Switching review frequency to quarterly, plus special annual update

My month-in-review blog posts have been great for helping me keep track of what I’m doing, but the frequency has been a little too high for each update to add significant marginal value. Based on the response (or lack thereof) to the updates so far, I believe it would make sense to do quarterly reviews instead. Since my last monthly review was finished in October, the first quarter for which I’ll do a review will be November 2015 to January 2016, and the review will be published in February 2016.

In addition, I’ll aim to do a special annual update by the end of January 2016 summarizing what I’ve done in 2015. The annual review won’t be synced with the quarters, which I consider a plus because it means there will be no month when I need to prepare two reviews.

The reduction in time spent preparing monthly updates will help me do more stuff that I can then include in those updates!

UPDATE: The annual review will probably be delayed by a few weeks as I straighten out some of my other affairs.

October 2015 in review

This is the thirteenth of my month-in-review posts. I started month-in-review posts in October 2014. You can see my first post here and my previous month-in-review post here.

Some overall background

This month was quite busy for me work-wise, so my non-work output was very limited.

Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about Wikipedia

I created the following Wikipedia pages this month:

  • Neil Barsky: Barsky is a filmmaker and journalist, best known for making the documentary Koch and for co-founding The Marshall Project (disclosure: I created that Wikipedia article).
  • Chae Chan Ping v. United States, better known as the Chinese Exclusion Case. The creation of the page was an outgrowth of my efforts to better understand the events surrounding the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in the United States.
  • Angell Treaty of 1880, also known as the Treaty Regulating Immigration from China. Like the previous page, this was part of my exploration into the Chinese Exclusion Act.

I also made a bunch of edits to timeline pages, including the timeline of Uber, timeline of Snapchat, timeline of Facebook, timeline of Twitter, timeline of Pinterest.

Content plans for November: I intend to make a few more pages on topics related to the Chinese Exclusion Act, and also finish my page on consular nonreviewability. I might also make pages on some court cases or BIA decisions related to migration, particularly those that have bearing on the idea of consular nonreviewability or particular social group. I don’t have clear expectations regarding how many pages I will create. I am also interested in editing existing pages, and also in creating new pages, on content related to charities and charity evaluation, in preparation for the end-of-year giving season.

Pageview counts and impact: The numbers below are for pageviews in October 2015, and are based on data collated by stats.grok.se and further summarized at Wikipedia Views. As with all numbers from stats.grok.se, note that these numbers exclude mobile pageviews but include bots. One day was missing; adjusting for the missing day would make all counts go up by an extra 1/30 (or 3.33%).

Comparison with forecast: The number of pageviews (201,317) was a little above the 90th percentile in probability distribution for the number of pageviews. Adjusting for the missing day continues to keep it above the 90th percentile but still well below the 97.5th percentile estimate of 225,000.

November forecast: After poorly centered forecasts for two consecutive months, with one of them having the actual value outside the 95% range, it’s time to rethink my methodology. It seems that there are a few pages where the number of pageviews could vary dramatically by month, and these drive most of the variation in the estimates. Two pages that appear to be most responsible for month-to-month variation are Internet.org and Park Yeon-mi. In addition, in the month of November, another page that I expect will get a lot of traffic is the page I created on Giving Tuesday.

Therefore, I will make a forecast for the distribution of total pageview counts for pages I created excluding these three pages.

  • 2.5th percentile: 95,000 pageviews.
  • 10th percentile: 110,000 pageviews.
  • 25th percentile: 125,000 pageviews.
  • 50th percentile: 141,000 pageviews.
  • 75th percentile: 166,000 pageviews.
  • 90th percentile: 190,000 pageviews.
  • 97.5th percentile: 215,000 pageviews.

Here are my percentile estimates including the three pages:

  • 2.5th percentile: 110,000 pageviews.
  • 10th percentile: 135,000 pageviews.
  • 25th percentile: 148,000 pageviews.
  • 50th percentile: 176,000 pageviews.
  • 75th percentile: 205,000 pageviews.
  • 90th percentile: 230,000 pageviews.
  • 97.5th percentile: 280,000 pageviews.

Note the huge room on the right, reflecting uncertainty about the number of pageviews of those three pages.

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

I did not spend any time on the subject wikis this month. Year-on-year traffic growth on Groupprops was quite small, at about 6%. It’s not clear what’s driving the variation by month in year-on-year traffic growth.

Metric Oct 2015 Sep 2015 Aug 2015 Oct 2014 Sep 2014 Aug 2014
Pageviews 111,203 73,510 41,813 104,663 60,637 36,844
Sessions 55,802 37,313 21,775 49,971 31,475 17,778
Pages/session 1.99 1.97 1.92 2.09 1.93 2.07
Pageviews in sessions with at least 5 pageviews 35,440 23,066 13,046 36,456 18,157 13,205

Here are pageview counts for the other subject wikis:

  • Market: 22,697 pageviews, versus 24,028 for October 2014.
  • Calculus: 24,430 pageviews, versus 22,170 for October 2014.

Comparison with forecast: The value of 111,206 pageviews was close to the median estimate of 113,000 pageviews, and within my 50% probability interval estimate (95,000-130,000 pageviews) and 80% probability interval estimate (80,000-150,000 pageviews).

November forecast: The number of pageviews in November 2014 was 99,940. Assuming a similar 6% year-on-year growth, my median estimate for November 2015 is 105,500 pageviews. My 50% probability interval estimate is 90,000-120,000 pageviews and my 80% probability interval estimate is 80,000-135,000 pageviews. The intervals have contracted somewhat owing to greater confidence about the slowdown in year-on-year growth.

Other things

I expect the extended weekend of Thanksgiving to be mostly work-free and therefore I hope to get some content creation work done at the time. I intend to have published, by the end of the month, one blog post for the Effective Altruism Forum and one blog post for Open Borders: The Case. However, I’m not very sure I’ll accomplish either goal.

Entertainment

I enjoyed listening to and bought the MP3 for Love Me like You Do, sung by Ellie Goulding and used for the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. I also listened to Gangnam Style and the female version featuring Hyuna and Psy, which I enjoyed but not enough to buy either.

September 2015 in review

This is the twelfth of my month-in-review posts. I started month-in-review posts in October 2014. You can see my first post here and my previous month-in-review post here.

Some overall background

This month was quite busy for me work-wise, so my non-work output was very limited.

Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about Wikipedia

I created the following Wikipedia pages this month:

I also made edits to Wikipedia pages I had created previously, including Doing Good Better, Gusto (software) (renamed from ZenPayroll), and Tracy Chou.

I also started a draft of the Wikipedia page on consular nonreviewability, which I hope to publish in October. Realistically, I don’t expect to do any more Wikipedia work this month.

The numbers below are for pageviews in September 2015, and are based on data collated by stats.grok.se and further summarized at Wikipedia Views. As with all numbers from stats.grok.se, note that these numbers exclude mobile pageviews but include bots.

Comparison with forecast: The number of pageviews (217,908) fell outside of my 95% probability interval of 115,000-200,000. All the unexpected component of the variation came from Internet.org, which became a big news subject in India after being associated with the Digital India Initiative. The pageview count for this page was 62,536 in September, compared to 11,437 in August. Even excluding this page, there appears to have been a slight overall increase in pageviews, which might reflect the fact that July and August were “summer months” whereas September is a “back-to-school” month. There was also a slight increase in traffic to pages about venture capitalists and angel investors, which might have been coincidental or may again reflect seasonal cycles.

October forecast: The extra traffic to Internet.org persisted through the first few days of October. Accounting for how this shades the traffic estimates, here are my estimates:

  • My point estimate (for the median) is 157,500 pageviews. In other words, I believe there is a 50% probability that the number of pageviews will be above this number, and a 50% probability that it will be below or equal to this number.
  • My 50% probability interval estimate is 145,000-180,000. In other words, I expect a 50% probability that the number of pageviews will fall within this interval, a 25% probability that it will fall below 145,000, and a 25% probability that it will be above 180,000.
  • My 80% probability interval estimate is 133,000-200,000. In other words, I expect an 80% probability that the number of pageviews will fall within this interval, a 10% probability that it will be below 133,000, and a 10% probability that it will be above 200,000.
  • My 95% probability interval estimate is 120,000-225,000. In other words, I expect a 95% probability that the number of pageviews will fall within this interval, a 2.5% probability that is will be below 120,000, and a 2.5% probability that it will be above 225,000.

I’ve also described my estimates in terms of values at particular percentiles in my probability distribution below:

  • 2.5th: 120,000
  • 10th: 133,000
  • 25th: 145,000
  • 50th: 157,500
  • 75th: 180,000
  • 90th: 200,000
  • 97.5th: 225,000

WikiHow

For background information, see my site page about WikiHow

I created a new WikiHow page How to Use Amazon EC2 Spot Instances. As of October 5, 2015, it has 75 views.

I also made some edits and updates to WikiHow pages I had created previously. The pageview counts as of October 5, 2015, as well as the increments since September 5, 2015, are provided below:

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

I did not spend any time on the subject wikis this month. Year-on-year traffic growth has reverted to about 20% after slumping to 10% in August.

Below is the traffic information for Groupprops.

Metric Sep 2015 Aug 2015 Jul 2015 Sep 2014 Aug 2014 Jul 2014
Pageviews 73,510 41,813 38,388 60,637 36,844 34,973
Sessions 37,313 21,775 19,400 31,475 17,778 16,495
Pages/session 1.97 1.92 1.98 1.93 2.07 2.12
Pageviews in sessions with at least 5 pageviews 23,066 13,046 12,616 18,157 13,205 12,887

Here are pageview counts for the other subject wikis:

  • Market: 20,745 pageviews, versus 19,550 for September 2014.
  • Calculus: 21,579 pageviews, versus 17,843 for September 2014.

Comparison with forecast: For Groupprops, the total number of pageviews (73,510) was close to my point estimate of 66,500, and well within my 50% probability interval estimate (54,000-80,000) and 80% probability interval estimate (45,000-90,000).

October forecast: Last year, Groupprops for 104,663 pageviews in October. My point estimate for October 2015 is 113,000 pageviews. My 50% probability interval estimate is 95,000-130,000 pageviews and my 80% probability interval estimate is 80,000-150,000 pageviews.

Entertainment

I re-watched some episodes of Gilmore Girls. I also bought the MP3 for Wrecking Ball. I also enjoyed listening to Can’t Forget You, Arjun and Jonita Gandhi’s remake of my all-time favorite song, Tujhe Bhula Diya.

Notes: (a) Apologies for delay with publication; I had a bunch of other stuff I wanted to get done. (b) I’ve shortened the update to exclude domains where I didn’t add anything this month and where the passive impact of my cumulative work (as measured in e.g. number of pageviews) was insignificant. Of course, some of these may reappear in future monthly updates if I make contributions on those fronts in those months or their cumulative contribution becomes big enough. This selectivity keeps the update short enough for me to squeeze in the time to publish it.

August 2015 in review

This is the eleventh of my month-in-review posts. I started month-in-review posts in October 2014. You can see my first post here and my previous month-in-review post here.

