August to October 2016 in review

This is my fourth quarterly review, and it covers the months from August to October of 2016.

Things continue to be busy on the job front. There were a few big job-related projects that happened this quarter. I expect the next quarter to be more relaxed on the job front, partly because of a winter break slowdown and partly because some of the big projects are over.

Updates to Wikipedia Views

I made a number of updates to the code underlying Wikipedia Views, a tool I build to make it easy for people to look up views of multiple Wikipedia pages over long time periods. Many of these changes were motivated by work I’m doing on a Wikipedia decline blog post discussed later.

The chief changes I made include:

  • Added support for looking up mobile web, mobile app, desktop spider, and mobile web spider data from July 2015 onward, using the Wikimedia API. Also, to make the desktop data consistent with the other sources, I switched desktop to use data from the Wikimedia API starting July 2015 (previously, it had used the Wikimedia API only starting January 2016). This has retroactively changed some pageview counts on Wikipedia Views.
  • Added support for cumulative Facebook shares starting October 2016, and drawing on the Facebook API. This data only includes pages that were successfully captured at the end of the month.
  • Added automatic graph generation when viewing data for multiple months or years. The graphs, shown below the table, help give a bird’s eye view of the numbers in the table.

Other changes I hope to make in the next few weeks are listed below.

  • Re-enable CSV export, a feature I had disabled while adding new drildown-based features.
  • Complete documenting and fixing bugs in the existing features.
  • Highlight pages that currently redirect to other pages.
  • Add support for showing data on breakdown by referrers for a few months in 2015 and 2016 when Wikipedia clickstream data is available.
  • Allow for comparison of data across multiple languages in the same query.

Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about Wikipedia

I created two new pages this quarter: Alan C. Nelson and Gladys Block. Both of them were created in the latter half of October, after a long hiatus from new Wikipedia page creation.

I expect to resume Wikipedia page creation after I finish work on Wikipedia Views and on the “Wikipedia decline” post I discuss later in this review.

While reviewing my early Wikipedia page creation history, I realized that a little over 100 pages I had created prior to 2010, that have survived deletion, were not included in the Wikipedia Views tag for pages I created. After adding them, the total count of pages I have created (including a few redirects) stands at 417.

In total, pages I created over my lifetime got 584,534 desktop pageviews, 354,365 mobile web pageviews, and 8,081 mobile app pageviews. In addition, they were viewed 141,778 times by desktop spiders and 14,885 times by mobile web spiders.

You can see the lifetime data for the tag as a whole here. I have also attached a graph from the link; the highest line is the total and the second highest is the desktop pageviews. You can also access a gigantic table (with 223,095 cells of which 71,307 are legitimately filled) of all pages I created across all months and all device types here (cautionary note: this is a large page and may take several seconds to load).

Liftetime pageviews of pages created by Vipul Naik
Liftetime pageviews of pages created by Vipul Naik

Now that I’ve started recording cumulative Facebook shares, I have data that pages I created over my lifetime had received a total of 2904 likes+comments+shares on Facebook as of the end of October 2016. You can see the data by page here. Couple of caveats:

  • This excludes 106 pages I recently realized I had created a while ago, so the total is an underestimate. The excluded pages show the message “cannot retrieve this data” indicating that data on cumulative shares was not captured during the month.
  • The counts are probably underestimates since we have evidence that Facebook has misplaced likes, comments, and shares that occurred in 2013 or earlier.

Sponsored Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about sponsored Wikipedia editing

Sponsored Wikipedia editing operations continued, though at a lower overall level than previously. Many of the people recruited either left permanently, or have significantly reduced output because their academic term (high school or college) has begun.

Issa Rice (pages and payments) and Sebastian Sanchez (pages and payments) have continued to work at a similar rate as before.

Sebastian in particular has continued to work on pages in two broad themes: disease-related timelines (18 pages so far, on which I’ve spent $1466) and timelines of healthcare by country (14 pages so far, on which I’ve spent $1381). He has also created four other pages in themes broadly related to healthcare and global health, and done one translation.

I plan to more comprehensively review sponsored Wikipedia editing at the end of the year. By then, I expect to enter the data into a database so that I can generate a variety of summary reports.


For background information, see my site page about WikiHow

I wrote one new wikiHow article: How to Understand Your Website Traffic Variation with Time. The article got a lot of views in the first week (getting to about 800 pageviews), likely because it was featured prominently on various landing pages and lists of top articles. Its growth has subsequently slowed down to between 5 and 10 new pageviews a day. The draft history (before I pushed it to WikiHow) can be found by looking at the history for the version in my personal Git repository.

This post is the second in a series of posts I intend to write on understanding website traffic. My previous post, published last quarter, was How to Understand Your Website Audience Profile.

I also began drafting a new article in wikiHow style: How to Master Online Surveys. I don’t know if I’ll try publishing it on wikiHow (as there are many very similarly named articles there right now).

Personal server migration

I finished migrating a personal server (that hosts a variety of websites I manage). I had begun this migration last quarter.

Wikipedia decline blog post

I worked together with Issa Rice on a blog post that continues to explore questions originally raised in my post The great decline in Wikipedia pageviews. The new post is far thorougher than the older post. It uses new, more reliable pageview data, Internet surveys, and better graphing and visualization tools.

The first iteration of the post was done by Issa Rice over about ten days in September, and can be seen here.

Since the post was turning out to be fairly involved and we realized that a lot of pieces were missing, I decided to take over the completion of the post, since I could coordinate that better with improvements to Wikipedia Views that would help make research and exploration for the post easier. A copy of the current (very incomplete) draft can be found here.

Writing the post has been a challenging exercise of going back and forth between simplifying the content for presentation, and diving even deeper into the empirics and data in order to obtain clearer conclusions. Realistically, I expect that we will have the post ready for publication in January 2017.

Market wiki updates

Some posts by Buck Shlegeris linked to the price bundling page on the Market Wiki that I had written a while back. Buck raised a few questions (not specific to the page, but related to the topic of price bundling). Inspired by these, I worked to significantly improve coverage of price bundling. I also spent part of some weekends and some BART rides on improvements to the articles Effect of sales tax on market price and quantity traded and effect of price ceiling on economic surplus.

I believe that this wiki is one of the more promising things to edit when I’m in the mood for doing something that is intellectually interesting but doesn’t involve too much of the “arbitrary real world” i.e., doesn’t involve too much research on specific current events or history. There are times when I want to take a break from the huge amount of arbitrary information the real world entails, but I still want to do something in the economics or sociology realm rather than deal with pure mathematical abstractions. The Market Wiki fits this mood niche, and I believe that it’s one of the most high-impact things I could do that fit the mood niche.


I watched a few more Korean dramas:

I also watched two Japanese dramas, Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo and its sequel, Mischievous Kiss 2: Love in Tokyo. They were based on the Japanese anime Itazura na Kiss. In addition, I finished watching The Flower in Prison, a semi-historical Korean drama based on events in the mid-16th century Joseon era.