Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 site review

This site started in October 2012 after I left Tasmanian Times*.    This is my second "annual" list of the most popular articles of the year and other stats trivia, but obviously the first one to cover a full year ... and what a year in Australian elections and poll-watching it has been!  

For the first half of the year I was using the Stats function in Blogger to keep track of site activity.  However, the Stats function has a number of drawbacks.  Not only is it very prone to hits from automated, non-authentic traffic (including pulses of up to 300 hits at a time), but there is a thing called vampirestat that swamps your post visit stats as a claimed source of site visits.  Sites where articles are frequently edited (as mine are to add updates) seem to be unusually prone to getting their site stats clogged by vampirestat.  

Another drawback with the Blogger Stats function is that it actually misses (or loses) genuine hits.  In late July I started using Google Analytics.  I'd read before that because Google Analytics does a better job of not counting non-genuine traffic, it tends to return lower hit totals (to the dismay of some blog-owners' egos).  But in my case the totals returned by Analytics have been substantially higher, even if only counting unique user hits.

In future I expect to only use Google Analytics for tracking site stats.
The ten most popular articles this year (sorted by number of visits) have been:

1. Federal Election Late Counting Thread

This whopper followed the progress of post-counting of the House of Representatives from the day after the election until the final declaration of the poll for Fairfax nearly two months later.  Probably in retrospect I should have given the Fairfax process a thread of its own after the initial very close result was released, but I didn't realise quite how prolonged and interesting it was going to be.

2. Federal Election Late Counting: Tasmanian Senate

Another often-updated and eventually unwieldy whopper that followed the twists and turns and complexities of the Tasmanian Senate post-count that led to the victory of PUP's Jacqui Lambie by a very narrow margin over the Sex Party and narrow margins over the Liberals and Family First.  Complete with flowchart.  Some really nice modelling by various people in the comments too.  The most fiendishly complex post-count I've ever tried to model.

3. LegCo: Pembroke, Nelson and Montgomery Candidates

Initially called "LegCo: Two Early Challengers", this article started out with a comparison of the Legislative Council candidacy announcements of Allison Ritchie (Ind ex-ALP, Pembroke) and Tom Baxter (Green, Nelson).  It gradually morphed into a complete LegCo candidate guide.  It corrected some glossing-over of Allison Ritchie's past in the local media, leading to more accurate coverage of that issue.

4. WA Senate Squeaker

Followed developments in the WA Senate post-count from the button press through the Court of Disputed Returns court case (and may continue to do so as further events unfold.)  Also debunked some dubious claims about the results and has hopefully done its bit to highlight both the many absurdities of the situation and the unacceptability of the PUP/ALP proposal to let the original count remain.  Of course I was far from alone in doing this.

5. If You Care About Gay Rights, Vote Below The Line in The Tasmanian Senate

The most necessary article published here this year.  This article brought to widespread attention the remarkable and disquieting fact that above-the-line preference allocations by almost every party on the Tasmanian Senate ballot paper had put Family First candidate Peter Madden, a strident anti-gay campaigner who supports Russia's anti-gay laws, in a very competitive position in the Tasmanian Senate race.  This included the Greens ludicrously preferencing Madden 18th out of 54.  In the end, it was close: while this article was probably not the cause of his defeat, Madden missed out by less than a thousand votes at the key exclusion.

6. Abbott Fastest Ever To Lose Poll Lead

The most retweeted article of the year; possibly also the most widely linked on forums and other sites, and fourth on unique pageviews.  This article analysed polling in December 2013 in which the Abbott government became the fastest new government to lose the two-party preferred polling lead in Australian polling history.

7. LegCo Live Comments and Post-Poll Discussion

Live coverage and post-poll comments for the three Tasmanian Legislative Council seats that went to the polls this year.

8. Prospects for the Tasmanian Senate Race

Long and often updated piece that tried to project the outcome of the Tasmanian Senate contest in the months leading up to polling day.  Very messy and eventually a predictive dud, partly because I was so busy in the days leading up to the election that I did not get around to re-running Senate projections.  Perhaps had I done so I would have seen that PUP were a big threat despite a deeply average preference flow; perhaps not.

9.  Tasmanian Senate Seat Goes To The Button - Lambie (PUP) Wins

Covered the end of the Tasmanian Senate race and analysed the results; also provided a list of absurdities generated by the Senate voting and counting systems in this instance.

10. A Field Guide to Australian Opinion Pollsters

Someone asked if this existed so I decided to create it.  A basic resource piece providing details about different pollsters and polling issues and my impressions of the quality of different polls.