Some overall background

The pace of work has started picking up again after a (somewhat) relaxed July, so progress for me in non-work dimensions was low overall. I expect this situation to continue (and worsen) till at least March of next year (with the potential exception of December), though I hope to better prioritize within non-work options as time goes along, so that my overall non-work output will hopefully remain roughly constant or even increase.

Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about Wikipedia

I created the following Wikipedia pages this month:

  • Animal Charity Evaluators, created Sunday, August 2, 2015, in about an hour. Got 165 views in August.
  • Holden Karnofsky, created Tuesday, August 4, 2015, in about an hour, part of it spent on a BART ride. Got 400 views in August.
  • Tracy Chou, created Wednesday, August 5, 2015, in about an hour, part of it spent on a BART ride. Got 539 views in August.
  • Jim Greenbaum, created Sunday, August 9, 2015, in about an hour. Got 88 views in August.
  • Operation Streamline, created Sunday, August 23, 2015, after several hours of drafts in BART rides. Got 91 views in August.

I made substantial progress with my user-space draft for particular social group but it did not reach the stage where I feel comfortable publishing it to main space.

The numbers below are for pageviews in August 2015, and are based on data collated by stats.grok.se and further summarized at Wikipedia Views. As with all numbers from stats.grok.se, note that these numbers exclude mobile pageviews but include bots.

Comparison with forecast: I had forecast 152,000 pageviews for all pages I created, and the actual count of 150,407 was quite close. It fell within my 50% probability interval estimate of 140,000-170,000, my 80% probability interval estimate of 115,000-200,000, and my 95% probability interval estimate of 100,000-225,000.

September forecast: Since September has only 30 days (compared to 31 in August) I will adjust my monthly estimates for September slightly downward to account for this. I have also shrunk my intervals somewhat, taking into account the high proximity of recent estimates to my point estimates. Here are my new estimates:

  • My point estimate (for the median) is 147,500 pageviews. In other words, I believe there is a 50% probability that the number of pageviews will be above this number, and a 50% probability that it will be below or equal to this number.
  • My 50% probability interval estimate is 141,000-160,000. In other words, I expect a 50% probability that the number of pageviews will fall within this interval, a 25% probability that it will fall below 141,000, and a 25% probability that it will be above 160,000.
  • My 80% probability interval estimate is 130,000-180,000. In other words, I expect an 80% probability that the number of pageviews will fall within this interval, a 10% probability that it will be below 130,000, and a 10% probability that it will be above 180,000.
  • My 95% probability interval estimate is 115,000-200,000. In other words, I expect a 95% probability that the number of pageviews will fall within this interval, a 2.5% probability that is will be below 115,000, and a 2.5% probability that it will be above 200,000.

I’ve also described my estimates in terms of values at particular percentiles in my probability distribution below:

  • 2.5th: 115,000
  • 10th: 130,000
  • 25th: 141,000
  • 50th: 147,500
  • 75th: 160,000
  • 90th: 180,000
  • 97.5th: 200,000

WikiHow

For background information, see my site page about WikiHow

I created two new WikiHow pages on Saturday, August 29:

My previous pages have continued to get more pageviews:

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

I did not spend any time on the subject wikis this month. There was a little year-on-year traffic growth but it’s down to about 10% (from 20%+ a few months ago). This probably reflects a huge jump that occurred around July/August of last year.

Below is the traffic information for Groupprops.

Metric Aug 2015 Jul 2015 Jun 2015 Aug 2014 Jul 2014 Jun 2014
Pageviews 41,813 38,388 48,593 36,844 34,973 38,363
Sessions 21,775 19,400 24,136 17,778 16,495 18,695
Pages/session 1.92 1.98 2.01 2.07 2.12 2.05
Pageviews in sessions with at least 5 pageviews 13,046 12,616 16,314 13,205 12,887 13,065

Here are pageview counts for the other subject wikis:

  • Market: 10,490 pageviews, versus 11,112 for August 2014.
  • Calculus: 12,570 pageviews, versus 8,822 for August 2014.

Comparison with forecast: For Groupprops, the total number of pageviews (41,813) was close to my point estimate of 40,500, and well within my 50% probability interval estimate (33,000-50,000) and 80% probability interval estimate (20,000-70,000).

September forecast: My point estimate for pageviews in September for Groupprops is 66,500 (about 10% more than the September count). My 50% probability interval estimate is 54,000-80,000, my 80% probability interval estimate is 45,000-90,000, and my 95% probability interval estimate is 40,000-120,000. The estimates are a bit wider than for previous months, because the counts are a little more uncertain owing to details about when and how the academic year starts in various colleges.

Open borders

General background information: My site page about open borders

One blog post of mine was published to the site: The bait-and-switch from fiscally realistic to humane, or, the weakness of the mainstream moderate case against deportations. I also made some edits to site background pages but did not get time to draft the blog posts I had hoped to. However, two of the Wikipedia pages I worked on this month (Operation Streamline and particular social group) were related to my interest in migration policy.

Other sites and forms of online presence

  • My personal site vipulnaik.com (on which you’re reading this post) got 2,000 views (excluding spam referrals and fake views in Google Analytics) (WordPress showed 2,073 views) in August 2015.
  • Wikipedia Views got 312 views (excluding spam referrals and fake views) in August 2015.

Friends’ projects

Entertainment

I re-watched some episodes of Gilmore Girls. I also bought the MP3 for Rolling in the Deep.

July 2015 in review

This is the tenth of my month-in-review posts. I started month-in-review posts in October 2014. You can see my first post here and my previous month-in-review post here.

Some overall background

This was a somewhat relaxed month at work for me, relative to the last three months, but still more hectic than the beginning of the year. I was able to spend more time on Wikipedia editing and blogging, but many of my personal projects have exhausted low-hanging fruit, so visible progress was relatively low.

Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about Wikipedia

I created the following Wikipedia pages this month:

  • Shashank Khaitan, created Tuesday, July 7, mostly on a BART ride.
  • Shervin Pishevar, created partly on a BART ride on Friday, July 17, and then completed on the morning of Saturday, July 18.
  • Catch and release (U.S. immigration policy), created on the evening of Saturday, July 18, starting from a long pending draft on my computer.
  • Expedited removal, created on the morning of Sunday, July 19.
  • Reinstatement of removal, created on the evening of Thursday, July 23, after a drafting process that spanned several BART rides. The drafting took longer because I was reading some of the referenced material in greater detail than I needed for the Wikipedia page.
  • Doing Good Better, created on the evening of Monday, July 27 after a draft during a BART ride. The page is about a book by William MacAskill released the very next day about effective altruism.
  • Stipulated removal, created over a morning and evening BART ride on Tuesday, July 28.

The numbers below are for pageviews in July 2015, and are based on data collated by stats.grok.se and further summarized at Wikipedia Views. As with all numbers from stats.grok.se, note that these numbers exclude mobile pageviews but include bots.

Comparison with forecast: I had forecast 150,000 pageviews for the month of July for all pages I created. The actual number of pageviews (148,556), was a little lower. The number falls well within my 50% estimate (135,000-175,000), my 80% estimate (110,000-220,000), and my 95% estimate (85,000-265,000).

August forecast: My point estimate for the August pageview count is 152,000 pageviews, adjusted upward slightly from the July estimate to account for the many new pages I created. My 50% probability interval estimate is 140,000-170,000 pageviews, my 80% probability interval estimate is 115,000-200,000 pageviews, and my 95% probability interval estimate is 100,000-225,000 pageviews. While my point estimate hasn’t changed, I have narrowed my intervals somewhat in light of the relatively narrow intervals in which past pageview counts have fallen. Also, I want to avoid the phenomenon where I simply choose wide ranges and feel happy to hit bull’s eye. A 50% probability interval estimate should be violated about half the time!

WikiHow

For background information, see my site page about WikiHow

I did not create any new WikiHow pages. The pages I had created in May got additional pageviews, as described below:

For July, I had been considering making one WikiHow page, focused on how to reduce Amazon EC2 costs. This will be based on my experience at my workplace, but won’t involve any information specific to my job. I believe that laying out this information clearly will be helpful to everybody: users can save costs, and more efficient use of the computational infrastructure of the world means more value can be squeezed out of it. I didn’t get time to make that page, but I just might do it this month. It’s not a priority though.

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

I did not spend any time on the subject wikis. Year-on-year traffic growth seems to have declined, though it’s still nonzero. I expect that we’re running out of whatever caused the 20% jump (accounting for seasonality) around the middle of last year, so year-on-year growth will now be sub-10%.

Metric Jul 2015 Jun 2015 May 2015 Jul 2014 Jun 2014 May 2014
Pageviews 38,388 48,593 77,232 34,973 38,363 63,211
Sessions 19,400 24,136 37,834 16,495 18,695 31,225
Pages/session 1.98 2.01 2.04 2.12 2.05 2.02
Pageviews in sessions with at least 5 pageviews 12,616 16,314 26,016 12,887 13,065 20,727

Here are pageview counts for the other subject wikis:

  • Market: 9,248 pageviews, versus 11,148 for July 2014.
  • Calculus: 9,813 pageviews, versus 7,576 for July 2014.

Comparison with forecast: The total number of pageviews for Groupprops (38,388) was just a little short of the lower end of the 50% probability interval (40,000-52,000) and far from the point estimate of 46,000. It was well within the 80% interval estimate of 33,000-60,000 and the 95% interval estimate of 25,000-70,000.

August forecast: In August 2014, Groupprops had a total of 36,844 views. Using the ~10% year-on-year growth seen in July, my point estimate for August is 40,500 pageviews. My 50% probability interval estimate is 33,000-50,000 pageviews. My 80% probability interval estimate is 27,000-60,000 pageviews, and my 95% probability interval estimate is 20,000-70,000 pageviews. (Note that the bulk of Groupprops’ traffic is seen in the months of September-November, while June-August is the slowest season).

Open borders

General background information: My site page about open borders

My blog post titled Can deportation be a key crime-fighting strategy? was published on the site on July 29, 2015. Also, many of the Wikipedia pages I created this month were related to migration policy. Specifically, I created a large number of pages related to various aspects of immigration enforcement, including various types of deportation and removal.

I intend to do 2-4 blog posts for the site this month (posts that are already partly or fully drafted and waiting to go out the door; plus some quick news-type posts). In addition, I hope to get going with bits and pieces of the site revamp, which I currently see as rewriting existing pages to incorporate more recent material and better overall conceptualization of the issue.

Other sites and forms of online presence

  • This website (vipulnaik.com) got 2,891 views in the month of July according to Google Analytics (and 1,976 views according to WordPress Analytics). I implemented the spam filter exclusion for the site on July 4, and the count of spam-free views measured by Google Analytics for this date onward is 1,643. Extrapolating based on higher overall traffic in the first couple of days gives a number similar to the WordPress Analytics count.
  • The views for Quora content created by me were as follows: about 5500 for questions, about 20000 for answers, and about 200 for posts.
  • Wikipedia Views got 1,721 views according to Google Analytics, but excluding spam referrals gave a view count of 298 for the time period July 4 – July 31 (I implemented the spam referral exclusion only on July 4).

Friends’ projects

  • AI Impacts, started by Katja Grace and Paul Christiano, and managed primarily by Katja, got 3,826 views.
  • Cause Prioritization Wiki, started and managed by Issa Rice, got 1,167 views overall and 1,052 views excluding spam referrals.

