicks on it, I will be informed about it. If you search for specific keywords at Google (or at any other search engine)—such as a poet's name or the address of a venue—and as a result you find an article at my site, I will be informed about it. If you click on a link to my site in an email, even though I will not know who you are, I will be informed that someone somewhere clicked on a link in an email. I monitor my traffic on a regular basis, because it helps me understand what the public is looking for, and that allows me to improve this site thus increasing the flow of traffic to it. It all sounds like Big Brother, but don't let it freak you out. The fact is practically every unique website in the world has and uses the same kind of tools, so I'm not the only one analyzing the Internet's chatter.
I call how many hits I get and where they come from my "stats". My stats are private. Only I have access to them. If anyone ever shows you something that they claim are my stats, they are showing you complete bull, because nobody has access to that information beside myself. I actually have four different types of "hit counters" hooked up to ChicagoPoetry.com that monitor these stats, only one of which is available to you.
The one that is available to you is up there at the right, in the side bar, where it says "Right now . . ." That box is a real time counter that documents how many people are viewing this site at any given moment. Look at it right now and you will see how many other people beside yourself are reading something on this website right now. The number constantly changes as people come in and out of this site. That hit counter tells you how many "unregistered users" are looking at the site (that just means people) and often it will say that there is a registered user online (that's me, I'm probably editing something).
These numbers are real numbers and they don't lie. With this little hit counter, you can calculate an estimate of my daily traffic. Although it certainly fluctuates, on average about 30 people are viewing this site at any given moment. A conservative estimate would be that the average viewer spends about fifteen minutes in the site reading stuff and then they go somewhere else. Some only stay a minute; others may stay a half hour, but let's use fifteen minutes as the medium. If that's a good, conservative assumption, then that would suggest that every fifteen minutes, for the most part, there are thirty different (or "unique") people reading my site, which would then suggest that approximately 120 people visit this site per hour. These numbers match pretty closely to the information on my other hit counters, with the traffic slowing down in the wee hours of the morning. Keep in mind that ChicagoPoetry.com is composed of well over a thousand pages, so if each page even gets one hit in a day, the result is a thousand hits.
When we first launched version three of this website we attempted to use a "logfile analyzer" developed through analog.cx, which claims to be the most popular analyzer in the world. Right away it was apparent that there was something wrong with the "Web Server Statistics for www.chicagopoetry.com." While the other counters documented fifty to one hundred hits an hour, the analog.cx analyzer claimed we received less than 200 "requests for pages" a day! How could this be the case, when there were usually thirty (and at times 50 or 60) people viewing the site at any given moment? It became clear that the analog.cx program simply was not compatible with the php program that the site is using, so I abandoned that analyzer. The analog.cx analyzer still exists, pumping out daily numbers that mean absolutely nothing. I never use it. I never even look at it.
Instead, I use the analyzer that is actually built into the php program, because the program itself knows best about what it is doing. I will now copy the second line of the information provided at this very moment from that analyzer and I will paste it here:
"This site has received 2769492 page views since 12.2004, 467 today, and 1744 yesterday."
It is 11 AM as I am writing the first draft of this, by the way, and as you can see, I've already received 467 page views. It should also be noted that ChicagoPoetry.com was actually launched in late 1999, and the current version is the third version, so the figure 2,769,492 (total visitors) does not include any traffic before December of 2004. This analyzer does use the term "page views" but it is actually representing unique visitor—"hits"—not page view hits. I know this because I can go into the site, click around on twenty different pages in a minute, and then check the analyzer, which then doesn't report my activity as twenty hits, but only as one hit (with perhaps a few more if others were coming into the site at the time). So when I talk about hits, for the most part, I am talking about individual visitors.
To further demonstrate that these numbers reflect unique visitors, there is another way that I can accurately monitor my traffic, and that is through what is called a "referrer" module built into my site. Like I explained above, the referrer documents exactly where the traffic is coming from. I will now copy and paste three lines from this referrer:
http:/ / www.creativeodysseyenterprises.com/ id30.html
http:/ / www.google.com/ search?q=luis+rodriguez+poems &rls=com.microsoft:en-us &ie=UTF-8 &oe=UTF-8 &startIndex= &startPage=1
http:/ / www.google.com.au/ search?q=chicago+spoken+word &ie=utf-8 &oe=utf-8 &aq=t &rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official &client=firefox-a
What the above information tells me is that in the last minute or so, one person clicked on a link from "creativeodysseyenterprises.com" and another person searched Google for "luis rodriguez poems" and another person searched Google for "chicago spoken word," and, as a result, all three of them ended up at my website and are probably right now reading an article as I type. My "referrer" is really the only hit counter I completely trust, because the information in it doesn't lie and can't be fooled. My site isn't making up Google searches and it isn't making a mistake about someone clicking on a specific link from another website. The only way the information in the referrer can be documented is if someone actually carries out the action documented. So there is no doubt that the numbers reflected in the referrer represent real visitors to my website.
