Advanced November 2014 Statistics


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.

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