Entertainment

I watched Mary Kom. I did not purchase any new music in July.

June 2015 in review

This is the ninth of my month-in-review posts. I started month-in-review posts in October 2014. You can see my first post here and my previous month-in-review post here.

Some overall background

This was a very busy month for me at work, more so than most preceding months. The latter half of the month was in particular very crunched. The crunch ended on July 1, so I expect the workload in July to be more representative of the business-as-usual scenario (which might still be pretty hectic!).

Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about Wikipedia

I created the following Wikipedia pages this month, both in the second week when the workload hadn’t picked up fully:

I also made updates to these pages:

Unfortunately, stats.grok.se, whose numbers I use to feed in to Wikipedia Views, is missing one day from the month of June. Therefore, the numbers reported here are about 3% lower than the actual numbers. As with all numbers from stats.grok.se, note that these numbers exclude mobile pageviews but include bots.

Comparison with forecast: I had forecast 160,000 pageviews for the month of June for all pages I created. The actual number of pageviews (138,745) was significantly lower, and even adjusting for the missing date (to get a total of 143,529 views), there’s still a huge gap. The gap was in the opposite direction to the direction of my gaps in previous months. For instance, for May my point estimate for the number of pageviews was 151,000, but the actual pageview count (excluding two days for which stats weren’t available) was 174,425. The steady underestimation trend had led me to up my June estimate to 160,000. However, the pageview count did fall safely within my 80% probability interval estimate of 125,000-215,000.

The key source of month-to-month variation appears to be the pageview counts for some highly popular pages. In April and May, the Wikipedia page about Internet.org got a lot of pageviews because of the topicality of the topic. There were no comparably topical pages in June, explaining the lower pageview count.

July forecast: My point estimate for the July pageview count is 150,000 pageviews, adjusted downward from the June estimate but still higher than the actual June value. For July pageviews, my 50% probability interval estimate is 135,000-175,000, my 80% probability interval estimate is 110,000-220,000, and my 95% probability interval estimate is 85,000-265,000.

Here is a list of Wikipedia articles I am considering creating for the month of July:

  • Shashank Khaitan, a Bollywood movie director whose directorial debut was the movie Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. I believe there’s enough material online on Khaitan to justify a Wikipedia page, and was mildly surprised that the page didn’t already exist.
  • Bored Panda, one of the top viral websites, broadly in the genre of BuzzFeed (before it became an uber-serious news outlet) and PlayBuzz. I was surprised to see that Bored Panda didn’t have a Wikipedia entry.
  • Form I-140, a United States immigration form.
  • Expedited removal, a concept in United States immigration enforcement where people may be deported directly without their deportation case going through a judicial process.
  • Arriving Alien, a concept in United States immigration enforcement for somebody who has recently arrived.
  • Immediate Relative (U.S. immigration law), a concept in United States immigration law for a type of relationship that makes one eligible to apply for family-based immigration categories that do not have numerical limits.

I am also considering making edits and improvements to these pages:

  • Cecilia Munoz, a member of Barack Obama’s administration who previously worked as an immigrant rights advocate but has recently come under flak for defending the Obama administration’s record deportation numbers. I’d like to update the page to reflect recent events, and also uncomment some portions in the Wikipedia page that were commented out due to a lack of diverse citations.

WikiHow

For background information, see my site page about WikiHow

I did not create any new WikiHow pages. The pages I had created in May got additional pageviews, as described below:

For the month of July I am considering making one WikiHow page, focused on how to reduce Amazon EC2 costs. This will be based on my experience at my workplace, but won’t involve any information specific to my job. I believe that laying out this information clearly will be helpful to everybody: users can save costs, and more efficient use of the computational infrastructure of the world means more value can be squeezed out of it. Whether I can do a good job writing that page is a moot point, and we’ll only know once I start trying.

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

I did not spend any time on the subject wikis. Traffic was within the range of expectation, with robust year-on-year growth (but a month-on-month decline, as expected based on academic seasonality).

Metric Jun 2015 May 2015 Apr 2015 Jun 2014 May 2014 Apr 2014
Pageviews 48,593 77,232 88,046 38,363 63,211 66,233
Sessions 24,136 37,834 43,968 18,695 31,225 34,310
Pages/session 2.01 2.04 2.00 2.05 2.02 1.93
Pageviews in sessions with at least 5 pageviews 16,314 26,016 27,991 13,065 20,727 19,837

Here are pageview counts for the other subject wikis:

  • Market: 11,808 pageviews, versus 13,477 for June 2014.
  • Calculus: 11,575 pageviews, versus 9,310 for June 2014.

Comparison with forecast: The total number of pageviews for Groupprops (48,593) was close to my point estimate of 46,000, and well within my 80% probability interval estimate of 35,000 to 60,000.

July forecast: In July 2014, Groupprops had a total of 34,973 pageviews. Based on the robust year-on-year growth trend, my estimates for July 2015 are as follows. My point estimate for the number of pageviews is 46,000. My 50% probability interval estimate is 40,000 to 52,000. My 80% probability interval estimate is 33,000 to 60,000. My 95% probability interval estimate is 25,000 to 70,000.

I don’t intend to put in any work on the subject wikis in July, beyond fixing reported errors.

Open borders

General background information: My site page about open borders

After a fairly long time, I drafted a blog post for Open Borders: The Case. The post, titled My reasons for skepticism of linking open borders to legalizing private discrimination, was published on the site on June 17, 2015. I also created the Wikipedia page on the Chinese Confession Program, which was an outgrowth of reading and research I was doing for forthcoming Open Borders: The Case posts.

I aim to spend more time on the site in July, resuming the site revamp as well as publishing more blog posts. I believe this will help with a general revival of the site after a significant decline in the publication rate of new material.

Other sites and forms of online presence

  • This website (vipulnaik.com) got 2,154 views in the month of June according to Google Analytics (and 1,871 views according to WordPress Analytics).
  • The views for Quora content created by me were as follows: about 9000 for questions, about 18000 for answers, and about 250 for posts.
  • Wikipedia Views got 1,050 views according to Google Analytics.

Friends’ projects

  • AI Impacts, started by Katja Grace and Paul Christiano, and managed primarily by Katja, got 3,705 views.
  • Cause Prioritization Wiki, started and managed by Issa Rice, got 2,914 views. Issa also set up web traffic minus spam referrals, and got a count of 1,087 views for the time period June 14-June 30 for the site, which extrapolates to 1,918 views for the month (note that the proportion of traffic that is spam referrals goes down as the overall pageview count of the site goes up).

Entertainment

I bought a few songs: Waka Waka (by Shakira and FreshlyGround), Blank Space (by Taylor Swift), and Samjhawan (unplugged) sung by Alia Bhatt (you can read the history of these songs, and get the names of the composers and lyricists involved, on their Wikipedia pages). I also watched the movie Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (my interest in the movie was initially piqued by the song).

May 2015 in review

This is the eighth of my month-in-review posts. I started month-in-review posts in October 2014. You can see my first post here and my previous month-in-review post here.

Some overall background

As predicted, this was a busy month work-wise. In addition to the greater workload, the increased commute time meant less time for personal pursuits. The increased workload will continue into at least the first two or three weeks of June, at which point I expect to be able to get weekends back for finishing some long-pending projects.

Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about Wikipedia

I created the following Wikipedia pages this month:

  • The Marshall Project, a journalism nonprofit focused on the criminal justice system in the United States. I created this over two BART rides (one on Thursday May 7 and one on Friday May 8), incorporating material I had read sporadically over the past week.
  • USCIS immigration forms, created Saturday, May 23, 2015, after on-and-off editing since the beginning of April 2015.
  • Direct Consular Filing, created Saturday, May 23, 2015, after 1-2 hours of editing.
  • Credible fear, created Saturday, May 23, 2015, after 1-2 hours of editing.
  • Form I-130, created Wednesday, May 27, 2015, after half an hour of editing on a BART ride, and about an hour of editing at home.
  • Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, created Wednesday, May 27, 2015, after half an hour of editing on a BART ride, and under half an hour of editing at home.

I also added some content to these pages:

Unfortunately, stats.grok.se, whose numbers I use to feed in to Wikipedia Views, is missing two days from the month of May (May 9 and May 24). Therefore, the numbers are underestimated somewhat, by a factor of about 5%.

The pageview counts for the remaining 29 days are given below. As always, note that these include bots but exclude mobile pageviews.

June forecast: Historically, my forecasts have tended to be underestimates: I’ve generally managed to just about stay within 80% intervals but actual values have tended to be at or near the upper bounds of the intervals. I’m trying to adjust for this, while also working to avoid erring in the other direction. For June, my point estimate is 160,000 views, my 80% probability interval estimate is 125,000-215,000 views, and my 95% probability interval estimate is 95,000-275,000 views.

WikiHow

For background information, see my site page about WikiHow

On Saturday, May 16, 2015, I forayed into editing WikiHow. My first edits were to the page How to Ride Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). My motivation for exploring editing was two-fold: have a way of sharing wisdom that was of a how-to nature, and understand the nature of the site so I could suggest it to other people as a place to write. Over the course of the month, I created the following pages:

  • How to Ride BART from the East Bay to San Francisco, created Sunday, May 17, 2015 (after about 1-1.5 hours of editing). At the end of the month, the page reported 244 views.
  • How to Efficiently Work Offline, created Sunday, May 24, 2015 (initially drafted offline for about 30 minutes, then incorporated online with some edits and improvements in about 45 minutes). At the end of the month, the article reported 39 views.
  • How to Gauge the Popularity of a Topic Online, created Sunday, May 24, 2015, edited for about 2 hours total on that day (the initial version was created after 30 minutes of editing). At the end of the month, the article reported 401 views.

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

I spent some time correcting some site errors (reported in an error-reporting form by others) and also made some other edits (including creating some new pages) to Groupprops. I have a list of further planned edits to Groupprops, that I intend to continue making in my spare time, but it is not a high priority or bound by any deadline. Traffic was within the range of expectation, with robust year-on-year growth.

May impact: I’ve put the numbers for Groupprops in a table for easy perusal and comparison. Numbers are from Google Analytics.

Metric May 2015 Apr 2015 Mar 2015 May 2014 Apr 2014 Mar 2014
Pageviews 77.232 88,046 82,377 63,211 66,233 57,724
Sessions 37,834 43,968 40,280 31,225 34,310 29,249
Pages/session 2.04 2.00 2.05 2.02 1.93 1.97
Pageviews in sessions with at least 5 pageviews 26,016 27,991 27,641 20,727 19,837 17,924

The total number of pageviews (77,232) was within my 80% interval of 72,000-96,000, but a little lower than my point estimate of 82,000, suggesting that my estimate precision could be improved.

Here are the pageview counts on some other subject wikis:

June forecast: June 2014 saw 38,363 views according to Google Analytics, significantly less than May 2014. This is because of the nature of the academic year: students in the US and in many other countries around the world are off studies in June. I expect a similar 20% year-on-year improvement for June as seen for May, so my point estimate for June is 46,000. I estimate that, with 80% probability, the number of pageviews will fall between 35,000 and 60,000.

