The Most Common Lie on Census

This certainly goes with my earlier post US Census 2010 Win. A friend of mine, NOT the same one who answered “HUMAN,” took a snapshot of an article by Robert Grove on the April 2010 edition of TIME magazine.


I thought this was ironic, given that the “Win” image has 170,000 views at the moment. The full article from TIME can be found here.

For the sake of reference, here’s the “Win” image:


Quotation collector Dr. Mardy Grothe has compiled a book of aphorisms beginning with the word if. Combining the words if and aphorism, Grothe termed the word ifferism.


It would be unfitting for me to write a standard review, so I’ll share some of my favorite quotations from the book.

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. (12)

by Katherine Hepburn.

If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going. (38)

by Irwin Corey.

If you’re willing to fail interestingly, you tend to succeed interestingly. (51)

by Woody Allen.

If you want to say something radical, you should dress conservative. (88)

by Steve Biko.

If his IQ slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day. (115)

by Molly Ivins.

If McClellan is not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a while. (125)

by Abraham Lincoln.

If it is your time, love will track you down like a cruise missile. (168)

by Lynda Barry.

If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them. (199)

by Yogi Berra.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. (223)

by George Orwell, in the preface to Animal Farm.

If you try to fail and succeed, what have you done? (264)

by George Carlin.

If you can’t annoy somebody with what you write, I think there’s little point in writing. (293)

by Kingsley Amis.

Digg Stats: Hits vs. Page

Yesterday I wrote a post on The Impact of Digg, and Digg vs. StumbleUpon, which involved stats on site interaction rates. Today, I shall look at Digg only, and how the page number of the Digg website impacts the number of hits. Basically, if a site is on the first page of Digg, it should get a lot of views. When it gets pushed to the second page, the number of views should decline, as only a fraction of the people who viewed the first page would click to the second page. Same goes for the third, fourth, fifth pages.

WordPress stat tracking allows me to see the number of hits from each separate url. And I see hits from,,, etc. So, what is this fraction of users that go beyond the first page? Below is a table of the number of hits from each Digg page url. This gives the number of people who clicked to my blog from the first page, the second page, etc. As I am compiling the data right now, the site is on page 11 of Digg, so I shall only go up to page 10. Also, note that there are many ways to access a site on Digg than directly from the front page or numbered pages, so the total views below will not add up to anywhere near 100k.

Page Hits Ratio to previous page
1 14855 N/A
2 5036 33.9%
3 1447 28.7%
4 1247 86.2%
5 641 51.4%
6 299 46.6%
7 385 128.8%
8 179 46.5%
9 196 109.5%
10 133 67.9%

Here are the corresponding graph for the Hits column:

Digg Stats: Hits vs Page

And for the last column:

Digg Stats: Hit Ratio vs Page

Quite a few surprises here! I shall try to comment in order.

First, from page one to two, we see that the clicks generated on page two is only a third of that generated on page one. That is, you’ll get about three times as many hits from the first page of Digg than from the second page. Roughly speaking, this also means one-third of users who go to the front page of Digg will continue to the second page.

From page two to three, there is an even larger drop—only 28.7% of those on page two continue to page three. But, from three to four, there is barely a drop. In fact, the number of hits generated by the fourth page is 86.2% of that generated on the third page. There are several ways to explain this, and each one most likely plays a role:

  • Dedication: Users having the energy to click to page three will probably have the energy to click to page four. Compare this to the first page. Someone might go to Digg, glance at the topics, then leave. But if someone is dedicated enough to go all the way to page three, there is a likelier chance that he will stay on Digg.
  • Post Timing: Depending on the number of sites that are dugg, a particular site might be sent back pages faster or slower.
  • User Timing: Perhaps more users are on at certain times of the day.

From four through six, the view count drops by about one-half each time. At seven, however, the view count INCREASES by 28.8%! Most likely it is a combination of the timing issues, plus the superstition of seven—a user might jump directly to page seven. Who knows?

From seven to eight we have about the same drop as from five to six. But at nine, the count increases again. And again, this is most likely explained by a timing issue. Page ten has a drop from page nine, but it is not a big drop.

Just looking at the first graph for a minute, we see the dropping rate almost flatten from three to four. After two sharp falls, it falls much more slowly.

The second graph has two points above 100%, which we have looked at before. It also has an generally positive trend: the later the page, the higher the retention rate. This makes logical sense, as explained in the bulleted dedication part.

There you have it. Overall, it’s mostly about the first page—it gets more views than the others combined. But weird things happen once you get into the later ones.

First Millennium Prize Declined

On March 18, 2010, the Clay Mathematics Institute announced the first Millennium Prize. This $1,000,000 award went to Russian mathematician Dr. Grigory Perelman for his solution to the Poincaré Conjecture, a century-old topology problem. Exactly two months ago, I wrote a post on Perfect Rigor [WordPress], a biography of Perelman written by Masha Gessen, published in 2009, when it was still not known whether or not Perelman would receive the prize. He is now a richer man—or is he? (See this article [Huffington Post].)

Four years ago, Perelman was awarded the Fields medal (considered an equivalent to the Nobel in mathematics); he declined it. (See this article [BBC News].)

But this time, he declined a much bigger prize. Since 2000, only one of the seven Millennium Problems has been solved—right now Perelman is the only person who has solved such a problem. On one hand, his refusal of the prize is disappointing, but on the other, it is respectable.

I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like

I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like is another intriguing quote collection by Dr. Mardy Grothe, this time focusing on analogies, metaphors, and similes. The title itself is an adaptation of the saying “I never met a man I didn’t like” by the twentieth century American humorist Will Rogers. Although that quote itself is not a metaphor, it does allow for a pun with the word “metaphor.” Hence the title.

