Backend View of LISNews.com

A while back Rory did a little

Story
on server side stuff, logs, etc...
Something happened recently and got me thinking
about this, and I thought I would do the same. For those
of you who don\'t know, most web servers allow the
folks that run them to keep track of what\'s going on and
how busy things are. It\'s interesting for me to poke
through the logs and see how people are finding the
site, and what they are looking at, and junk like that. So
read on to learn more about some of the inner
workings here at LISNews.comWe actaully have 3 different sets of stats we can look at
here in the shiny new LISNews.com building (It\'s the
new 45 story building on Wall St. in NYC). The first and
most basic of the 3 is the raw log files. This is really
just one big ugly text file, full of silly looking lines like
this:

fr-lib1-212.suffolk.lib.ny.us - - [09/Jul/2000:13:35:44
-0400] \"POST /admin.php3 HTTP/1.1\" 200 22327
\"http://www.lisnews.com/admin.php3\" \"Mozilla/4.0
(compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 95; DigExt)\"

It tells me that someone (Steven I\'ll betchya) hit
LISNews from a computer at the Suffolk Library, he was
looking at our admin page, and he was using a
Widnows box running IE5. Other lines tell me that a
certain search engine was visiting us, or other stuff like
that. It\'s big, ugly and hard to read. Luckily we have a
couple other things that are easier to read.


The simplest of the other 2 is one that was written for
the code that LISNews runs on (I\'ll write about that
some other day). It\'s a nifty little thing that keeps track of
stuff like browsers, number of visitors, and referals
(which is where all ya\'ll are coming from). It\'s a nice
little packeage that has proven to be very stable and
easy to use.


The third and final way I keep track of things here is the
stats package provided by our hosting company Pegasus. It\'s a
program called Urchin that you can buy and put on your
web server. It\'s a nifty program that takes all the junk in
the raw log files and makes it into charts and graphs
that are nice and easy to read.


So, what are all these things telling me you ask?


Well, we get about 600 visitors on most week days.
Some days is more, and weekends are just a couple
hundred. People visit us from all over the world.
.com and .net account for most of our traffic at 63% of
visitors so far this year. Other domains of interest
include:


edu (Educational)    
14.7%
org (Non-Profit
Organizations)     3.5%
ca (Canada)      2.4%
au (Australia)     1.8%
uk (United Kingdom     
1.3%
nz (New Zealand)
    0.7%


Then there are all the other ones, Ireland, Vietnam,
Turkey, Niue, Djibouti, Trinidad and Tobago, and on
and on.


The vast majority of visitors just look at the front page
and leave.


So How do you find us?


My logs tell me most people just type lisnews.com in
the address bar, and take a look at the front page. The
second most popular way is through Yahoo!. We are
listed in Home > Reference > Libraries > Library and
Information Science category. I\'m Not sure if that\'s the
best one, but it\'s where we ended up.


Just recently Google has been
showing up strong. I\'m not really sure why, but the past
3 weeks they have been the #1 referer. Librarian.net is
usually the 3rd most popular, followed by any number
of any other places.


The words people put into the search engines most
often include:
librarian jokes
lisnews.com
libraryscience
xml_ ldap
rss xml


Quite popular recently is many spellings and versions
of \"harry potter\".


Last week I was shocked to see a referrer report from
Google with
these keywords in it:
humor jokes nigger
Immediatly I tried the SEARCH
again on Google, and
LISNews came up 3rd!Story I posted from The Onion had
the word nigger in it. The story was about the funny side
of censorship. It came from this line.
\"I was really psyched to read Huck Finn when my
English teacher told me it was banned, because I
figured, you know, it would be dirty,\" said Joshua Appel,
a sophomore at Rocky Mount (VA) High School and one
of 14,000 teenagers recently surveyed by the ALA. \"But it
was totally lame: There was no sex or violence or
anything. They say \'nigger\' in it, but I can hear that on
half my CDs.\"
I never thought that would come back and bite me like
that!

I can\'t see exactly who is looking at what, and we do no
evil tracking of any kind with cookies. We serve our own
ads, no worries about Doubleclick watching you. Our
email list is kept on our server, really no one sees that
but me. Every web site you go to collects this
information as the bare minimum and I would guess
that most do more. If you would like to know more, let
me know.

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