Quora

General background information: My site page about Quora

I wrote five Quora answers in the month of May, higher than most previous months. Here are the answers:

My Quora views were: about 23,000 for answers, about 11,000 for questions, and about 200 for posts. The view count for answers was higher than usual because of the large number of new answers (new answers get shown more in feeds) as well as Issa Rice’s decision to promote one of my answers (the answer on the benefits of writing web pages that say the obvious things about a topic).

Open borders

General background information: My site page about open borders

Very similar to last month: no blog post of mine was published, nor did I get time to work on any drafts. However, some of my Wikipedia page creations and edits related to migration were indirect preparation for future blog posts. I hope to get enough free time around the end of June to begin work on a much needed revamp.

Other sites and forms of online presence

  • This website (vipulnaik.com) got 2,853 views in the month of May according to Google Analytics (and 2,057 views according to WordPress Analytics).
  • Wikipedia Views got 1,136 views according to Google Analytics.

Friends’ projects

Server downtime

There was about ten minutes of server downtime. The downtime ended on the automatic server restart (that is currently scheduled to happen once every 20 minutes, down from once every 5 minutes now that the server seems quite stable).

Entertainment

After a fairly long time, I watched two Bollywood movies (on alternate weekends) using my Eros Now subscription: Ek Villain and Queen (despite the English words in the titles, both are Hindi-language Bollywood movies, though the latter is partly set in Paris and Amsterdam). I also bought two of Carly Rae Jepsen’s songs (I Really Like You and Call Me Maybe) and the song Galliyan from Ek Villain.

I also explored many cover songs on YouTube with different artists rendering songs I had already heard in their original form several times. For instance, I listened to Siddharth Slathia’s and Gaurav Dagaonkar’s versions of Tujhe Bhula Diya, my favorite song. I also enjoyed acoustic covers by Aakash Gandhi for Galliyan and Tum Hi Ho. While I find the originals (which I’ve listened to hundreds and in some cases thousands of times) better overall, the variants offer new perspectives into the songs. The scope for rich variation also speaks to the songs’ strengths.

April 2015 in review

This is the seventh of my month-in-review posts. I started month-in-review posts in October 2014. You can see my first post here.

Some overall background

As expected, this month was extremely busy at my job, so I ended up doing less of other things than I had hoped for (but within the range of my expectations). The coming month (May) will probably be substantially more busy, and I will probably not get time for either Wikipedia editing or writing blog posts or articles. Also, due to a relocation of our company office, I need to spend an extra 20-30 minutes walking to work every day, which will further cut into time I might spend on content creation activities.

Wikipedia editing

For background information, see my site page about Wikipedia

Wikipedia editing was high in the first half of the month, but relatively low in the second half. Much of the editing happened during BART rides, but I also spent a decent fraction of the first two weekends of April on it. The pages I created were largely in my focus areas of migration and effective altruism. Here are the pages I created (you can cross-check here:

  • H-1B1 visa, created Friday, April 3, 2015. It took 1-2 hours to create. It was also my first page about a United States visa.
  • Automatic visa revalidation, created Saturday, April 4, 2015. The page took about 30 minutes to create. It was relatively quick and painless but also correspondingly low-value.
  • Form I-129, created Sunday, April 5, 2015. The page took about two hours.
  • Premium Processing Service, created Sunday, April 5, 2015. The page took about 1-2 hours to create. It again arose out of my interest in better understanding the process and bureaucracy surrounding immigration.
  • The Most Good You Can Do, created Saturday, April 11, 2015. It took 36 minutes to create (clock time from start to end). Despite the short time to create, the page has been getting a decent amount of traffic. However, traffic is likely to decline over time. The page is hot right now because the book was released recently, on Wednesday April 7.
  • 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, created Wednesday, April 14, 2015. The page was created as part of my effort to understand content that goes viral on social media as elsewhere, a topic of interest to me both professionally and personally.
  • The unique connection, created Friday April 24, 2015. As with the preceding page, this page too was created as part of my effort to understand viral content on the Internet.
  • Facebook Safety Check, created Monday, April 27, 2015. The page was created due to the topicality of Facebook Safety Check in the wake of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. It took about 1.5 hours to create, but much of the time was offline on BART (I was offline on my laptop, and had Internet on my cellphone, and was manually copying URLs and titles, which took longer).

I also made updates to these timeline pages to reflect recent events and changes:

I made significant content changes to these pages (not created by me):

  • H-1B visa: The edits here were to incorporate new information I had gathered as a result of creating many other pages related to US migration.
  • Effective altruism: I noticed that the pageviews for this page had risen quite a bit in late March and early April, likely due to the release of Peter Singer’s book The Most Good You Can Do. So I decided to finish a long-standing revamp of the Wikipedia page about effective altruism.
  • If London Were Syria, a viral video titled on YouTube The Most Shocking Second a Day Video.

One of the pages I was planning to create, Woven Digital, got published in main space just a few hours before I started working on my version of it. I was able to port some of the links I had collected to expand the existing page.

April impact: To better understand the impact that pages I had created or edited at particular points in time had at other points in time, I created separate tags for pages I created in each month. So now, it’s possible to access information on pageviews in a particular month (say April 2015) for pages I created in another month (say January 2015). Summing up along one dimension gives total pageviews by month of creation, whereas summing up along the other dimension gives total pageviews by the month of views.

A small caveat before I get into the April numbers. I discovered that a few of the pages I created, specifically SunSaluter, Tullock paradox, and Marginal Revolution University, had not been tagged in Wikipedia Views as pages created by me. Adding in these pages has therefore caused the pageview counts to change for previous months. The change is not significant for most months, but as it turns out, one of these pages (Tullock paradox) got an unexpected surge of traffic in April (5356 views, compared to 365 in March).

Page category Pageviews in April 2015 Pageviews in March 2015 Cumulative pageviews in 2015
Pages I created in April 2015 2473 101 2773
Pages I created in March 2015 2818 1752 4580
Pages I created in 2015 13134 7709 26136
Pages I created over my lifetime 177084 142994 573979

My forecast for the view count in April for all pages I created (bottom row, second column) had been 111,000-167,000 pageviews (80% probability) and 87,000-190,000 pageviews (95% probability). The actual value was 177,084. The count stayed within the 95% interval but was outside the 80% interval. The chief reason for the overshoot was that a few pages got a lot more traffic than expected:

  • Internet.org got 35,004 views, compared to 17,800 views in March 2015. The increase in pageviews was due to its topicality, starting around April 15.
  • Tullock paradox got 5356 views, compared to 365 in March 2015. There appears to have been an unusually large number of pageviews on April 22, perhaps because the page got linked from a high-traffic page.
  • Secret (app) got 5858 views, compared to 4425 in March 2015. The increased views were largely due to the app’s shutdown on April 29 generating news interest in it.
  • Pages I created in April got 2473 views, and pages I had created in late March saw an increase of 1066 in their pageview count from March to April.

May forecast: My point estimate for May pageviews is 151,000 (note that May has 31 days, compared to April which had 30). I estimate an 80% probability that the number of pageviews will fall between 120,000 and 200,000, and a 95% probability that it will fall between 100,000 and 250,000. The reason I’m choosing a lower point estimate for May than for April is that I believe April was unusual largely on account of Internet.org and the Tullock paradox, and previous months have seen lower traffic levels. At the same time, I’m choosing a higher point estimate than the number of pageviews seen in March. I have widened my intervals, and made them more asymmetric (skewed to be larger on the upside) because there is more potential for particular pages to get a lot more traffic than expected (due to topicality) than potential in the other direction. (I also computed view counts for May 1, which came to 5043, and would predict about 156,000 pageviews in May, but I believe this is a slight overestimate because some of the pages I created are still a little more topical right now than they will be for the rest of the month).

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

I spent zero time editing the subject wikis this month. Traffic to them grew at its usual steady pace, highlighting that the subject wikis have become sufficiently mature that they don’t need much ongoing supervision.

April impact: I’ve put the numbers for Groupprops in a table for easy perusal and comparison. Numbers are from Google Analytics.

Metric Apr 2015 Mar 2015 Feb 2015 Apr 2014 Mar 2014 Feb 2014
Pageviews 88,046 82,377 73,713 66,233 57,724 57,925
Sessions 43,968 40,280 36,417 34,310 29,249 29,123
Pages/session 2.00 2.05 2.02 1.93 1.97 1.99
Pageviews in sessions with at least 5 pageviews 27,991 27,641 24,338 19,837 17,924 18,354

The total number of pageviews (88,046) in April 2015 was safely within my 80% probability forecast interval of 74,000-103,000, and close to the point estimate of 85,000.

  • Market: 22,432 compared to 23,130 for the same month last year.
  • Calculus: 19,210 compared to 17,555 for the same month last year.

May forecast: Last May, Groupprops had 63,211 pageviews. Given the current year-on-year growth trend of 15-40%, my point estimate for May is 82,000 pageviews. I estimate that with 80% probability, the number of pageviews will fall between 72,000 and 96,000, and that with 95% probability, the number of pageviews will fall between 62,000 and 114,000.

Open borders

General background information: My site page about open borders

No blog post of mine was published, nor did I get time to work on any drafts. However, some of my Wikipedia edits related to migration were indirect preparation for future blog posts. I also did not execute on planned work for the site revamp.

You can see the site’s month-in-review post here.

Other sites and forms of online presence

  • This website (vipulnaik.com) got 2,161 views in the month of April according to Google Analytics (and 2,000 views according to WordPress Analytics), tying with January 2014 for the highest ever.
  • Wikipedia Views got 951 views.
  • Quora: For April, my views were: 13.9K on answers, 12.2K on questions, and 228 on posts. The grand total was 26.4K.

Entertainment

I bought two MP3 songs and watched the movie Ex Machina as part of a team outing.

Server downtime

There was no or negligible server downtime. The servers were up for 99.9%+ of the time. This was a welcome contrast to March, when the servers were down for what amounted to almost an entire day.

March 2015 in review

This is the sixth of my month-in-review posts. My posts for the past five months (in reverse chronological order) are here, here, here, here, here respectively.

Some overall background

This was a pretty busy month work-wise, but I did spend some of my weekend and BART commute time working on some of my personal projects. But I wasn’t able to get as much concentrated time doing big projects as I had wanted to. So I ended up spending time doing relatively smaller pieces of work that I think would help with these longer projects.

The reason I took out as much time as I did for these activities (rather than less, given the workload) is that I don’t anticipate the workload going down in the coming months. And this other stuff needs to get done. Some of it is best done earlier than later (cf. the haste consideration).

Wikipedia editing

General background information: My site page about my Wikipedia contributions

I created 9 pages in March:

The pages related to migration were created by me as part of larger investigations into migration (and my interest in AC21 and the ACWIA was based on the current topicality of the H-1B visa status, that was shaped by these pieces of legislation). The autoscaling page was created in connection with some reading up I was doing on autoscaling in connection with my day job (writing the Wikipedia page wasn’t necessary for work, but when I noticed that such a basic topic didn’t have a page, and I calculated that it would take me less than an hour to write the page, I just went ahead and wrote it). The page on analytics.usa.gov happened because I was poring over those analytics while considering writing a blog post on what the analytics say about interest in migration relative to other subjects (that blog post didn’t happen, but the Wikipedia page did).

