Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 site review

That's just about the end of the second full year since this site started; so it's time for the annual stats review.  Obviously with a Tasmanian state election to cover this has been an even bigger year than last year, with about a 58% increase in site traffic.

In my 2013 annual review I noted that in late July 2013 I switched from Blogger Stats to Google Analytics to keep track of site activity.  Just as well, as early this year Blogger Stats started getting swamped by bot hits to the point that it would often rack up several hundred overseas hits a day even when there had been nothing new posted for a week.

This year I released 86 articles of which 19 concerned the Tasmanian state election and 17 were federal polling roundups.  As usual I finished almost everything I started - but I never got around to doing a final wrap for the Tas state election.  Also languishing incompletely in the Drafts vault thus far are:

* a full debunking of some ludicrous social-science rubbish re Tasmanian Devils unwisely published by The Conversation (I gave it plenty in the comments section; also see a rebuttal from scientists working on the species.)

* a critique of a Bob Brown Foundation skew-poll about the proposed revocation of part of the World Heritage Area (had this not come in the heat of the state campaign, or had the revocation had a snowflake's chance of success, I may have finished writing up that one.)

* a glossary of all the big words used on here.

In compiling the list of top ten articles for the year I had a decision to make.  Some articles get lots of hits from visitors refreshing for live coverage or revisiting for updates.  At the same time, an article that gets lots of repeat visits often does so because it is a long article with updates that could have been split into multiple posts if I felt like it.  When in doubt, aggregate, so ...

The ten most popular articles in this Tasmanian-election-dominated year (sorted by the average of total visits and unique visitors) have been:

1. 2014 Tasmanian State Election Guide and Candidate List

Twice as many page views and nearly three times as many visitors as any other article.  This whopper was the hub of my coverage during the campaign and included a constantly updated list of candidates and brief background info, as well as assessments of prospects, among other resources.  My searching for declared candidates was thorough enough that I only had to add four when nominations were revealed.  Alas, both the candidates who complained about the Guide (one of whom had been sorely but very deservedly provoked) were elected.

2. Victorian Election Postcount: Prahran

Coverage of the postcount in the Victorian state election division of Prahran. This was a three-cornered contest between Liberal incumbent Clem Newton-Brown, Labor's Neil Pharaoh and the Greens' Sam Hibbins, in which all three key questions were extremely close.  The contest ended, after much uncertainty, with a historic win for Hibbins in the first case of the Greens taking a state seat under a single-seat system from the Liberal Party.

3. WA Senate Take Two: Preview, Live Comments and Post-Count

Western Australia was sent back to the polls for a full Senate by-election after the state's count in 2013 was well and truly killed off by a perfect storm of absurd preference deals, micro-close results between completely irrelevant micro-parties, and lost ballot papers.  The rerun was less complex but did feature a mildly interesting possible tipping point that in the end didn't matter.  It seems so long ago now but the result was a disaster for Labor, losing Louise Pratt's seat after foolishly preselecting Joe Bullock for the one seat they did win.  WA remains a comparatively weak spot for Labor federally.

4. Hobart City Council Count (Includes Some Coverage Of Other Councils)

Live coverage of the four-day Hobart City Council count under the Hare-Clark system.  This was a largely successful first run of computerised ballot paper entry by the TEC, although changes to the Electoral Act led to a flood of candidates including a strange preference-harvesting attempt on the Deputy Mayor ballot.  Meanwhile, lack of changes to the Electoral Act lead alas to a high informal rate.  The Hobart results saw the unseating of a one-term Lord Mayor by a formidable challenger, and two sitting aldermen beaten including one case of a defeat of a sitting Green by another endorsed Green.

5. Hobart City Council Elections Candidate Guide and Preview

Another monster resource page that kept an eye on intending candidates, past electoral form, issues and prospects.  Mostly on the ball though failing to pick the within-ticket defeat of Greens Alderman Bill Harvey.

6. State Election Post-Count Thread: Braddon

The Hare-Clark post-count for the traditionally conservative north-western electorate of Braddon produced a historic result of 4 Liberal 1 Labor after votes split just evenly enough between the third and fourth Liberal candidates to beat Labor rebel Brenton Best in a fine example of the Ginninderra Effect. One Tasmanian politico was so confident a four-seat result wouldn't happen that he said he'd take a nude swim in the Mersey if it happened!

7. Legislative Council 2014: Huon and Rosevears Guide and Candidates

Another resource page dealing with the two Tasmanian periodic Legislative Council seats.  Alas the Prospects section was a dismal predictive flop. With no polling to go on I assumed the Liberals would follow the pattern of Labor's upper house seat gains on taking office in 1998, but this didn't happen at all (perhaps because of federal drag!).  Huon, which I expected to be an easy Liberal gain, was won by the independent Huon Valley mayor Robert Armstrong.  In Rosevears where I eventually thought Kerry Finch would probably retain narrowly, he ended up winning with a large margin.

8. State Election Post-Count: Denison

The Hare-Clark post-count for the diverse western-shore-Hobart state electorate of Denison saw a close battle between Labor's Madeleine Ogilvie and Labor's Julian Amos for the final seat, with Ogilvie winning essentially on Green preferences.  Extra interest was added to the contest by an accident that damaged thousands of postal ballot papers, causing some to be ruled informal.

