After UBC Lockdown: rumors and traffic fever

UBC Campus

All is well today, save for a few police siren disturbances scattered through out the night and in the morning, which we used to associate with Totem fire alarms.

No one was hurt, but everyone is confused. What caused the police action? What is being done about it? Are we safe on campus? What is going on?

I personally feel like it’s a normal day. Went to a career fair, went to a project meeting, went to class, now wasting time on my blog. This is probably because I didn’t see the police and their automatic weapons, and the ambulances that waited a few blocks away “just in case”, and the helicopter zooming around. For those who did see these, or those who had to be escorted out of the Bio Building by the SWAT team after being locked down for 3, 4 hours longer than the rest of the campus, today would probably not be normal.

Rumors all around campus. I thought about not listing them, because as a science student, I’m trained to cite only dependable, primary references. But I think if I put a big enough disclaimer, listing the rumors can be justified as showing the level of uncertainty and fear:

* * * THESE ARE RUMORS * * *

First there was the “bomb threat”, which was quickly dismissed because people were locked down inside the building. Similar things go to the chemical/biological spill theory. In fact, many of us recognize the lockdown was a standard procedure for a gunman incident.

Some people suggested “this was all a drill”

Some people said they saw police air-dropping from helicopters.

Some people said the police and media were informed about this incident in the late morning, and put off the response until the “deadline” in the threat.

Someone made the connection to the activists vandalism last month.

Some said it had something to do with animal testing in Bio building.

Someone said the threat originated from the SUB.

My favorite theory: someone was upset that UBC was the only school that didn’t get a snow day on Tuesday, so they decided to make one.

* * * RUMORS END * * *

The police has confirmed that the incident was caused by a serious threat to harm others, and we still wait for more information.

My Blog

And I was worrying that I will never reach my record-high traffic of 142 when I first announce the existence of ZeroRatio to my friends.

Google apparently likes my last blog entry, and ranked it first for the search “ubc lockdown”, which resulted in an influx of just over 1,000 visitors who typed some variation of the search term.

I suspect the impossible Google ranking also attracted the attention of ScienceDave of NowPublic, as he posted a link to my blog and sent me almost 700 visitors. I noticed that and posted a link back to his page, and sent him a humble 130 visits.

Just that one single post, with the right title at the right time, attracted over 2,100 page views, and spilled over hundreds of views to my other posts and pages. Total traffic to my blog yesterday totaled 2,800. A good twenty-fold record-break.

Along with the power of Google, the post wore the “hawt post” crown on WordPress frontpage a few times, and made this blog “the fastest growing blog“. And my favorite effect: it make my previous month of traffic look like nothing.

All of this because of writing one single post that Google liked. Now you believe Google will take over the world.

zeroratio-hawt-post-2.jpg dashboard-stat-board-fastest-growing-blog.jpg huge-peak01.jpg


Commenting and Blog Traffic Experiment (Week 3)

The Commenting and Blog Traffic experiment started here.
Last week we found that the traffic to this blog spiraled below 20 views/day, and was heading towards 15/day.

This week, I started visiting random blogs and leaving comments. The goal was one comment on one new blog per day, and I’ve attached my commenting history at the end of this post.

The preliminary result is out: commenting-and-blog-traffic-week2.png

Commenting seems to increase traffic.

Now, this is a very preliminary result, and there are some significant problems with it.

  1. Did my comments on other people’s blogs attract more views, or did I write more interesting posts in the past week?
  2. Or simply because there are more blog entries for people to browse through this week than last week?
  3. Why are the traffic for Saturday and Sunday of week 1 so high?
  4. What’s up with the dip on the Sunday of week 2?

Answering #1 is difficult, because I don’t know whether my comments on other blogs attracted traffic directly. I think people who follow the link from my comments to my blog are not registered as being “referred” to me, whereas if you click on a link in Website X to this blog, then Website X is registered as a “referrer”.

However, my popular posts such as “Shood hands with Stephen Lewis” and “How good should we feel when we take the bus?”, both of which were written during week 1, showed similar traffic generation pattern in posts in week 2 (“Tina is Legend“), where each post got around 13 visitors on the first day, and the number dropped dramatically to 1 or 2 in the subsequent days. So no, I didn’t write more interesting posts in week 2.

#2 may be of some concern, because the old posts are still generating traffic. However, in the last weeks of this experiment when I stop commenting, if we see a decrease in traffic, then we know commenting is a traffic booster.

#3 give me a headache. I think it’s the residual traffic from the initial launch hype (record making 142 visits on January 10th), which throws off this experiment a bit. But that should be remedied by more data.

#4 This is the problem with doing this experiment on a small blog like mine. I only have a few dozen visitors, and if they happened decided to take the same day off reading blogs, then this experiment is thrown off.

