By the Numbers: Who Are You?

© Julia Kozerski, Ruins No. 1, from the series "Half"

I can read entire novels and not remember the main character's name two weeks later, but I can remember the phone numbers of childhood friends I haven't seen since high school graduation. I could recite baseball statistics of obscure Minnesota Twins during my 1980s childhood, but not the lyrics beyond the chorus of a given pop song in rotation ad infinitum on local stations WLOL and KDWB.

This natural interest in numbers is a force I fight while running this site. I have to essentially never allow myself to open Google Analytics and visually avoid the numbers provided automatically by Blogger when I log in to make a new post in order to avoid becoming obsessed with the mountain of behind the scenes statistics they make available.

That being said, this site recently published it's 500th post, giving a numbers-based reason to indulge in some number-gazing. Beyond the utter, spell-binding fascination of looking at lists of numbers, taking a look behind the scenes at this site's audience also says quite a bit about who you are, your interests, your habits, and what you're interested in looking at as a collective.

Making a post like this also fits into an interest in site transparency as a (still non-official) non-profit (working on it!). This post also falls in line with other public information on the site revealing all donation information as well as the year review posts outlining my sense of the successes and failures of the preceding year and plans for the coming one.

© Shen Wei, Untitled self-portrait (Touch), 2010

Post statistics
So, let's take a look at the numbers starting with popular posts. Using real numbers seems gauche, so to the right of each post on the list is a relative ratio number to show the relationship of popularity between them. Analysis is after the list.

The top 20 fototazo posts in terms of views, in order, all-time as of February 28th, 2013:

1. fototazo 63: Julia Kozerski 2.22.12 - 7.15
2. Shen Wei on Portraiture 4.21.11 - 4.80
3. Interview: Doug DuBois, Part I, 1.26.13 - 3.33
4. Photographers on Photographers: The Other Annie Leibovitz by Steve Davis 5.18.11 - 2.76
5. Opinion: Pantall, Colberg, Hoepker and Understanding Images 4.20.12 - 2.31
6. Interview: Mark Powell 3.24.11 - 1.99
7. fototazo 39: James Friedman 11.09.11 - 1.90
8. Margo Ovcharenko on Portraiture 5.14.11 - 1.81
9. What Is Progress in Photography Today? (A Response) 6.14.12 - 1.77
10. Originality Is a Conservative Argument 12.15.12 - 1.72
11. Flak Photo Discussion on Gerry Badger's "The Pleasures of Good Photographs" Begins Today 5.7.12 - 1.56
12. Interview: Blake Andrews, Part I 5.10.12 - 1.47
13. Student Portfolio: Juliana Henao Alcaraz 11.1.11 - 1.43
14. fototazo 1: Shen Wei 6.15.11 - 1.35
15. The Image: James Friedman, "Mom and me" 1.26.12  - 1.33
16. Shifting Lines: The Increasing Consideration of Documentary Photography and Photojournalism as Fine Art Photography, Part I 4.26.12 - 1.30
17. fototazo 79: Natasha Gudermane 4.18.12 - 1.23
18. f100: Ryan Herz and Scot Sothern 10.28.11 - 1.22
19. Profile: MONO Volume 1 4.2.12 - 1.19
20. Interview: Elinor Carucci 6.9.11  - 1.16 (note: link at bottom of first page of this interview "Read more" currently being rebuilt)

The next two, tied at a very close 21st place, are Interview: Andrea Modica 3.8.12 and Interview: Steve Davis 3.1.11 (1.15).

© Mark Powell, from untitled curation project

Post Rank Biases
There are a few factors to discuss in relation to the list that cause ranking biases. First, older posts obviously have a head start, creating a chronology bias. Popular recent posts such as Interview: Doug DuBois, Part II will most likely appear on this list eventually given their current active reading rate.

Secondly, there is the accidental search word bias, which may explain the popularity of Shen Wei on Portraiture 4.21.11 which includes an image by Yijun Liao titled Start Your Day With a Good Breakfast Together, 2009 (last image in this post below). I had wondered why "good breakfast" is a popular search phrase that brings people to fototazo; I finally figured out why putting this post together.

© Juliana Henao Alcaraz

A third factor in ranking bias is Pinterest and Tumblr. Posts with an image that gets picked up on either one brings in lots of traffic, explaining the popularity of Student Portfolio: Juliana Henao Alcaraz, which features the above image of a woman swimming by microgrant recipient Henao Alcaraz, and fototazo 79: Natasha Gudermane featuring Gudermane's image Leela (below), both images being ripe for mega-reposting by the not-so-highly-coveted-by-this-site 15-to-18-year-old boy demographic.