March impact: Pages I created over my lifetime got a total of 141,951 views in March. My point estimate for pageviews in March was 139,000, so it seems like I was quite close to the point estimate.

You can see the pageviews by page for the month here. March isn’t yet included because the March 31 data is not yet in. You can also see pageviews for pages I created and all months here, and the corresponding numbers for all years here.

My point estimate had been 139,000, my 80% confidence interval for pageviews had been 111,000-157,000 and my 95% confidence interval is 90,000-175,000. (grade performance relative to estimates).

April forecast: My point estimate for April pageviews is 138,500. My 80% confidence interval estimate is 110,000-167,000, and my 95% confidence interval estimate is 87,000-190,000. The lower ends of the intervals are a little lower because April has only 30 days. My upper ends are higher because the creation of several new pages, some of which are particularly topical for April, might boost my pageview counts somewhat.

Two other miscellaneous pieces of Wikipedia-related content

Two of my pieces, long in the pipeline, got published this month:

  • My blog post on the great decline in Wikipedia pageviews: full version on my blog, condensed version on LessWrong. The post got 11 upvotes (and no downvotes) on LessWrong.
  • My blog post on the Effective Altruism Forum titled Should you donate to the Wikimedia Foundation?, March 28, 2015. The post got 6 net upvotes (7 upvotes, 1 downvote). According to Google Analytics, it has 293 pageviews and 255 unique pageviews. It is already the 88th most viewed webpage on the site, despite being online for only four days. I hope and expect that it will get a large number of views over time, and its view count will spike during the next Wikimedia Foundation fundraiser. Later views are critically contingent on the page getting ranked better in Google Search than it currently is, or being found and linked to from a more prominent source.

Subject wikis

General background information: My site page about the subject wikis

I spent zero time editing the subject wikis this month. Traffic to them grew at its usual steady pace, highlighting that the subject wikis have become sufficiently mature that they don’t need much ongoing supervision.

March impact: I’ve put the numbers for Groupprops in a table for easy perusal and comparison. Numbers are from Google Analytics.

Metric Mar 2015 Feb 2015 Jan 2015 Mar 2014 Feb 2014 Jan 2014
Pageviews 82,377 73,713 55,121 57,724 57,925 41,989
Sessions 40,280 36,417 26,717 29,249 29,123 21,466
Pages/session 2.05 2.02 2.06 1.97 1.99 1.96
Pageviews in sessions with at least 5 pageviews 27,641 24,338 19,408 17,924 18,354 13,166

Note that March 2014 was an unusual month because, due to math rendering problems, the site had a very small number of pageviews for a period of about 5 days (basically, only those pages that didn’t have math symbols got traffic).

The total number of pageviews in March 2015 was safely within my 80% confidence March forecast interval (75,000-100,000). The number would have been a little higher, and closer to the middle of the interval, if it hadn’t been for the server downtime issues (discussed later in the post).

Views of other important subject wikis:

  • Market: 22,231 views, compared to 20,848 last year (the rendering issue had affected this wiki too last year, but a much smaller subset of pages here).
  • Calculus: 19,750 views, compared to 13,487 last year (the rendering issue had affected this wiki too last year). In addition, for about a week this year (March 5 to March 13), math symbols weren’t displaying correctly, but this didn’t affect the rest of the loading of the pages. The issue went unnoticed because it didn’t cause the site to go down and I don’t check the contents of the wiki sufficiently frequently. It affected about 4,250 pageviews, and so an adjusted measure would be 15,500 pageviews that were not affected by poor math rendering problems. The issue had also affected Groupprops very temporarily but I fixed it more quickly there because of more frequent checking.

April forecast: Last April, Groupprops had 66,233 pageviews. Given the current year-on-year growth trend of 15-40%, my point estimate is 85,000 pageviews, my 80% confidence estimate for Groupprops for April 2015 is 74,000-103,000 pageviews, and my 95% confidence estimate is 60,000-120,000 pageviews.

Open borders

General background information: My site page about open borders

Two of my blog posts were published on Open Borders: The Case. Most of the work in drafting and editing the posts happened within the month.

Additionally, I wrote some of the posts published under the Open Borders Admin account for Open Borders Day (but not the manifesto post — that was done by my co-blogger John Lee).

You can see the site’s month-in-review here.

Other sites and forms of online presence

  • This website (vipulnaik.com) got 2,942 views in the month of March according to Google Analytics (and 2,884 views according to WordPress Analytics), tying with January 2014 for the highest ever.
  • Wikipedia Views got 1,264 views (compared to 627 in January). The additional views were generated partly by me doing research for my blog post about the decline in Wikipedia pageviews and partly by people discovering and exploring the site by following links in that blog post.
  • Quora now breaks views down by questions, answers, and posts. For March, my views were: 12.5K on answers, 11.7K on questions, and 237 on posts. The grand total was 24.4K.

On Facebook

For more background, see my site page about Facebook

Friends’ projects

Server downtime

There were serious server downtime problems on March 4 and March 5, but I figured out a stopgap solution that involved periodically restarting the PHP server so that downtime would not happen for too long. The restart frequency would be set to 5 minutes by default but I could increase it to 1 minute if downtime was getting more frequent (as I did a couple of times later in the month). Coincidentally, XKCD published this comic on Friday March 6. Overall uptime was about 96% for the month, almost entirely due to the problems on March 4 and March 5. There was also a brief downtime on March 31 due to the server running out of disk space, which in turn was due to too many backup files.

In addition to the server downtime, the Calculus Wiki was affected for about a week (March 5 to March 13) by an issue where math symbols wouldn’t display correctly. This didn’t affect the rest of the page loading, but likely led to an inferior user experience. Therefore a large part of the social surplus generated by those pageviews was destroyed for that week. The rendering issue was created when I was trying to fix the server downtime issue by making some hackish code changes, that I then reverted on Groupprops but forgot to revert on Calculus.

Entertainment

I bought just one MP3 song and did not otherwise spend money on entertainment. I did listen to old purchased music and watched snippets from some of my old favorite movies as background stuff while working.

Finances

I had originally intended to do some long-range financial planning in March, with the expectation that my savings would have crossed a threshold large enough to justify such planning. However, a brief review of my savings led me to the conclusion that at this stage it makes sense to just keep accumulating money in my bank account, and then to switch to other, higher-interest-bearing assets, a few months down the line if my savings cross a particular larger threshold. I would refrain from doing such shifting if I decided to make consumption or donation decisions due to which my savings failed to exceed the larger threshold. However, I would not proactively try to spend donate money. Rather, I’d do so only if some unusually good opportunities came up.

Meeting people in real life

I had the pleasure of meeting in real life a number of people I’ve interacted with extensively over the Internet, as I documented on Facebook here, here, and here.

The great decline in Wikipedia pageviews (full version)

A shorter version of this post is available on LessWrong. The LessWrong post will remain static whereas this version will be updated with more examples as they occur to me.

Last year, during the months of June and July, as my work for MIRI was wrapping up and I hadn’t started my full-time job, I worked on the Wikipedia Views website, aimed at easier tabulation of the pageviews for multiple Wikipedia pages over several months and years. It relies on a statistics tool called stats.grok.se, created by Domas Mituzas, and maintained by Henrik.

One of the interesting things I noted as I tabulated pageviews for many different pages was that the pageview counts for many already popular pages were in decline. Pages of various kinds peaked at different historical points. For instance, colors have been in decline since early 2013. The world’s most populous countries have been in decline since as far back as 2010!

Defining the problem

The first thing to be clear about is what these pageviews count and what they don’t. The pageview measures are taken from stats.grok.se, which in turn uses the pagecounts-raw dump provided hourly by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Analytics team, which in turn is obtained by processing raw user activity logs. The pagecounts-raw measure is flawed in two ways:

  • It only counts pageviews on the main Wikipedia website and not pageviews on the mobile Wikipedia website or through Wikipedia Zero (a pared down version of the mobile site that some carriers offer at zero bandwidth costs to their customers, particularly in developing countries). To remedy these problems, a new dump called pagecounts-all-sites was introduced in September 2014. We simply don’t have data for views of mobile domains or of Wikipedia Zero at the level of individual pages for before then. Moreover, stats.grok.se still uses pagecounts-raw (this was pointed to me in a mailing list message after I circulated an early version of the post).
  • The pageview count includes views by bots. The official estimate is that about 15% of pageviews are due to bots. However, the percentage is likely higher for pages with fewer overall pageviews, because bots have a minimum crawling frequency. So every page might have at least 3 bot crawls a day, resulting in a minimum of 90 bot pageviews even if there are only a handful of human pageviews.

Therefore, the trends I discuss will refer to trends in total pageviews for the main Wikipedia website, including page requests by bots, but excluding visits to mobile domains. Note that visits from mobile devices to the main site will be included, but mobile devices are by default redirected to the mobile site.

How reliable are the metrics?

As noted above, the metrics are unreliable because of the bot problem and the issue of counting only non-mobile traffic. German Wikipedia user Atlasowa left a message on my talk page pointing me to an email thread suggesting that about 40% of pageviews may be bot-related, and discussing some interesting examples.

Relationship with the overall numbers

I’ll show that for many pages of interest, the number of pageviews as measured above (non-mobile) has declined recently, with a clear decline from 2013 to 2014. What about the total?

We have overall numbers for non-mobile, mobile, and combined. The combined number has largely held steady, whereas the non-mobile number has declined and the mobile number has risen.

What we’ll find is that the decline for most pages that have been around for a while is even sharper than the overall decline. One reason overall pageviews haven’t declined so fast is the creation of new pages. To give an idea, non-mobile traffic dropped by about 1/3 from January 2013 to December 2014, but for many leading categories of pages, traffic dropped by about 1/2-2/3.

Why is this important? First reason: better context for understanding trends for individual pages

People’s behavior on Wikipedia is a barometer of what they’re interested in learning about. An analysis of trends in the views of pages can provide an important window into how people’s curiosity, and the way they satisfy this curiosity, is evolving. To take an example, some people have proposed using Wikipedia pageview trends to predict flu outbreaks. I myself have tried to use relative Wikipedia pageview counts to gauge changing interests in many topics, ranging from visa categories to technology companies.

My initial interest in pageview numbers arose because I wanted to track my own influence as a Wikipedia content creator. In fact, that was my original motivation with creating Wikipedia Views. (You can see more information about my Wikipedia content contributions on my site page about Wikipedia).

Now, when doing this sort of analysis for individual pages, one needs to account for, and control for, overall trends in the views of Wikipedia pages that are occurring for reasons other than a change in people’s intrinsic interest in the subject. Otherwise, we might falsely conclude from a pageview count decline that a topic is falling in popularity, whereas what’s really happening is an overall decline in the use of (the non-mobile version of) Wikipedia to satisfy one’s curiosity about the topic.

Why is this important? Second reason: a better understanding of the overall size and growth of the Internet.

Wikipedia has been relatively mature and has had the top spot as an information source for at least the last six years. Moreover, unlike almost all other top websites, Wikipedia doesn’t try hard to market or optimize itself, so trends in it reflect a relatively untarnished view of how the Internet and the World Wide Web as a whole are growing, independent of deliberate efforts to manipulate and doctor metrics.