I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like

Metaphors, analogies, and similes are often used to say something poetically, forcefully, and with more elegance and impact. As with my review of another of Grothe’s books, Oxymoronica, I shall share some of the more peculiar quotes, which range over a gamut of topics.

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. (22)

by Henry David Thoreau in Walden.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. (23)

by Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken.”

MTV is to music as KFC is to chicken. (68)

by Lewis Black.

An after-dinner speech should be like a lady’s dress—long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting. (68)

by R. A. “Rab” Butler.

Her singing reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on. (85)

by Thomas Beecham, on an unidentified soprano in Die Walkyre.

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. (109)

by Moshe Dayan.

Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time. (163)

by Maya Angelou.

An adult is an obsolete child. (229)

by Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss).

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets through. (257)

by Jonathan Swift.

Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors. (278)

by Frank Gifford.

Long sentences in short composition are like large rooms in a little house. (307)

by William Shenstone.

Writing is easy. You just sit down at the typewriter, open up a vein, and bleed it out drop by drop. (307)

by Walter “Red” Smith.

This is overall a highly insightful as well as entertaining book—entertaining, at least, for lovers of words.

The Impact of Digg, and Digg vs. StumbleUpon

Ever since posting US Census 2010 Win, I began to receive a large number of hits on this site. I was first hit by a giant wave (see my previous post The True Impact of StumbleUpon) from StumbleUpon, a site which I use very often. But today, another wave hit, and this time, it was Digg.

First spike is from StumbleUpon, second from Digg.

I did notice quite a few interesting trends and correlations. And also, I know that, in dealing with real-time stats, the facts might change the next minute. I don’t use Digg (I registered an account but haven’t touched it recently), so you may expect me to be biased toward StumbleUpon. But it turns out that the facts show Digg users to interact with the site more.


Time Interval: 3/20/10 to 3/24/10 (full days)

Total Hits on “Census” image: 41,125

Max Hits on “Census” in One Day: 24,317 (3/21/10)

Total Hits on Homepage: 819

Total (Average) Homepage Hits Divided by Hits on “Census”: 1.99%

Explanation: A hit is a visit. “Hits on Homepage” refers to the number of times the homepage of my blog was accessed. It may include readers who did not arrive on it from StumbleUpon; however, that number should be fairly low, considering that the TOTAL visits per day prior to this was about 20-30. Also, if a user goes through more than one page (i.e. to access older posts), each page of posts will count as a hit to the homepage.


Time Interval: 3/26/10, 12:00 am to 5:22 pm, Central Time (UTC -6)

Hits on “Census” image: 33,922

Hits on “Census” image, minus StumbleUpon Hits: 33,335

Hits on Homepage: 959

Hits on Homepage Divided by Hits on “Census”: 2.88% 2.83%*

*Edit: The previous number used the wrong methodology: I was comparing total hits on homepage, including StumbleUpon users, to just Digg hits on “Census.” The new number, 2.83%, is the total, or weighted average for Digg and StumbleUpon that day.

Alright, I apologize for not having done extremely sophisticated statistics here, but I do notice that even on this part of one day, the chance that a Digg user clicks my homepage (2.88%) is significantly higher than that for a StumbleUpon user (1.99%). Thus Digg has a lower bounce rate than that of StumbleUpon, at least for this image.

This was surprising because I thought StumbleUpon had a significantly lower bounce rate and a significantly higher average time on website and number of pages accessed, from my earlier reading. Sure enough, I found several articles (such as this, this, and this), all pointing to the same understanding that StumbleUpon is better in these aspects for a website.

So why did the census post develop a different result? A few possibilities:

  • Samples not comparable—for StumbleUpon I measured over a period of five days, whereas for Digg, I measured over a period of less than 18 hours. I’m not exactly sure what difference this makes; maybe because Digg stats have not continued into the evening/night yet, the Digg users are spending more time. Perhaps looking at a site at night makes one more likely to go to the next website. I don’t know.
  • Assumptions outdated—I would normally not use this as an excuse, but it happens that the three articles I mentioned before were all written in 2007 or 2008; maybe by 2010 StumbleUpon’s user base has changed to be more like that of Digg’s.
  • Nature of content not predicted—It’s an image. Perhaps StumbleUpon users spend more time reading articles and less on images. Who knows? Plus, it is in the “Humor” category in StumbleUpon, so perhaps it was not as entertaining as other pages in StumbleUpon’s hilarious “Humor” section. I noticed specifically in my blog stats that the most accessed category tags were “Lol,” which is the section under which the picture was posted. Also, I notice that for Digg, I have approximately the bounce rate that is given by the articles, but I have a significantly higher bounce rate than expected for StumbleUpon. This also points evidence to a likely reason being the nature of content.

Whatever the case, go StumbleUpon and Digg!

Edit: An update at 10:12 pm

Update (3/27/10): For 3/26/10, complete day.

The stats for Digg as shown above went up to 5:22 pm on 3/26/10. This time, it’s the full day.

Time Interval: 3/26/10 (full day)

Hits on “Census” image: 81,474

Hits on Homepage: 1,906

Hits on Homepage Divided by Hits on “Census”: 2.33%

Interestingly, the interaction rate decreased over time. At 5:22 pm, as seen above, it was at 2.83%. From 5:22 pm to 12:00 am, the number of hits was the day total minus the number up to 5:22, or 81,474 − 33,922 = 47522. Likewise, the number of homepage hits in this time interval was 1906 − 959 = 947. This gives a division ratio of 1.99%, which is coincidentally the exact same as for StumbleUpon the past few days. When this 2.83% and 1.99% are weighted, the total ratio is 2.33%. This seems to imply that at night, viewers are less likely to interact with the site than they are during the daytime.