© Natasha Gudermane, Leela, from the series "Mademoiselles"

A fourth and the most dominant bias affects mainstream media overlap posts. Posts that include photographers picked up in any way by mainstream media are high on the all-time list. This explains the most popular post ever, fototazo 63: Julia Kozerski. Kozerksi has appeared with her project on the Rachael Ray show, CNN, and probably lots more similar sized outlets based on the extreme popularity of that one post. Two other possible posts showing mainstream media bias would be f100: Ryan Herz and Scot Sothern which is quite a bit more popular than the other f100 posts, possibly because Sothern was recently given a regular column in VICE and also Interview: Mark Powell. Powell is the star of the History Channel Latin America show "Fotonautas."

Another, fifth, factor of bias is the amount that a photographer involved in a post promotes the post. I've noticed that very vocal photographers that post the link in which they are featured on Facebook and Twitter and that send out emails naturally bring up their post numbers while those that don't generally are bottom of the list posts. Parenthetically, this is NOT encouragement to bombard editors with self-promotional emails.

A final post bias is the post sequence order. First posts in a series are, without exception I believe, more popular than the following posts. Interview: Blake Andrews, Part I has been viewed more times than parts II and III, Shifting Lines Part I is more read than Part II, etc.

Post Rank Analysis
The results are both spirit-lifting and, on the other side, well, let's just say "natural." Looking through the rankings and thinking about how they relate, it took a few minutes (which went by exactly like John Nash cracking the code in A Beautiful Mind) for the grand unifying trends to reveal themselves, but they eventually did:

Ranking biases aside, Hugh Hefner had it exactly right. You as an audience - if you hadn't guessed by now by the images featured in this post - like nudes/sex and you like articles of in-depth content. The images accompanying this post are all pulled from the top 20 all-time posts in an admitted experiment to artificially make this post The Most Popular Post Ever (Created By Me) over the course of the next year.

Moving deeper beyond the top 20 and looking more generally at popular types of posts while attempting to correct for the above biases,  interviews - especially with Guggenheim Fellows - as well as opinion posts, history essays, and posts where I argue with Joerg or where I cause Joerg to argue with me and disparage my character are very high traffic posts.

On the other side, the least popular posts are the International Site Profile posts and gallery posts. The almost total lack of interest in the International Site Profiles posts reflects - unfortunately - what I believe is a collective struggle by a generally US and Western European audience (see below) to engage with photography outside known names and places and beyond Western aesthetics. I have no other way to explain it.

The gallery posts, well, they are the site's equivalent to potato chips. They are admittedly barely a step above simple relinks/reposts and add no original content, so I understand their relative unpopularity, and actually respect their general unpopularity - you are a discerning group. I will defend them for now, however, by arguing that they give me - on my busy days as a professor or out photographing - a quick and dirty post that at least offers a little more than nothing at all which would be the other option.

I recently stopped making gallery posts regularly on Wednesdays and Saturdays and am making them less frequently as part of my yearly goal to raise the overall quality of posts while making less posts. I'll reconsider posting them at all. Ironically, the "gallery" tab is the most popular of the tabs at the top of the site...by far. Go figure.

© Margo Ovcharenko, Without Me, 2008

Here is the order of most country visits to the site as of February 28, 2013. The ratio numbers to the right again are relational numbers to give a sense of scale:

1. United States - 40.809; 2. United Kingdom - 8.058; 3. Colombia - 6.731; 4. Germany - 4.238; 5. Spain - 3.866; 6. France - 3.783; 7. Italy - 3.743; 8. Canada - 2.991; 9. Mexico - 2.834; 10. Russia - 2.482

11. Netherlands - 2.051; 12. Brazil - 1.943; 13. Australia - 1.556; 14. Argentina - 1.551; 15. Portugal - 1.34; 16. Greece - 1.319; 17. Ireland - 1.297; 18. Japan - 1.219; 19. Switzerland - 1.196; 20. (not set)...so moving on, 21. India - 1.037

Top states, US:
1. New York - 8.4; 2. California - 6.0; 3. Massachusetts - 2.4; 4. Ohio - 2.3; 5. Virginia - 1.65; 6. Texas - 1.64; 7. Illinois - 1.35; 8. Washington - 1.31; 9. Florida 1.234; 10. Pennsylvania - 1.228

Bottom states, US:
1. South Dakota - .01; 2. North Dakota - .023; 3. Wyoming - .024; 4. West Virginia - .05; 5. Delaware - .06

International cities:
1. New York; 2. Medellín; 3. London; 4. Columbus, Ohio (?); 5. Paris; 6. Mexico City; 7. Madrid; 8. Berlin; 9. Moscow; 10. Montpelier, Vermont - large number of visits, but for an average of .2 seconds...is there some kind of robot websearch headquarters in Montpelier? Given the likelihood, let's add...11. San Francisco

Fun facts and statistical oddities:
- The same number of visitors have arrived from Kazakhstan as from South Dakota.
- The longest site visits are from Uganda...over 8 minutes per visit, followed by Myanmar and Monaco while visitors from Saint Lucia and Montenegro visit the most pages. Sample size errors abound.
- Central Africa has a concentration of countries with 0 visitors and...Greenland, what? Can I get just one visit? You're a very large gray spot on the Google Analytics map and light green would be so much pleasanter.

