Posted by Tim Ireland at April 7, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

I’m still waiting for Paul Staines, Iain Dale, Kelly Nightingale and Jag Singh over here, here and here.

Highlight of the weekend exchanges was this gracious and straightforward response from Paul Staines that staggers very close to the finish line…. but we’re not done yet.

[Psst! When you’re ready, lads. Take all morning and afternoon to think about it if you like, and maybe get your stories straight. In the meantime, I’m going to go out and have one of those ‘life’ things you keep talking about. See you soon.]

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 4, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Spinal StatsI have a special treat for you today; a behind-the-scenes video tour into the world of Iain Dale, Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) and the advertising network MessageSpace.

Now, some imagination is required here because Iain Dale is not officially part of the MessageSpace business, and not a lead guitarist in a heavy metal band. Similarly; “Paul Staines is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been” and he is also not a co-lead guitarist and lead singer in a heavy metal band.

So I humbly request that you suspend your disbelief merely to the extent of accepting that (a) the three are all connected in some mystical and monetary way, and (b) they are all vital components of an ailing heavy metal band on what may well be their final tour…

Over the last two days, it has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iain Dale and Paul Staines have been taking the number of visits tracking by Google Analytics and presenting this figure as the number of unique visitors.

This was proved via evidence that they themselves revealed on their own websites and here, in what might very well be the political blogging thread of the day, week, month and year.

In Iain Dale’s case, he’s claiming 250,000 unique visitors a month, when in reality it’s closer to 50,000

In Paul Staines’ case, he’s claiming 350,000 unique visitors a month, when in reality it’s closer to 75,000

Visits (or Sessions) are, according to Google themselves: A period of interaction between a visitor’s browser and a particular website, ending when the browser is closed or shut down, or when the user has been inactive on that site for a specified period of time.

Unique Visitors (or Absolute Unique Vistors) are, according to Google themselves: Unique Visitors represents the number of unduplicated (counted only once) visitors to your website over the course of a specified time period.

But according to Iain Dale, they are the same thing:

Iain Dale: “Can you not see what an idiot you are making of yourself? Extrem Tracking calls these figures Unique Visitors. So does StatCounter. Google Analytics uses the term Visitors but they are one and the same thing. Google counted 239,000 for me in March, Extreme counted 241,000. If I wanted to inflate my figures, which I do not (I even made public a drop in pageviews) I would have quoted the Extreme figure.”

No, they are NOT the same thing, and the key screen capture proving Iain wrong actually came from Iain.

Here, have a look…

Iain did not lift his figure from the Google Analytics figure for ‘visitors’, but from the Google Analytics figure for ‘visits’. He then presented this (much higher) number as the number of ‘unique visitors’.

You can see Iain doing this here, on his own website, or you can check out this easy-to-follow version of that same data.

Paul Staines, during an ongoing attempt to turn this into a pissing contest, produced a screen capture that shows he’s been doing exactly the same thing.

In this post, Sim-O catches Paul Staines doing it again with Hitwise data.

Iain Dale and Paul Staines have since offered a series of alternative screen captures from other tracking providers in an unsuccessful attempt to draw people away from the thread where Kelly Nightingale, Managing Director of EOS Online Media Limited (trading as MessageSpace), shows that he too is a little confused about the difference between a ‘visit’ and a ‘visitor’.

Several attempts were made to explain this to Iain Dale especially, who kept returning and insisting that the data provided by Google Analytics to show a total of visits was named ‘visitors‘ (it’s not) and that this was “the same fucking thing” as a tally for unique visitors (it isn’t).

So come with me now as Iain Dale explains it to us during an EXCLUSIVE video lecture how the tracking of unique visitors really works. Please keep in mind that during this lecture Iain is disguised as Nigel Tufnel and using a metaphorical example:

See? The numbers all go to eleventy. That’s the end of the matter. Nothing needs to be explained, because even if the headline stats have been grossly misrepresented, Iain and Paul also have plenty of other accounts that also go to eleventy.

However… the normally tight-lipped folks at MessageSpace have sought to end the confusion by insisting that the total number of unique visitors that they claim to reach via their network (either 700,000 or 800,000 unique ‘readers’/visitors a month, depending on which online promo you’re reading) was not based even in part on the (flawed) data of Dale and Staines, but instead arrived at by the comfortingly complicated and partly theoretical process described here, by Jag Singh, the chief information officer for MessageSpace.

