Sunday, January 1, 2017

Day Million

Despite just telling Jeromai that I never feel guilty for not playing MMOs, and even though I often make the point that I only write for my own amusement, I do nevertheless find myself feeling just a tiny bit uncomfortable about the lack of activity this blog has seen over the holiday period. Yes, December is my busiest time of year, both in and out of work, but even so ten posts is a bit feeble.

Last year I managed a round dozen: the same as 2013. Between those two came a baker's dozen in 2014 and back in 2012, presumably flushed with enthusiasm at the end of my first full year of blogging I somehow managed an absurd nineteen December posts! I can't imagine how that happened.

The turn of the year this time around marks five complete years since Inventory Full began. I actually started posting rather cautiously in July of 2011, racking up just 43 posts in six months, but once I gained momentum things began ticking over fairly steadily at just under 200 posts a year.

This year looks a little slack at 175 but that's the same figure as 2014 so I don't think it indicates any particular decline either in effort or interest on my part.With remarkable consistency, 2012 and 2013 tied at 197 posts, while 2015 ran them both close with 190 exactly.

When the blog hit the landmark half million page views I recorded the fact with a stereotypical British show of  false modesty. I was expecting to do the same again when (if) I hit the full million but the Russian onslaught documented earlier somewhat took the gilt off that particular piece of gingerbread and I didn't bother.

According to Blogger's basic dashboard stats, the ones I've been paying attention to since the blog started, the one million page view milestone was duly passed sometime last month. December 2016 also saw the blog record by far its highest tally of monthly visits, virtually doubling the previous record.

As the visits per country show, China is now riding Russia's coat-tails in a heartening display of (post) Communist solidarity seldom seen since the 1960s. While it's true that they do play a lot of MMOs in both Russia and China I don't flatter myself that I've suddenly acquired a whole host of new readers behind the erstwhile iron or bamboo curtains.

What I have got is meaningless stats so I'm not going to pay any further attention to them, or not, at least, until such time as Blogger cleans up its act. Blogger, of course, is owned by Google, eponymous providers of the widely-used information traffic tool Google Analytics. That tells a very different story.

I've never really followed my GA stats. I look at them maybe once a year. They used to mirror the Blogger stats fairly closely, with GA generally showing lower numbers by maybe 20-25%. That's changed.

According to Google Analytics, rather than just shy 60,000 page views in December this blog actually received 6,500. Around 10% of the figure Blogger gives me. Tellingly, according to GA, almost none of those views came from either Russia or China, or, for that matter, the other minor player in the drama, The Ukraine.

If you drill down past the Top Ten, however, some very odd things start to happen. Take a look at number 12, for example:

Let's blow that up so we can see it better:

Or how about number 19?

Then, all the way down at #37, there's this...

I wonder I ought to bring it to the attention of... Oh, wait...

There's more but that's more than enough. If the stats ever begin to make sense again then maybe I'll pay some attention but for now it's back to how many comments I get and who links to me or writes posts in reply to something I've said.


  1. The Russian, Chinese and Ukrainian hits are spambots attempting to post comments. They don't run JavaScript and thus don't show on Google Analytics, but the actual server knows that it received a page request.

  2. Ah, thanks! You reminded me I should check my spam folder, which turned out to be quite interesting. It would appear to be about two years since the last time I looked at it. There were 1500+ items in there but almost nothing newer than last summer and the huge bulk going all the way back to 2015. Not sure what that implies - I guess either Blogger's spam filter has improved or the spammers are doing something different.

    I did a good deal of research into this last time around but a lot of the explanations I found were contradictory and confusing. There's supposedly some thing where blog pages are stimulated into pinging themselves for some arcane reason I couldn't follow, which everyone seemed very exercised about. Not sure if comments are involved or if it just feeds some other metric someone somewhere wants to inflate.

    Either way, the disparity between Blogger's own stats and Google Analytics is much higher than it used to be and I don't particularly trust either of them any more.

    1. I recall this conversation. I believe it touched on the use of "referrer spam" to artificially elevate search engine rankings.

    2. I see the question has already been answered in detail below. Well, then, congratulations on five years and best wishes for another five years of playing MMOs vicariously through your words and pictures. Your blog is one of two that I go to the trouble of visiting by typing in the URL as opposed to checking my Wordpress Reader once every week.

      That sounds like some sort of compliment. Might as well take it and run off with it. Cheers!

  3. Congratulations on five years, it seems I've been reading here for longer. How time flies! Your blog is honestly one of my favorites to read, you have similar tastes to much of what I enjoy playing. I always enjoy reading someone else's take, especially on some of the less popular games... You're probably one of the few who wrote about Zentia too, Lol.

    1. Thanks! You've put me on to several MMOs I would never have tried (or possibly heard of) over the years, for which I'm very grateful. I think we share an interest in pottering (or puttering - whichever it is). I do wish I'd played more Zentia when I had the chance. Shame no-one's ever going to make an EMU for that one.

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  5. That's it! That's the clearest explanation I've seen of what's going on. I read a whole lot of detailed descriptions of the process and of a number of ways to fix it but the more I read the more complicated and confusing it sounded so in the end I gave up and decided just to ignore it.

    The thing that still puzzles me is the disparity between Google Analytics and Blogger's headline stats. Almost everything I read, including the line-by-line exclusions you mention, assumed the problem was with Analytics but as you can see my GA stats are relatively clean and tidy, barring those few weird language strings. It's the Blogger stats that are heavily corrupted and no-one seems to mention that anywhere I can find, let alone what to do about it.

  6. Can't say why there'd be a discrepency, except that Blogger probably uses an entirely different form of analytics.

    Blogger was originally developed by someone else and acquired by Google so any analytics is probably original equipment. What's more I doubt there's been any real effort put into its development for years. GA is one of their big items and a lot has been done to it over the years.

    That's my guess anyway.

  7. Holy crap, how do you get so many views? I only get like 10 a post on my blog. Is there something I'm missing out on?

    1. Sorry for the late response! Well, I've been at this for five and a half years for one thing but the main driver of traffic, I think, has been the constant (obsessive some might say) commenting I've done for a decade or so on other people's blogs. Being active in the community, loose and amorphous as it is, does create a feedback loop of sorts.

      In fact, just by commenting here you have demonstrated how that works. I always click through the link of anyone new who leaves a comment and if they have a blog I add it to my blogroll. I just added yours, which I hadn't seen before. Maybe you'll get some traffic from that - you'll certainly have one more because I'll be reading now!

      Other than that, persistence helps I think. If you just keep putting up posts, week in, week out, people get to find you and some of them stick. As far as I can tell - and much of it is guesswork - I probably have a few hundred regular readers and on any given day I probably get another few hundred visitors sent by google looking for something they don't find on my blog. Nearly all of those will never come back but no doubt the odd one or two find something they like and hang around for a while.


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