Saturday, October 2, 2010

Statistics of dubious usefulness, The Sun, Kelvin McKenzie and a question: just how thick are Sun readers?

Ever since I have been writing this blog, I’ve wondered whether anyone actually bloody reads it. Well, it seems some might be doing so. I say ‘might’ because it’s quite possible that someone who follows a link, say ‘newspapers’, and then comes across this blog might take one look at the rather sparse and sober layout and some of the blog entry titles and say to themselves ‘most definitely not for me, squire’ and fuck off sharpish. But at least we can now know how many visit this site, even though it is impossible to tell how long they lingered. This info is courtesy of a ‘stats’ feature which I never knew was available until about ten minutes ago. It works in much the same way as the ‘stats’ feature on YouTube (another fiefdom in the burgeoning Google empire) so I suppose it uses much the same code.
The stats you are given are, as is the way with most stats, reasonably obscure and in some ways downright pointless. For example , you can be told how many visits you have had in certain timeframes – last week, last month etc – and where those visitors came from. So I know that I have had visitors from Brazil, Russia, Romania and Israel as well as the U.S. and Britain.
As for the rather less useful info we get (or, to put it another way, the rather more useless info) the stats also record what browser the visitor was using, whether he was using a machine with a Windows, Mac or Linux OS or an iPod, iPad or whatever. Fascinating, if that sort of thing fascinates you.
This all started with me wondering whether I get any visitors at all or whether I am simply blethering in the dark (so to speak). After finding out about ‘Blogspot stats’, I now realise I really don’t care.
Which reminds me, in a very obscure way, of an anecdote about Kelvin McKenzie (pictured), a former editor of the Sun who is quite well-known in these islands. One day, Kelvin was walking past the newsdesk when the phone rang and he picked it up to answer it. On the other end was some reader who began complaining about something or other. Kelvin very quickly got fed up with having his ear bent and curtly informed the reader:
‘Right, you’re banned from reading the Sun,’ and put the phone down.
He carried on talking to the news editor for a few minutes when the same phone rang again. He picked it up. It was the wife of the reader he had just spoken to. She told him her husband had just informed her that he had been ‘banned from reading the Sun’. Did that mean, she asked Kelvin (certainly plaintively and perhaps even tearfully) that she was banned too?
Sad, but true.

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