But no matter which way you slice it, these numbers just don’t add up, as I point out here to Jag:

When your Managing Director Kelly Nightingale turned up and showed that he too was confused about the difference between ‘visits’ and ‘visitors’ (ooh, I bet there were groans of anguish in the office when that happened) he said this:

“We [MessageSpace] sell advertising on many other higher traffic websites.”

Websites with higher traffic than Dale and Staines? I’m sorry, but a bit of mathematical difficulty needs to be addressed here.

Dale and Staines continue to insist that they are (and have been) pulling in roughly 250,000 and 350,000 unique visitors respectively each month.

If we take these figures (and yours) as gospel, we have this problem:

800,000 – (250,000 + 350,000) = 200,000

Now what you need to find in that 200,000 figure is more than one blogger with higher traffic than Iain Dale and Paul Staines.

As I said, a bit of mathematical difficulty.

We even have a problem if we take your figures as gospel and apply the far more reliable data from Google Analytics; roughly 50,000 unique visitors per month for Dale and 75,000 for Staines

To be as fair as possible, in this case, we are going to use your claimed figure of 700,000 unique visitors a month, not the claimed figure of 800,000 unique visitors a month:

700,000 – (50,000 + 75,000) = 575,000

To make up the numbers for an additional 575,000 unique visitors a month, you’re going to need quite a few “other higher traffic websites”. Possibly half a dozen or more. Would you care to list them, along with figures for the number of unique visitors each site gets in a month?

MessageSpace may take some time to answer that and other questions, but happily members of the vast leftist conspiracy have installed a secret camera inside MessageSpace HQ, and recorded the following discussion about the implications of two of their lead bloggers having only a fraction of the unique visitors they’ve been claiming, and the not-insignificant problem of these bloggers – and their fucking Managing Director – being uncertain about the difference between a ‘visit’ and a ‘visitor’:

Note that, in the above case, Iain Dale, Paul Staines and key personnel of MessageSpace are all disguised as participants in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock, and this time they are using a metaphysical metaphorical example.

In the following clip, Iain Dale – again disguised as Nigel Tufnel – attempts during a lunch meeting to put 250,000 into 50,000 (or vice versa), using a mathematical and meataphysical metaphorical example:

We even managed to secure this footage suggesting that certain ‘bloggers’ who are STILL running around waving their ‘enormous’ cocks at people may be packing their lunchboxes with a few added extras:

Bless their little cotton socks,

Bless their massive fucking cocks;

Bless their 18 inch high rocks,

Bless this whole Pandora’s Box.


Neither Iain Dale nor Paul Staines have blogged about this since dumping themselves in it.

In fact, Paul has declared himself to be ‘bored’ with the whole matter and Iain has enough problems after handing out Nazi labels and Auschwitz gags, so I’m guessing that’s all they’ll have to say about it.

Roll on weekend. Hello Monday. Moving On. Nothing to see here.

But because of this, even if the MessageSpace peeps do come up with a convincing case for their claim of 700,000 unique visitors a month (Or is it 800,000? What day is this?) doubts will remain about this claim.

Regardless of what the paperwork says about who owns or controls what, Iain Dale and Paul Staines are key ambassadors for the MessageSpace brand; they have been misrepresenting their readership figures to an extraordinary degree and, now that they’ve been caught red-handed, they refuse to admit it and instead dish out the usual spin, smears, and petty abuse.

MessageSpace could provide an excellent case to support their unique visitor claims in the most polite manner possible, but it would still be fatally undermined by the contradictory and often quite personal comments made by their ambassadors.

Normally such difficulty with one’s ambassadors is easily addressed; either the issue is resolved or the ambassadors are withdrawn. It really isn’t that complicated.

After all, Iain Dale is merely a ‘blogger’ who has signed up to MessageSpace and, if you recall; “Paul Staines is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been.”

Surely it can’t be too difficult to convince them that perhaps they should at least admit to making a teeny mistake somewhere in their stat porn?

Where’s the difficulty? What’s the hold up? Let’s get this show on the road!

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 3, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

It strikes me as odd that every time my foot is on Paul Staines’ neck, he has a shot at Tom Watson. I do hope Paul has double-checked those figures.

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 3, 2008

Category: Inneresting

And now, some figures that have been fudged in the opposite direction.

(Boy that Lord Ashcroft does splash it around, doesn’t he?)

