Updates and Statistics
It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted an administrative note so I thought I would write another one. I thought you may be interested to hear some of the stats of the site and this is also a good opportunity for me to update you on recent changes.
The biggest change lately has been the addition of a user profiles viewing page. Everyone can now view user profiles for anyone that has signed up on the site. The profiles contain user data (which you can fill in on your profile page – link at the top right of every page), as well as most recently rated posts and your last five comments. Check out my profile for a demo.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, I have also added a small panel to the very top of every page which contains our new logo on the left, and your username (click this to edit your profile) and a logout link. This replaces the plain text logo and site label that we previously had. The great thing about this is that the number of new registered users has increased by over 50% since making it much clearer that you can sign up.
Another recent change has been to the side-panels – the left hand panel now shows a cloud of categories (the more items in a category the larger its title) and the most popular lists is also now on the left hand panel – directly below the categories. On the right hand side we still have the most recent items at the top, and the comments are now directly below it. You may have also noticed that I have added larger links at the top of the right panel for the RSS feed, the advertiser page, the contributions page, and the forums (yes – we have forums – feel free to sign up and chat about anything you want).
You may have also noticed the up and down arrows on each of the comments – this is for comment karma. You can now vote a comment up or down based on quality (whether you are registered or not). The total Karma count for a user appears on his profile page. Do take advantage of this feature – it is fun.
You may have noticed a few quirks in the behavior of the site in the last couple of weeks. The reason for this is that we were getting so much traffic that my host (burtonhosting) could not cope and the site was going down or slowing to a crawl. To try to improve things we moved the database portion of the site on to a second semi-dedicated host (meaning the site was running on two semi-dedicated machines). Unfortunately this did not help a great deal and a few days later we had to move the whole thing to a dedicated server. The site is now running on a dedicated dual processor machine with 2GB of RAM. The site is running Linux too, with MySQL and PHP. The cost of hosting has now doubled so there have been a few tweaks to the adverts on the site to help boost its income.
Alexa Rank: 28,310
Technorati Rank: 4,456
Monthly Pageviews: 1.5 million
Registered Users: 182
Registered RSS Users: 1,460
MB transferred: 700GB per month/avg
Primary Traffic Sources: Direct traffic (10.55%), Referring sites (84.3%), Search Engines (5.10%)
Common Browsers: Firefox (59.6%), Internet Explorer (34.6%), Safari (5.2%), Opera (1.9%)
Common OSs: Windows (85.9%), Macintosh (11.7%), Linux (3%)
I am planning to take a month off in December to visit my family for Christmas. The most important impact of this for the site is that I won’t have the time I have now to write lists every day. It is very important for the site to be updated every day so I need to start building up a repository of lists that I can post each morning that I am away (I will have my trusty laptop with me) and I will need a stable group of people to monitor comments, administer spams, and reply to people. Interaction is the most important thing because the comments really give life to the site. If you think you might be able to help me out with any of these issues, please email me at [email protected].
How does this all happen?
I don’t know if anyone actually wants to hear this, but just in case, I will give you a run down of how the site works. I normally wake up between 5 and 6 in the morning. I get myself a cup of coffee and have a cigarette (I hope I don’t lose visitors for that confession!). I then sit at the computer (a Macbook Pro – 15″ glossy screen, 2GB ram, OS X 10.4.10) and check my emails. After I have dealt with all the emails I check out the comments that have happened over night and reply to any that need replying to. I usually check the site statistics at this time too.
After that, I load Ecto (a Mac OS program for writing blog articles) and start trying to think of lists for the day. If I can’t think of anything I go through all of my RSS subscriptions and see what topics are interesting that may lead to a good list. If that fails, I google “top 10” to see if I can find some inspiration. If anyone has emailed a list for publication over night I will usually publish it now so you have something to see while I am thinking. Once I come up with an idea I start devising the order of the list and do research to see what information I can find on the net concerning ranking of the items. Quite often I get half way through a list and stop because the inspiration dries up. Those lists are left for another day when I am inclined to finish them.
I repeat this process 3 or 4 times (depending on how long each list takes) throughout the day. While doing this I have to hold down a full time job which takes a minimum of eight hours out of my day – and with the project I am working on at the moment this has often gone over eight hours.
Beside my computer I have 10 pages of handwritten list ideas that friends, family, and users on the site have suggested. I often read those first for ideas.
At the moment, on average, with the cost of paying for occasional lists, and the cost of hosting, the site is costing me around $400 US dollars a month. Advertising income is covering that for the most part, but as we head toward the holiday season, I am probably going to have to start spending more of my own money to pay for submitted lists and the extra time I have to put in (it can take up to three hours for me to write one list). Hence, this appeal. There are four ways you can help with this:
1) Submit lists for possible publication (see the contribute page for details)
This means that we will be able to have regular lists every day through the Christmas season. If you can think of good lists that suit the particular holiday season, they would make a great addition.
2) Spread the news of this site to all your friends
The more people that come, the more attention the site receives and the more people that can possibly contribute excellent lists for publication. It also means that we all benefit from extra comments, which – we all know – are one of the best parts of the site.
3) Consider visiting some of our sponsor sites
It is unethical for me to suggest that you just click the ads at the top of each article, but it is okay for me to say that if you do see something of interest there, visit the sponsor and see what they have to offer. This will really help a lot. having said that, if you run adblocking software and do not wish to see ads at all – you are more than welcome to do so – the most important thing is that as many people as possible see the content, and if you want look without blocking software, block to your heart’s content. I am happy to have people on the site regardless of whether they are seeing the ads or not.
4) Suggest a list
If you don’t have time, or the inclination to write a list, but you get a great idea – or even a mediocre idea – for a list, please take a couple of minutes out of your day to email the suggestion to me. I am thinking of putting a small form on each page for suggestion submissions to make this easier, but in the meantime email me at [email protected]. No matter how lame you think the idea may be, please send it. You would be surprised how many great lists have come from not so great ideas. You may find it interesting to know that it can sometimes take me an hour before I think of a topic for a list – so if you can help to speed this process up, it will be a great help.
Well this ended up reading like a novel – I hope you don’t mind! Once again, thanks for visiting the site and contributing to the comments – I really enjoy my morning ritual of reading what you all have to say. Hopefully we can all work together to keep the site going strong.