This is a fascinating article. I’m a big believer in stats, but it’s clear after reading this that I need to pay attention to the stats on Medium in a much more comprehensive way.
I’ve used stat services for years with my own personal blogs and my website: Statcounter (there are other services too). It gives me extensive info on each visitor. I can see where they linger, read, download, their browsers, (or which mobile device) and where they’re from (IP addresses, plus country, city, etc), including in and out pages and other valuable info. I can follow certain patterns of what’s trending and see where in the country it is (used to do traveling art shows based on much more rudimentary stats).
Years ago I put a couple of my children’s books on a site. There weren’t any programs to do that yet, so I jury-rigged something and got up two books with a way they can read easily and for free. My idea was to make them available to children wherever they are if they have access to a computer, say, at school or in a library.
When I put Statcounter on, I found that the following in countries in Africa, South America, and India were huge. Reading the books online from foreign countries far outnumbers United States use. By really analyzing them, I found that Brazil — Rio and surrounds, specifically — was the biggest reader of the children’s books (based on Hawaii, so somewhat tropical), and Korea had the biggest downloads of the free art images (and always the same ones).
Maybe they were selling them. Who knows? There’s nothing I can do about it anyway; they’re on their honor — Creative Commons license — but if they enjoy them, and make some money — who cares?
Once a week or so I get a poorly written email from someone claiming to want to buy my artwork (they want my bank number to transfer funds) and it has a certain “ring” to it. I note the time of the email, check with the time of visits recorded on Statcounter — and 99.9% are from Nigeri
I’m going to read and reread this article, and others you’ve written, and see if I can match them up with Statcounter and see if any patterns emerge.
Etsy has stats but they don’t tell you much except how many people are bored at work on Monday mornings and browse through stuff and “love” stuff they want to buy (but never do).
Last story on Stats. During my divorce a few years ago, I wrote a divorce blog to blow off some creative energy. I was pretty raw on it. I slapped a Statcounter on, and a funny thing emerged —it seemed my husband’s attorney was obsessed with what I was writing about the divorce. He came back over and over again, sometimes as much as once an hour. I mentioned him a few times in the blog, turned on Statcounter, and just waited to see how long it was before he was on, reading what I’d written about him. I had bets running.
I noticed he was then DOWNLOADING certain pages (the ones about him, or the soon-to-be ex, and various satirical cartoons (not terribly flattering) about him. I knew the downloads would appear in the next court hearing, with him waving them and shouting and taking it personally, which was terrific (he wasn’t paying attention to the case).
Soon there were views all weekend, and late into the night, from his home (IP address + geolocation + online directory=easy to find his home address).
The problem was — he didn’t know anything about any service like Statcounter. He actually had the name of his law firm in caps next to his IP address. Plus, there were four computers in his office, all numbered, and the log-ons were all coming from his. Plus his phone.
When the time was right, we produced pages and pages of Statcounter information to show it was a kind of cyber-stalking. It didn’t go well (for him and the ex).
Stats! Stats! I may be old, but I’m a believer!
I guess I’m in a storytelling mode. But thank you so much for writing this. I’m going back to read the rest of your articles. If you have any ideas how to integrate stats like Statcounter with Medium stats, let everyone know.