Monday, March 31, 2008

I Want to Be a Statistic

Why do people talk about being a statistic as if it were always a negative thing?

There's a wonderful little tool for Wikipedia page view statistics. It reveals how many page views any Wikipedia article received in February 2008 and might hint at other things. For instance, the major candidates of the United States presidential election:

New numbers are out for March:

  • Obama's bio went down to 1,107,123 page views.
  • McCain's bio received 771,280 views.
  • Clinton's page got 299,969 views.

Obviously the February peak had to do with the primary elections. It could be an interesting to debate the relative numbers: is Obama getting so many views because he has momentum, or is it because the other two candidates have been in the public eye for longer and more people have already made up their minds about them?

Wikipedians could be using this tool more often to prioritize our content work. The differences are even more dramatic for articles I've worked on. Here are the March page views of an older featured article and two newer good articles:

Although I take pride in having brought the "Navajo rug" article up from a stub, my own user space actually gets more traffic. That's a surprise.

The Joan of Arc article nearly got into Wikipedia's top 1000 most visited pages in February. It's up about 20,000 views for March so when the new numbers come out it might be listed. I suppose more students write term papers later in the spring.

So keeping the textile arts Wikiproject in mind, I compared two pages. "Sumptuary law" is an article I recently tagged for the project. It already has over 50 inline citations and could probably become a good article with a bit more research and copyediting. "Beadwork" is the most underdeveloped article among the textile arts core topics. I've felt embarrassed about that sometimes. I'd expect the basic article to get more traffic than the academic topic, but the numbers don't bear that out:

With hundreds of articles in the WikiProject and not enough volunteers to work on everything at once, this could be very useful. We do get substantial traffic at some of these pages. Here's one that could certainly bear improvement.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Restarting this Darn Thing

It's been a long time (and I do mean a loooong time) since this little blog has been active. After clearing out the old stuff which dates from my earliest days as a Wikipedian, and dealing with Blogger updates, I thought I was ready to go. Silly me; I didn't realize the brilliant Blogger software would autotranslate my posts into Hindi. Obviously, since you probably aren't reading this in Hindi, I've worked out that kink.

The particular thing that inspired this return to blogging was a bit of silliness that turned up at Valleywag. In order to avoid too much confusion I wound up posting to Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales's user talk page.

Here's a copy of what I wrote there:

Just so there's no question about this, I ought to explain something. A few days ago Sue Gardner joined a Not the Wikipedia Weekly skypecast and among other things she denied a recent Valleywag rumor. I don't usually pay much attention to Valleywag, but afterward I decided to check out one of her comments and she was exactly right: nearly all of the Valleywag stories that mention women discuss what they suppose is that woman's sex life. Now there's a site that has issues, I thought. And for a bit, I left it at that.

Then in a bit of serendipity I segued from work on the triple crown awards to reading up on classical Greek mythology to the paintings of William-Adolphe Bouguereau. I've had my eye on his work for a while as potential restorations for featured picture candidacy. Then a really impish inspiration struck, and I've heard you're very good at taking a joke so I went ahead with it. The thing was an ironic barb at
Valleywag's tabloid reporting.[7]

Much to my surprise, two days later Valleywag has actually run the silly image to accompany a story about you--completely failing to see that the actual joke is on them. I've written a comment to that effect; am waiting to see whether they have the integrity to publish it. Also made a similar comment at p2pnet news.[8] So for the record, this image is a gesture of respect to Sue Gardner and the other hardworking women of the tech industry who really deserve to get into the news for their brains. DurovaCharge! 21:48, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Also for the record: none of those nymphs has my face!