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.