Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Science Question

Can somebody who speaks Luddite please explain to me the difference between a view of my blog and a visit? Every week, when I receive the traffic report on this here blog, I note that there have been considerably more views than visits and it dawned upon me this morning that I have no idea what the difference is. So, if one of you out there could educate me about this, 'twould be greatly appreciated.

Also, could all of you on your various own blogs (those of you who have them, of course) make some mention that I'm back here blogging regularly again? I appear to have less than a hundred people a day checking in here and, for my ego's sake if nothing more, I'd like to get those numbers up.

Once, of course, I finally learn what those numbers mean. Thanks in advance.


Michael said...

It's not always precisely defined, but I roughly think that a visit will be one "trip" to the website --- but that one visit can contain many views as people view many different pages in a single visit.

Elayne said...

It's my understanding that a "visit" has to do with a unique IP signature, whereas the same person can click to view your page a number of times in a day.

iain.triffitt said...

I view your blog through Google Reader (and your handydandy RSS feed). To answer your question, I have to visit your blog (show up in person, rather than by RSS proxy) to use your commenting section.

So the views are the people who've subscribed to your blog via RSS/Atom/whatever, whilst the visits are people who've actually shown up on your doorstep.

But then I'm probably completely wrong.

iain.triffitt said...


I'm wrong - the above are right (though I think RSS is involved in the metrics.) Here's a good explanation from the comments on Edward Tufte's site:

There are four commonly used terms when discussing site traffic: hits, page views, visits and unique visitors

"Hits" is meaningless because every file requested is a hit, including the numerous graphics included in a typical web page.

A visit comprises the activity on a site caused by single computer within an arbitrary time-out period. The industry standard is 30 minutes. A combination of the IP address and a "cookie" helps identify and track the usage. This identifying information is also used to track unique visitors.

As an example - Betty visits the site in the morning and looks at 10 pages of content. Each page has nine images plus the core html file. She comes back in the afternoon and looks at 5 more pages. This is how her session would be counted if we tracked image requests:

1 Unique Visitor - 2 Visits - 15 Page Views - 150 Hits

In the real world there are dozens of technical issues that muddy the waters - proxy servers, RSS feeds, AJAX page refreshing, etc. It's a confusing mess. For me, the only reliable metric is page views, and that's only valid if the raw data has been scrubbed.

Dave said...

I posted that you're posting. Glad to do it.

If you can, though - at least warn us when you're going to be gone for a bit. I mean, a month between postings...yeesh...

Don't MAKE me send Mark Evanier after ya again! :)

RAB said...

Iain, that explanation can be made a bit more Luddite-friendly:

Len, let's say I visit your house. While I'm there, you show me the progress that's been made on the kitchen, and I avert my eyes to avoid being blinded by the new flourescent lights. Then you show me the living room, and your office, and Christine's office, and the garage. Then I ask if I might go to the bathroom because house tours always make me have to pee, and you show me where that is as well. This is all one visit, but during that visit I view many rooms. See how simple that is?

N.B.: this is a purely hypothetical example, I am not planning on showing up at your house uninvited and I am not a stalker, so please let's leave any talk about restraining orders and police involvement out of this. ;-)