It is by analyzing the information in the "referrer" and by comparing it to my other counters that I have determined that ChicagoPoetry.com currently does indeed receive (on average) between 1500 to 2000 visitors per day, resulting in approximately 600,000 visitors per year. The worst-case scenario is that the same 2,000 people come into the site day in and day out (the site does reboot every day, after all), but of course the most likely scenario is that the numbers represent a mixture of return readership and fresh faces. No matter how you look at it, a half million visits a year to a poetry website is a huge achievement.
In order to really appreciate it, let's compare those stats to the stats of other poetry websites. How can I do that? I don't have access to the stats of other websites, just like you don't have access to my stats. In order to determine ChicagoPoetry.com's place in the World Wide Web, I will need to resort to an external website that monitors internet traffic.
Admittedly, such a website will offer flawed data, because it, after all, doesn't have access to the true stats either. Such a site collects its data by using a control group composed of people who have installed a program onto their computer that monitors what sites they are looking at, similar to how Neilson monitors what television shows their group is watching. Although Neilson certainly can make an educated guess about what "everyone" is watching, based upon what a small group is watching, and that guess does hold a lot of weight, it will always be nothing more than an educated guess, and that is true with websites that monitor internet traffic as well. But even if the numbers are wrong, we have to assume that they are wrong by the same proportion across the board, so that even if the numbers are off, the ratio they represent holds some truth. In other words, if the numbers are off by a certain percentage for one Chicago poetry website, then they are off by the same percentage for all Chicago poetry websites. This at least gives me a way to compare my traffic to the traffic of other poetry websites, even if the actual numbers are flawed.
The site I will consult in determining how my traffic compares with the traffic of other poetry websites is called DataOpedia.com, because it pulls information from other sites that monitor Internet traffic and it wraps it up in a nice little package.
According to the information found at the bottom of the page linked to here at DataOpedia:
"During February, 2010, chicagopoetry.com was positioned by Compete.com as the 611,686 most visited website in the United States. In order to be ranked in traffic in number 611,686, chicagopoetry.com had 2,040 visits."
According to that, DataOpedia thinks I get about 2,000 visitors in one month. That figure is even lower than what the faulty hit counter that I abandoned claimed. But even with this faulty information, my site is ranked as the 611,686th most viewed site in the United States (keep in mind there are well over 50,000,000 websites in the United States). Not bad, even when based on bad info.
The reason this information is so far off is because DataOpedia and the other sources it draws from are using a control group from around the entire country, yet ChicagoPoetry.com's traffic, for the most part, comes from Chicago, with probably only ten percent of its traffic coming from the rest of the United States and from the rest of the world. So it is irrelevant to a survey about my stats how many Texans or Alaskans are reading ChicagoPoetry.com. In order to conduct a fair and accurate survey about the traffic of my particular kind of website, a site with a disproportionate audience that exists in one isolated region of the country, the control group would have to be stationed exclusively in Chicago or at least in Illinois and / or the surrounding states. The figure of 2,040 probably is an accurate estimate, of how many people who do not live in Chicago visit my site every month. But my stats, stats that as I've shown do not lie, tell me I get about thirty times that figure in actual traffic, mostly from Chicagoans.
Even though the DataOpedia figure is way off, it does however give me something to work with. I have to assume that if it is off for me, it is also off for other Chicago poetry sites, for the same reason. That is, if the DataOpedia information only represents a certain fraction of my actual traffic (about one thirtieth), then it would represent only the same fraction for another Chicago poetry site.
Keep in mind that DataOpedia constantly updates their figures, so the stats you see when you view their pages may reflect slightly different numbers than the ones I am documenting, depending on the day you click on the links.
That being said, let's look at e-poets.net, for example. Information about e-poets.net on DataOpedia can be found here at this link. It says at the bottom of the page:
"e-poets.net got 195 visits from the US in February, 2010. This information, when compared to other sites on the web, makes this website ranked 3,125,635 out of the top 1,000,000 websites."
DataOpedia estimates that e-poets.net—a fairly recognizable name—gets less than 200 hits in a month. Since the majority of the poets showcased on e-poets are from Chicago, I can assume then that the reason for the low reporting is the same reason for my low reporting, thus the ratio would be in the same ballpark. So, even though e-poets may get thirty times 200 visitors in actual traffic, ChicagoPoetry.com still gets at least ten times the traffic of e-poets, as the data suggests. Are you following me? If you don't have faith in my logic, or you doubt what I'm saying about my own stats, then, in that case, you will simply have to admit that e-poets only gets six or seven visitors each day.
Here are estimates pertaining to other Chicago poetry websites, as reported by DataOpedia:
PoetryCenter.org (Poetry Center of Chicago) gets 1,122 visitors per month (an impressive amount of traffic, especially if the "times thirty" rule applies).
