The Last Podcast Opinionated Web 2.0 News and Commentary


17 April 2008 @ 12am


If Alexa is so bad, why don’t we just share our stats? Or do they just not matter anymore?

Alexa today announced that it was changing the way it compiles its statistics. Before, Alexa would gather its data from a toolbar that some users had installed in their browser – probably the most inaccurate way of gathering this kind of statistics, given that only a very self-selected number of users would install the Alexa toolbar (what did that thing do for you anyway?).

Now, Alexa is gathering data from ‘multiple sources.’

That’s all great and I hope their data will become more accurate, but what it really made me think about is why we love this kind of data so much.

For all the openness we claim on the web, most web companies and bloggers are loath to hand out any more information about their ‘traffic’ than absolutely necessary (unless, of course, we have something to celebrate).

That’s why we love Alexa, Compete and Quantcast so much: it’s pure voyeurism.

Even if the data might be faulty, it’s as close as we can get to seeing how the other guys and gals are doing. Yet, just as most people are unlikely to give up access to our data, most bloggers I know love to look at their own data (you can queue your own masturbation joke here…).

So why don’t we want others to see our stats? Are we afraid to show people how few visitors we really get? Perception is worth a lot in this business…

Or is it because these visitor stats really mean so little anymore anyway?

Most bloggers show their feedburner subscriber numbers (note to self – have to set that up, too) – and in many ways, those are more telling than any other number, at least in the tech blogosphere. So are our technorati rankings.

But while we have not problems showing that data to everybody, giving access to our raw data is still pretty rare.

Then, they might just be pretty boring for most people anyway.

I guess I don’t have a good answer to this, but it seems like a question worth asking…

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