A Note About FrontBurner Traffic

In the comments to Leading Off this morning, a FrontBurnervian named M Schwartz said that there has been a “significant drop in traffic on FrontBurner” because of the way we moderate comments. FBvians who have been around a while know all about the Time of Darkness a few years back, when Wick shut off comments altogether because they weren’t much fun to read. Traffic did drop then. But the decision to moderate comments — and to do it with a fairly heavy hand, tossing remarks not only because they are vulgar but because, for instance, they don’t use upper-case letters to begin sentences — has proven to be a solid decision.

From August to October last year, FrontBurner averaged about 56,000 unique visitors per month. For the same period this year, we have averaged about 114,000 unique visitors. Now then, owing to the way Google Analytics does its job (and the way we do ours), the number from last year doesn’t account for visits made on a mobile device, which the 2011 number does. A tech genius here (Hi, Randy!) says adding 10,000 unique visitors to last year’s average would be a crazy high number. Let’s do it anyway.

Conservative estimate: traffic is up 70 percent over last year. Lesson to be learned: don’t confuse the number of comments to a post with the number of people who are reading it.

We’re humbled by your patronage.

(Not really.)


  • Justin

    40,000 of those y-o-y visitors are probably pissed off ESD soccer mom/Tom Thumb shoppers swinging by to vent their rage at the fact that D is staffed by a bunch of sack-of-d**k eating smut peddlers.

    (can this comment be scheduled to auto delete in about 3 months? I think the shelf life on the contextual reference is pretty short)

  • mike

    Why don’t you guys install disqus and be done with it? Removing the veil of anonymity is typically a good thing if you’re looking for quality comments (like this one!).

  • Tom

    You just lost a listener.

  • GMOM

    I get censored a lot, in fact none of my comments have appeared on this or PHP in months and I believe my responses were not worthy of censorship. What’s up with that Timmy??

  • @GMOM: Not sure. But that run-on sentence is a good clue.

  • towski

    Fess up, Tim. Most of those visitors were led here by the google search string of “Troy Aikman & Gay & Picture”.

  • mightcan

    I am very much in favor of the way you are doing comments now. It is WAY better.

  • smeyers

    I hate disqus, it never seems to work on abovethelaw.com…but then it could just be me. This seems better.

  • Avid Reader

    Other than the comic bubbles, what has changed regarding comments?

  • Helen

    Tim, the comment you commented on brings up a quandary all bloggers face: If someone posts a comment stating as a fact something that’s completely untrue, do you (a) delete it, (b) respond to it, providing a victory of sorts for the troll or (c) ignore it and hope your other readers will be smart enough to recognize idiocy when they see it?

  • Lakewood ex-pat

    I call BS on your increased traffic claims, Tim. I sure hope you’re not using this data to sell ads.

    First, Google Analytics, while fine for internally tracking pageviews, clickstreams and what not, has too many technical limitations to accurately track users. The proliferation of ‘bots and automated searches is known inflator of traffic and D Magazine does even not filter ‘bots at the Web server level.

    When you’re serious about accurately tracking and reporting users you’ll either announce audited and verified numbers, and /or you will require readers – not just commentators – to log-in.

    Until then, the comments are a good indicator of your traffic patterns. They are down, buddy. Way down. Thanks for playing.

  • @Helen: Depends on the particulars. I’ve done a, b, and c.

  • RAB

    I don’t care what your B.S. Google Analytics say, I don’t read it as much as I used to. Therefore traffic has to be down. (By the way, Tim, didn’t you use the word “Analytics” in the title of a book you wrote that never sold? Proof your stats are bogus.)

  • N. Dallas 40 Oz.

    So, traffic is way up, but comments are way down? Mmmmm-k. I agree with RAB. I don’t care what your BS analytics say. It does not compute.

  • @Lakewood ex-pat: I don’t sell ads. If you have issues with the way Google Analytics measures traffic, that’s fine. I’m just here to tell you that we used the same tool a year ago that we use now. And that tool indicates that traffic is up 70 percent.

    I can also tell you that no one else in town is going to post their Google Analytics numbers, as I have here.

  • Michael

    @Tim – The issue seems to be how your company uses flawed data to sell ads and make money from customers, not Google Analytics. Maybe the reason that no one posts their G.A. data is that they know they should not be using it to tell a story that is not true.