Sunday, September 23, 2007

Slashdot vs Digg vs * Effect

It's been three weeks since I posted about Google Earth Flight Simulator. That post made the front page of digg, slashdot and even La Repubblica. It basically spread far and wide across the web. Just look at the number of incoming links Technorati has discovered.

Now I hope this doesn't creep any of you out such that you no longer visit my blog, but I've had Google Analytics installed here since I started blogging. Without it, I would not be able to provide such glorious statistics for you about where all my traffic is coming from and how much I'm getting. Anyway, the graph below is what the spike looks like at the time I made the post. 76,131 visits on day one, which continued with a gradual drop over the four days, giving a total of about 250,000 in four days. Remember that this is visits and not page views, meaning that page refreshes are not included.

What always fascinates me is the location of my visitors. Before this mass attack on my blog, almost all my visitors were from South Africa. I know have received hits from 188 different countries recognised by Google Analytics (only 15 without any hits!). The map below indicates the cities where the traffic comes from. Of course some visits cannot be traced to a city and so they are not labeled by Analytics.

Onto the stuff that matters. What contributed most to this flood? Simple answer: Digg. I've had 57,964 visits from Digg and 25,144 from Slashdot. Surprisingly enough, I've had a whopping 35,354 visits from a site I never even knew about before this - i am bored. La Repubblica sent in 14,188 visits and then the rest all fall below 10,000. Reddit also might be worth a mention at 7,313 visits.

So, what's up with our good old /. then? Losing to Digg, eh? I'm not so sure about that. If we look at the number of comments we have 251 at Digg and 181 over at Slashdot. That alone tells us things are tighter than the referral numbers indicate. Slashdot also provides a much longer summary than Digg does, meaning less need for users to follow the link to my blog. How many times have you heard Slashdot users say RTFA? Certainly far more than over at Digg.

Then there's Reddit. Many people say it's dying, but with 7,000 visitors I don't think we can discard it just yet. And the link didn't stay on the front page for nearly as long as it did on Digg/Slashdot. Something to consider, however, is that Reddit provides no summary whatsoever. So if the title is attractive the users will mostly be converted into visits for me.

The other interesting topic is that of votes. Slashdot doesn't have a voting system like the rest so I'll leave it out of this one. I got 3,884 diggs on Digg and 316 up votes and 30 down votes on Reddit. If we count referrals to my blog as total number of users, then 15% on Digg and 23% on Reddit. Considering that not all users are registered, I'm fairly surprised at such a large percentage. Ok, it doesn't require much effort to vote, but it still isn't really beneficial to users to vote. Taking into account my assumption that more Reddit users with follow through to my blog then Digg users (due to the lack of summary) I think we can say these two numbers will be roughly the same.

I'm still getting a stable 4-5,000 visitors daily, almost all hitting this flight simulator page. Altogether I've had 385,673 visits from 3,954 different referring sites in the past month. Statistics can be quite amazing, yet very beautiful if you look deep enough. If only Digg, Slashdot and other sites made their traffic data available I'd be able to investigate this further. But hey, it's interesting enough.

I'd love to find out how many pages actually posted about this. Googling "google earth flight simulator" with the quotes yields an amazing 417,000 pages. Now I made that search before posting and I could swear that number was negligible. Only thing is that many of those results could well be copies by bots. I guess I'll never know the true level of impact I made. It certainly spread like mad though.


  1. Grats on the viral story, for what it's worth I submit to all of those and 90% of my incoming still comes from reddit, with digg a close second...all the rest are negligible.Also, got here today from reddit...can't believe you dont have Blogrush yet - go look at it on my new blog

  2. Reddit certainly seems to be the easiest to get on the front page of. However, it's very volatile and doesn't stick around for very long unless it's a really good post.

    Installed Blogrush to check it out. I'll see how much traffic it sends. I just don't like the clutter, but if it works well I'll keep it. Hey, I've only been blogging for four months now so still fairly new to what works and what doesn't. :-P

  3. Let's not forget your South African routes - I submitted it to

    Well done - great that a South African spotted it.

  4. Well done on the article and getting all the traffic! Re reddit giving you less hits, I dont think this is anything to do with reddit being less influential or popular than digg, its just that the story suited the digg taste more. Reddit is largely political these days and a bit of programming. A more meaningful comparison would be to take say an hour during which time your article was on both reddit and diggs front page simultaneously and compare the traffic from that hour only.


  5. Unfortunately Google Analytics only provides daily data, so that wouldn't be possible for me. There aren't that many articles that get much more than the 280 or so points I got on Reddit though. So I'd say the post got it's fair share on both sides.

    Thanks for pointing out - never heard of it before.

  6. Found this post via Blogrush is worthless.

    My blogrush stats tell me that I've had over 1000 impressions and only one click. Waste of time. If it doesn't improve, I will be deleting the widget within 4 weeks.

    To find local South African blog posts, I use and in that order respectively.

    I'm indexed on but I very seldom use it to find articles of interest.

    I never use digg, reddit, slashdot at all ever to find reading material. Well... I've browsed digg once or twice. I guess we settle on certain paths and get stuck in a rut. :)

    I read your story on the google flight sim (via muti) at the time. It was interesting, but I'm not going to bother installing Google Earth to try it out. Microsoft Flight Sim burnt me long time ago. I found playing MS Flight Sim way too complicated and unsatisfying. I don't really want to know how to fly a plane. I just want an interesting experience. I got bogged down in the details.

  7. It seems you are right about Blogrush. Also got a worthless 0.1% CTR. Step 1: demoted further down the page. Step 2: removal if it still stinks after a little time.

    I've just added this blog to and - thanks for the tips. Always useful to spread it more around South Africa.

  8. Now, if you were a capitalist at heart, you would have installed google ads on that page and then submitted it to Digg etc. :p

    More interesting really is do you have people returning to read your blog (other than the regular bunch)?

  9. You're not the first to mention Google Ads. :-P

    Let me attempt to answer your returning visitors question. I'm going to only consider traffic over the past week as that's a better indication of longer term returnees. Analytics tells me I have 3,066 returning visits, 4,460 direct traffic (i.e. not through a referral or search engine) and 1,117 views of the front page.

    Very few sites (almost none) that linked to my blog linked to the front page. So I think that last number is probably the best estimate of returning visitors. And that's a weeks worth of data. It's difficult to say for sure, but I think there's evidence there that I have attracted at least some new permanent readers.