* * *

Besides these findings, I also found some other things and decided to change the experimental design accordingly:

  1. Finding a good blog to comment on is HARD!!! It takes me an average of 20 minutes to finally find something interesting and commentable. As a result, I might drop the 4-comments/day week, depending on the result of the next week.
  2. To be consistent, I try to write one blog entry a day. If I can’t do that, I try to find old posts to hopefully attract readers. If I skip a day or write many entries in one day, then of course the traffic will be different.
  3. The data for Fridays, where this experiment transit from one phase to the next, will be discarded because it’s unclear which week the traffic should belong to, and listing the posts that I commented on below may also increase traffic, which is not part of this experiment.
* * *
Here are the places I left comments:

Commenting and Blog Traffic Experiment (Week 2)

It’s Friday, and we all know what that means: it’s the start of Week 2 of the Commenting and Blog Traffic Experiment! (fine, I am probably the only one who remembers the existence of this experiment )

Below is the summary of Week 1 (no commenting on other blogs):


As you can see, my blog traffic is on a continued decline, kinda like the US stock market in the past few days. Since Friday isn’t over yet, I suspect that the total page views will climb up to somewhere around 15.

The decline may be attributed to the visitors getting busy with school or work, or they’ve read the blog once and that’s enough time-waste for a while. New visitors may also view more pages than returning visitors, who only look for newest posts to read.

I will now start Week 2 of the experiment, picking and commenting on 1 new blog every day. This is pretty exciting for me; hopefully it will turn the decline around and end my week-long misery of watching my blog dwindle.

More on the experiment next Friday then!

Commenting and Blog Traffic – an experiment

I will test the hypothesis that commenting on other people’s blogs increase visibility of, and thus increase traffic to, my own blog.


  1. For week one, I will not visit nor comment on any new blog.
  2. Week two, I will visit and comment on a post of 1 blog that I have not seen before every day.
  3. Week three, 2 blogs every day.
  4. Week four, 4 blogs everyday.
  5. Week five, back to 0 blog.
  6. Week six, still 0 blog.
  7. Average overall traffic to my blog for each week, and compare the average (and standard deviation, etc).

I chose to do this over the course of a week because there may be significant fluctuation in overall traffic throughout the week.

Week five and six is to show that how sustainable the traffic is after discontinued commenting.

I will read the post in entirety and write a meaningful, 2-line response to it. I will pick a post at random, using WordPress’ “random post” function. I will find which ever blog on that interest me. I don’t think there’s a “random blog” function 😦

More about this experiment on next Friday morning then!

Tags and Traffic experiment – 16hr mark

16 hours later, the morning after the Tag and Traffic experiment for North Americans, which I suspect is the major audience of WordPress blogs.

First, there is a dramatic 60-fold increase in the total traffic to my blog (See Figure)Figure 1.(lol, that sounds so much better than saying I went from 1 visit to 60)

But there has been no more traffic from the tag portal since the 2hr mark: 2 for Life, 1 for Politics, 1 for Blogging. I found a small flaw in the experimental design though, because there are three entries from me that are tagged with “blogging” along with the experimental post, and that traffic result may be “tainted”.

The decline in traffic from the Politics and Life tag portals suggests that most people read posts that are earlier in the pages, meaning they are more recently added. Few people read posts beyond page 2.

The lack of traffic from the lower ranking tags such as Christianity and Hip-hop suggest that people don’t even look for posts from the tag portal for these tags. For these topics, I suspect that people would visit their regulars instead of looking for new blogs, whereas people would look for new blogs for Politics to find supporters or enemies, and Life to read other people’s stories.

In terms of generating traffic, only Baking soda has one new visitor since the 2hr mark; that ties with Ecology, Politics at 1 visitor, and closely follows Life at 2 visitors.

This suggests that specific, obscure tags receive visits from a source different from the popular tags, and everything in the middle does not receive much visit at all.

P.S. Now that the posts on the tag portals are flushed to obscurity, I expect future traffic to these experimental posts would be from other sources.

P.P.S. If the total traffic to my experimental posts add up to only 6, where are all the visits from? Well, turns out I couldn’t resist telling a few friends about this blog, and I suspect they would account for much of the traffic. I sort of cheated and used a temporary homepage too, and people need to click on an extra link to get to my blog, and that also count as page views. And of course, the experiment itself attracts more traffic than any other posts.

Tags and Traffic experiment – 2hr mark

Two hours have passed since the experiment. Two visitors fell into the “Life” trap through the portal, and 1 visitor fell for “Politics”. Both of these are among the most popular tags.

An interesting thing is that another visitor fell for “Ecology”, but not through the /tag portal. Who knows where he stumbled across this post and wasted his 10 seconds.

My posts are moving rapidly off the more popular /tag charts: you need to go to page 6 to find the “Life” post, while the “Christianity”, “Google”, and “Israel” posts are still on page 1.  But they have not attracted any traffic so far.

I can’t even find my favorite tag: “baking soda”… I think that’s a lost cause.

Tags and Traffic experiment – a follow up

So, the first thing I noticed after implementing the Tags and Traffic experiment is that my blog got completely screwed up. An influx of 12 spam posts occupied my entire front page and my “recent posts” sidebar.

So I cleaned up my front page and left only this post to greet my visitors who would otherwise go “wth, spam attacked on the 3rd day!?” To read my other posts, try the “categories” or “tag cloud” sections in the side bar.

Oh well, no pain, no gain. I changed “___ is interesting” to “___ is an interesting thing”, in hope that it will sound more interesting. But I didn’t make the same change to “Israel” and “Christianity”, because that would sound rude.

The time is now 5:30pm. No clicks last time I checked. Game on.