Daily Archives: October 12, 2008

To Wallow in Obscurity

Someone noted in comments that one of the consequences of moving the site to a new host — and of changing its url — is that I might be wrecking my Technorati ranking for a fair amount of time, since all the old links point to the old site, and the new ones will point here, and Technorati might not count them as coming to the same place.

That’s entirely possible if Technorati doesn’t automatically make the switch, and the image above shows the disparity in ranking between the old Whatever and the new. But that’s not all of it, either. I also lose the ability to accurately count how many people are visiting the site, since now the numbers are split between the new site for daily visitors, and the old site for pre-10/07 archives. This is not insignificant since my archives are in fact very active, thanks to some stuff in there that’s perennially popular, like “Being Poor” and Bacon Cat and my advice to teenage writers, all of which get thousands of visits monthly. Those visits get recorded by 1&1.com (where the Scalzi.com domain remains housed), but none of the visits to the current Whatever get noted, because they’re redirected to the new host. WordPress.com and 1&1.com use different stat suites, so it’s hard to make one-to-one comparisons regarding traffic.

Now, as it happens, we’ll be porting the archives into the new install — it’s happening already, in fact — and then we’ll set up redirects so the most popular pieces in the archive come here instead of the old site. But all of this takes time and in the meantime my ability to count the number of people who pop by the site on the daily basis is compromised. My assumption is that traffic is not going to change hugely one way or another (my ability to count people as they come through the turnstiles is not a factor in whether people choose to walk through the turnstiles at all), but until everyone’s reliably coming the new site instead of the old, it’ll be difficult to say one way or the other.

Does any of this matter? In the short run, outside of the ego of a high Technorati ranking and the fun of looking at my stats, no, not really. It’s just interesting to me in a technical sense, and points out that estimating eyeballs online is something of an inexact science.

It also lets me know that I need to learn to get used to WordPress’s stats counters. I had them for the old site but didn’t use them too much because, well, they didn’t cover the whole site like the 1&1 stats package did. But now they’ll have more direct application and that’s work paying attention to. One of the features that I like is that now in addition to seeing how many visits there are to the site, I can also see how many people are reading a particular entry through syndication. This is something I didn’t have before, even using the WP stats on my own site, and it’s very cool; something new for me to geek out about, in any event. And, clearly, I do love geeking out on this stuff.

FiveThirtyEight Comes to Town

Photo by Brett Marty
Photo by Brett Marty/FiveThirtyEight.com

The folks at polling site FiveThirtyEight.com file a story from Troy, Ohio, which is just a couple cities over from me (it’s where I go when I want sushi — and yes, it’s actually good sushi. Honda has a plant in Troy, so there’s a not insignificant Japanese population here). The story mostly talks about the activity in the Obama field office there, and how the campaign is making significant inroads in a county that went about two-thirds for Bush in 2004; apparently 800 people have volunteered to canvass for Obama. In contrast, here’s what’s going down in the McCain office:

We tried to go to the McCain office just down the street in Troy at noon on Saturday. At the exact moment we arrived, we found two nice elderly women peering inside the locked, closed office. They’d come to volunteer. Unfortunately, McCain’s Troy office isn’t open on weekends, according to a sign in the window.

Sometimes you wonder just how much McCain actually wants to win this thing.

To be sure, McCain’s probably going to win Miami County, of which Troy is the county seat, and he’s likely to win Darke County, which I live in, and which went 70% for Bush in 2004. But I doubt he’s going to get the same winning margins Bush did, and unfortunately for him, they don’t apportion electoral votes by county. And he can’t exactly afford to lose Ohio. It’s got 20 electoral votes, ripe for the plucking. Having your field office take the weekend off less than four week before an election is not, shall we say, full of smart. Especially when you’re behind in the polls, both in Ohio and nationally. Since I’m voting for the other guy, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. But even so, it seems a little strange.

I wish I knew the FiveThirtyEight guys were around — it might have been interesting to meet them. But in any event, if you want to know a little more about the political scene in my neck of the woods, the write-up is worth checking out.