Manipulation

Lies, Damn Lies & Diner Statistics

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 30, 2015

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As Everybody Knows, I am a major Stats Freak, particularly when it comes to keeping track of how the Diner is doing as far as readership (Diner Blog & Forum), listenership (Diner Soundcloud Audio) and viewers (Diner You Tube Videos).  Of course I track other stats too, like Gas Consumption, Retail Sales, the Unemployment Stats, etc. etc. etc.  Stats tell you something about how Good you are doing, or how Bad.  Problem is, you can't ever be sure of precisely WTF they are telling you or how accurate the picture is.

My first Stat Service I became enthused with was Alexa.  There's no fee at least for their basic service, and you can drop in any URL to see how that site is currently ranked against other ones, by whatever algorithm it is they use to figure this ranking on any given day.

http://www.secretariat.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Belmont_-Stakes_-31-lengths_photo1.jpgWhen I first began checking in on Alexa right after we Opened the Diner for Bizness, like most other blogs out there it got a ranking in the MILLIONS.  The higher the number, the worse you are doing on Alexa, the number is supposed to tell you how many websites are ahead of you in the Horserace.  Not too many readers at this point.  Over time it creeped past 1M, but then when I started putting up regular Audio with the RANTS, we took off like a ROCKET!  For a while there, it looked like we were bypassing about everybody in the Collapse Blogosphere, like Secretariat on Steroids.  At the High Point of this period, we ranked at about 170,000 Globally, and 35,000 in the FSoA on Alexa.

But then SOMETHING HAPPENED!

The Diner Ranking started dropping, and dropping fast! This while at the VERY SAME TIME on Google Analytics (which we added to the Diner Admin Page) was showing an ever increasing number of Page Views and Visitors.  WTF?

http://heidelblog.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/nielsen-tv-ratings.jpgAt least part of the problem comes from the way Alexa generates its stats, which is by the "Nielsen Survey" method.  In order to get counted, you have to have an Alexa Toolbar installed on your computer, just like in the old days the only folks who got counted in the Nielsen Ratings had a special Box on top of the TV which recorded what they were watching at any given time.

The other problem is that Alexa can at any time "refigure" the algorithm that computes the popularity of your site, and if it is being over-rated in their opinion, adjust you downward.  In fact, we were being seriously over-rated, as I figured it out after conversations with other bloggers on their daily page view numbers.  So I stopped considering Alexa as any kind of reasonable metric by which to judge how successful or unsuccessful the Diner was.  I decided I would just focus on the page hits recorded by Google analytics, which seemed accurate at the time matched up against other stats I can collect off the Diner Server Host.

Again we seemed to be doing GREAT, constantly on the increase in Page Views and Visits.  At the time we had the highest Alexa Ranking, we were at what Google Analytics said was 60,000 page Views/Month.  Over the next few months, we worked up to 90,000 at the high point on Google Analytics.  All while the Alexa Stats continued to drop.  So now I am convinced Google Analytics is the better stats to follow,

But then again, SOMETHING HAPPENED!…

Just as it appeared we were poised to break through the Magic 6 Figure Barrier for Page Views on Google Analytics, over the course of a couple of days our Page Hits dropped nearly in HALF!  WTF?

Diner-Stats-Google-4-29-15-c

Chats inside the Diner informed me that now Google had done some kind of reconfiguration of their stat collection methodology, which probably has nothing to do with the Diner but which makes it absolutely impossible to know how you are doing this year as opposed to last year, since this year's stats are being collected differently than last years stats were.  Based on Google Analytics, I have NO FUCKING CLUE whether the Diner has more readers today than it did in April of 2014, because they are not publishing the data in the same way. I suspect for many reasons we do have more readers/listeners/viewers now than back then, but you sure could not elucidate that by looking at Google Analytics over the time period!

On the Grand Scale much larger than the Diner, what this should tell you is that EVERY stat you ever get published by Da Goobermint through the MSM is thoroughly manipulated and just about impossible to make a real analysis with.  They change the way the CPI (Consumer Price Index) is computed all the time.  They change the way they count the total number of people Employed all the time.  In the case of Da Fed, sometimes they completely DROP counting things like the M3 Money Supply!

Federal Reserve Statistical Release, H.6, Money Stock Measures; title with eagle logo links to Statistical Release home page
Release Date: November 10, 2005, revised March 9, 2006
Release dates | About

Discontinuance of M3

On March 23, 2006, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System will cease publication of the M3 monetary aggregate. The Board will also cease publishing the following components: large-denomination time deposits, repurchase agreements (RPs), and Eurodollars. The Board will continue to publish institutional money market mutual funds as a memorandum item in this release.

Measures of large-denomination time deposits will continue to be published by the Board in the Flow of Funds Accounts (Z.1 release) on a quarterly basis and in the H.8 release on a weekly basis (for commercial banks).