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 3, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

For the best laugh you’ve had in ages, watch Dale and Staines lay into me with their usual bluster and bullshit, not knowing that they’d both dumped themselves in it last night.

Both Paul Staines and Iain Dale have been playing us for a fools for months. Possibly years.

They’ve been taking the figure for the number of visits to their site and regularly presenting this figure as the number of unique visitors, thereby giving the impression that they have 5 to 6 times the number of visitors than they actually do.

The reality is that they have a much smaller audience than most of us thought, and that audience clicks ‘refresh’ a lot (probably more so now than in the past, as Dale and Staines have had comment moderation on full-time for months now, and people do get impatient waiting for their comment about Gordon Brown’s rocking horse to appear).

In Iain Dale’s case, he’s claiming 250,000 unique visitors a month, when in reality it’s closer to 50,000

In Paul Staines’ case, he’s claiming 350,000 unique visitors a month, when in reality it’s closer to 75,000

If you’re having difficulty with the terms/concept, imagine me popping by your site and either visiting 5 different pages or refreshing a single page 5 times. You and I would say that I am 1 person; Dale and Staines would say I am 5 different people.

Alternatively, imagine what the singles chart would suddenly look like if a couple of mediocre artists started claiming that the number of times a track was played was in fact the number of times it had been purchased/downloaded. Picture them getting those juicy MSM interviews and mentions that go with being a perceived success and actually selling a few tracks off the back of that as they declare themselves the kings/queens of pop… and you’ll begin to understand just how pathetic this whole sham is, and how this revelation makes the audience they have gained looked even more insigificant.

I can’t wait to see what they pull out of the hat to explain or try to divert attention away from it. They certainly can’t admit to fudging their figures, as this would totally undermine MessageSpace’s claim that; “Publishers on the MessageSpace network show 4 million adverts a month, to more than 700,000 unique readers.”

UPDATE – Westmonster – You say visit, I say visitor: Now, we’ve been in many meetings over the years with clever people in suits whose eyes glaze over at statistical definitions, but suffice to say: Dale is completely wrong, and Ireland is completely right.

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 3, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Let me give the short version for those for those who don’t wish to dig through all of this:

Iain Dale has replied to my recent post about his outlandish traffic claims and has – in his post – inadvertently revealed exactly how he’s been diddling his figures (details are below).

Iain Dale is NOT getting in excess of 200,000 unique visitors a month as he has repeatedly claimed. He is, instead, getting somewhere around 50,000 unique visitors a month.

To show you that this isn’t a pissing competition but rather one person pointing out that Iain Dale and Paul Staines can’t piss anywhere near as high as they claim, I will happily admit that – currently – I am getting 23,971 unique visitors a month.

Now on with the fisk…

Iain Dale – March Statporn

March saw 239,368 unique visitors (2007 212,725 – up 12.5% year on year). Page impressions were 357,353 (2007 369,696 down 3%). Absolute uniques were 53,255 (2007 – 40,996 – up 30%).

Well, unlike Paul Staines, Iain Dale has made it past the headline without difficulty…. but he lets himself down badly in the first paragraph.

You can see from the screen capture that Iain provides that he is today – and probably always has been – using the figure for ‘visits’ as a figure for ‘unique visitors’:

One sentence in, and he’s flat on his face.

I can’t believe I have to explain this, but here goes…

If I visit your house I am a visitor. If I visit your house twice, it does NOT make me two visitors, but instead a single visitor who has made two visits.

(Mind you, given Iain’s ongoing interest in sock-puppetry, I can see why he might be confused by this relatively straightforward concept.)

I’ve posted the screenshot which these figures are derived from as a certain blogger has sought to pour doubt on them. Despite being a self-styled interweb “guru”, he clearly doesn’t understand the difference between unique visitors and absolute visitors.

Ah. Projection. One of Iain’s favourite tricks. This is why he’s doing it on the subject of expertise.

So let’s get back to someone who is a self-styled interweb ‘expert’ (who may in fact be a bit confused at times about how the tubes work) and see what he thinks about the whole absolute unique visitors thing:

An absolute unique is someone who visits the blog at least once a month (ie 53,255).

No, an ‘absolute unique visitor’ is someone who – to the best of Google’s knowledge – has visited your site only once (important bit coming up ) within a selected date range.

A ‘unique visitor’ in other words.