9. State Election Post-Count: Bass

The Hare-Clark post-count for the Launceston-based northern state seat of Bass produced a generally expected 3-1-1 result with faint Labor hopes of squeezing out the Greens' Kim Booth never amounting to much.  There was a reasonably close internal contest for the third Liberal seat with Sarah Courtney defeating Barry Jarvis.

10. State Election Post-Count: Lyons

The Hare-Clark post-count for the rural and regional Tasmanian state seat of Lyons produced a catastrophe for the Greens with Tim Morris unseated by resurgent Labor veteran David Llewellyn, costing the Greens party status.

Making the top ten by total views but not on aggregate were the live Rosevears and Huon thread and the most popular federal roundup article, Budget Blowout ... In Coalition Polling.  The unique-pageviews top ten was the same as the one above but with some differences in the ordering.  The most retweeted article on Twitter was Jacqui Lambie and the British Thug Far Right.

Some other stats

The busiest days for the site in terms of numbers of visiting users were March 15, 16 and 14 (Tasmanian state election), October 28 and 29 (Hobart council election), December 9 (Prahran postcount and Fisher by-election), March 12 (Tas state again), December 1 (Victorian state election postcount), April 6 (WA Senate by-election), Dec 8 (Prahran/Fisher again).  Strangely the most crowded hour though was none of these - it was on the evening of April 28 after an episode of Q&A on which Sarrah Le Marquand called Bob Ellis a misogynist.  My article on Ellis got 388 hits in sixty minutes.

This plus a steady trickle of Google hits helped to make the Ellis piece the most read piece that hails from a previous year, ahead of the bio pagethe Field GuideAbbott Fastest Ever To Lose Poll Lead, last year's Mt Wellington cable car piece and the 2PP aggregate methods page.

I can also look at which of the article tags receives the most hits and it's a delight to report my personal favourite tag (apart from "mimophants") "silly greens" is top of the pops, ahead of "pseph", "Tasmania", "Hare-Clark", "Jacqui Lambie", "Andrew Bolt", "Senate", "ReachTEL", "Greens" and "PUP".

The top-visiting countries (by number of visitors) this year were Australia, the USA, the UK, New Zealand, India (+1), Indonesia (+2), Canada (-2), Singapore (new entry), Turkey (new entry) and Germany (-2).  134 countries visited this year.  143 have now checked in in all, and with Nigeria among them the most populous countries yet to score are now Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

The least populous countries that have visited are Seychelles (tourist destination, so the national population figure is unreliable), Micronesia and Grenada.  Smaller dependencies such as Bermuda have also racked up hits.

Excluding small dependencies and nations with tiny populations and many tourist visitors, the most visiting nations in site history by head of population have been Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore, Norway, UK, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malta and Switzerland.  Singapore and Hong Kong have Legislative Councils, while Ireland and Malta have Hare-Clark.  The appearance of Iceland and the rise of Norway (which was also on last year's list) would have been caused by my coverage of the FIDE (chess) Presidential Election in Tromso, Norway.

With the massive focus on the Tasmanian state election it might be expected that Hobart would be the city racking up the most hits for 2014, but no, it was actually Melbourne with 27.1% of hits to 24.5% for Hobart, 14% for Sydney and then came Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Launceston, London (UK) and Newcastle.

The ten search terms generating the most new visits this year were again dominated by people just searching for my name or the site name; apart from those the top ten were "bob ellis", "tasmanian election candidates", "tasmanian election", "tasmanian state election candidates 2014", "lyons candidates", "gerald celente wrong", "bob ellis blog", "candidates for lyons", "denison candidates 2014" and "tasmanian election 2014".

Among the mildly eccentric or amusing terms to score hits here were:

""david llewellyn" anger hobart tasmania australia" 

"cory bernardi jokes"

"how and why tasmania was established"

"are a liberal and independent the same thing"

"are humans dependent on tasmanian devils"

"do you vote 5 times in tasmanian state election"

"how can watch name of candidate their online form submit success central forest development commission?"

"jacqui lambie lesbian"

"palmer lambie not too smard"

"campbell newman i want my freedom back"

Someone also looked for "gay penis pics" of two state Palmer United candidates.

The most common sources of incoming traffic this year (by hits, with changes in position from last year) were Google (+1), Crikey blogs (almost entirely pollbludger) (-1), Twitter (=), Tasmanian Times (+1),  The Tally Room (+4),  Facebook (=), The Australian blogs (typically Mumble) (=),  Adrian Beaumont's articles at The Conversation (new entry), Bing (people actually use Bing? new entry) and  Truth Seeker (-6).  
Thanks to readers for their interest and support and to all who have encouraged my work on this site.  Thanks especially to those who donated money - especially the wave of donations around state election time, without which I doubt I could have sanely spent that much time on that election.

The agenda for the first half of 2015 includes:

* NSW state election
* Queensland state election - extent of coverage depends on timing
* Tasmanian Legislative Council elections

The second half of the year looks quieter and that might (depending on other commitments) give me time to do some work on digitising all those old Morgans I keep quoting figures from.  I'm also hoping to see some progress on Senate reform during the year.

Coming soon: the Ehrlich Award for the worst broadly politics-related predictions made in or concerning the year 2014.  Nominations welcome ...