Here’s the WordPress summary stats for Ktismatics over the past 30 days. You’ll observe that, for the first 21 days displayed on this graph, the daily hitrate averaged around 450, varying between 385 and 515. Then over the last week the rate dropped dramatically. For the past 5 full days of data the average hitrate was 150 — a third the prior average.
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You might speculate that, during the first 3 weeks of January, Ktismatics saw unusually high traffic levels, and that now the levels are sinking back to normal. Not so: for more than a year the daily hitrate has averaged over 400.
What happened is that, just about a week ago, Google changed its protocol for responding to image searches. Previously if you searched for an image and clicked on one, Google would take you to the webpage on which the selected image is displayed. Now in response to the click Google creates its own simulacrum of the webpage where the image appears. You can still navigate to the original source of the image, but it requires a second click.
Try this at home: Google “ouroboros” and click Images. The first image displayed on the search output is the one from Ktismatics. Click it. You’re taken to a Google page that copies the Ktismatics page where the image appears. On the right side of the screen you’ll see “Website for this image,” with a link to the original Ktismatics page that Google copied. Only by clicking that link are you actually taken to the original page on the Ktismatics blog where the ouroboros image appears.
As a result of this protocol change, a lot of hits that used to be credited to blogs and other websites have suddenly been rerouted, counting now as hits on Google pages. This change affects only image searches; for text searches Google still takes you to the original source.
It took years for the hitrate to climb to 450/day. Does this sudden drop mean that two-thirds of the hits were Google image searches? Probably so. I’ve mentioned previously that for months the Ouroboros post alone has averaged something like 80 views per day; now, over the past 5 days, Ouroboros is getting only 25 daily hits. Over the years I’ve posted a lot of movie screengrabs: these images too have historically attracted a goodly flow of traffic.
How much of the traffic on Ktismatics can be attributed to the regulars — those people who are already familiar with the blog and who click on to see what’s new? Probably the best statistical indicator is the hitrate for the Ktismatics homepage. How disappointing! For the past year the average hitrate for the homepage has averaged around 60 per day. It used to be higher: about 100 per day in 2010. But wait a minute: what about subscribers? A subscriber to a blog isn’t just notified that a new post is up: the content of that post is delivered to the subscriber via email. Ktismatics has 58 subscribers. Let’s say that these people would ordinarily click onto Ktismatics every other day or so: that would put the homepage hitrate back close to the historical high. No growth: stasis. But wait another minute: over the past 5 days the homepage hits have dropped from 60 to 25 per day. I infer that, of the 300 people per day who clicked onto images posted on Ktismatics, maybe 10% were sufficiently interested to see what else was going on the blog. Most probably took a quick look and moved on; for others the new posts provided momentary pleasure; a few became regulars. Now, with the change in Google image searches, those tire-kickers won’t be coming around much any more.
To summarize: maybe 50 people per day intentionally expose themselves to new Ktismatics content, half by clicking onto the homepage, half via subscriber updates. Bless you all! Another 100 per day intentionally click on archived posts. Another 300/day click on images embedded in the archives.
It might be true: 2009-2010 may well have been the high water mark for Ktismatics. Since then a lot of the blogs that I used to follow regularly have been discontinued. I was an early and active participant in the Object-Oriented Ontology debates that began gaining traction in late 2008. Now most of the early dissenters have by and large left the OOO playing fields to the acolytes; only occasionally do I post on the subject of objects any more. In 2009-2010 I was still posting movie screengrabs fairly regularly, and these would often stimulate extended discussions of the films. I don’t do screengrabs very often any more either. I post as often as ever, but it seems that the subjects I address are more idiosyncratic, less embedded in a broader matrix of interests shared by other bloggers in this little corner of the blogosphere. And I acknowledge that I don’t get around to as many other blogs as I used to. In publishing this post this I see that 10 of the 12 recent comments displayed on the right side of the screen are my own comments. Increasingly I seem to be talking to myself here…