I like to joke about writing articles here at The Rip Track for "all three of my readers." Well, yesterday I got curious and checked the server logs for this website. According to the logs, there are quite a lot more than three of you out there. I spent some time going through the analysis and will try to adjust future content based on what I've seen there as popular requests (since nobody emails me [the usual webmaster email address works here] anything unless I email them first). But, as a Linux user myself, I found another set of statistics interesting...
All of the charts in this article are based on server log data from August 2008. The web server on which The Rip Track runs collects an enormous amount of data in logfiles. Among the data that it collects, besides the data that will directly help guide me in what you are all interested in reading about (search strings and referring pages that led you to this website), the web server also collects data aggregating the country your IP address relates to as well as the software information that your browser sends when it requests pages. According to the web server logs, the great overwhelming majority of you have IP addresses that resolve to locations in the United States. But there are a lot of you who aren't in the US. The top ten countries of origin for visitors to this website in August 2008 were:
Since I'm in the US and writing primarily about topics of interest to American model railroaders, this is quite understandable. It's interesting to see where everyone else comes from, and I'm guessing that if I wrote more about model railroad subjects pertaining to other countries, I would get more visitors from those countries. I may write about other countries' systems as I've been getting more interested in European railway systems, so we'll see. The next chart that I looked at was one that described the web browsers that are used to view this site. From what I've read on many other websites, the information here wasn't a great surprise to me, but at least I know now that changing the filenames on graphics to remove the spaces is actually worthwhile (especially since I see a bunch of errors in the logs about this too now).
The statistics that I found most surprising were those in the third chart here. This has to do with the computer operating system upon which the browsers listed above were running (you did know that your browsers send this information by default to every website you visit, didn't you?). As a webmaster, I can use this data to better tailor and test my website so I know that it will work on the greatest number of clients; in other words, I have a baseline of systems upon which I need to verify that my website works. I wasn't too surprised to see that Microsoft Windows was the most popular operating system in use out there among you, but I was surprised to see that Linux was ranked second before Mac and even more surprised to see the ratio between Linux and Mac users at this site.
I know I've been visiting the site a lot, but nowhere near the number of visits listed in the logs to make a significant difference for these stats.
So what does this tell me? Well, it obviously tells me the ratios that are displayed above, but it also tells me, based on the high number of Linux users visiting this site, that if I write about using open source tools in model railroading (like JMRI, for example, which I am now using on my own home layout), the information won't be completely lost on at least a quarter of you out there. It also tells me that I can continue to reference locations in the US with common US abbreviations, since the vast majority of you will be able to understand them, but if I write about more international topics, there may be some interest too. However, this information doesn't necessarily tell me the topics that you want to read about. The stats that I'm analyzing list the search phrases that were used to find this page, but they don't tell me the search phrases that led to other pages. Is there a topic that you specifically want to read about? If I haven't covered it yet, please ask and I may be able to put something together for it. If I'm not familiar with the topic, it will give me something else to research and try out. The three readers who have created logins here can leave comments on this article. The rest of you can either create a login and leave a comment, or just email me at the standard webmaster address for this domain (and since there are so many Linux users, you should be able to figure that out).