Paul Staines: damn your lies and stuff your statistics

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
5:29 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) finally emerged with his stat-porn today. Only a day later than usual for some reason. Oh well, at least he’s quicker off the mark than Mugabe.

Let’s fisk the whole thing while we wait for Iain Dale to decide how he’s going to play it:

Guido Fawkes – March Stat-Porn : 458,475 Hits from 352,291 Visitors

Bloody hell… we’re no farther than the headline and already he’s in trouble.

A ‘hit’ is a single download of a single file (e.g. downloading a single HTML page that also uses 10 images will result in 11 hits). “458,475 Hits from 352,291 Visitors” makes no sense unless most of Paul’s pages have one image or less (they don’t) and almost everybody visits once and once only.

Paul tells us nothing about ‘unique visitors’ and makes no reference to the ‘absolute unique visitors’ figure provided in his Google Analytics report.

In fact, judging by these earlier figures, in the past* he’s been passing off totals for ‘visits’ and/or ‘visitors’ as a figure for ‘unique visitors’ for a while now:

Feb Stat Porn: “487,676 page views off 366,364 unique visitors”

Jan Stat Porn: “529,338 page-loads off 386,417 unique visitors”

(*But not today, you’ll note.)

Back at the start of January, Staines did mention the ‘absolute unique visitors’ figure, but only when he could lump 12 months together to make it look more impressive:

Dec Stat Porn: “Using the stricter ‘absolute visitors’ metric gives 561,352 different individuals* visiting this blog over the year.”

So that’s maybe 50,000 absolute unique visitors a month, then. A far cry from 350,000 a month isn’t it?

And, it should be pointed out, not far off Iain Dale’s recent throwaway figure for absolute unique visitors a month; 51,293

The most popular story last month was about Nick Robinson’s expenses and Cameron’s slap down of Ed Balls. Invariably the top referring sites to Guido over the last couple of years have been Iain Dale, ConservativeHome and Of late however some of the Big Media political blogs have started coming up the rankings. This month (for the first time) the Speccie’s Coffee House blog sent more referrals than Political Betting, putting it at #3. Google sends more referrals by far, however the top ten referrers after Google and Yahoo are:

a) Hahahahaha! “I’m so far ahead of mainstream media that they’re only starting to appear on my radar.” Bless.

b) How many times were each of these ‘popular’ articles viewed? How much traffic did the referring sites send? Paul doesn’t say.

#1 Iain Dale
#2 ConservativeHome
#3 Coffee House blog
#5 Times Blogs (Red Box and Comment Central)
#6 BBC (Nick Robinson, Newsnight and Daily Politics)
#7 Telegraph Blogs
#8 Biased BBC
#9 Dizzy Thinks
#10 House Price Crash Forum

How many visits resulted from each referrer? Again, Paul doesn’t say. Without data to back it up, this list is nothing but a cursory reach-around for mates and MSM peeps he wishes to patronise.

What this tells Guido is that Big Media is beginning to catch up on us new media insurgents.

Ahaha! Ahahahahahaha! Oh, please stop.

The surprise is that we have held the lead for so long. When you consider the resources being poured into blogging by media organisations with existing high traffic news sites and cross marketing opportunities, it is nothing short of phenomenal.

A subtle assurance from Paul there that no resources have been poured into the ‘Guido Fawkes’ site. Oh, and that he’s in the lead. Never forget that he’s in the lead. And a bit phenomenal.

The Centre for Policy Studies produced some research comparing political blogs using data supplied by Hitwise.

Ah, yes… that would be the research that Paul bitched about because the Telegraph dared to group their blogs against his Mighty Imaginary Numbers.

Hitwise uses technology embedded at network level with ISPs and is generally considered by the online industry to be the most reliable source of competitive data. Hitwise draws data from millions of British ISP accounts tracking internet activity. It does not rely on cookies or toolbars so is not skewed or possible to “game”.

How very reassuring. Do show us the graph!

Ah, I see… that’s… a graph… comparing four MessageSpace websites. Which tells me what, exactly?

Without a figure for the size of the market that Staines and his associates are supposed to have a share of, this graph does nothing to support his claims of 350,000 unique visitors a month.

The (PDF) report this graph comes from (which, BTW, mistakenly uses this graph twice… and appears to have different version of the ‘X’ scale to Paul’s sample) tells us that there are “25 million registered UK users”, so let’s run with that, just for shits and giggles…

The graph shows Staines gaining no more than 00.0025% market share in a month.

00.0025% of 25,000,000 is… 625 unique visitors per month!

OK, let’s be generous and assume that maybe the graph is talking about Paul’s market share in Europe. Europe has 350,000,000 registered web users.

00.0025% of 25,000,000 is… 8,750 unique visitors per month!

Damn it!

OK, let’s go for the whole world before the dwarves start laughing… 1,300,000,000 registered web users!!!

00.0025% of 1,300,000,000 is… 32,500 unique visitors per month!

Erm… Paul? This graph isn’t doing you any favours, mate.

The data above is for unique users. Below are some other well known (in the blogosphere) sites with surprisingly small traffic numbers. Ben Brogan’s blog is read by everyone in the Westminster village, but it seems to be read by few outside it. As you can see, Labour’s leading blogs just don’t have much of a reach in comparison to their right-of-centre equivalents.

Paul didn’t choose this less-than-representative selection for the report he’s cannibalising, but he did choose the end result to help make his ‘case’ today; this means that he only needs to go and fuck himself to a limited extent for cherry-picking data.

Also, the ‘right-wing bloggers leading the blogosphere’ narrative was old when it started. Most left-wing bloggers have been at it far longer than any of these jokers, who too often gain advantage by diddling their numbers, pretending to be several different people, and/or sucking up to MSM for attention/mentions every minute they’re not bitching about it.

Guido has bad news for his Big Media rivals, he has plans to ratchet up the content this year and the stickiness of the site to drive traffic over the million hits a month level…

A million hits a month? I’m already there! I got 1.4 million hits last month! I bet my Big Media rivals are quaking in their boots!


Maybe Paul is talking about page views or visits.

If so, then yes, I suppose if he keeps counting every robot that drops by to visit, he may one day get to a point where he can give the impression that he’s had a million valid page views or visits…. but he’s a lonnnng way off a million actual visitors a month, or anything near this.

1. At best, Paul Staines is pulling in some 50,000** absolute unique visitors a month.

2. Not every visit is a vote for Paul.

3. Being popular does not make one right, or worthy.

4. But fiddling your numbers so you appear more popular than you actually are does make you look like a loser.

Oh, and to close:

I was considering a variety of numbers and factors yesterday, but I forgot the most important factor of all; when looking at the claimed traffic stats of Iain Dale or Paul Staines, one needs to remember that both of these ‘bloggers’ have been proved time and again to be full of it… and themselves.

[Psst! Paul! I just said you were a liar… or at the very least deeply confused about website statistics. I’ve also questioned the accuracy of the numbers that go into MessageSpace promotional material. Where’s your lawyer, sport? Let’s do it for real this time.]

**UPDATE (03 Mar) – I’ll happily correct this. It turns out to be closer to 75,000 unique visitors a month. Paul revealed this over at DK’s without thinking about the implications because he was too busy waving his cock about.

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