Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Site Review

Another year down in the just-over five-year history of this site.  2017 did not have either a federal election or a Tasmanian state election but there was still a fair amount of interest, especially in the Queensland election.  Indeed traffic by unique pageviews was only down 40% on last year despite the lack of a federal election, and up 25% on the last year without a federal or Tasmanian election (2015).  Moreover, there were more total pageviews than in the last state election year, 2014! Here's the activity graph for the year (the units are sessions per week):

The major event of the year on the site was the Queensland election, and quite aside from Queensland elections being always so interesting, I think the real reason for this is that the flow of information from official sources was very poor.  Other spikes included two rounds of Tasmanian legislative council elections and the Marriage Law Postal Survey, but there was also a continuing run of Section 44 fun that meant there was generally something to talk about in the second half of the year.

In 2017 I published 77 articles, down nine on 2016.  The main reason for the slight drop is the reduction in the number of Poll Roundup articles, of which ten came out this year, compared to 18 in a federal election year the year before.  I expanded out Tasmanian Legislative Council previews so that each seat had its own page, but on the other hand I only did one post-count thread for Queensland.  As well as poll roundups, the same-sex marriage postal vote (ten articles) and Queensland (nine) were covered fairly heavily.  I'm pleased to have been able to keep the volume somewhere near previous years in a year when my professional workload again increased.

As usual a number of things got partly written but never finished, sometimes for lack of time or sometimes because I thought better of finishing them or lost my temper with the subject matter.  Pieces started but not yet (and in some cases probably never to be) finished included:

* The Lower House section 44 piece foreshadowed in the most recent Senate piece.
* Does Voting For One Nation Help Labor Win Elections? (Answer: Very rarely.  Somebody tell Turnbull that we do have preferences in this country.)
* An untitled piece arguing that the personal life of Barnaby Joyce is a matter of legitimate public interest and commending the Herald-Sun and Daily Telegraph for reporting on it.
* "A Statement About Respectful Debate", commenced on September 9.  This piece was to argue that respectful debate about opposition to same-sex marriage was an unrealistic expectation as opposition to same-sex marriage was both itself innately disrespectful and itself unworthy of respect.
* "The Greens and the Rhiannon Mess" concerning the situation in which Senator Rhiannon was excluded from the Greens party room.  I largely forget where this one was going but it was probably just going to tip a bucket over all involved.
* "The Legislative Council Blocking Bills: Is This A Problem?"  The answer was to be, not when the bills are stupid.
* A media FAQ that was going to answer such questions as "Why isn't my phone number on this site?" (because I don't want to be rung up by retired randoms who don't understand that time matters to working people) and "Am I connected with the University of Tasmania?" (no.)

Top of the pops

The following were the ten most popular articles of the year by number of unique readers:

1. 2017 Queensland Election Postcount (Main Thread)

An easy winner, attracting over three times more unique readers than any other article and ranking seventh in the site's all-time history so far.  This piece followed the postcount in many undecided and often confusing seats in the Queensland state election.

2. Pembroke By-Election: Live And/Or Post-Count

Written largely from fallback internet devices from the town of Miena on Tasmania's Central Plateau, this piece covered the count in the Tasmanian legislative council by-election for Pembroke, spectacularly won by Labor's Joanna Siejka from the Liberals after the Liberal campaign attacked independent local mayor Doug Chipman alleging he was too old for the job.

3. Recent Polling On The Same-Sex Marriage Postal Survey

What it says on the label.

4. Legislative Council 2017: Launceston, Murchison and Rumney Live

Followed the count in three Tasmanian LegCo seats with Ruth Forrest retaining Murchison comfortably, Rosemary Armitage holding Launceston narrowly and Labor's Sarah Lovell unseating "independent liberal" Tony Mulder in Rumney.

5. Postal Plebiscite: Australia's Biggest Bad Elector Survey

As the graph below shows, this one attracted modest interest in April then suddenly went a bit viral months later.  Covered some issues with a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage at a time when it was but a twinkle in Peter Dutton's eye.

6. Section 44: Could Parry Peril Unelect McKim?

This piece covered the bizarre potential for the forced resignation of Senate President Stephen Parry to unelect Tasmanian Greens Senator Nick McKim.  It ended up being a non-issue because Jacqui Lambie was wiped out as well and the Section 44 special count minus both of them no longer replaced McKim with One Nation's Kate McCulloch.

7. Legislative Council 2017: Pembroke By-Election 

Preview of the exciting, not to mention incident- and policy-rich, Pembroke contest.  Correctly flagged Labor's Joanna Siejka and indie Doug Chipman as the serious chances, but underestimated the success of the Liberals' age-attack on Chipman in trashing both his vote and their own preference flow.

