The two audiences of a science weblog

By Razib Khan | May 1, 2012 11:40 pm

When I first started blogging in 2002 the aim, as much as there was one, was to cultivate a particular following. But almost immediately Randall Parker noticed that traffic to his weblogs were driven not just by conventional blog readers who became “regulars,” but also transient search traffic. This is particularly common in the case of time insensitive posts. Basically there are two classes of “readers,” the “one off” sort coming in through search engines, and “regular readers,” of whom commenters are the tip of the iceberg.

Here are classes of number of visits per visitor over the last two years at this weblog. I’ve log transformed the results. Notice the bimodality. If you care, currently it looks like the regular repeated visitors, as defined by showing up at least more than once a week, number on the order of 20,000-30,000.

  • Peter Ellis

    The bimodality isn’t especially clear to me. The only significant upward jump is between the “8” and “9-14” bins – this is a factor of ~5 on the Y axis from ~20,000 to ~100,000 and a factor of 6 increase on the X axis. Could you do a plot with equal width bins?

  • Douglas Knight

    I agree with Peter Ellis. Yet another way of presenting the data would to make the bins powers of 2. If you took the current graph and aggregated 2-3 and 4-7, that would be pretty close to this. I think the 4-7 bucket would be smaller than the 8-15 bucket, which you could then call bimodality, but I think it would be a pretty small jump. I haven’t looked at other people’s data, so my expectations are hardly justified, but I am surprised at how smooth the curve is and how the regulars don’t stick out.

    In any event, the mode of people who visit 4+ times per year are hardly regulars. They’re probably getting here via google, too. They just ask google a lot of the type of question that brings them here.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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