Blogger Stats places Senate Reform: Change This System But To What? in tenth place instead.  The various Polling Roundup pieces published in the leadup to the election were also popular with four or five of them making the second half of the top 20.  Among the locally-colourful and relatively non-psephy pieces, Public Opinion And The Mt Wellington Cable Car Proposal had a bit of a run on Facebook and finished just outside the year's top 10.

The least visited article-as-such was Mayhem In The Marginals 3: Mayhem Everywhere - not because there was anything wrong with it, but because this dissection of the last of several JWS Research bulk marginal-seat polls had a very short shelf-life indeed.  It had barely hatched when Julia Gillard was replaced by Kevin Rudd and the article became irrelevant.

Some Other Stats

Last year I gave some figures for countries of traffic origin, but Blogger Stats picks up a lot of automated hits and isn't reliable.  Google Analytics, since I started it in July, has shown the top-visiting countries (by number of visitors) to be Australia, the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Canada, India, Argentina, Germany, Indonesia and Thailand.  93 countries visited in this time.  The most populous countries that haven't visited are Nigeria, Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The least populous countries that have visited are Seychelles (tourist destination, so the national population figure is unreliable), Jersey and Iceland.

On a per capita basis, and excluding Jersey (single visit) and Seychelles (tourism), the most visiting nations are Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malta, the UK, Hong Kong, Solomon Islands, Ireland, Norway and Trinidad&Tobago.  Malta because it has Hare-Clark and T&T because it has a Legislative Council.

Figures for visits by city are also available, although they seem a bit shaky when it comes to small areas. For instance the figures for Burnie and Devonport seem way too low to me, suggesting that IP address counting is locating people from these cities as being in Launceston or Hobart in a lot of cases.  Anyway at present Sydney has had slightly more visits than Melbourne (since late July) but Melbourne has had slightly more visitors.  Sorted by unique visitors, the top ten are Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Launceston, London (UK) and Newcastle.

The ten search terms generating the most new visits since late July have been "kevin bonham", "kevin bonham blog", "dr kevin bonham", "bob ellis", "bob ellis blog", (these two because of this) "julia sex" (an article about Gillard's opposition to same-sex marriage picks up hits from people looking for something else), "bonham tasmania", "andrew nikolic the poll bludger", "andrew roberts tasmania", and "bonham".

Also scoring highly were "reachtel poll", "brenton best", "foxes in tasmania", "mt wellington cable car" and "gerald celente wrong".  Among the mildly eccentric or amusing terms to score hits here were:

"45,47,50,52,48,47,49,53,51.does the mean of these differ significantly from assumed mean of 47.5 at 5% level of significance"

"d id kevin morgan palmerr party braddon tasma nia. getin"

"jacqui lambie fool idiot" 

"australian electoral commission. does my third and fourth preference even matter"

"julia gillard married with whom"

"to respect homosexual rights; to be or not to be?"

"who is psephologist ? who was famous psephologist who expired on december 2 ,2013"


Generally though, I'm impressed by the percentage of incoming search terms that are actually relevant to the sort of content covered on this site.

Since late July the ten most common sources of incoming traffic (by hits, not number of visitors) have been Crikey blogs (almost entirely pollbludger), Google, Twitter, Truth Seeker, Tasmanian Times, Mark the Ballot, The Australian blogs (almost entirely Mumble), Facebook, The Tally Room and Chesschat.  It's possible ABC Elections would have made this list had I been running Analytics for the whole year.  Two sources that make the top ten by number of visitors but not by number of hits were the Something Awful forums and Reddit.   Adrian Beaumont's articles at The Conversation were also a significant hit source.

Thanks to readers for their interest and support and to all who have encouraged my work on this site.  Hopefully what I have to offer in 2014 will be of interest to you.  That said, I can only continue this stuff while finances permit, and work in my primary profession has been pretty scarce in the last year.  Frankly, if someone would like to show their appreciation by agreeing to find me work every time I run out of it and don't have the foggiest idea where to look for more, that would be wonderful.  :)

Elections I expect to cover in 2014 include the Tasmanian state election, the Western Australian Senate by-election (if ordered), the Legislative Council election for the seats of Huon and Rosevears, and the delayed Hobart City Council elections.  More on plans for these closer to the date; others may be added. On-the-night coverage of the state election will probably be on another site.  Coverage in the leadup to the state election may be patchy because of fieldwork commitments in late February and possibly March.

Coming soon: the Ehrlich Award for the worst predictions made in or concerning the year 2013.  Nominations welcome ...

(* My current relationship with TT is that I still do not post there except in extremely rare circumstances, but I do sometimes forward them excerpts from my articles, which are then posted on the condition that no comments be accepted on the articles over there.  At present I'm doing it in response to specific requests from them only.)

1 comment:

  1. Kevin ,
    I put most but not all of your articles on my Around the Traps out each friday.Congratulations on the high quality of your articles.

    May they continue!


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