Popularity metrics

14 Dec, '06

I’ve given a few interviews over the last couple of months where a question is always posed in different guises by the interviewer to find out how popular Mahmood’s Den is or has become, especially after the recent Ministry of Information’s order blocking the site in Bahrain. And usually the metric most journalists are familiar with is the number of hits a site receives. I usually go into an explanation mode of how these metrics are constructed and that a number of “hits” is not something that should be used for this measurement, especially when the vast majority of sites today are dynamic, like this one, and that every discreet element on a page would be considered a “hit”, hence, the number of hits really has become immaterial.

Consider, for instance if you are anything like me, you would keep refreshing the front page in order to see if there are new comments posted, that action is registered as new fresh hits every time, fortunately the system is intelligent enough to never count my own statistics (it does not count any admin user statistics above a set security or access rights limit) so my use of this method of course does not affect the site statistics, but yours do, which gives the impression that the site – if hits is the only metric considered – is a lot more popular than it actually is.

A better metric would be the number of page views, or impressions a site receives, but then, that metric too is on the way to becoming obsolete because the number of websites that use the “AJAX” technology removes the need for a user to click to go the next page in order to find results as those would be displayed on the same “page”. We have already experienced that on this site as the Polling module using AJAX to display the results in the same page, precluding the need to actually go to a “fresh” page to do so.

Therefore, a new metric should be considered to ascertain the real popularity of a site by advertisers and administrators as getting a “real” sense would help both in tailoring their services. Enter a new/old thing that is now being considered which is using the measurement of the number of unique visitors to a site, as Eamonn Fitzgerald concisely explains and he also sheds light on the deficiencies of even this system.

To me, the real popularity of site could never be measured by simple counts as explained above, they all have their deficiencies and all don’t tell the full story. A site’s popularity is the sense of community it provides, it is that magical something that entices people to keep returning back and contributing to a site’s success. It is the unique friends and friendships it nurtures and creates, and it is the atmosphere it expresses. All of these things are intangible and could not be accurately measured. But it is these things precisely that keeps me glued to my screen focused on Mahmood’s Den and await more pleasurable interaction with you, my friends, all day and every day!

Thank you all for creating this fantastic community, I hope that I will not let you down.

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Comments (18)

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  1. Maverick says:

    Mahmood, your smile is an indication of how popular you are…the happier you make people with this wonderful site, the happier you are in return.

    More over you can conduct an opinion poll for this on this right side frame or else someone else can.

    Your blog has given many of us a forum to voice our views politely and comfortably without having to get our butts of our chair and into a conference room.

    The popularity of your site can also be measured by the total number of people who actually write in per day and the number of times each of them writes per day. Plus the fact taht you got blocked makes you an instant celebrity and pioneer not to mention the Grandmaster 🙂 of bloggers in Bahrain :grin:. The fact that you did the right thing and got under the skin of the MOD (MOI :grin:) shows how truly polular you are.

    Keep it going dude……Thanks again…..Warm regards

  2. Ibn says:

    … did our exchange earlier precipitate this post Mahmood?.. 😀

    I was actually wondering to myself how the censorship debacle affected your popularity a couple days ago. Even though counting number of hits isnt accurate, all things being equal, have you noticed a greater number of total hits after the debacle than before? (For example, if you had a steady stream of 10,000 hits/day pre debacle, is it now hovering at around 15,000 hits/day after?)

    But what can I say, besides the obvious: The content present on this blog is enough to write the Arab Liberal’s Manifesto. Where else in the Arab world has a blog come close to this? Not even Egypt – and they have 70 million peeps.

    I used to comment on some other blogs, but this is the only one I frequent now. On many others, (of course I am generalizing), the owner usually has an agenda – especially American blogs – ughh.

    Seriously, this is the best thing to ever happen to the Arab world since they merged the za3tar and gibneh mana-eeshes.

    Keep up the great work Mahmood.

    I know im starting to sound like a salesman..

    … but I would not be surprised, if someday, somehow, in the not too distant future, every tired and burnt out Arab liberal, from Morocco to Iraq, while on their tumultous drive down lonely Freedom Highway, notice a mysterious and faint light in the distance … desperately pull into it as their vehicle finally breaksdown, slowly enter a this strange room in the middle of nowhere, filled with the ambiance of chitchatting nightowls, soft music in the background, and a distinct aroma of fruit sheeshas.. “Welcome Stranger!” Someone shouts … “Welcome to Mahmood’s Den!”, is the last thing he hears, before collapsing on a couch, with a big smile on his face.. 🙂

    -Ibn

  3. mahmood says:

    It did actually Ibn! That and my daily crawl led me to the article by Eamonn and yet another interview I concluded a couple of days ago all led me to wonder what makes website popular and how would that be measured.

