As I write posts in this blog, Google / Blogger gives me a wealth of management tools to control all sorts of stuff like the layout and the colours. It also gives me a page of statistics about who has been looking at the blog. Not names, but things like browsers, operating systems etc.
I must admit that hitherto I’ve treated these statistics with a pinch of salt. I was convinced that a lot of the statistics I saw were just me (I do have a very bad habit of proof-reading stuff after I publish it, despite the fact that I recently found Blogger’s Spell checker). A few of the hits obviously weren’t me, since Blogger approximates a reader’s location by doing a look up on somebody’s IP address to work out who the ISP is. Most people use ISPs in the same country, so that stat is only really good to a national level. So when I see a hit from India, I know it isn’t me. Anyway, I did a little experiment:
I normally use the Firefox browser, but for the last week or so I’ve looked at my posts through another browser called Opera. I know Blogger can recognise Opera, because I’ve seen it appear on the stats page in the past. But, by the same token, it is not common and I don’t normally get hits from Opera. The goal of the test was to see how many of the stats were “me”, just by watching how prevalent Opera became in the recent stats.
I was very surprised at the result – Opera did not appear at all, even though I have been using this browser exclusively for the last few weeks. So, it looks like the stats on my blog are all generated by other people!
I mean, it’s not surprising that Blogger can do this. The browser logs into Google (which owns Blogger) so every time I hit a page, Google knows that it is me. So, they must build their statistics with a bit of logic which says “only count it as a hit if it’s not Fred (say)”. As I say, it’s easy enough to do this, and actually it gives a better picture of who the audience is, but I am surprised that they bother, just because it takes that little bit more effort. Usually, people will try to cut as many corners as they can possibly get away with.
So, when I see that 10 people have read something that I just posted yesterday, I now know that none of them is me. It’s not just me that checked the post 10 times (which tbh isn’t unusual). Brilliant! I only hope that they thought it was worth their while.