[Psst! ‘Absolute’ is a comforting addition from Google, and it;s totally warranted, as their method is a fine improvement on most older/other ways of detecting/calculating unique visitors. A bit of maths for you while I have you trapped between brackets: if I get 1000 AUVs on Monday, and I then get 1500 AUVs on Tuesday – 500 of which also visited the site on Monday – if I then select a date range for both days, the total number of AUVs given by Google Analytics is 2000… *not* 2500. Google rocks.]

I do understand this, which is why, when showing everyone what a load of old bollocks Staines’s stats are, I did not present the monthly figure shown in the passage below as an exact fraction, but as an estimate along with the word ‘maybe’:

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?

So, let’s get back to our ‘expert’…

A unique visitor is someone who visits the blog at least once a day – these are then amalgamated to get the monthly total of 239,368.

No, a unique visitor is a visitor visiting from a unique computer.

He or she may be visiting from different computers at times, which makes them appear to be more than one unique visitor, but it’s confusing enough as it is for Iain, so let’s move on…

The number of visits these visitors make are, surprisingly enough, added up to make a total of… visits.

Not a total of visitors.

The total of visitorrrrs that Google Analytics gives is… the total of ‘absolute unique visitors’ (within the date range that you specify).

Note that he provides no evidence to support his own figures, like a screenshot or anything.

There’s that projection again.

1. Iain only caught up with April Fool’s Day when it was 5 hours too late, so he may have missed the period before midday when I was having fun with my readers by initially presenting the stat-porn alone in this post in exactly the same format/style as Iain.

Look. See?

Iain is, in effect, criticising himself for not providing proof.


2. As Iain’s friend and political associate Dizzy is fond of pointing out, a screen capture alone is not proof*. Erm, unless of course someone produces a screen shot themselves that proves they’re an idiot. Like Iain just has, if you recall:

[*You may note in this report on Paul Staines’ stats that Staines has changed data on some graphs.]

Guido believes the MSM blogs are catching up with us in terms of traffic and he’s right. In terms of popularity, while traffic on blogs continues to grow, the upward line on the graph is certainly levelling off.

At the risk of repeating myself: Hahahahaha! “I’m so far ahead of mainstream media that they’re only starting to appear on my radar.” Bless.

One thing I do agree with Bloggerheads on is that it is absolute uniques which are the most important figure.

Then perhaps Iain can start using that figure instead of passing off the visits figure as a total of unique visitors, as he appears to have been doing for quite some time now.

Iain claims to have 239,368 unique visitors this month, when really he’s only had something like a fifth of that traffic; 53,255 unique visitors.

For any one man band blogger like Guido or me to have upwards of 50,000 people read us every month is, I believe, something to be proud of.

Hahahaha! That’s the spirit, Iain. If you’re going to come down from a quarter of a million to fifty thousand, try to do it with your head held high. This will at least stop the bullshit on your lips from dripping down your chin.

Others are now catching us up. Dizzy doesn’t do Statporn, but if he did, I reckon his figures will have doubled in the last year.

Bwahahahahahaha! I do love his historical revisionism. The way Iain likes to tell it, he’s a long-standing blogging pioneer and everyone’s behind him. But he’s a blip. And he owes what success he has enjoyed to bullshitting everyone about how successful he is; that’s what gets him all the MSM attention that feeds his little publicity machine.

The less said about what Dizzy does to get ahead in political blogging, the better.

So… here we are.

This is no one-off error; Iain Dale appears to have been presenting of the number of visits as the number of unique visitors for ages now. It’s quite likely that Paul Staines has been doing exactly the same thing.

If these figures form the foundation of the promo toss for MessageSpace (Dale and Staines are their two biggest bloggers… allegedly), then we have a bit of a problem on our hands…

Read the following knowing that Dale and Staines are getting maybe a fifth of the number of unique visitors per month that they’re claiming:

MessageSpace claims here that; “Publishers on the MessageSpace network show 4 million adverts a month, to more than 700,000 unique readers.”

I sincerely doubt that this claim is anywhere near the truth.

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 2, 2008

Category: 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.

