So that little bit I added in my last statistics post, tracking how many days went between the first and the last reading of an article according to WordPress’s figures? I was curious, and went through my posts from mid-October through mid-November to see how long the readership lifespan of an average post was. I figured stuff after mid-November may not have quite had long enough for people to gradually be done with it.
I’d expected the typical post to have what’s called a Poisson distribution, in number of page views per day, with a major peak in the first couple days after it’s published and then, maybe, a long stretch of exceedingly minor popularity. I think that’s what’s happening, although the problem of small numbers means it’s a pretty spotty pattern. Also confounding things is that a post can sometimes get a flurry of publicity long after its main lifespan has passed. So I decided to count both how long each post had between its first and last-viewed days, and also the “first span”, how many days it was until the first day without page views, to use as proxy for separating out late revivals.
|Post||Days Read||First Span|
|How To Numerically Integrate Like A Mathematician||45||8|
|Reading the Comics, October 14, 2014: Not Talking About Fourier Transforms Edition||25||7|
|How Richard Feynman Got From The Square Root of 2 to e||41||4|
|Reading The Comics, October 20, 2014: No Images This Edition||5||5|
|Calculus without limits 5: log and exp||25||3|
|Reading the Comics, October 25, 2014: No Images Again Edition||28||2|
|How To Hear Drums||14||6|
|My Math Blog Statistics, October 2014||30||4|
|Reading The Comics, November 4, 2014: Will Pictures Ever Reappear Edition||9||6|
|Echoing “Fourier Echoes Euler”||12||5|
|Some Stuff About Edmond Halley||11||2|
|Reading The Comics, November 9, 2014: Finally, A Picture Edition||11||4|
|About An Inscribed Circle||13||5|
|Reading The Comics, November 14, 2014: Rectangular States Edition||15||1|
|Radius of the inscribed circle of a right angled triangle||12||5|
For what it’s worth, the mean lifespan of a post is 19.7 days, with standard deviation of 12.0 days. The mean lifespan of the first flush of popularity is 4.5 days, with a standard deviation of 1.9 days.
I suspect the thing that brings out these late rushes of popularity are things like the monthly roundup posts, which send people back to articles whose lifespans had expired weeks before; or when there’s a running thread as in the circle-inscribed-in-a-triangle theme that encourages people to go back again and again. And I’m curious how long articles would last without this sort of threading between them.