8. Marriage Law Survey Turnout Is High ... But Not That High!

Covered the progressive release of ABS turnout estimates for the marriage law postal survey, compared with some polling that seemed to be over-representing politically engaged voters and hence overestimating turnout.  Turnout did eventually finish much higher than I initially expected, but those polls still had it too high too early.

9. Legislative Council 2017: Rumney

The most visited of the regular LegCo previews, and correctly predicted that Labor's Sarah Lovell would give Tony Mulder the boot.

10. Queensland 2017 Live

Standard live commentary thread.

The top ten is the same if counted by page views, but the live threads naturally move up the order in that case.

Some other stats

The ten biggest days of the year in order were Nov 26, Nov 5, Nov 27, May 6, Nov 28, May 7, Dec 1, Nov 4, Nov 29 and Nov 30.  Those in late Nov and early Dec were Queensland, early Nov was the Pembroke by-election and May was the regular LegCo contests.

The most popular pieces written in a previous year were the current Field Guide, Why Preferred Prime Minister/Premier Scores are Rubbish, the bio page (might do a new one soon), the previous Field Guide edition, and the aggregate methods page.

The most clicked tags were Tasmania, Legislative Council, pseph, same-sex marriage, Queensland, Senate reform, Western Australia, Newspoll, Ehrlich Awards and silly greens.

The top ten visiting countries (as defined by Google Analytics, which includes quite a few sub-country units) were Australia, the USA, the UK, NZ, Canada, Germany, Japan (+1), Singapore (+1), India (re-entry) and Hong Kong (new entry). I can't be bothered with the visiting-by-population stats this year; it's obvious that lots of people read this site in airports.  125 Google countries visited in 2017 and in all 175 have now showed up, but we're still waiting for the first hits from the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea and Madagascar - the three most populous yet to arrive.  Outside of Africa, the only countries large enough to see on the map that have not scored are North Korea, Paraguay, Cuba, Haiti, French Guiana, Kosovo and Turkmenistan. The least populous units to visit are now Norfolk Island (sorry Google, that's not a country), Anguilla and Cook Islands.

The most visiting cities this year were Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth (+1), Adelaide (-1), Launceston, London (+1) and Gold Coast (new entry).

The most common search terms this year - my name excluded - related predictably to the same-sex marriage survey and Pembroke. Among the odder ones to find their way here were:

1 to 40 lucky number pattern

greens party for the rich

gay exsort line

left wing stealing postal vote

mark mcgowan unpopular (this was on May 30.)

tasmanian nielsen poll

8% of searchers by name misspelled my name, but none by more than one letter.

The biggest hit sources for the year vary quite a bit depending on whether I count them by users or by sessions.  Going mostly by the latter I have the list at Google, Twitter, Tally Room (+1), Facebook, Tasmanian Times (+1), Bing (+3), Poll Bludger (old and new site combined) (-4), The Guardian (-1), Chesschat (re-entry) and The Conversation (re-entry).  If I go by users, Reddit makes the list instead of The Conversation. It may seem odd that Poll Bludger has dropped so low - I believe the reason is that it no longer has a list of links in the sidebar.

Thanks again for all the support through another crazily busy year, especially from those who have donated $$$.

Orders of the year

In 2018 there will be a Tasmanian state election and a South Australian state election.  They will probably, annoyingly, again be on the same day meaning that coverage of the former on this site will eclipse the latter, but I'll try to pay the lingering demise of the two-party system over there some kind of attention.  Late in the year there will be a Victorian state election.  There may or may not be a federal election as well, and there could well be federal by-elections, with Batman currently a plausible prospect.  There will be Tasmanian Legislative Council elections for the new seat of Prosser and the greenish inner-city seat of Hobart, where Rob Valentine is up for his first defence.  I may decide to cover the count for Glenorchy Council in a few weeks' time, though I have no current commitment to be involved with it.  Later in the year there will be Tasmanian Local Government elections, and I may even cover the FIDE (world chess federation) Presidential Election.  I also expect there to be more Section 44 nonsense.  Looks like another busy year!


  1. Thanks for a great year of reading Kevin, from one of your Singapore readers ;)

    Simon B

  2. Congrats an another year. I'm so looking forward to seeing how things go in SA and hoping for that federal election with crossed fingers and toes.

  3. Great work, Kevin! Best of luck for another busy year in 2018

  4. Can't wait til the Tasmania election reports. Bye bye Will.