Tag Archives: stats

Scooping up the blogosphere

MYSCOOP: South Africa’s new blog aggregator with promise

WHEN the blog was born it was met with mild curiosity in the online world. Suddenly every web user had the means to voice their opinion and views and, in effect, have their very own website. Needless to say, the idea caught on, and there are now thousands of bloggers fighting for popularity and page rank on an ever growing blogosphere.

What was needed was an effective method of categorising the huge influx of blogs and creating order out of chaos. The result was the development of blog aggregators — websites that could track certain blogs and make them more accessible to readers.

These have become the height of entrepreneurial endeavour online, as well as some of the most popular stops for web browsers and bloggers alike. In South Africa we had the emergence of Amatomu — a South African blog aggregator started by the keen minds of the Mail & Guardian online. Amatomu fell in and out of use before officially becoming null and void toward the end of last year. The creators stated that the site had become too much to handle and are currently trying to sell the website.

Then we saw the birth of Afrigator — a uniquely African aggregator founded by a man named Justin Hartman. Afrigator has shown great promise and has spawned several digital offspring, such as Gatorpeeps and Adgator — a micro-blogging service and a South African advertising service respectively. Afrigator has proved to be extremely popular — winning a bronze award in the Publishing Integrated Campaign category at the second annual Bookmarks awards ceremony in November last year.

But with the untimely death of Amatomu there was a large, online shoe to be filled by a new, uniquely South African blog aggregator. Thus came about the emergence of my­Scoop — the latest blog aggregator to take to the rough waters that is the blogosphere.

myScoop logo

What is myScoop?
myScoop is the latest addition to the SA blog aggregator family and also operates as a social bookmarking tool. Created by 25 year old South African web entrepreneur, Nicholas Duncan, myScoop is showing great promise within the blogging arena.

“I use a lot of social bookmarking sites and noticed that South Africa is lacking in this department,” says Nick Duncan. “It was never meant to be a blog aggregation tool at all, but, when I noticed the downfall of Amatomu, I decided to give it a bash and out popped [myscoop.co.za]”

myScoop is also a great example of how the multitude of social networking websites available today are starting to integrate and merge. myScoop specifically makes use of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID and Blogger accounts — all of which can be used to join or sign into the site.

Nick Duncan is constantly improving myScoop and recently created a badge and ranking system. The site now has the ability to keep track of blog hits, as well as provide information as to what specific pages users are accessing on your blog.

The ranking system keeps track of what blogs are the most popular and which posts receive the most traffic within a day or a month. There is also a dedicated stats section that shows users how many hits their sites had on different dates.

“Right now we offer “live stats” (which is still a bit buggy, but all problems will be ironed out in due time). Once sponsorship is found for hosting, I will be able to develop greater tools for myScoop,” explains Duncan.

myScoop features:

  • Blog profile: Each blog entered has a profile displaying its latest posts.
  • Blog aggregator: myScoop has a blog aggregator that allows you to create a profile and add your blog.
  • Topic stats: There is a very easy-to-understand stats page for each article that shows users the daily clicks for the topic.
  • Community: The overall vibe of myScoop is informative and friendly, which is what all social media platforms strive for.
  • MyPage: Each member on myScoop gets a myPage area where they can follow others blogs and keep up-to-date with what is happening in their areas of interest.
  • Social bookmarking: It has a very easy-to-use social bookmarking platform that categorises and rank submissions according to the number of unique clicks each topic gets.

Unique features and future developments?
The development and functionality of blog aggregators rely heavily on user feedback, which is something that myScoop both encourages and is doing a great job of — by implementing ideas and suggestions offered by its users.

“I would like to make myScoop more community-driven … user input is absolutely vital in any website and I would like to let the actual users steer the ship as to where they want myScoop to go,” says Duncan.

