What do you say to near real-time traffic stats? March 23, 2008 7:42 PM   Subscribe

This AskMe thread about contributors vs. lurkers reminded me of something I've been meaning to inquire about. A pony named Argus, who sees all users, named and unnamed, and enumerates them with well-manicured hooves. A digital Clever Hans. Or a realtime visitor count, if you prefer.

phpBB, for example, has a widget that displays something like "150 users online :: 45 Registered, 105 Guests." It provides a realtime sense of the ebb and flow of both members and non-, lending mass to those shadowy shoulders that we're rubbing up against and giving vague form to the invisible, silent crowd of The Unregistered. Seems like it would be a meaningful set of numbers to display on the blue, up where total number of members appears now. Heck, might this metric already exist on the administrative dashboard?

Could we have that, or would it violate some long-held norms, be too resource-intensive, or reveal more about site traffic to potential advertisers than is desirable? Would the number of lurkers be too frightening to behold? Rough numbers would be fine—no need to poll every minute—just often enough to approximate the size of the madding throng in whose midst we wander.
posted by mumkin to Feature Requests at 7:42 PM (27 comments total)

I don't know, a database ping for every visitor, member or not, would be pretty gnarly on the db. Looking at Google Analytics, on a random weekday (Tuesday of this past week), 245,000 people visited mefi. That seems like a lot of data to count and keep track of.

In the past I did at one time have a "123 members online now" message that simply read how many live sessions we had for people that hit the front page of mefi in the last 20 minutes. I guess if I could figure out a way to do that with non-members, it wouldn't require db logging.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:47 PM on March 23, 2008


Here you go, matt. Now you don't have to do any fancy coding.
posted by item at 7:57 PM on March 23, 2008


Here you go...
posted by item at 7:57 PM on March 23, 2008


Isn't it enough to imagine there's a huge mob lurking in the shadows, just out of sight? You need an actual number?

How about you adopt the McDonald's strategy and just say "billions and billions?"
posted by Dave Faris at 8:01 PM on March 23, 2008


Numbers are lame. I don't want to know how many people are looking at Metafilter. We would inevitably get into visitor dong waving wars between us and site X, and we have better things to do, like holiday dong waving.
posted by blacklite at 8:10 PM on March 23, 2008


Incidentally, mine has christmas lights.
posted by blacklite at 8:10 PM on March 23, 2008


How about adding the Google Analytics daily visitor counts to cortex's infodump?

Also, what *is* a daily visitor? A unique IP address?
posted by tkolar at 8:23 PM on March 23, 2008


245,000 people visited mefi

Man, those big numbers always sort of freak me out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:24 PM on March 23, 2008


BTW, I would like to mention that 16000 is a big round number. BIG and ROUND, with lots of zeroes!
posted by tkolar at 8:24 PM on March 23, 2008


Man, those big numbers always sort of freak me out

Yeah, stats like that might just fall into the "too frightening to contemplate" category. I don't manage to keep that in the back of my mind, unlike Dave Faris, and the place can feel awfully empty if I'm not in a thread that's positively ticking-over with comments. But, wow, that's definitely the kind of bigness that I was thinking might broaden our understanding of what's going on all around us here. Though to be fair, thinking back to my days as a lurker, I was really only following the links and not reading the comments much. We're probably less observed than those numbers suggest.
posted by mumkin at 8:45 PM on March 23, 2008


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * **          CONGRATULATIONS          ** YOU ARE THE ONE MILLIONTH VISITOR!**   CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE  ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
posted by Rhaomi at 8:57 PM on March 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


That's purty.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:07 PM on March 23, 2008


I clicked.

I was fooled!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:10 PM on March 23, 2008


YEAH WELL MAYBE IF GEORGE W BUSH WOULD SPEND LESS TIME FOOLING PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET AND MORE TIME RUNNING THE COUNTRY WE'D BE BLAH BLAH BLAH SOMETHING
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:19 PM on March 23, 2008


Actually, I'd prefer he spend more time fooling people on the internets, plural or no.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:30 PM on March 23, 2008


Can we not have this please. I always assumed that the number of people reading my typos was in the hundreds, not the tens of thousands. It would kind of take away the personal feel of mefi for me.
posted by 517 at 9:36 PM on March 23, 2008


To be fair, though, I did refresh my Favorites 239,000 times last Tuesday.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:36 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


YEAH WELL MAYBE IF GEORGE W BUSH WOULD SPEND LESS TIME FOOLING PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET AND MORE TIME RUNNING THE COUNTRY WE'D BE BLAH BLAH BLAH SOMETHING

Maybe so, but fool me once can't get fooled again!



245,000 people visited mefi

Man, those big numbers always sort of freak me out.


Seriously! That's a bit intimidating. I need to start making a lot more sense and saying stuff that sounds a hell of a lot smarter.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:27 PM on March 23, 2008


A pony named Argus, who sees all users, named and unnamed, and enumerates them with well-manicured hooves. A digital Clever Hans. Or a realtime visitor count, if you prefer.
I'd rather have a digital Super Hans...
posted by djgh at 10:56 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


A pony named Argus, who sees all users, named and unnamed, and enumerates them with well-manicured hooves. A digital Clever Hans. Or a realtime visitor count, if you prefer.

The memes, metaphors, big words, and tech jargon in this sentence caused my eyes to melt and my brain to fizzle for a minute. Then I blinked, and died for approximately 4 seconds. When I came to, I (stupidly) reread the sentence. And I still don't get it. I want my brain cells back.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:57 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Number one.
posted by Super Hans at 2:35 AM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it would be a lot more useful if it was personalized:

Your parents last visited metafilter four days ago. They read and laughed out loud at a poor schmuck who was the subject of a series of anonymous questions. Your father even said "what a douchenozzle."

Your wife has left three anonymous questions on askmefi in the past three weeks.


Etc.
posted by maxwelton at 3:23 AM on March 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


I love that, maxwelton! For me, it would be, "you have been favorited ten times, twice by your cat walking across your laptop keyboard, and the other 8 times by your parents, who want you to know they are so proud of you!"
posted by misha at 8:56 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am a another person who has often wondered about the size of this community. I mean, aren't 20 of those 245,000 hits mine? How many people really frequent this place? How many of the 16,000 members actively post?

Disclaimer: I have no idea how the internet actually works. Hey is that a picture of a kitty? How cute...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:41 AM on March 24, 2008


No numbers, keep it fuzzy. Let the users lull themselves into a false sense of security.
posted by Rafaelloello at 5:02 PM on March 24, 2008


I still don't get it. I want my brain cells back.

Sorry to have over-embellished with Argus and Clever Hans, iamkimiam. If it's any consolation, everytime I see your username I dyslexically read it as my own, so you're a recurring source of cognitive dissonance for me :)
posted by mumkin at 5:26 PM on March 24, 2008


Hey is that a picture of a kitty? How cute...

To tell the truth, that's about 99% of how the internet works.
posted by tkolar at 8:48 PM on March 24, 2008


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