December 2014 in review

This is the third of my month-in-review posts. My first post, for October 2014, is here. My second post, for November 2014, is here. I made significant style changes between the October and November posts, that I believe were improvements. I plan to do this post in a style similar to November’s.


General background information: My site page about my job

Things were busy in the first few weeks of the month, but relatively relaxed in the last ten days of so, and I took a few days off after Christmas Day (December 25), making for an extended weekend. Working at a small startup with clients, some of whom get a lot of traffic, I try to generally be online and available in case of emergencies. Fortunately, things proceeded smoothly this past week, and I devoted quite a bit of time to personal projects.

Other personal developments

My application for the STEM extension to Optional Practical Training, that I filed back in October, was approved on December 16. I received my new EAD card on December 21. This extends my authorized status in the United States to June 2016. You can see more details here.

Now that my bank balance has crossed a basic threshold, I decided to switch some of my savings into other currencies. I bought some Bitcoins via Coinbase. Around March 2015, I intend to put some money into a stock market index fund.

Unlike some previous years, I chose not to make any charitable donations this year. The reasons are complicated, and something I intend to write a blog post about at the Effective Altruism Forum (you can see related posts by me in the Effective Altruists Facebook group here and here respectively, though my thinking has evolved quite a bit since then). I had not made any charitable donations in 2013 either. However, through November and December, I did put some of my money into an informal fund used to promote Open Borders: The Case content on Facebook. I intend to make some other minimal expenditures related to the site in 2015, and I do not intend to make any philanthropic donations this coming year. However, my plans and goals might change. I’ll keep my site’s page on effective altruism updated with a list of all my relevant posts, and will also update my donation history page if I make additional donations, as well as at the end of next year if I choose not to.

Wikipedia editing

General background information: My site page about my Wikipedia contributions

I didn’t create any new Wikipedia pages this month. There were a few pages I had been considering creating, but other items were higher on my priority list.

I did make a few edits. Charity evaluator GiveWell published their updated list of top charities on December 1. Within the next two weeks, I made updates to the Wikipedia pages about GiveWell, their partner Good Ventures, as well as their four recommended charities (Against Malaria Foundation, GiveDirectly, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, and Deworm the World Initiative) and four standout charities (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, Living Goods, and Development Media International).

I also noted in a Facebook post that I was the original creator of the Wikipedia pages for three of the four recommended charities (Against Malaria Foundation being the exception) and three of the four standout charities (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition being the exception). The Facebook post prompted an insightful comment from Chris Hendrix:

That’s either a sign of GiveWell’s relative obscurity or your personal obsession with the subject. The latter seems like the more optimistic view to take so I’m going to go with it.

As for the pageviews: all the pages I have created since I started editing Wikipedia got a total of 147,917 pageviews on Wikipedia in the month of December. You can see the breakdown by pages here. If you want to see all months and all pages, use this link. You can see the corresponding data for all years at this link. The view count of 147,917 in December compares with a view count of 115,239 in November and 26,794 last December (for a December-only comparison across years, click here).

In terms of pageviews, here are some highlights:

  • My Wikipedia page on Giving Tuesday, that has been edited considerably since the version as I left it, did very well. Giving Tuesday was on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, and got a total of 20,016 views during the month. You can see the day-wise breakdown on (you might want to see the JSON version since the smaller traffic in the last week of the month is not visible in the graph). The number of pageviews in the first five days was, respectively: 3058, 8048, 2207, 631, and 403. A pretty big spike and rapid decay after that. Giving Tuesday had also been getting more traffic at the end of November (here’s the breakdown by day). I had mentioned this in my November 2014 review.
  • Pages on charities that I had created got many more pageviews in December than they usually do. Some of these are included in the table below. This is part of a general trend of charities getting more views in December. You can see the data for charities for all months here. You can also do a December-only comparison for charities alone here (note that not all these pages were created by me). In addition to charities themselves, philanthropic foundations also got a lot more traffic in December, but this was mostly explained by greater attention to philanthropy in the month of December, rather than by year-on-year growth. To explore those, see here and here (note that not all these pages were created by me).

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

After a very long time, I got around to doing some edits on Groupprops, the Group Properties Wiki that I had started in December 2006 (eight years ago). I started the edits on the morning of Friday December 19 and continued through Sunday. It was a strangely relaxing experience, and reminded me of my time in graduate school, before the pressure to really work on my thesis started growing, when I would just spend long hours adding and editing and improving Groupprops. But I soon got back to other, more pressing tasks.

I had also been considering editing the other subject wikis (Market, Calculus, and a newly started wiki on machine learning) but ultimately decided these were lower on my priority list than other tasks.

As for pageviews:

  • Groupprops got 77,725 views in December. Compare with 99,940 views in November and 60,232 views last December. The year-on-year metric is most relevant, because Groupprops traffic is highly seasonal and follows the ups and downs of the academic year. The year-on-year growth rate is a little over 25%. Similar year-on-year growth was observed in October and November. This year-on-year growth appears to have been due to updates to Google’s search algorithm that happened around mid-2014, probably one of the Google Panda updates.
  • Market got 20,225 views in December, compared with 19,230 views last December and 24,592 views in November.
  • Calculus got 15,542 views in December, compared with 13,451 last December and 22,383 in November.

I’ll probably do a separate blog post on the Subject Wikis Blog reviewing annual traffic patterns, and will add a link to it from here when done.

Open borders

General background information: My site page about open borders

Open Borders: The Case had its second highest traffic month. The number of pageviews was reported as 35,318 by WordPress Jetpack Stats and as 34,374 by Google Analytics. This was thrice the corresponding number last December, and compares to about 38,000 in November. But November was an unusually high-traffic month, thanks to US President Barack Obama’s deferred action announcement.

A number of my blog posts were published on the site:

I also worked on a site redesign with John Lee on Sunday, December 21 (you can see my Open Borders Action Group post about the subject here). The redesign will hopefully be completed in January.

Between Saturday, December 20, and the end of the month, I worked on a large number of draft blog posts for Open Borders: The Case. This was my dominant activity. The posts will be completed and released over the coming months, but you can get an idea of the topics I was exploring by going through my posts in the Open Borders Action Group.

For more on what the site has been up to, see the Open Borders: The Case December 2014 in review.


General background information: My site page about Quora

I wrote only one substantive answer in December, and asked very few questions. My Quora stats indicate 19000 views of my content in the month.


I’ve been quite active in the Open Borders Action Group (you can see my posts here) but have otherwise been quiet on Facebook.