Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stepping on the Stats Scale

One of the standard pieces of advice you recieve when you go on a diet is to not step on the scale everyday....let alone three or four times per day. It is misleading and can be distructive. Once a week or so is plenty....better yet, look at how your clothes fit.

Statistics have become the scale of the internet. Stats for our blogs, our websites, our networking site, our Etsy page or EBay listing. How did we ever live without all these numbers. Keeping score for us. How many people are visiting us? How long do they stay? What did they look at? Where did they come from? Our mood can surge or plummet based on our stats.

All this information can be helpful, but it can also be a distraction. We can get lost in a lot of details that do nothing to really inform us.....especially when we check the stats multiple times per day. It is hard not to be drawn to the numbers. Especially if we are starting up a blog, or getting set up on a site like Etsy. But is hourly checking of the numbers helping you accomplish your goals?? What if you checked every few days or once a week? Think of all the noise in your brain from all that data that could be quieted.

Sure, it is good to know if anyone is visiting your blog. And it is nice to know how they find you. But when we look at that information obsessively, it gets us off track of our true goals. Suddenly the numbers become our goal. We can become driven by the statistics. The reason we began our effort in creating a website, or a blog gets buried in the stats.

Just like we can have sudden drops or spikes in our weight from day to day, a sudden spike in the numbers can pull our attention away from where we need to be focusing our energy. If we get a big spike because someone with lots of traffic linked to our site, it can be heady. But it can also seem so empty when they all move onto the next link the following day. With a longer perspective we can see the base of our traffic.

I find myself falling into this stats trap. But since I have been so busy with work in my studio lately, I have broken the stats habit. And I realize that it can be a huge distraction. I have lived many years, very happily, without having to know how many visitors came to my page on that day, and where they came from. It is fun to know that I have links from a blog in Estonia. But it does not help me write a better blog entry. It is great to see the impact of a press release on PRWeb has had in driving traffic to my website. But it is only in the longer view that I can really see how effective the tool has been.

Do you have a stats habit that needs curbing? Do you walk around quoting the number of visitors your blog has gotten this week, and what your Technorati rating is up to? It may be time to walk away from the computer for a bit and start withdrawing from the habit. See how much more useful the information can be when it is viewed once a week instead of three times a day. And see what things fill the vaccuum. Perhaps you will not miss the stats much at all. And you wonder why you didn't do it sooner.


Deabusamor said...

It's funny how we tend to forget and overlook things we know. Years ago, visitor and blog stats on Myspace, Livejournal et al drove me crazy; keeping me away from actually crafting in favor of obsessing over my lack of visitors and bombarding forums with *look at me!!!* posts. I finally got over it but recently decided to shift to blogger (my firewall hate Livejournal)...lo and behold, I am once again checking everyday to see how many people used my poll/commented/viewed etc.

Thank you so much for insightful entries that give a wake up call to destructive habits.

Judy said...

thanks for your comment, Deabusamor. Stats can be seductive, but they can also be counterproductive. They are not truly a measure of our worth. Get hit by a bunch of people who Stumbleupon your site, and it is little more than a random number generator, because it has no sustaining value.

Tina T. said...

I have been just called out! LOL!! At least I am not alone in my addictions... very good point Judy... maybe that is why I take "days off" from the computer when I feel a little stressed....
(of course I clicked on all the sights to see where I was in the listings!! LOL!! Go figure!) :p

Lindly Haunani said...

Thank you Judy for your wise words of wisdom. I recently entered the blog-O-sphere, and have (temporarily I hope) been entranced and seduced by my blog stats meter.

Your post is a great reminder to remain centered in guiding principles = quality not quantity.

I must admit a certain glee, as I track the search engine terms that have landed on my editorial post about using restaint when applying gloss varnishes to polymer clay EX. "how to apply boat varnish to polymer clay"

The internet is a strange and wonderous place! ... I don't plan on steping on a scale anytime soon and enjoy the notion of future detachment from my blog "stats" meter.

Thank you.

Judy said...

Thank you Lindly! I am a big fan of your blog, and your insights. I don't recommend going cold turkey on the stats. But sometimes comments from readers offer so much more information than can be found in the stats. All the best