M3 does not appear to convey any additional information about economic activity that is not already embodied in M2 and has not played a role in the monetary policy process for many years. Consequently, the Board judged that the costs of collecting the underlying data and publishing M3 outweigh the benefits.


Now, the only reason I discovered this nonsense WRT to the Diner was because a month ago I signed the Diner up for yet ANOTHER Stat Collection Service, Revolver.  Unlike Google, Alexa and even the stats generated by You Tube and Soundcloud for your own site, Revolver Stats come at you in REAL TIME, and this is easily verifiable by any user.  Long as you do not try to disguise your IP Addy with a Proxy Server, as you read this article you will see YOUR Blinking Light here in the Widget below, which is collecting the stats for this article in particular, not the general Diner Stats.

Gotta love Java Scripts. LOL.

Of course, this sort of shit freaks a lot of people out who don't understand how the internet really works, and just how EZ it is to track anyone who uses it.  This sort of shit is nothing compared to what the NSA can do, fuhggetaboud just pinging users to a 39 sq km radius, they can peg what room in your McMansion you are keyboarding from.  You simply CANNOT maintain Anonymity on the Internet unless you are absolutely a First Class Hacker who knows all the tricks, and even then not sure you could pull this off.  You would have to encrypt all the data being transferred to and from your laptop to do this. and do it 100% of the time without making any errors or ever getting sloppy.  Just one time mistake, everything can be pulled together by a Bot.  I personally had ZERO problem fingering our local Troll here on his Identity, and neither did Doomer Support, my friend who handles back end problems for me when I get in the Deep Doo-Doo of Internet Crises.  lol.  We used entirely different means of working this out, but we both came up with the SAME result, entirely independently.  If we can do this, what do you think the NSA can do?  If you have your Cell Phone on, they know each and every time you head for the bathroom to take a shit!

OK, off the sub-topics of the real lack of Internet Anonymity and nonsense Statistics coming out of the BLS and Da Fed, and back to the Diner issues, what TRUTH with a Capital T can we ferret out here from ANY of these stats?

Well, because Revolver stats are in Real Time and Soundcloud is pretty close to Real Time, I can match them up to see if they correlate, and they generally do.  I also can verify when I myself sign in and view a page on the Diner Blog.  On Revolver, my Palmer, AK Diner Dot starts Blinking.  I also can see when other Diners check in for a Collapse Meal at the Diner, which further gives me confidence the stat recorder is doing what it's supposed to do.  So what has the Diner Blog recorded over the last month in terms of visit data?

Diner-Stats-Revolver-4-30-15click the pic if you want to scroll through all the countries

45K Visits and 137 Countries in the first 30 days! Not too bad!

Diner-Stats-Google-Visits-4-30-15-bWhat does Google Analytics tell me about the SAME 30 day period?  According to Google, it's about 23K Visits.  Just about HALF of what Revolver Recorded!

Where Have All the Visits Gone?

Now, do I think there is some kind of CONSPIRACY here to keep the Diner Stats surpressed on Google?  Well, anything is possible these days so I don't discount it, but I don't think this is the case.  What I think is that Google decided to re-figure their algorithm and how they are counting visits, and are now filtering out Bots, Spiders and other Web Creepy Crawly Things that tend to jack up the total number of hits you get.

The Diner Forum for instance (which has its OWN Stats Recorder included in SMF) has recorded around 17 MILLION Page Views since we opened for bizness in 2012.  Also EXPONENTIAL doubling for the first 3 years!

Forum History (using forum time offset)

Yearly Summary New Topics New Posts New Members Most Online Page views
+ 2015 332 10940 123 120 2151199
+ 2014 704 22376 122 182 9137030
+ 2013 757 25870 486 260 4100268
+ 2012 1075 13992 567 325 1734447

In the first month or two of running the Diner, I was ENTHUSED by these numbers!  After more than 3 years now though, do I think those really represent Human Eyeballs?  Hell NO!

Most of those hits come from Web Bots and Spiders that crawl through websites and record the pages.  Most of them are run by security agencies housed in different countries.  Based on observation of the Revolver Stats, the Netherlands is Bot Fucking Central.  When a Dutch Hit comes in, 20-30 pages at a time are accessed in under a minute.  NOBODY reads that fast, not even me.  LOL.  English isn't even a native laguage for the Little Dutch Boys, but they read DOOM more often than Kiwis or Aussies?  I don't think so. Besides that, the fucking population of the Netherlands is around 17M.  The population of Oz is around 23M.  There are more Doomers per Capita in Dykeville than in Oz, who ALSO speak English and read it well enough to haunt the Diner for a Collapse Fix?  Again, I don't think so.