Geographic Analysis
Few surprises. US and UK visitors dominate, followed by Colombia, where I am based, and a smorgasbord of other Western and Northern European countries with a sprinkling of Central/South American countries, plus Japan and India, another example of size bias. Hopefully I have my filter settings correct and all those Colombia visits aren't me. Double hopefully, they are my students, diligently absorbing a steady stream of contemporary photography.

Definitely lots of size/population-bias up and down the US list. New York and California are predictable top two states given their size and the number of photographers based there. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are my two most recent states of residence; visits may be a combination of size/ratio of photographers as well as people I know personally. I am relieved not to see Minnesota in the top ten list of states, which gives peaceful rest to the fear that the majority of my US visits are my Mom trying to boost my confidence and making sure that I do well in my photography site project by clicking repeatedly on the site link (hi Mom!).

Cities also (almost) make sense: major US/European cities plus Medellín (must be my students) and Mexico City. But Columbus, Ohio fourth? An unsolved mystery.

© James Friedman, #249, from the series "Pleasures and Terrors of Kissing"

Most common search words
Here is a list of the most common search words that bring visits to fototazo, as of February 28, 2013.

1. fototazo - of course
2. Julia Kozerski - explained above
3. James Friedman photographer - a relative mystery (even accounting for Friedman's great work). James, were you in a popular media venue?
4. Boushra Almutawakel - a Yemeni photographer I posted an image from during the first few weeks of this site when I did some redirectional posts with forwarding links with no real content. Not sure why she's so popular as a search. Maybe I need to make more Almutawakel posts. Interview, Boushra?
5. Good breakfast - mystery solved, discussed above
6. Shen - popular last name?
7. John Lusk Hathaway - fototazo 132, but again, not sure why so extremely popular as a search
8. Shen Wei - hey, he does do nudes
9. Viktoria Sorochinski - interview with her was popular, but not top 20 material yet. Maybe not a lot of competing search results?
10. Enrique Metinides - again, links to a post from fototazo's first days of limited content beyond redirectional links

Oddballs in top 100 searches that at some point brought someone to fototazo:
"Vietnam war children"; misspellings of fototazo: "fotoazo" and"phototazo"; more breakfast-related searches: "a good breakfast," "your day," "breakfast together," "perfect breakfast," and "start the day"; sex searches: "sexyo" and "sex machines" (that would link to a post from Timothy Archiblad's sex machines series, I imagine); "fsa photographers used stylistic elements" - do people really type in that string of words together so frequently?; "together" - ???; "джулия козерски" (I hope that's not dirty); and, best of all, "i am the photo king, fototazo." That last one is not me doing the search, I swear. OK, maybe once.

One more statistical ranking list. You visit from:

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. (direct)
4. Google.com - is this Google, the site, while the top source is the search bar? Or maybe one is Google+? Not sure.
5. Twitter
6. LPV Magazine - Thanks Bryan!
7. 500 Photographers - Thanks Pieter!
8. Conscientious - Thanks Joerg!
9. Lookatme.ru - this is a large Russian popular culture online magazine; Margo Ovcharenko mentioned fototazo in an interview on the site a while back, creating a cascade of Russian micogrant requests, Google+ Russia-based circle adds, and a source visit bias
10. Scoop.it - a site of self-published daily "newspapers" relinking to articles the publisher has found

Source Analysis
Top five probably are the same for all sites everywhere regardless of content; six through eight show the audience of fototazo overlaps mainly with LPV Magazine, 500 Photographers, and Conscientious - absolutely fantastic company.

Donation Tendencies
You (cough) average just over three damned cents donated to the microgrant program per visit (ahem). That's actually an inflated number because it includes some money that was raised by sponsorships that I'm going to skip figuring out.

Hey, only $60 to finish the current grant, please consider a donation and see if we can't get that number up to...four cents!

Donation Tendency Analysis
You are cheap.

© Scot Sothern, from the series "Lowlife"

The big conclusion for me personally as a photographer based on a rigorous and scientific study of the popularity of posts and search words related to this site, is that my next two photographic projects - to be composed of strictly nudes - will be entitled, "How to Get a Shen Six-Pack With a Good Breakfast" and "Lady Gaga Increase Your Breakfast Size." This will bring my projects mega traffic.

Other conclusions: you appreciate longer posts of content and shy from posts of limited content. You are schizophrenically averse to international photography, but love Boushra Almutawakel. You like good breakfasts and want to find Vietnam war children. Columbus and Uganda love photography, Greenland does not. Hugh Hefner was a genius.

© Yijun Liao, Start your day with a good breakfast together, 2009