Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first, with the first cat picture of the year:
Clearly Ghlaghghee had a late night. Best not to disturb her.
Second, here are the stats for Whatever for 2012. WordPress’ stats software recorded 8.165 million views last year, which is up from 5.409 million in 2011, which is up roughly 50% over the previous year. That’s a pretty good jump for the year; as a contrast, the jump from 2010 to 2011 was 5.4 percent. I attribute the jump this year to a number of blockbuster posts, most notably “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.” The month with the largest number of views was May, with 1.1 million (not coincidentally the month of the “Straight White Male” post); The lowest number of views were in February, with 436,000.
In addition to the views recorded by the WordPress stats package (which records only views of Whatever, not the entire Scalzi.com site), the stats package from my host provider 1&1 (which records only views of the rest of the Scalzi.com site and not Whatever — I know, it’s confusing) shows another 2.1 million views, so the whole of my Scalzi.com empire popped over ten million views in 2012.
Now, this is where I note my usual caveats regarding the WordPress stat package, which is that before 2008, when I switched over to WordPress VIP (and Whatever stopped being recorded by both stats packages), there was a large discrepancy between number of views and visits recorded by both stats packages, with WordPress stats often significantly lower than the 1&1 stats, sometimes by 50% or more. To add to the confusion, Google Analytics (which I also have tracking Whatever) consistently reports lower numbers of views than WordPress; for example, in December, WordPress has Whatever getting 749,000 views; Google has it at 718,000. None of these count RSS feed views (which can be significant for me) or other various forms of syndication. And of course “views” are not the same as “unique visitors”; the latter number is almost always lower than the former (WordPress’ stats package only started offering info on unique visitors in the last few weeks so I don’t have a number for those for all of 2012).
All of which is to say a) I don’t have a true number for the views and visits for Whatever, b) I suspect the WordPress stats package is underreporting both, c) but I use it for tracking anyway because one has to use something. No matter how you slice it, however, 8.165 million views in a year does not suck, and neither does a 50% jump in views in a year, especially 14 years into the run of Whatever. I’m very pleased with how the site did over the course of 2012.
Other fun data (these provided by Google Analytics): The United States is unsurprisingly the country from which I receive the largest percentage of visits (71%), followed by Canada (7%), the UK (6%), Australia (2.6%) and Germany (1.5%). In the US, California gives me the highest number of visits (15% of the US share), followed by New York (7%), Texas (5.5%), Washington (state) (5.2%) and Illinois (4.88%). My current home state of Ohio comes in 7th, with 3.6%. Additionally unsurprisingly, 91% of my traffic came from computers/devices set with English language preferences (keyboards, etc); German was a distant number two at 1.1%.
Browsers: more than 30% of visits come through a Chrome browser, followed by Firefox at 27% and Safari at 21%, and of the latter, I imagine most of those are through a mobile Apple device, an assumption bolstered by the fact that iOS is the number three OS used to view the site (15%), after Mac (22%) and Windows (52%). Almost half (47%) of my traffic came from people visiting the site directly; 35% were linked in from another site while 16% came here by using a search engine. The top referrers were Twitter (18%), and Facebook (17%), which tells you some of what you need to know about the advance of social media these days and its ability to drive traffic.
My own quick and dirty assessment of all these data is one, my readership continues to be more or less like me (i.e., first world educated nerd), and that while social media like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter may be generally killing off the blogosphere — because they are so much easier to use/maintain for the vast majority of humans — they’re doing great things for my site, because people promiscuously share links to it on social networks. I hope they continue to do so.
My plans for Whatever in 2013? The same as they are every year: Just keep writing about things that interest me, and posting occasional pictures of cats and sunsets. It’s worked so far. I imagine it’ll keep working.