Busy day today. I’m going to pass you over to some other bloggers/items for a bit:

1. Septicisle – Scum-watch: Harassing the evil Islamic terrorist Abdul Muneem Patel: As Sun journalists obviously don’t have anything better to do, they’ve taken to stalking one of the men released in January a whole 18 days early from his sentence for having in his possession a manual on explosives…

2. Dave Cole – The Counter-terrorism Bill and coroners: Clause 64 allows the Home Secretary to issue a certificate requiring an inquest to be held without a jury or discharging a jury mid-inquest. Clause 65 allows the Home Secretary to discharge a coroner and appoint a coroner of their own choosing. The two powers can be exercised simultaneously; that is to say, the Home Secretary would have the power, if they thought the an inquest would embarrass the government, to discharge the jury and the coroner and have the inquest started again without a jury and with a coroner of the Home Secretary’s choosing.

The possible implications of this were pointed out a month or so ago by Andrew Dismore. A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said in response that the clause was “likely to be used sparingly”.

Hey, do you remember something else the government was going to use ‘sparingly’… before Charles Clarke got a little bit carried away?

3. This bloody song has been in my head for days now. Your turn. (via)


“Take him down to Quincy, he will cut him open…”

4. Professional bullshitter required to wind up what is most likely the Daily Mail. Apply here.

5. More from Unity…

Remember Nadine Dorries and the Hand of Hope? Well, watch for the projection here… it’s very subtle:

“I’m not saying that it is 100 per cent certain the photo is genuine, as doctors can always be wrong. But what I’ve put on my website is correct beyond reasonable doubt.” – Nadine Dorries

6. And now, more from Nadine…

Oi! Iain! Have you asked Laura Moffatt, Barbara Follett or Jacqui Smith what it’s like to be stalked by this idiot?

7. If you’ve been relying on the two ‘leading’ ‘bloggers’ for your political news, you may have missed the story about Eshaq Khan and the army of real-life sock-puppets that won him an election…. for a bit. Latest news here. BTW, he’s a Tory, in case you haven’t guessed.

8. The photo is this article *may* have been doctored. Can you spot the changes? (via)

9. Was Paul Staines actually fooled by a fool, or was merely propping up Dale’s pissweak joke that was 5 hours too late… 9 hours too late? Meanwhile, the man who constantly acts like he’s in a school playground now claims not to know what every schoolboy knows. Oh well. He is rubber and we are glue…

10. Iain Dale and Paul Staines – the two ‘leading’ ‘bloggers’ who rarely fail to post their stat porn on the first day of the month – both failed to wave their cocks around yesterday. You’re welcome.

11. Let’s take the dial up to ’11’ with a link-annotated version of Tom Watson’s power of information taskforce speech.

Cheers all.

12. Oh, go on then… one more for the road.

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 1, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Who’s the fool that carried on?

PS – Congrats to the BBC for the concept, production, casting and timing on this. It’s wonderful. You may also have missed Justin’s morning wheeze, which he blogs about here.

UPDATE – You really had to watch your step if you didn’t want to get rick-rolled today (even YouTube rick-rolled their users). But I really enjoyed this one. The original footage will only help you to appreciate it more.

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 1, 2008

Category: Updates

Server logs show approx. 71,000 ‘unique’ visitors to the site. Google Analytics says 25,016 Absolute Unique Visitors involving the main weblog alone.

Server logs show approx. 400,000 page views site-wide, but only approx. 168,000 involved real people (the remainder being indexing robots, spambots etc.). Google Analytics says 46,452 page views involving the main weblog alone.

Site-wide, the logs give a total of just over 1.4 million hits this month.

Here are my top 20 linking sites (i.e. incoming ‘hits’ to my ‘blogsite’) for March, according to Google Analytics. The arrows denote whether a site has sent more, less or about the same traffic since February:

1. Lainey Gossip 2,775 NEW 2. B3ta 1,064 ^ 3. Justin McKeating 777 ^ 4. Guardian (News) 436 ^ 5. Guardian (Comment Is Free) 419 ^ 6. AdFreak 271 NEW 7. Paul Linford 223 = 8. Liberal Conspiracy 183 v 9. Garry Smith 180 v 10. Iain Dale 146 v 11. Tom Watson 140 v 12. Pickled Politics 122 = 13. Gawker 118 ^ 14. Septicisle 108 v 15. Bad Science 105 ^ 16. Ministry of Truth 100 v 17. Lay Science 84 ^ 18. Blood & Treasure 74 v 19. Bob Piper 69 v 20. Blair Watch 67 v

The most popular individual post of the month was Fred and Sharon’s movies (make your life go better) with 6,055 page views. In second place was the Staines/bankrupt post with 1,059 page views (from 768 unique user profiles). Third was The Iraq War (according to Page 3) with 611 page views.