ChicagoPostModernPoetry.com gets 675 visitors per month (very surprising since that site rarely ever gets updated).
GuildComplex.org gets 100 (x30) visitors per month (not too surprising that they would only get 3000 visitors in a month, since the Guild Complex is a reading series, not an internet based project).
ChicagoPoetryCalendar.org, which is Kristy Bowen's copycat site and also the "official Printers Row blog" that has very nastily encouraged people to 'boycott" my website in favor of it, by the way, gets 0 (zero) visitors per month, according to DataOpedia (in other words, nobody in the control group has ever seen it or heard of it).
Even though the Poetry Foundation is stationed in Chicago, their website is not necessarily targeting Chicagoans and the bulk of it is not about Chicago. In fact, all you need to do to find the Poetry Foundation on Google is do a search on the single word "poetry," no city or other information is necessary. Their website is serving as a resource about poetry in general, serving the entire United States if not the world. So the error in the DataOpedia survey would not occur for them and the "times thirty" rule would not apply to them. In short, I assume the information about their website at DataOpedia is closer to being accurate.
According to DataOpedia, poetryfoundation.org gets about 200,000 visitors a month. I have no reason to doubt this, since they spent well over a million dollars on their website. If we assume this information is accurate, then that would mean that they get about four times the traffic that ChicagoPoetry.com gets (based upon my true stats, not the stats reported by DataOpedia). I think that is pretty impressive on my part, since I didn't spend a fourth of that kind of money achieving this.
Another site that serves the entire country as opposed to being dedicated to one city is PoetrySuperHighway.com. According to DataOpedia, that site gets about 750 visitors in a month. That means ChicagoPoetry.com gets nearly three times the traffic of PoetrySuperHighway even by DataOpedia numbers, and about 50 times the traffic based upon my true stats.
According to DataOpedia, Poetry.org gets about 9,700 visitors a month, about one fifth of my traffic, based upon my true stats.
According to the same source, poets.org, one of the largest and oldest (since 1996) poetry websites in the country, receives 290,628 visitors a month, only about 6 times my traffic based upon my true stats.
According to DataOpedia, chicagopoetry.com is ranked 7,327,582 in the world for the amount of traffic it gets. Keep in mind there are over 200,000,000 websites existing in the world, which means over 7 million sites get more traffic than my site, but over 193 million sites get less traffic than my site. And that is based upon DataOpedia's flawed numbers, only representing about one thirtieth of my actual traffic.
Once again, according to DataOpedia, in the United States, ChicagoPoetry.com's traffic ranking is #611,686 (if it only gets 2,000 visitors per month, that is). To get an idea of where I would actually be placed if the survey reflected my actual traffic, let's look at how other websites are ranked. I will use only examples of poetry sites that are not targeting a single city or subject matter, websites that can be found on Google merely be searching the word "poetry," so that the DataOpedia numbers will reflect more accurate data. In other words, DetroitPoetry.com or NewYorkPoetry.com would have the same type of disproportionate audience, thus resulting in flawed data by a national survey, so I will not use those sites as examples.
Poetryspeaks.com is ranked #529,600 with 2,732 visitors (less than one twentieth of my actual traffic). The website ilovepoetry.com is ranked #282,394 with 4,882 visitors (less than one tenth of my traffic). PoetryMagazine.org is ranked at #184,174 with 8,110 visitors (about one seventh of my traffic). OldPoetry.com is ranked #29,591 with 71,102 visitors (about 20% more traffic than I get). AllPoetry.com is ranked #20,714 with 101,755 visitors (a little less than twice my traffic). PoetryFoundation.org (about four times my traffic) is ranked 10,810th. And Poets.org (about six times my traffic) is ranked #6,176th. Based upon this information, if DataOpedia had access to my actual stats, I would fall somewhere closer to the ranking of OldPoetry.com, perhaps around #35,000, meaning ChicagoPoetry.com would be ranked as the 35,000th most viewed website out of over 50 million website in the United States. Not bad. What it also shows is that as a "poetry" website, ChicagoPoetry.com certainly falls within the top twenty and probably within the top ten most visited "poetry" websites in the United States. I researched the stats of a lot of websites and couldn't find other poetry websites with larger numbers than these, so if you doubt my logic, feel free to use the same tools I used to prove otherwise.
What do all these numbers and graphs mean?
In short it means ChicagoPoetry.com is up there with the big cats when it comes to poetry websites. I have been bringing Chicago poetry to the world for over ten years now, and my website is one of the reasons the Chicago Poetry Scene is so thriving. So please help me keep this site informed, and don't listen to the nay-sayers. Help me report the Chicago poetry news to the world.
Yours in poetry,
Note: New evidence has surfaced that shows that ChicagoPoetry.com enjoys ten times the internet traffic as e-poets.net, but only receives one fourth the traffic of Poetry Foundation's website. ChicagoPoetry analyzes its own statistics to discover its true place among the poetry giants of the World Wide Web. Click Here.