In terms of future developments, Nick Duncan is constantly creating and implementing new features and aims to create a unique user experience: “The ultimate goal is to create something “unique” in a sense; it’s no good having two or three of the same websites floating around … I’d also like to create a platform where users are able to develop their own programs by pulling information off the server. [However] this can only be possible once stable hosting is found,” explains Duncan.

myScoop challenges
A major challenge concerning South African blog aggregators is becoming overwhelmed with online traffic and maintaining connectivity speeds. This is largely what led to Amatomu’s early retirement. Tied in with these issues is local bandwidth — specifically the costs of bandwidth and the lack of it in SA.

“There are a number of factors that hamper the snow-balling effect we all would like to see when it comes to our new startups, such as advertising, hosting and bandwidth costs, says Duncan. These all can limit potential growth, but I feel that, as a young web entrepreneur, staying positive and keeping the momentum, while keeping your ear to the ground and listening to your users, can ultimately lead to your success.”

I personally foresee great things ahead for myScoop and would encourage all South African bloggers join in on the debate and follow its development. myScoop is also a great example of a good South African online service and Nicholas Duncan is one of the most reliable and decisive web entrepreneurs I have come across on the Internet.

About Nick Duncan:
I started playing with PHP about three years ago, but have been into HTML since I was about 12 years of age. I am engaged to a beautiful woman and recently experienced the birth of my boy, Logan. (This of course hampers development time, but is absolutely worth it)! I have two good-as-gold step kids aged five and eight that keep me on my toes. I welcome all feedback regarding the myScoop project, which can be directed at nick@myscoop.co.za. You can also follow @Nicholas_Duncan on Twitter.

Related article: A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging

Social networking in South Africa

WEB SURVEY: MWEB’s Friendship 2.0 survey revealed social networking as the new way to “talk over the garden fence”

ON average, adult social networkers in South Africa are in their 30’s, employed full-time, and describe themselves as sociable and outgoing. This is according to findings in new research commissioned by MWEB. The Friendship 2.0 survey was conducted towards the end of last year among local web users aged 16 years and older, busting the myth that social networking is only done by youngsters. It demonstrates how social networking has gone mainstream.

Findings
Facebook remains the dominant social networking platform with a massive 82% using the service. Behind Facebook comes YouTube (32%), then MXit (29%) and Twitter 28%. The majority of people are using these services to communicate real life activities such as sharing personal news, gossiping and making arrangements to meet socially.

Social networking is changing the format of personal networks dramatically. Many people are now making friends and meeting potential partners online. The impact of social networking is also expanding personal networks with the average user claiming to have around 158 friends they regularly interact with.

“Social networks have really become the garden fence of the 21st century, and are used for very much the same purposes as community meeting places. We are at the end of the early adoption phase, which was dominated by young people, and social networking is now a mainstream activity enjoyed and used by all age groups, particularly those in their thirties.” – Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect

Users in South Africa
The survey revealed that the average age of Facebook users in South Africa is 33; MySpace is 32; Twitter and YouTube come in at 31; and the youngest in the survey is MXit with an average age of 27. These findings dispel perceptions that social networking is for teenagers only.

Multiple presences
Many online South Africans are also taking up multiple presences using a combination of Facebook, Twitter and MXit accounts. To facilitate integration between these multiple platforms, these users link their various accounts to each other enabling visitors to their Facebook pages to view their Twitter updates and click through to their MySpace profile.

On certain social platforms it’s more a matter of viewing than doing. For example, 75% of MySpace users are only ‘viewers’, moving from one profile to the next. Similarly, 72% of Twitter users are ‘lurkers’, reading what others post. This may be because Twitter is still relatively ‘new’ and users do not have the option of accepting people who would like to follow them. Users could also be more concerned about what their followers may think of their comments.

Facebook and LinkedIn are the most balanced, with 60% of their users classed as “viewers”, who just view other people’s pages, and 40% actively posting their own information regularly.

