Many Are Cold, but Few Are Frozen

David Lawrence's personal blog

Posterous Stats: Still Whacked

Over two years ago, when I was a new blogger, I wrote a post wondering why visitor stats on Posterous were so much higher than on Analytics. My Posterous stats were 6 - 10 times higher than Analytics. I figured that it was because Posterous was counting spider visits, and Analytics wasn't.

Others have noticed the same thing, and a few people have posted on it. Some other possibilities raised:

  • Posterous counts every post on the home page of a blog, while Analytics only counts posts if they are opened directly
  • Analytics doesn't manage to count quick visits, so it underreports
  • Analytics doesn't count visits if Javascript is disabled

Out of curiousity, I decided to check out some of my more outrageous statistics. I have a few posts from late 2010 which Posterous says garnered over 20,000 visits, a figure have trouble believing. I chose a post called Gymnastics in Ukraine: Boot Camp for Little Girls, written on November 5, 2010. Posterous says it has 20,106 views, making it one of the most visited.

Then I went to Analytics and had a look at the data from the same date. It says the post has 129 views. This is much bigger discrepency, now we're talking about a factor of over 100. Then I remembered that Posterous counts all the posts on a blog's home page. So I checked that too. The post has been on the home page since it was written, so we can add in 521 additional views, totaling 650. But that's still a much smaller number than 20,000.

In fact, the total number of page views since November 5 for my entire site, including all my 180 posts, is just under 5,000. Even that number is well below 20,000. I would expect different methods of calculating page views to come out with different results, but this is just too much.

So what's going on? Maybe Posterous should tell us how Mixpanel, the company that does its analytics, comes up with such outrageous numbers. Of course, maybe Analytics is the one that's way off target, but if it were, it would be big news.

So maybe I should add another bullet to my list above:

  • Posterous stats are whacked!

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