This site is now thirteen years old. Like I’ve said in the past, there isn’t a hard date for launching the site, but the very first post is dated September 1st 2005, so that’s when I observe the site anniversary. Let’s mark this occasion by digging into the database and answering some basic questions. Where does my readership come from? Am I really cussing more these days? Am I becoming more long-winded? Am I putting out less content? What’s the overall ratio of this site in terms of HTML / images downloaded? What OS and web browsers do my readers prefer?
First, I should note that these numbers a going to be very rough. I changed web hosts about a month ago and began using a content distribution network a couple of weeks ago, and so my current data doesn’t go back very far. We’re dealing with a small sample size. We can’t read too much into these numbers, but we can still, you know, read them.
First, the question of OS…
Huh. 22% Linux users? I wasn’t expecting that. Globally, Windows has just over 80% of the market share. Given how much this site focuses on the PC market, I’d expect my site to lean towards Windows more than the global average. Instead, Windows has less than two-thirds of the market.
If only the global averages looked this good, Microsoft might be a little less complacent.
If you’d asked me to predict the browser ranking, this is exactly what I would have guessed: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE, in that order.
Poor Opera. I remember it was my go-to browser for a couple of years. I think I left it for Chrome. Looks like I wasn’t the only one.
The above numbers were pulled from my hosting stats, and thus suffer from the small sample size I warned about above. The next two stats come from Cloudflare, which is the CDN I use. The idea of a CDN is that it takes a snapshot of my site and distributes it to its servers around the world. So when all ten thousand of you knock on my door each day, my humble little shared server doesn’t have to bear the full brunt of it. Instead, each of you gets the snapshot from the closest Cloudflare server. It also means that if anyone attacks this site with a botnet, the bots end up spreading their attacks over dozens of strong servers rather than ganging up on my weak one.
First up, here’s what Cloudflare reports about my visitors:
No surprises there. It’s mostly the Anglosphere, with some Europeans. I’m a little surprised at how much traffic I have coming from China. You might assume those are “Chinese hackers”, but check it out…
China barely registers on the threat scale. Also, despite Russia’s reputation as the great hacking boogeyman, Russia pretty much leaves this site alone.
I’m really surprised to see I’ve got more Germans than Canadians. I should check on that in a few months and see if those numbers hold.
That’s enough of the vague numbers. Now let’s go and get some hard facts out of…
Every few months I see a comment to the effect of “You seem to be swearing more lately”. I often wonder how true it is.
For the record, I’m not against cussing in a moral sense. I think there’s a time and place for rough language and I very much agree with Stephen Fry that it’s a powerful linguistic tool to help us communicate.
However, I’m also wary of doing it too much. I have a reputation for being excessively negative and I don’t want to be dismissed as someone who does exaggerated nerdrage as performance art. A lot of people are already working in that spaceWith Zero Punctuation being the ur-example of the form. and I don’t want to get lumped in with them. Furthermore, cursing is powerful directly in proportional to how rare it is. Too many cuss words placed too close together over too trivial a topic and they lose their potency. Dropping the effenheimer is like using your special ability in a videogame. You should save it for when it really counts, and then it should go on cooldown for a while.
I’m careful about my usage because it’s very easy for this thing to become a crutch. “Hm. I’m having trouble making my point and I don’t have anything witty to say. I’ll drop a ‘fuck’ in the middle of this otherwise clinical analysis and that should distract from the fact that my argument is a little toothless.”
Am I getting more swear-y? Yes and no.
But to measure this, we have to decide what words are “serious” curse words and which ones are minor curse words. Damn and hell are used so casually these days that I doubt anyone would count them. At the other extreme are a few slurs that I never use, so it’s not worth looking for them. Many words – such as dick – have non-profane usages and can’t be enumerated automatically because you have to examine the surrounding context. But there are a few words that are unambiguously coarse and can be counted as profanity using simple string comparison.
Here is what I came up with:
SELECT COUNT(ID) FROM (SELECT ID FROM wp_posts WHERE post_author='1' AND post_status='publish' AND (post_content LIKE "%fuck%" OR post_content LIKE '%shit%' OR post_content LIKE '%bitch%' OR post_content LIKE '%asshole%') AND post_date >= '2005-01-01' AND post_date < '2006-01-01' ORDER BY post_date LIMIT 199990) AS x;
Note that this will only count posts that are authored by me and which contain one of the four naughty words: fuck, shit, bitch, and asshole. This means that if I make a single post that’s just the word “fuck” repeated 1,000 times, it still – as Gimli would say – only counts as one. The verdict:
The five-year stretch from 2009 to 2013 is pretty amazing. For five years I held steady at 18-20 cursing posts per year. Then I went pretty wild in the stretch from 2014 to 2017, although it looks like I calmed down this year.
How am I doing in terms of overall words per year?
Obviously 2018 isn’t over and I’ve got four more months of content to post before we see the final tally, but my guess is I’m going to end the year a little bit short of the 294,000 words I posted last year. I expect I’ll be happy with my output when it’s all over.
Now a related question: How often am I posting this year?
As I mentioned in the past, the drop in number of posts is mostly due to the split with the Spoiler Warning crew last year. The Spoiler Warning schedule added 3 short posts every week.
If we combine the last two numbers using mathematical wizardry, we get the following chart:
Obviously if you post the same number of words over a smaller number of posts, you’ll end up with longer posts overall. Again, the spike over the last couple of years is mostly due to the fact that I’m no longer posting little 300 word blurbs under Spoiler Warning videos three times a week.
So that’s a bunch of numbers in chart form. I hope you found those interesting. I’ll check on a few of these stats after the new year and we can see how it all turned out.
 With Zero Punctuation being the ur-example of the form.
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