    Thanks for your kind words Ibn, and Maverick, you’re always welcome, and Ibn, that last paragraph is setting even more views in my head!

  4. Maverick says:

    Thanks for your kind words Ibn, and Maverick, you’re always welcome, and Ibn, that last paragraph is setting even more views in my head!

    Actually M I thought of a new iconic header for your den I was going to suggest a montage of your smiling face on a Sphinx body sitting in front of a lions den…. 😀 and perhaps surrounded by other friendly faces…..

    desperately pull into it as their vehicle finally breaksdown, slowly enter a this strange room in the middle of nowhere, filled with the ambiance of chitchatting nightowls, soft music in the background, and a distinct aroma of fruit sheeshas.. “Welcome Stranger!” Someone shouts … “Welcome to Mahmood’s Den!”, is the last thing he hears, before collapsing on a couch, with a big smile on his face.

    Love this idea minus the Sheeshas though….they give me a headache…

    M I was curious about a personal question If you do not mind. Are you by any chance related to Kamal Alyousif…I am asking as I know him and my wife used to work with him before at ITE Middle East. We had been out a long time ago for drinks…and not met again for a long time. Give him my regards if you are in touch. Thanks.

  5. mahmood says:

    Thanks, yes and I shall! 🙂

  6. Hamad says:

    Well to say the truth your blog the only one i visit in daily bases because it is realy creative and different.

    Its very normal knowing that very creative person standing behind it taking care of it .

    I would suggest to develop the idea of Mahmood Den to annual meeting of the visitors of this blog to meet and try to be active in solving social issues and serving the community.

  7. Anonymous says:

    i visit your Den daily even before reading the news papers

    thanx Mahmood

    🙂

  8. Butterfly says:

    The number of visits or even the number of page views cann’t be used as a measure. I wrote one article about the holidays and greeting cards, you won’t imagine how the number of visitors has suddenly jumped .. the poor visitors were seaerching for the keyword “greeting card” on google 😆

    How visitors come across your site is really a good subject for a blog .. there are some funny and stupid stories 😉

  9. Adel says:

    very creative person standing behind it

    I think laying behind it is more appropriate after the accident

  10. Adel says:

    😆

  11. Adel says:

    Butterfly, I visited your blog for the first time today. A couple of entries brought tears to my eyes 😥

  12. mahmood says:

    no no, I’m sitting now! 😛 much on the way to recovery… slowly but surely.

  13. Anon says:

    second website i check every morning, after checking my email. keep up the good work.

  14. Jasra-Jedi says:

    we love you mahmood … i always find myself reading everything on this blog .. cover to cover .. good on you for putting heart and soul into this community .. i akways feel like i have my hand on the pulse after reading your posts ..

    and ibn .. the lonely drive down freedom highway .. that made me laugh .. in a sad kind of way .. ‘shar al baliyat ma udhak!’ there’s a few of us on that virtual road though .. one step at a time, one short skirt at a time .. one drink at a time .. one parliament at a time .. one vote at a time ..

  15. June says:

    Well, I’m currently studying abroad and checking your blog is a way to stay updated with what’s going on in Bahrain. Love it so please keep it up.

  16. As far as your popularity is concerned, I shall mention that I have linked to you from my blog. As my blog is very controversial and not very “professionally” done, you may want me to remove this link. If this is so then just let me know and I will remove the link.

    In the meantime, I am very impressed with Mahmood’s Den. 😀

  17. M says:

    Good Grief! 😡

    You guys just had to go and do it. I knew when everyone was patting Ibn on the back for his “distinctive” style of posting that things were going to slide downhill pretty fast, and sure enough, here we are. It’s turned into an all out Mahmood love fest. Well, I just have one thing to say about that!

    Love ya, Mahmood 😀

  18. can we talk says:

    I too “study” your blog on a regular basis, (minus the frangipanis and other natural things).. much more interesting than reading the papers! and often full of interesting exchanges, especially while being away, you were a lifeline.
    it is also great for a quick browse while you wait for other web pages to load 😛 😛
    keep up keeping us connected and keeping us on our toes

    p.s. is the second one from the left ( :smile:)MP AM incognito?

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