Durban deciphered; China's bubble will burst; African democracy v growth; weird eurocrats; Martin Luther v Facebook; human rights v religion; celebrating failure: links I liked (and see you in 2012)

January 3, 2012

Why don't we just send aid money directly to poor people's cellphones?

January 3, 2012

There's lies, and then there's blog stats – highlights of 2011

January 3, 2012
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Welcome back, HNY etc etc. I was wondering what to post on the first day back from the Christmas break, but Chris Blattman, as ever, rode to the rescue with an annual review of his blog stats. On Think Tanks has done the same. So in the spirit of continued New Year self-indulgence (and putting off reading the email backlog), here are some of the highlight 2011 stats for From Poverty to Power, courtesy of Google Analytics.

Overall for 2011:
• Total number of visits: 291,712 (up from 182,023 in 2010), viewing 457,164 posts
• Total number of ‘unique visitors’: 165,433 (98,472 in 2010)

This makes no sense – there must be more regular readers than that, so either the number of visits is too low or (much more likely), the number of unique visitors is too high – can anyone shed any light on how Google Analytics arrives at these numbers?

Most popular posts (descending order – interesting mix of serious and silly)
1. What Brits say v What they mean
2. The world’s top 100 economies: 53 countries, 34 cities and 13 corporations
3. Capitalism’s golden age v a lost 30 years – great infographic
4. Feeding the 9 billion: where to agree/disagree with the Economist?
5. Extreme chapati hurling – do not try this at home

So four of the top five were ‘hat-tips’ – posting things sent to me by colleagues. Keep em coming, guys.

Overall, though, the most striking feature of the traffic is its regularity (see graphic – the dips are weekends)

stats for 2011
Where did people come from? (a pleasing geographical spread, but too northern for my liking):

UK 84,223 (29% of total) 
US 68,117
Canada 12,097
India 11,431
Australia 10,631
Germany 8,238
Netherlands 5,858
France 4,827
Switzerland 4,309
South Africa 3,722

Of these, the most leisurely readers were the Swiss (3 minutes 35 secs per visit); the most in a hurry were the South Africans (1m 40secs) and the Indians (1m 42 secs).

Numbers aren’t everything though, so Happy New Year to the single readers from Andorra, Sao Tome and Principe and Norfolk Island. But why no visits from Turkmenistan,Central African Republic or Western Sahara?

These stats are (I think) just for people clicking through to the site, but people access blogs in other ways too. Google Reader subs rose from 1937 to 2736 over the year, and Facebook users from 561 to 1476. Twitter followers trebled to 3355 – must work out how to use it some time……..

Back to business as usual tomorrow


  1. Happy New Year. Greetings from Geneva. Very pleased to see Switzerland is taking more time to thoroughly ingest your blog than any other country in the world. The Oxfam International office here is making a small contribution to this stat and would be happy to hear from othe regular Swiss readers!

  2. The stats are testament to you providing excellent research, content and debate. I hope Oxfam appreciate the contribution you are making to the development discourse. HNY to you and team who put it together.
    Best wishes

  3. Great stats, Duncan! I have to ask, what accounts for the remarkable spike in readership that appears to be in late Sep or early Oct, and the lesser but still impressive one in May/June?

  4. The unique visitors number is definitely too high.

    Google Analytics counts a unique visitor using “cookies,” which are basically HTML markers left in visitors’ browsers to identify the visitors later.

    The trouble with using cookies to count unique visitors is that visitors often delete all of their cookies, which means they get counted multiple times (once the first time they visit your blog, plus once more for each time they delete a cookie and re-visit your blog).

    1. thanks jacob – why do people delete their cookies? And do they do it automatically every time they use the internet, or just once in a while (in which case it wouldn’t introduce that much of an error, would it?0

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