Facebook Chat
The addition of Facebook’s chat facility/instant messenger tool has seen 56% of South African Facebook users ‘chatting’ to their friends on the site. “When we looked at who they are chatting to, friends and family were tops. Clients, partners and suppliers were the lowest, possibly because most Facebook users prefer not to befriend people they deal with professionally.”

Internet connectivity
The way South African’s are accessing the Internet revealed that ADSL is the connection of choice. “Some 48% of the participants are connecting via ADSL, followed very closely by 3G/HSDPA at 42%, and 35% via their cell phones using 3G,” added Holgate.

Online personality types
The survey results categorised respondents into five different online personality types. These personality types, vary from those who are reluctant to use the Internet and do not have an understanding of what can be done online, through to users who are comfortable using the Internet and indulge in potentially “edgy” behaviour, such as using a pseudonym online or using the Internet to find out what a past partner is doing.

Additional interesting findings include:

  • The research revealed that 74% of South Africans going online do so specifically to visit social networking platforms.
  • 16% of Facebook users in the survey are on Facebook all day, an additional 58% visit the site once a day or more. This means 74% are accessing Facebook at least once a day.
  • The computer desktop remains the most popular way to access Facebook (55%), but 35% are using a combination of their cellphone and computer.
  • 62% of Facebook users are updating their status, and 61% are uploading videos or photographs, and searching for someone on the site.
  • 16% of participants are using social platforms to promote their business.
  • 94% of the participants are using the Internet to access their email followed by 81% using the Internet for work related activities.
  • Social networking (74%) rated six on the list of online activities after reading the news (76%), searching for information (76%) and online banking (75%).
  • 50% of Facebook users classified themselves as English, 58% are male and 25% have parents on the social platforms.
  • 25% of the survey participants have met more friends online than they have in real life.
  • 24% have gone on a face-to-face date with someone they have met online.
  • 36% have used a pseudonym online.
  • 36% have used the Internet to find out what a past partner is doing.
  • 37% believe they spend too much time online and need to cut back.
  • 49% feel vulnerable to abuse by sharing their personal details online.
  • And 21% have experienced a breach of their privacy on the Internet.

TNS Research Surveys conducted the survey with a selection of participants of varying demographics to identify which social networking platforms are popular among South Africans and to probe what they are doing on the various sites. 401 people from TNS Research Surveys’ online panel were interviewed. All respondents were aged 16 years or older and the data is representative of the South African online population in terms of age, race and gender. The data was weighted to bring age/race/gender into line with AMPS figures.

For more information about this survey, indicative profiles of the five online personality types identified during this survey, and to see how you compare to the average South African using social networking platforms, visit: http://www.mweb.co.za/services/friendship/

– issued on behalf of MWEB

Related post: Web addiciton 2.0

Multi-billion dollar gaming

WE are currently experiencing an historical era as the gaming industry envelopes us. Doug Lowenstein – the President of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), put this perfectly in words by saying:

Decades from now, cultural historians will look back at this time and say it is when the definition of entertainment changed forever”
Doug Lowenstein, ESA President

The gaming industry has become one of the largest contributing forces behind the growth and stability of the North American economy. Reaping in $9.5 billion (roughly R76 billion) in 2007 – according to the ESA – the gaming industry is just short of making as much money as the film industry (which made roughly $10.2 billion last year). However, computer and video game software sales have tripled since 1996, and with the rate that new games and technologies are being developed, I’m certain that the gaming industry will far exceed Box Office sales in the very near future.

Future Archaeologyfuture archaeology

Some other interesting figures produced by the ESA are that 67% of American households play video and computer games – the bulk of which believe that it has brought their families closer together. Furthermore, the majority of the statistical results show that teenagers under the age of 18 get permission from their parents before buying any of the gruesome R18 games. If such innocence is indeed truthful, then is the gaming industry all that bad?