The case of colors

Let’s look at Wikipedia pages on some of the most viewed colors (I’ve removed the 2015 and 2007 columns because we don’t have the entirety of these years). Colors are interesting because the degree of human interest in colors in general, and in particular colors, is unlikely to change much in response to news or current events. So one would at least a priori expect colors to offer a perspective into Wikipedia trends with fewer external complicating factors. If we see a clear decline here, then that’s strong evidence in favor of a genuine decline.

I’ve restricted attention to a small subset of the colors, that includes the most common ones but isn’t comprehensive. But it should be enough to get a sense of the trends. And you can add in your own colors and check that the trends hold up.

Page name Pageviews in year 2014 Pageviews in year 2013 Pageviews in year 2012 Pageviews in year 2011 Pageviews in year 2010 Pageviews in year 2009 Pageviews in year 2008 Total Percentage Tags
Black 431K 1.5M 1.3M 778K 900K 1M 958K 6.9M 16.1 Colors
Blue 710K 1.3M 1M 987K 1.2M 1.2M 1.1M 7.6M 17.8 Colors
Brown 192K 284K 318K 292K 308K 300K 277K 2M 4.6 Colors
Green 422K 844K 779K 707K 882K 885K 733K 5.3M 12.3 Colors
Orange 133K 181K 251K 259K 275K 313K 318K 1.7M 4 Colors
Purple 524K 906K 847K 895K 865K 841K 592K 5.5M 12.8 Colors
Red 568K 797K 912K 1M 1.1M 873K 938K 6.2M 14.6 Colors
Violet 56K 96K 75K 77K 69K 71K 65K 509K 1.2 Colors
White 301K 795K 615K 545K 788K 575K 581K 4.2M 9.8 Colors
Yellow 304K 424K 453K 433K 452K 427K 398K 2.9M 6.8 Colors
Total 3.6M 7.1M 6.6M 6M 6.9M 6.5M 6M 43M 100
Percentage 8.5 16.7 15.4 14 16 15.3 14 100

Since the decline appears to have happened between 2013 and 2014, let’s examine the 24 months from January 2013 to December 2014:

Month Views of page Black Views of page Blue Views of page Brown Views of page Green Views of page Orange Views of page Purple Views of page Red Views of page Violet Views of page White Views of page Yellow Total Percentage
201412 30K 41K 14K 27K 9.6K 28K 67K 3.1K 21K 19K 260K 2.4
201411 36K 46K 15K 31K 10K 35K 50K 3.7K 23K 22K 273K 2.5
201410 37K 52K 16K 34K 10K 34K 51K 4.5K 25K 26K 289K 2.7
201409 37K 57K 16K 35K 9.9K 37K 45K 4.8K 27K 29K 298K 2.8
201408 33K 47K 14K 34K 8.5K 31K 38K 3.9K 21K 22K 253K 2.4
201407 33K 47K 14K 30K 9.3K 31K 37K 4.2K 22K 22K 250K 2.3
201406 32K 49K 14K 31K 10K 34K 39K 4.9K 23K 22K 259K 2.4
201405 44K 55K 17K 37K 10K 51K 42K 5.2K 26K 26K 314K 2.9
201404 34K 60K 17K 36K 14K 38K 47K 5.8K 27K 28K 306K 2.8
201403 37K 136K 19K 51K 14K 123K 52K 5.5K 30K 31K 497K 4.6
201402 38K 58K 19K 39K 13K 41K 49K 5.6K 29K 29K 321K 3
201401 40K 60K 19K 36K 14K 40K 50K 4.4K 27K 28K 319K 3
201312 62K 67K 17K 44K 12K 48K 48K 4.4K 42K 26K 372K 3.5
201311 141K 96K 20K 65K 11K 68K 55K 5.3K 71K 34K 566K 5.3
201310 145K 102K 21K 69K 11K 77K 59K 5.7K 71K 36K 598K 5.6
201309 98K 80K 17K 60K 11K 53K 51K 4.9K 45K 30K 450K 4.2
201308 109K 87K 20K 57K 20K 57K 60K 4.6K 53K 28K 497K 4.6
201307 107K 92K 21K 61K 11K 66K 65K 4.6K 61K 30K 520K 4.8
201306 115K 106K 22K 69K 13K 73K 64K 5.5K 70K 33K 571K 5.3
201305 158K 122K 24K 79K 14K 83K 69K 11K 77K 39K 677K 6.3
201304 151K 127K 28K 83K 14K 86K 74K 12K 78K 40K 694K 6.4
201303 155K 135K 31K 92K 15K 99K 84K 12K 80K 43K 746K 6.9
201302 152K 131K 31K 84K 28K 95K 84K 17K 77K 41K 740K 6.9
201301 129K 126K 32K 81K 19K 99K 84K 9.6K 70K 42K 691K 6.4
Total 2M 2M 476K 1.3M 314K 1.4M 1.4M 152K 1.1M 728K 11M 100
Percentage 18.1 18.4 4.4 11.8 2.9 13.3 12.7 1.4 10.2 6.8 100
Tags Colors Colors Colors Colors Colors Colors Colors Colors Colors Colors

As we can see, the decline appears to have begun around March 2013 and then continued steadily till about June 2014, at which numbers stabilized to their lower levels.

A few sanity checks on these numbers:

  • The trends appear to be similar for different colors, with the notable difference that the proportional drop was higher for the more viewed color pages. Thus, for instance, black and blue saw declines from 129K and 126K to 30K and 41K respectively (factors of four and three respectively) from January 2013 to December 2014. Orange and yellow, on the other hand, dropped by factors of close to two. The only color that didn’t drop significantly was red (it dropped from 84K to 67K, as opposed to factors of two or more for other colors), but this seems to have been partly due to an unusually large amount of traffic in the end of 2014. The trend even for red seems to suggest a drop similar to that for orange.
  • The overall proportion of views for different colors comports with our overall knowledge of people’s color preferences: blue is overall a favorite color, and this is reflected in its getting the top spot with respect to pageviews.
  • The pageview decline followed a relatively steady trend, with the exception of some unusual seasonal fluctuation (including an increase in October and November 2013).

One hypothesis that some people might come up with is inter-language substitution: people are substituting away from reading articles in the English-language Wikipedia to other language Wikipedias. But the downward trend is present in many other major language Wikipedias, none of which have the second language status of English.

Here are the numbers for four colors in Spanish (negro = black, azul = blue, rojo = red, blanco = white) for the years 2009-2014 (we exclude 2008 because tracking for the Spanish Wikipedia began only in February 2008):

Year Views of page Negro (color) Views of page Azul Views of page Rojo Views of page Blanco (color) Total Percentage
2014 82K 143K 137K 87K 449K 12.7
2013 123K 275K 274K 123K 795K 22.5
2012 132K 301K 208K 109K 751K 21.2
2011 122K 248K 181K 81K 633K 17.9
2010 94K 213K 142K 61K 510K 14.4
2009 79K 174K 93K 52K 398K 11.3
Total 632K 1.4M 1M 512K 3.5M 100
Percentage 17.9 38.3 29.3 14.5 100
Tags
The months of 2013 and 2014:
Month Views of page Negro (color) Views of page Azul Views of page Rojo Views of page Blanco (color) Total Percentage
201412 4.7K 7.5K 7K 4.9K 24K 1.9
201411 7K 9.9K 18K 6.6K 41K 3.3
201410 7.5K 12K 12K 7.8K 39K 3.2
201409 7.7K 13K 13K 8.6K 42K 3.4
201408 6.3K 11K 9K 6.4K 32K 2.6
201407 5.9K 10K 9.9K 6K 32K 2.6
201406 6.7K 12K 11K 7K 37K 2.9
201405 8.2K 14K 13K 8.4K 44K 3.5
201404 7.2K 13K 12K 7.6K 40K 3.2
201403 8.2K 15K 13K 9K 45K 3.6
201402 7.1K 14K 12K 8.4K 41K 3.3
201401 5.3K 11K 9K 6.1K 31K 2.5
201312 5.2K 13K 12K 6.4K 36K 2.9
201311 9.2K 23K 23K 12K 67K 5.4
201310 10K 25K 25K 13K 73K 5.9
201309 8.3K 17K 17K 9.3K 51K 4.1
201308 8.9K 18K 18K 9.6K 55K 4.4
201307 9.9K 20K 21K 10K 61K 4.9
201306 12K 25K 25K 12K 74K 5.9
201305 14K 29K 29K 12K 85K 6.8
201304 13K 29K 30K 3K 75K 6
201303 12K 26K 27K 11K 76K 6.1
201302 11K 26K 26K 13K 76K 6.1
201301 9.9K 25K 21K 10K 66K 5.3
Total 204K 418K 412K 210K 1.2M 100
Percentage 16.4 33.6 33.1 16.9 100
Tags

Similarly, here are the pageview counts for the same four colors in French (noir = black, bleu = blue, rouge = red, blanc = white):

The years 2009-2014:

Year Views of page Noir Views of page Bleu Views of page Rouge Views of page Blanc Total Percentage
2014 65K 108K 86K 68K 327K 10.7
2013 157K 184K 125K 110K 576K 18.9
2012 149K 209K 169K 103K 630K 20.6
2011 103K 194K 143K 85K 525K 17.2
2010 116K 195K 122K 100K 534K 17.5
2009 126K 168K 81K 84K 458K 15
Total 716K 1.1M 725K 550K 3M 100
Percentage 23.5 34.7 23.8 18 100
Tags

All months in 2013 and 2014:

Month Views of page Noir Views of page Bleu Views of page Rouge Views of page Blanc Total Percentage
201412 4.4K 6.9K 6.6K 4.8K 23K 2.5
201411 4.9K 8.3K 6.8K 5.2K 25K 2.8
201410 7K 9.4K 6.9K 6.6K 30K 3.3
201409 6.5K 9.5K 6.8K 5.9K 29K 3.2
201408 3.9K 6.5K 4.6K 4.1K 19K 2.1
201407 4.3K 7.3K 5.3K 4.6K 22K 2.4
201406 4.4K 8.2K 5.8K 4.6K 23K 2.5
201405 5.9K 9.9K 7.8K 6.9K 31K 3.4
201404 5.6K 10K 7.7K 6.1K 30K 3.3
201403 6.4K 11K 8.9K 6.5K 33K 3.6
201402 5.9K 10K 9.1K 6K 31K 3.5
201401 6K 11K 9.4K 6.7K 33K 3.7
201312 7.1K 11K 9.3K 7.3K 35K 3.9
201311 13K 15K 12K 10K 50K 5.6
201310 12K 15K 11K 9K 47K 5.2
201309 7.9K 11K 7.8K 6.4K 33K 3.7
201308 9.2K 11K 7.1K 5.8K 33K 3.7
201307 11K 12K 7.8K 6.9K 37K 4.1
201306 15K 16K 10K 9.3K 50K 5.5
201305 17K 19K 11K 11K 58K 6.4
201304 16K 19K 7.3K 10K 52K 5.8
201303 17K 20K 14K 11K 62K 6.8
201302 16K 17K 13K 11K 57K 6.3
201301 16K 19K 15K 12K 62K 6.8
Total 222K 293K 210K 178K 903K 100
Percentage 24.6 32.4 23.3 19.7 100
Tags

Cognitive biases (a small subset thereof)