UPDATE (12:30pm) – OK, it’s past midday, and you’re probably waiting for the punchline. Here it comes…

The numbers above are genuine. I had to extrapolate a bit on the server data, but these are fair estimates on numbers that have yet to be crunched (I’ve not bothered with log analysis since the Usmanov move, and the bean counter has only just been switched on in the past few days; only 9 days worth of data has been processed). I should have the full/actual data within a few days, for those who are interested or in any doubt

The figures from Google Analytics are far more conservative (no pun intended) because they only track traffic to the front page and individual blog entries in MT format (the code is not in place for any of the feature pages, videos, special projects etc.).

Iain Dale and Paul Staines claim to get almost 5 to 10 times as many ‘unique’ visitors as I do. They also never tire of telling their readers that I only bother them because I’m jealous of their success and/or desperate for more readers.

As unreliable and meaningless as Alexa data can be, I would expect its comparison engine to at least show an indication of a gap this massive. But take a look at what you see when these three sites are compared over the last three months:

It’s even more illuminating when you look at it over 6 years and include Backing Blair and the old URL for Staines’ blog.

I think they’re having themselves on a bit. Especially when they wave their numbers about (every bloody month) and wonder out loud why the left side of the blogsophere “never took off”. One also needs to remember that a lot of their traffic from 2006-2007 resulted from ‘old media’ interest resulting from their repeated claims to be the almighty rulers of the blogosphere.

So they each appear to have outperformed Bloggerheads and the like – just – by claiming to have outperformed my and other websites tenfold. Quite a confidence trick.

For more, we turn to an anonymous blogger who has, in the recent past, enjoyed prominent inbound links from Bloggerheads, Iain Dale, and Devil’s Kitchen:

Looking at my own numbers, a link [in the blog] from Dale is worth 220-250 hits, occasionally 280-290. Links from either Bloggerheads or Devil’s Kitchen bring in a steady 160-190 visits, which does suggest that most of Dale’s traffic is transient. Now I don’t know what Bloggerheads is pulling down but DK’s getting about 30k visits a month IIRC, around a tenth of Dale’s statporn numbers and yet a link from his blog is worth only 50-70 or so fewer visits than one from Dale.

‘Transient’ is a word. Not one I’d use. ‘Bullshit’ might be better. Dale and Staines appear to be including every visit by every robot as a genuine visit from a human being, or just plucking numbers out of their arse. In February, Dale gives a figure of 51,293 for ‘absolute uniques’ almost as a throw-away line, but it would appear that this is far closer to the truth than his (and Staines’) repeated claims of 200,000 to 350,000 unique visitors a month.

The performance of outbound links outlined above supports this. So do my own figures. Personally, the most traffic Iain Dale has ever sent my way (during the brief period when he was actually linking to me) was 500 visitors in a month over two blog items, and that figure should be much higher for the numbers he’s claiming.

Here, let me show you:

Devil’s Kitchen has public stats available via sitemeter. There are no figures for unique visitors, but he appears to be pulling in just under 50,000 visits a month.

For Bloggerheads, Google Analytics shows 46,452 visits in March.

[Psst! Have a peek at Alexa for a comparison including Devil’s Kitchen.]

Assuming the majority of click-throughs will happen on the day of bloggage (i.e. when that post is a lead item) we get an average of 175 click-throughs from approx. 1,700 visits – a click-through rate for both sites of roughly 10%

About 250 click-throughs will result from a link in bloggage from Iain Dale. Working our way backwards though the figures on a click-through rate of 10%, and Dale looks to be getting 2,500 visits per day or 75,000 visits a month.

A figure of 51,293 unique visitors a month looks perfectly logical next to that

A claim of 200,000 to 350,000 unique visitors a month does not.

The punchline? The figures published by Dale and Staines are often also used to promote the (alleged) reach of the MessageSpace advertising network:

The MessageSpace site claims that; “Publishers on the MessageSpace network show 4 million adverts a month, to more than 700,000 unique readers. We’ve got publishers from across the political spectrum…”

a) Yes, the bulk of that ‘700,000 unique readers’ figure is made up of the number of ‘unique visitors’ claimed by Dale and Staines.

b) And I’m not sure if a few token lefties warrants any claim of representation “across the political spectrum”, but that’s a point for another time.

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