I just wish that South Africa would develop a best-selling game that would ‘wow the world’. Surely we have the capability to do so? Yet I suppose our society, which is so charged with being politically correct, would prevent us from developing say a first-person shooter game based on the Anglo-Boer War.

If only that were easier, and our software developers would cease emigrating overseas where they are more appreciated, we could overcome some of our other financial difficulties…

Related post: Too hot to handle: Future gaming & PCs

Links:
Plunkett Research Ltd.
The Entertainment Software Association
Video games don’t hurt movie sales if you make good movies

Web statistics 101

WEB STATS: The difference between hits, page impressions, user sessions and unique visits

EVERYONE with a website or blog should be interested to know just how well they are doing in terms of generating online traffic. However, the value of website statistics lies in the interpretation of trends rather than concentration on precise figures.

While some site aggregators focus on ‘hits’ and ‘user sessions’, others offer insight into ‘unique visits’ and ‘page impressions’. Below is an attempt at distinguishing between these terms in order to better understand what the dots and lines on web statistics mean.

HITS:
The idea of measuring website traffic using hits is becoming rather old school due to its inaccuracy. Technically speaking a page hit is the term for any requested file, including each of a page’s images or graphics. It is the retrieval of any item, like a page or a graphic, from a web server. Any time a piece of data matches criteria you set, in a Google search for example, it’s recorded as a hit.

The problem with hits however is that when a visitor calls up a web page consisting of several graphics, each one is recorded as a hit plus one for the html page. For this reason, hits often aren’t a good indication of web traffic.

PAGE IMPRESSIONS/VIEWS:
While a hit is a single file request from a web-server, a page impression is a combination of one of more files sent to a user via that user’s request (such as a search). In other words, it is the viewing or downloading of a website in its entirety by one user.

In web advertising, the term ‘impression’ is often synonymous for ‘view’, and is usually what advertisers use to determine how and where to advertise online.

However, the accuracy of this data will depend upon whether or not the user’s PC is ‘caching‘ the files integral to that page, or whether the user clears the cache after each session. In other words, whether or not the page has to reload each time.

Page impressions therefore become meaningless on framed sites. If a framed page has a separate frame for the header, the top border and the main text area, for example, a visitor will create a total of four different page impressions rather than one.

page impressions

 

USER SESSIONS:
In tabulating more accurate statistics for website usage, user sessions are often used for counting the number of times a particular user visits the site. This is determined by the visitor’s IP address and thereby solves the problems of repeat visits to pages.

These are calculated by the presence of a user with a specific IP address who has not visited the site recently (typically, anytime within the past 30 minutes). For example, a user who visits a site at noon and then again at 3pm would be counted as two user sessions or visits.

UNIQUE VISITORS:
A related term for user sessions, a unique visitor refers to a person who visits a website more than once within a specified period of time.

Different from a hits or page views (measured by the number of files that are requested from a site) unique visitors are measured according to their unique IP addresses. These act like online fingerprints, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times they visit the site.

One could think of unique visitors as your loyal readership or website users. Treat them well!

Hope this was helpful. Please add any additional insight or info you may have below.

Links:
Hits and impressions 
Site measurement FAQs

Web Addiction 2.0

Hi, my name is Jeff and I’m an addict. A web-addict.

Several recent surveys and related research is leading to more and more psychologists being trained to identify and treat what has become known as Internet addiction or web abuse. It has even been suggested that web abuse be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders within the American Journal of psychiatry.

SYNOPSIS:
Internet addiction has been labeled as a compulsive disorder with cybersex and cyberporn addiction being the most common forms. Like most addictions these have an impact on an individual’s social and personal life.

The disorder has been further sub-catergorised into addiction to online gaming, compulsive surfing, and eBay addiction. However, it has been noted that these only become a problem when they interfere with normal living and cause severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work performance.

Internet addiction appears to be having real effects on people, and one blogger has pointed out how websites have been ironically set up to provide information for sufferers, as well as info for attorneys and psychologists.