For a more niche but still timeless set of pages, I picked cognitive biases:

Page name Pageviews in year 2014 Pageviews in year 2013 Pageviews in year 2012 Pageviews in year 2011 Pageviews in year 2010 Pageviews in year 2009 Pageviews in year 2008 Total Percentage Tags
Accentuation effect 3.8K 3.4K 1.3K 0 1 4 2 8.5K 0.2 Cognitive biases
Attentional bias 28K 28K 21K 16K 8.9K 7.1K 5.1K 113K 3.1 Cognitive biases
Availability heuristic 174K 199K 194K 180K 125K 106K 85K 1.1M 29.4 Cognitive biases
Bandwagon effect 173K 258K 231K 196K 217K 189K 136K 1.4M 38.7 Cognitive biases
Base rate fallacy 79K 79K 67K 45K 43K 43K 38K 394K 10.9 Cognitive biases
Choice-supportive bias 23K 25K 18K 14K 13K 11K 9.6K 114K 3.1 Cognitive biases
Clustering illusion 30K 26K 28K 28K 33K 40K 40K 226K 6.3 Cognitive biases
Conjunction fallacy 57K 59K 57K 39K 33K 29K 24K 298K 8.2 Cognitive biases
Total 567K 677K 617K 519K 473K 426K 338K 3.6M 100
Percentage 15.7 18.7 17.1 14.4 13.1 11.8 9.3 100

The situation for cognitive biases is qualitatively similar to that for colors: the peak occurred in 2013, and the decline appears to have been between the early months of 2013 and the middle of 2014. Unlike colors, cognitive biases in 2014 still did a lot better than they had done three years ago. Note that, with one exception, all the pages selected here have been around since 2008, and the sole exception doesn’t account for enough pageviews to affect the overall trend.

Geography: continents and subcontinents, countries, and cities

Here are the views of some of the world’s most populated countries between 2008 and 2014, showing that the peak happened as far back as 2010:

Page name Pageviews in year 2014 Pageviews in year 2013 Pageviews in year 2012 Pageviews in year 2011 Pageviews in year 2010 Pageviews in year 2009 Pageviews in year 2008 Total Percentage Tags
China 5.7M 6.8M 7.8M 6.1M 6.9M 5.7M 6.1M 45M 9 Countries
India 8.8M 12M 12M 11M 14M 8.8M 7.6M 73M 14.5 Countries
United States 13M 15M 18M 18M 34M 16M 15M 129M 25.7 Countries
Indonesia 5.3M 5.2M 3.7M 3.6M 4.2M 3.1M 2.5M 28M 5.5 Countries
Brazil 4.8M 4.9M 5.3M 5.5M 7.5M 4.9M 4.3M 37M 7.4 Countries
Pakistan 2.9M 4.5M 4.4M 4.3M 5.2M 4M 3.2M 28M 5.7 Countries
Bangladesh 2.2M 2.9M 3M 2.8M 2.9M 2.2M 1.7M 18M 3.5 Countries
Russia 5.6M 5.6M 6.5M 6.8M 8.6M 5.4M 5.8M 44M 8.8 Countries
Nigeria 2.6M 2.6M 2.9M 3M 3.5M 2.6M 2M 19M 3.8 Countries
Japan 4.8M 6.4M 6.5M 8.3M 10M 7.3M 6.6M 50M 10 Countries
Mexico 3.1M 3.9M 4.3M 4.3M 5.9M 4.7M 4.5M 31M 6.1 Countries
Total 59M 69M 74M 74M 103M 65M 59M 502M 100
Percentage 11.7 13.8 14.7 14.7 20.4 12.9 11.8 100

Of these countries, China, India and the United States are the most notable. China is the world’s most populous. India has the largest population with some minimal English knowledge and legally (largely) unrestricted Internet access to Wikipedia, while the United States has the largest population with quality Internet connectivity and good English knowledge. Moreover, in China and India, Internet use and access have been growing considerably in the last few years, whereas it has been relatively stable in the United States.

It is interesting that the year with the maximum total pageview count was as far back as 2010. In fact, 2010 was so significantly better than the other years that the numbers beg for an explanation. I don’t have one, but even excluding 2010, we see a declining trend: gradual growth from 2008 to 2011, and then a symmetrically gradual decline. Both the growth trend and the decline trend are quite similar across countries.

We see a similar trend for continents and subcontinents, with a clear peak in 2010 and an otherwise roughly symmetric rise and fall:

Page name Pageviews in year 2014 Pageviews in year 2013 Pageviews in year 2012 Pageviews in year 2011 Pageviews in year 2010 Pageviews in year 2009 Pageviews in year 2008 Total Percentage Tags
Africa 2.1M 3.2M 3.6M 3.5M 3.7M 3.5M 3.3M 23M 12.8 Continents and subcontinents
Antarctica 1.6M 2.2M 2.5M 2.3M 2.5M 2.2M 1.9M 15M 8.5 Continents and subcontinents
Asia 1.6M 2.1M 2.1M 2.4M 2.6M 2M 2.1M 15M 8.3 Continents and subcontinents
Asia-Pacific 438K 509K 436K 342K 285K 203K 155K 2.4M 1.3 Continents and subcontinents
Australia 5.6M 7.5M 7.8M 8.7M 11M 7.2M 6.4M 55M 30.5 Countries Continents and subcontinents
Central America 637K 768K 754K 702K 871K 642K 626K 5M 2.8 Continents and subcontinents
East Asia 448K 503K 527K 511K 589K 419K 370K 3.4M 1.9 Continents and subcontinents
Europe 3.3M 3.7M 4.3M 4.4M 6.1M 4.1M 4M 30M 16.8 Continents and subcontinents
North America 1.7M 1.9M 2.2M 2.3M 2.9M 1.9M 1.9M 15M 8.3 Continents and subcontinents
South America 1.2M 1.7M 1.6M 1.6M 2M 1.4M 1.6M 11M 6.2 Continents and subcontinents
South Asia 635K 715K 794K 737K 775K 535K 444K 4.6M 2.6 Continents and subcontinents
Total 19M 25M 27M 27M 34M 24M 23M 179M 100
Percentage 10.8 14 14.8 15.3 18.9 13.5 12.7 100

In contrast with these large geographic entities, their smaller counterparts, such as cities, peaked in 2013, similarly to colors, and the drop, though somewhat less steep than with colors, has been quite significant. Below is a list for Indian cities:

Page name Pageviews in year 2014 Pageviews in year 2013 Pageviews in year 2012 Pageviews in year 2011 Pageviews in year 2010 Pageviews in year 2009 Pageviews in year 2008 Total Percentage Tags
Ahmedabad 416K 756K 629K 422K 359K 258K 235K 3.1M 3.3 Cities Indian cities
Ajmer 152K 223K 257K 133K 86K 62K 53K 966K 1 Indian cities
Allahabad 221K 391K 325K 209K 188K 126K 92K 1.6M 1.7 Indian cities
Ambala 74K 101K 87K 53K 41K 34K 27K 417K 0.4 Indian cities
Bangalore 1.2M 2M 1.7M 1.3M 1.1M 985K 825K 9.1M 9.7 Cities Indian cities
Bhopal 254K 355K 316K 259K 218K 159K 123K 1.7M 1.8 Indian cities
Chandigarh 425K 624K 596K 406K 341K 253K 219K 2.9M 3.1 Indian cities
Chennai 975K 1.5M 1.3M 1.1M 980K 702K 683K 7.3M 7.8 Cities Indian cities
Dehradun 210K 391K 348K 175K 136K 105K 91K 1.5M 1.6 Indian cities
Delhi 1.1M 1.5M 1.6M 1.3M 1.2M 863K 888K 8.6M 9.1 Cities Indian cities
Gandhinagar 108K 160K 134K 86K 70K 47K 34K 639K 0.7 Indian cities
Guwahati 231K 328K 279K 172K 121K 82K 69K 1.3M 1.4 Indian cities
Hyderabad 752K 394K 79K 86K 90K 120K 161K 1.7M 1.8 Cities Indian cities
Jaipur 456K 700K 693K 472K 372K 294K 269K 3.3M 3.5 Indian cities
Jamshedpur 188K 276K 258K 179K 132K 85K 69K 1.2M 1.3 Indian cities
Kanpur 223K 272K 311K 241K 175K 113K 91K 1.4M 1.5 Cities Indian cities
Kochi 308K 528K 352K 245K 96K 27K 27K 1.6M 1.7 Indian cities
Kolkata 965K 1.3M 1.2M 901K 791K 534K 482K 6.2M 6.6 Cities Indian cities
Lucknow 381K 515K 503K 376K 308K 218K 191K 2.5M 2.7 Indian cities
Mumbai 1.8M 2.6M 2.8M 2.9M 2.2M 1.9M 2.4M 17M 17.7 Cities Indian cities
Nagpur 252K 393K 364K 238K 177K 120K 112K 1.7M 1.8 Indian cities
Patna 192K 272K 270K 251K 166K 113K 95K 1.4M 1.5 Indian cities
Pondicherry 283K 497K 628K 111K 84K 103K 96K 1.8M 1.9 Indian cities
Pune 570K 1M 850K 625K 538K 382K 359K 4.4M 4.7 Cities Indian cities
Ranchi 140K 231K 186K 110K 86K 59K 48K 860K 0.9 Indian cities
Shimla 360K 510K 570K 289K 210K 155K 126K 2.2M 2.4 Indian cities
Srinagar 210K 297K 294K 149K 136K 93K 81K 1.3M 1.3 Indian cities
Surat 252K 364K 327K 232K 194K 133K 109K 1.6M 1.7 Cities Indian cities
Thiruvananthapuram 252K 435K 359K 255K 211K 132K 107K 1.8M 1.9 Indian cities
Varanasi 597K 710K 713K 457K 370K 301K 241K 3.4M 3.6 Indian cities
Total 13M 20M 18M 14M 11M 8.6M 8.4M 94M 100
Percentage 14.4 21.1 19.6 14.7 12 9.2 9 100

Some niche topics where pageviews haven’t declined

So far, we’ve looked at topics where pageviews have been declining since at least 2013, and some that peaked as far back as 2010. There are, however, many relatively niche topics where the number of pageviews has stayed roughly constant. But this stability itself is a sign of decay, because other metrics suggest that the topics have experienced tremendous growth in interest. In fact, the stability is even less impressive when we notice that it’s a result of a cancellation between slight declines in views of established pages in the genre, and traffic going to new pages.

