Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Making sense out of web statistics

Using web statistics as an indicator of how many people you have reached is just wrong.

Larry Lippke has an excellent explanation of what the web stats mean. Here is a snippet of his conclusions:

Given the nature of web statistics, Extension cannot, and should not, be trying to equate anything about web delivery to its old paradigm of seeing or communicating with people in person. Web statistics can only reflect the information that is kept in the log files of the web server. And, when dealing with various accountability agencies and auditors, we find they are typically interested in "just the facts". They want you reporting the facts in a consistent manner. And, they want those facts to be conservative, defensible, auditable, and replicable. The facts are that the log files tell you how many files the server delivered, which files it delivered, how many kilobytes were in those files, what IP numbers the server delivered the files to, and when it delivered the files. The logs files contain no information about where the users of these IP numbers are geographically located. IP numbers cannot be equated to people. Multiple people can be assigned the same IP number by an internet service provider. The same person may come to the website from multiple IP numbers.

For all those who want to use these numbers, this is a MUST READ.

Larry explains what the different numbers mean and how they can and should be used in reporting.

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