SYMPTOMS:
According to netaddiction.com:

Internet addicts struggle to control their behaviors, and experience despair over their constant failure to do so. Their loss of self-esteem grows, fueling the need to escape even further into their addictive behaviors. A sense of powerlessness pervades the lives of addicts”

According to the Daily Telegraph web-addicts suffer from 4 symptoms:

  1. Forgetting to eat and sleep
  2. Needing more advanced technology or more hours online as ‘resistance’ to the pleasure given by their current system develops
  3. When deprived of their computer, genuine withdrawal symptoms are experienced; and,
  4. In common with other addictions, victims begin to have more arguments, suffer from fatigue, experience a decline in work performance, and begin to feel isolated from society – Andy Bloxham, Daily Telegraph, June 20, 2008

Related symptoms may be cravings (for better software, faster machines etc.), withdrawal (which may cause irritability, tremors and anxiety), a loss of sense of time, and negative social repercussions (such as neglecting real-life relationships). Some patients even report suffering nervous breakdowns when they can’t go online.

STATISTICS:
Although research into Internet addiction is sketchy (and usually concerns a group of white Americans) a few countries have conducted in-depth surveys. Below is a summary of the more recent findings:

  • British psychiatrists have reported that between 5% and 10% of online users are internet addicts
  • In China the Beijing Military Region Central Hospital puts the number of teenage pathological computer users at 10 million
  • Research from South Korea suggests the affliction is a serious public health problem, and estimates that 168,000 children may require psychotropic medications
  • National (North American) surveys revealed that over 50% of Internet addicts also suffered from other addictions (mainly to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex)
  • Internet addicts also suffer from relationship problems in almost 75% of the cases
  • Trends also showed that Internet addicts suffer from emotional problems such as depression and anxiety-related disorders (it has been suggested that web addicts often use the fantasy world of the Internet to psychologically escape unpleasant feelings or stressful situations in reality)
  • Gender stereotypes also seem to translate online: men are more likely to become addicted to online games, cyberporn, and online gambling, for example, while women are more likely to become addicted to chatting, instant messaging, eBay, and online shopping

RESEARCH PROBLEMS:
It has been noted that around 70-80% of the subjects referred to in such research is comprised mostly of white Americans, however, the idea of Internet addiction does seem to be spreading around the globe like a 21st century plague.

Yet there is much dispute over whether or not such a condition is in fact unique. One psychiatrist has suggested that the Internet is merely another form of escapism for those with other problems:

What most people online who think they are addicted are probably suffering from is the desire to not want to deal with other problems in their lives. Those problems may be a mental disorder (depression, anxiety, etc.), a serious health problem or disability, or a relationship problem. It is no different than turning on the TV so you won’t have to talk to your spouse, or going “out with the boys” for a few drinks so you don’t have to spend time at home. Nothing is different except the modality – John M. Grohol

TREATMENT:
Despite this, several doctors around the world are recommending various treatment options for those who believe they are web addicts. Dr Kimberley Young, who maintains www.netaddiction.com suggests that like an eating disorder, the key to beating Internet addiction is to develop a healthy pattern of consumption.

Treatment for Internet addiction focuses on moderation and controlled use of the Internet, much in the way those suffering from eating disorders must relearn healthy eating patterns” – Dr Kimberley Young

Dr Grohol, on the other hand, believes that Internet addition is simply a behavioral problem. He suggests that “it’s the behavior, and behaviors are easily treatable by traditional cognitive-behavior techniques in psychotherapy”.

I leave you with a snippet from Wired Magazine, which took a similar skeptical stance towards the idea that the Internet is dangerously addictive:

…it’s so much easier to date an avatar. Sound familiar? Your friend the World Wide Web may be a monkey on your back. Or not. Just ask yourself this: If Google were a drug, would I smoke it?

Links:
Wired Magazine: Internet Addiction articles
News article: Internet addiction is a ‘clinical disorder’