So, obviously you have to take all these Stats with a few grains truckoads of Salt when you look at them.  At best, you only can see how well things ae going relatively, but even there you get fucked whenever they change the algorithms and filters for the data collection.  Last year's stats and this year's stats often were not tabulated the same way.  So you can't even really compare against YOURSELF historically, much les anyone else pitching Doom on the Internet.

So is all this Stat nonsense BAD NEWZ for the Diner?

NOT AT ALL!

In fact it's mostly GOOD NEWZ on the Stats Level around here!

First off, while we saw downward revisions due to changes in Stat Collection methods by Google and Alexa, after the revisions we once again show steadily increasing circulation.  Second, ALL the Stats from all the sources show that the Diner has a very well distributed circulation around the Globe.  There are Diner Dots TM just about EVERYWHERE there is a decent Internet connection! 🙂

Third, the most basic Raw Statistic of all comes from the Diner Server, which collects traffic and bandwidth usage amongst other data.  We just saw a real nice BOOST UP there by around 50% over the last few days.

Diner-Stats-Server-4-29-15-b

Where did the BOOST come from?  Two places in all likelihood.

First off, I have started participating as a Redditor on r/Collapse on the Reddit website.  I pitch a selection of storiez on Collapse that Diners link to at Reddit, mostly off our site from other ones but occassionally one of the Original Articles or Podcasts we produce here as well.  My Kollapsnik.com Flair goes on every link I make.  It's not a HOT LINK, but it keeps Kollapsnik in the mind of the Doomers who read r/Collapse, and a few other boards over there I contribue articles to each day.  Kollapsnik.com links to the Diner Forum of course. 🙂

The second reason is because this is the day that Gail Tverberg of Our Finite World and myself did a SIMULCAST of the Podcast we recorded right after she got off the plane from her month long trip to China.  This plastered Diner Links on OFW, which gets about 4X the page hits the Diner gets, at least on the days Gail publishes a new article.  She's been at this game a good deal longer than me and has an extensive following, so a few of those eyeballs follow the links to the Diner.

It's not EZ to get a Blog out there in front of Readers, there are thousands of them (millions?), and unless you find some means of getting the links up and getting it known, it never will be anything more than a Vanity Press.  So I spend just about as much time figuring out ways to promote the Diner as I do to creating original material for it.  It has worked pretty well overall, we're not the biggest Collapse Blog out there, but we do play with the Big Boys in the NFL of Collapse now, no longer Pee Wee Fooball here.  I get chastized all the time for the non-stop PLUGGING of the Diner I do (of which this post is also guilty of.  lol. 😀 ), but I live with this criticism as a part of the game here.  It's all well and good to write a personal blog to fill in friends and relatives with your thoughts (although for most people 140 characters on Twitter is more than enough for this), but from my POV if you don't have decent readership, you are just Pissing in the Wind.

Finally, another real good sign of how far the reach of the Diner extends comes from the Stats on Soundcloud, where we store all the Audio we produce.  The numbers there continue to climb, and we now are approaching the MAGIC SIX FIGURE BARRIER over there, with currently 98,000 Listens, plus a lot of downloads too!

Diner-Stats-Soundcloud-4-30-15click the pic to go to Diner Soundcloud and Listen to your favorite Kollapsniks!

Hopefully enough of you will head over there and listen to a few tracks and put us over the top this week on the 100K Listen Barrier on Soundcloud. 🙂

I keep my fingers crossed waiting for that one great Post or Rant that GOES VIRAL.  Ya never know when this can happen, or what the content needs to be to get it to do so.  If anyone did know that, they would be rolling in dough of course.  Of course, the way things are going for me these days, I'll probably hit one of those Jackpots and then promptly croak or go quadraplegic and be unable to respond, but that's no reason to quit trying!  It ain't OVAH till the Fat Lady Sings!

In any event, for the near future, I will keep watching the Stats and figuring new ways to…wait for it…

MapPLUG THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF THE DOOMSTEAD DINER. #1 FOR DOOM ON THE NET!!!

RE SUPERSTAR OF DOOM TM

 

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Gold, Greed & Global Collapse

Off the keyboard of John Ward

Published on The Slog on April 13, 2013

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

GOLD, GREED & GLOBAL COLLAPSE: who benefitted most from yesterday’s spectacular fall

goldfall13413

What you see above isn’t just the tale of a horrendous day for gold – it fell $88, or just over 4%, in a day – it is the record of a fall that steepened the minute New York opened, twice tried (and failed) to rally, and yet managed to do all this on a day when the vast majority of fundamentals should’ve been pushing the price up, not down.

The one exception to this was the Troika demand on Thursday that Cyprus sell its gold to help pay off debt. I have two observations to make about that: one, why do that to Cyprus now and not to anyone else before? And two, on paper it didn’t look like the sort of volume to start a gold freefall.