For instance, consider some charity-related pages:

Page name Pageviews in year 2014 Pageviews in year 2013 Pageviews in year 2012 Pageviews in year 2011 Pageviews in year 2010 Pageviews in year 2009 Pageviews in year 2008 Total Percentage Tags
Against Malaria Foundation 5.9K 6.3K 4.3K 1.4K 2 0 0 18K 15.6 Charities
Development Media International 757 0 0 0 0 0 0 757 0.7 Pages created by Vipul Naik Charities
Deworm the World Initiative 2.3K 277 0 0 0 0 0 2.6K 2.3 Charities Pages created by Vipul Naik
GiveDirectly 11K 8.3K 2.6K 442 0 0 0 22K 19.2 Charities Pages created by Vipul Naik
International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders 1.2K 1 2 2 0 1 2 1.2K 1.1 Charities Pages created by Vipul Naik
Nothing But Nets 5.9K 6.6K 6.6K 5.1K 4.4K 4.7K 6.1K 39K 34.2 Charities
Nurse-Family Partnership 2.9K 2.8K 909 30 8 72 63 6.8K 5.9 Pages created by Vipul Naik Charities
Root Capital 3K 2.5K 414 155 51 1.2K 21 7.3K 6.3 Charities Pages created by Vipul Naik
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative 4K 2.7K 1.6K 191 0 0 0 8.5K 7.4 Charities Pages created by Vipul Naik
VillageReach 1.7K 1.9K 2.2K 2.6K 97 3 15 8.4K 7.3 Charities Pages created by Vipul Naik
Total 38K 31K 19K 9.9K 4.6K 5.9K 6.2K 115K 100
Percentage 33.4 27.3 16.3 8.6 4 5.1 5.4 100

For this particular cluster of pages, we see the totals growing robustly year-on-year. But a closer look shows that the growth isn’t that impressive. Whereas earlier, views were doubling every year from 2010 to 2013 (this was the take-off period for GiveWell and effective altruism), the growth from 2013 to 2014 was relatively small. And about half the growth from 2013 to 2014 was powered by the creation of new pages (including some pages created after the beginning of 2013, so they had more months in a mature state in 2014 than in 2013), while the other half was powered by growth in traffic to existing pages.

The data for philanthropic foundations demonstrates a fairly slow and steady growth (about 5% a year), partly due to the creation of new pages. This 5% hides a lot of variation between individual pages:

Page name Pageviews in year 2014 Pageviews in year 2013 Pageviews in year 2012 Pageviews in year 2011 Pageviews in year 2010 Pageviews in year 2009 Pageviews in year 2008 Total Percentage Tags
Atlantic Philanthropies 11K 11K 12K 10K 9.8K 8K 5.8K 67K 2.1 Philanthropic foundations
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 336K 353K 335K 315K 266K 240K 237K 2.1M 64.9 Philanthropic foundations
Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation 1.2K 25 9 0 0 0 0 1.2K 0 Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik
Ford Foundation 110K 91K 100K 90K 100K 73K 61K 625K 19.5 Philanthropic foundations
Good Ventures 9.9K 8.6K 3K 0 0 0 0 21K 0.7 Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik
Jasmine Social Investments 2.3K 1.8K 846 0 0 0 0 5K 0.2 Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik
Laura and John Arnold Foundation 3.7K 13 0 1 0 0 0 3.7K 0.1 Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik
Mulago Foundation 2.4K 2.3K 921 0 1 1 10 5.6K 0.2 Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik
Omidyar Network 26K 23K 19K 17K 19K 13K 11K 129K 4 Philanthropic foundations
Peery Foundation 1.8K 1.6K 436 0 0 0 0 3.9K 0.1 Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 26K 26K 26K 22K 27K 22K 17K 167K 5.2 Philanthropic foundations
Skoll Foundation 13K 11K 9.2K 7.8K 9.6K 5.8K 4.3K 60K 1.9 Philanthropic foundations
Smith Richardson Foundation 8.7K 3.5K 3.8K 3.6K 3.7K 3.5K 2.9K 30K 0.9 Philanthropic foundations
Thiel Foundation 3.6K 1.5K 1.1K 47 26 1 0 6.3K 0.2 Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik
Total 556K 533K 511K 466K 435K 365K 340K 3.2M 100
Percentage 17.3 16.6 15.9 14.5 13.6 11.4 10.6 100
Here’s a closer look at this same list, restricted to the months from January 2013 to December 2014:
Month Views of page Atlantic Philanthropies Views of page Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Views of page Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Views of page Ford Foundation Views of page Good Ventures Views of page Jasmine Social Investments Views of page Laura and John Arnold Foundation Views of page Mulago Foundation Views of page Omidyar Network Views of page Peery Foundation Views of page Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Views of page Skoll Foundation Views of page Smith Richardson Foundation Views of page Thiel Foundation Total Percentage
201412 753 25K 139 6.4K 1.7K 171 382 184 1.5K 138 1.9K 907 343 399 39K 3.6
201411 886 27K 137 7.3K 679 179 448 200 2.2K 147 1.9K 1K 629 483 43K 4
201410 821 32K 138 7.1K 910 181 437 226 1.6K 153 2.2K 1.1K 1.2K 450 48K 4.4
201409 1.3K 30K 126 7.3K 842 315 489 226 2.1K 141 2.4K 1.1K 1.4K 453 49K 4.5
201408 958 26K 122 5.6K 806 190 466 190 2K 141 1.9K 949 722 302 41K 3.7
201407 866 21K 161 6.9K 774 195 398 213 1.8K 200 2.1K 1.1K 757 267 37K 3.4
201406 856 21K 112 6.7K 714 193 371 241 2.4K 174 2.3K 1K 757 373 38K 3.5
201405 904 32K 78 9.1K 776 187 273 193 3.5K 135 2.4K 990 726 233 51K 4.7
201404 839 28K 87 10K 680 171 277 195 2.2K 159 2.5K 1.3K 772 278 48K 4.4
201403 847 33K 82 13K 941 249 158 275 2.9K 184 2.4K 1.2K 701 202 56K 5.2
201402 691 30K 2 11K 552 149 9 145 2K 130 2.3K 965 410 102 48K 4.4
201401 832 31K 1 20K 532 148 7 154 1.9K 119 2.2K 1.4K 274 77 59K 5.4
201312 812 25K 1 7.4K 563 138 4 140 1.8K 141 1.7K 893 262 95 38K 3.5
201311 691 27K 1 6.9K 470 137 2 136 1.8K 116 2.3K 1K 233 75 41K 3.8
201310 825 27K 0 6.9K 589 167 3 149 3.4K 162 2.1K 881 316 85 42K 3.9
201309 707 27K 3 6.5K 758 142 3 284 1.9K 133 1.8K 872 274 114 40K 3.7
201308 834 23K 4 6K 730 149 0 196 2.5K 124 1.8K 822 242 149 37K 3.4
201307 1.1K 22K 3 6.6K 672 152 0 194 2.2K 127 1.9K 817 289 167 36K 3.3
201306 944 26K 1 8.2K 493 148 0 169 1.9K 119 2K 865 256 155 42K 3.8
201305 861 38K 4 8.7K 1K 147 1 174 1.6K 104 2.4K 941 328 173 54K 5
201304 863 33K 2 8.5K 703 133 0 180 1.5K 130 2.5K 1.1K 341 121 49K 4.5
201303 946 37K 2 8.6K 1.3K 161 0 214 1.5K 183 2.5K 939 319 146 54K 4.9
201302 897 34K 1 7.9K 623 186 0 276 1.6K 156 2.3K 808 294 116 50K 4.5
201301 1.1K 34K 3 8.9K 568 173 0 160 1.6K 119 2.4K 763 371 102 50K 4.6
Total 21K 689K 1.2K 201K 18K 4.2K 3.7K 4.7K 50K 3.4K 52K 24K 12K 5.1K 1.1M 100
Percentage 1.9 63.2 0.1 18.5 1.7 0.4 0.3 0.4 4.6 0.3 4.8 2.2 1.1 0.5 100
Tags Philanthropic foundations Philanthropic foundations Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik Philanthropic foundations Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik Philanthropic foundations Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik Philanthropic foundations Philanthropic foundations Philanthropic foundations Philanthropic foundations Pages created by Vipul Naik

We see that even though the overall number didn’t decline from 2013 to 2014, there was a decline from March 2013 to June 2014 for most pages, as we saw with colors.

The dominant hypothesis: shift from non-mobile to mobile Wikipedia use

The dominant hypothesis is that pageviews have simply migrated from non-mobile to mobile. This is most closely borne by the overall data: total pageviews have remained roughly constant, and the decline in total non-mobile pageviews has been roughly canceled by growth in mobile pageviews. However, the evidence for this substitution doesn’t exist at the level of individual pages because we don’t have pageview data for the mobile domain before September 2014, and much of the decline occurred between March 2013 and June 2014.

What would it mean if there were an approximate one-on-one substitution from non-mobile to mobile for the page types discussed above? For instance, non-mobile traffic to colors dropped to somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of their original traffic level between January 2013 and December 2014. This would mean that somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the original non-mobile traffic to colors has shifted to mobile devices. This theory should be at least partly falsifiable: if the sum of traffic to non-mobile and mobile platforms today for colors is less than non-mobile-only traffic in January 2013, then clearly substitution is only part of the story.

Although the data is available, it’s not currently in an easily computable form, and I don’t currently have the time and energy to extract it. I’ll update this once the data on all pageviews since September 2014 is available on stats.grok.se or a similar platform.

Other hypotheses

The following are some other hypotheses for the pageview decline:

  1. Google’s Knowledge Graph: This is the hypothesis raised in Wikipediocracy, the Daily Dot, and the Register. The Knowledge Graph was introduced in 2012. Through 2013, Google rolled out snippets (called Knowledge Cards and Knowledge Panels) based on the Knowledge Graph in its search results. So if, for instance, you only wanted the birth date and nationality of a musician, Googling would show you that information right in the search results and you wouldn’t need to click through to the Wikipedia page. I suspect that the Knowledge Graph played some role in the decline for colors seen between March 2013 and June 2014. On the other hand, many of the pages that saw a decline don’t have any search snippets based on the Knowledge Graph, and therefore the decline for those pages cannot be explained this way.
  2. Other means of accessing Wikipedia’s knowledge that don’t involve viewing it directly: For instance, Apple’s Siri tool uses data from Wikipedia, and people making queries to this tool may get information from Wikipedia without hitting the encyclopedia. The usage of such tools has increased greatly starting in late 2012. Siri itself was released with the third generation iPad in September 2012 and became part of the iPhone released the next month. Since then, it has shipped with all of Apple’s mobile devices and tablets.
  3. Substitution away from Wikipedia to other pages that are becoming more search-optimized and growing in number: For many topics, Wikipedia may have been clearly the best information source a few years back (as judged by Google), but the growth of niche information sources, as well as better search methods, have displaced it from its undisputed leadership position. I think there’s a lot of truth to this, but it’s hard to quantify.
  4. Substitution away from coarser, broader pages to finer, narrower pages within Wikipedia: While this cannot directly explain an overall decline in pageviews, it can explain a decline in pageviews for particular kinds of pages. Indeed, I suspect that this is partly what’s going on with the early decline of pageviews (e.g., the decline in pageviews of countries and continents starting around 2010, as people go directly to specialized articles related to the particular aspects of those countries or continents they are interested in).
  5. Substitution to Internet use in other languages: This hypothesis doesn’t seem borne out by the simultaneous decline in pageviews for the English, French, and Spanish Wikipedia, as documented for the color pages.

It’s still a mystery

I’d like to close by noting that the pageview decline is still very much a mystery as far as I am concerned. I hope I’ve convinced you that (a) the mystery is genuine, (b) it’s important, and (c) although the shift to mobile is probably the most likely explanation, we don’t yet have clear evidence. I’m interested in hearing whether people have alternative explanations, and/or whether they have more compelling arguments for some of the explanations proffered here.

Basic information