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Unbelievable!

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- 7 January 2000 - Tip Jar

From Mac OS Rumors:

Editor's Note: [16:22 1/5] Rumors set a new 24-hour traffic record today with more than 900,000 page views logged since this time yesterday (and still rising!).

Rumor sites are not known for their veracity, but this claim by Ryan Meader, publisher of MOSR, is unbelievable.

If you watched the keynote address on Wednesday, you know that Apple gets about 1.5 million visitors per day. I believe that puts Apple among the top 100 sites on the web.

Now Ryan Meader would have us believe that Mac OS Rumors served up nearly one million pages in a single day.

Bunk.

I don't believe it, any more than I believe all the rumors on MOSR.

Low End Mac is far from the busiest Mac-centric site on the web. I believe the top three are MacWeek, Macworld, and MacCentral. And I doubt any of those sites approach Apple's level of traffic. They may not even approach the level MOSR is claiming.

Yet Meader would have us believe that MOSR somehow served over 900,000 pages in a single day? I think he's misreading his logs.

Low End Mac serves over 15,000 pages on a good day; I'm still trying to break the elusive 20,000 pages in one day mark. The majority of popular Mac sites are probably in the same ballpark.

MOSR claims to have delivered about 45 times as many pages as the less-than-huge Mac sites do on a good day.

Uh-huh.

Looking at MOSR, I'm guessing the home page is constructed from a good number of HTML pieces called include files - that's how I do things on Low End Mac. For instance, this page has an include file for the navigation links at the top of the page, another for the text ad beneath the banner ad, another below this linking to recent editorials, another forming the navigation bar on the right, and a fifth one providing the copyright information at the bottom of the page.

If each of these were counted as a page hit, I could claim five or six times my current level of traffic, since that's how I build most of my pages. (Why use includes? Because it keeps the individual pages smaller and also because it allows me to update a few files instead of hundreds of pages when making site changes.)

Perhaps MOSR is constructed similarly. Here are the possible include files on their home page:

  1. ad for TransIntl.com
  2. editor's note
  3. first article
  4. ad for Club Mac's AuctionBlock
  5. second article
  6. third article
  7. ad for Factory188
  8. Club Mac ad on right of page
  9. MOSR poll
  10. must clicks
  11. text ad for MacMall below main box
  12. MOSR archives

Counting the home page itself, that could be 13 HTML files used to display one page of content, give or take a couple.

Of course you'd never know this looking at the source code for the page. The beauty of include files is that they become part of the HTML page your browser receives; they are not separate files when you view the page.

Take 900,000. Divide it by 13. That drops us to roughly 70,000 pages served - not HTML files used to construct the page, but actual viewed pages.

Suddenly it's not so unbelievable. When I was with MacTimes, we were approaching a million hits a month, which meant we had days where we served over 40,000 individual pages. MOSR could be at twice that level, yet claim a phenomenal 900,000+ pages served by counting each and every include file as a page.

Looking at recent polls on MOSR (which allow visitors to vote multiple times and stuff the ballot box), he's getting about 1,000 votes for every day the poll is up. That's more in keeping with a 30,000 page per day site than one that somehow served nearly one million pages in a single day, especially since some visitors will vote early and often.

In fact, if he did serve 900,000 pages on Wednesday, a lot more than 8,500 people would have taken his current survey. The poll numbers are another piece of evidence that leads me to question the accuracy of his claim.

I can understand how the 24-hour period after the Macworld webcast would be the busiest time ever for a Mac-centric site. I know I get a lot of traffic during and right after Macworld keynote addresses. But 900,000 seems high even for Macworld Expo coverage.

I suspect MOSR is counting different.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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