This is a murky business, so we need to consider it from all sensible angles.

The fundamentals

The US is degrading and diluting its currency, the UK’s austerity strategy is falling apart, the EU economy is flatlining, and Russia is massively overdependent on energy sales in a world where the outlook for energy consumption is awful: indeed, only the coldest european Spring for decades has enabled it to maintain any kind of momentum.

China’s slowdown now looks inevitable given the atrocious consumption outlook outside its borders, and US economic nerves tightened yesterday when the IMF cut its growth forecast for the year from 2% to 1.7%, alongside official figures confirming a 0.4% slump in retail sales in March – the biggest fall since last July. Factory output in the EU declined, and the north-south imbalance worsened as Slovenia edged towards the centre of the debt radar. Italy’s output fell by a disastrous 8%, and Portugal’s constitutional Court has rejected the Troika’s bailout plan. 41% of Germans no longer believe their banked money is safe.

The myth of Obama’s ‘recovery’ long ridiculed here is now clearly seen for the lie it was. The Cyprus ‘bailin’ has caused massive leakage of capital from the eurozone. The Troika’s Athens talks are acrimonious and stalled.

Every last indicator last week suggested a turning tide for gold as a hedge against currency devaluation, and as an asset which – even if it fell in value medium term – would be better than worthless paper. But that wasn’t the market mood, and it wasn’t what happened. To call that strange is like referring to the Krakatoa eruption as a small bang: worldwide gold demand in 2012 was another record high of $236.4 billion in the World Gold Council’s latest report. This was up 6% in value terms in the fourth quarter to $66.2 billion – the highest fourth quarter ever and real volume demand in the fourth quarter of 2012 was up 4% to 1,195.9 tonnes.

So who were the suspects behind what, I’m fairly sure this morning, was a massive fix?

The manipulation clues

The central banks bought gold at a rate ahead of market growth last year – which means their share of it grew.

Central bank buying for 2012 rose by 17% over 2011 to some 534.6 tonnes – the highest level since 1964. Central bank purchases stood at 145 tonnes in the fourth quarter – up 9% from the comparable period in 2011. Central banks have now been net purchasers of gold for eight consecutive quarters. This despite the non-stop stream of CB spin about there being no money-printing or inflation to get concerned about. Fancy that.

Did anything else make sense of this strategic decision by the Draghulas? Spookily enough it did. Last year, Basel III moved the goalposts on gold’s risk score, moving gold from tier 3 to quasi tier 1 status. Gold thus became “zero percent risk-weighted” in terms of credit risk – a whopping upgrade for the shiny metal. But to buy lots of it (and thus reduce risk-panic among investors) one needs the price to go down.

And guess what? Despite that massive Central Bank buying splurge since late 2010, gold has hovered and wobbled, been weak in its challenging of top prices – and persistent in challenging lows. Or put another way, the exact opposite of what the first rule of Supply and Demand dictates. My oh my.

The Guardian this morning ran a truly daft piece saying that ‘gold fell to its lowest level in more than 18 months on Friday night amid fears that sales of the precious metal forced on Cyprus by its desperate financial plight would lead to wholesale dumping by hard-pressed countries in the coming months’. Pardon me Gruauniad, but “Bollocks”. The sum total of Cypriot selling required is €400m tops. That is a flea-bite on the ankle of the gold sector.

More pertinent, perhaps, is that the Cyprus sale (1) enabled the CBs to buy still more of it, and (2) provides an excuse for the price fall that naifs might accept at face value.

Other potential culprits are also implicated. During January 2013, the COMEX gold futures platform pushed expectations for the price up by 8.3%. One wonders who pushed it in that direction, and why. What’s more, over the last 90 days without any announcement, stocks of gold held at Comex warehouses plunged by the largest figure ever on record. JP Morgan Chase’s reported gold stockpile dropped by over 1.2 million ouncesa staggering $1.8 billion dollars worth of physical gold in just 120 days. The owners involved took their metal offsite, and it’s no longer stored in Comex warehouses…did they do so from a lack of trust? Or did they know something we didn’t?

Then there’s the chance that the Fed itself was trying to reduce its cost of returning gold:  Germany’s Bundesbank recently announced it would be moving a major portion of its reserves from the US and all of its reserves from France back to Frankfurt. Nearly half of Germany’s gold reserves are held in a vault at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Nice way to reduce loss of face on safe assets if you work for Washington.

Is there a bottom line here?

There is, but I don’t think one can see the exact nature of it just yet. What seems to me clear, however, is that this was a fix….and Cyprus was a cover story for it, not the reason why.

On balance, it feels to me like some leaking, some massaging, and some reduction in the cost of global looting. But whatever: next week is indeed going to be interesting.

 

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