Patterico's Pontifications


Charles Johnson’s Stat Counter Inflates His Numbers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:40 pm

Hand it to the boys at Diary of Daedalus. They busted him yet again. They noticed Charles’s boast that his “Patterico is an idiot” post had supposedly received 21,600 page views — which he dishonestly characterized as “21,600 people” laughing at me. Put aside for the moment Charles’s obviously false claim that every page view represents a separate person (as well as the deluded claim that every person who viewed his post agreed with him about me.) The DoD boys decided to research whether the stat counter was at least properly recording the correct number of page views. The answer was no.

First, they found a comment from Charles showing that he registers a separate “page view” for every post on the front page, every time you access his front page. So, you hit his main page once, he gives himself 10 page views (because he keeps 10 posts on the main page). If you click on the post itself, to read comments, that’s another view for the page. Back to the main page again? Another ten page views. You actually viewed three pages, but Charles credits himself with 21. (That’s 21 people laughing at you, Patterico!! Bwa-ha!!)

It gets weirder. To see why, you’ll have to go to the DoD entry to see the experiment they did, which appears to show jumps in the counter even beyond the artificial numbers obtained by giving 10 page views for every 1. Here is a video that shows it graphically, although I admit I was unable to replicate the results shown in the video:

This doesn’t surprise me much. Dishonesty now pervades everything this guy does. Why should his reporting of his traffic be any different?

UPDATE: 21, not 23. Duh. Thanks to Newtons.Bit.

UPDATE x2: Diary of Daedalus dude ChenZhen informs me that the jumping effect demonstrated in the video happens using IE but not Firefox. I tried it in Firefox and could not replicate their results. Tell me if you try it in IE.

53 Responses to “Charles Johnson’s Stat Counter Inflates His Numbers”

  1. Does Charles Johnson use those numbers to generate money? Is their a fiduciary benefit to this or is it merely vanity? Does he collect revenue from an advertiser or a subsidy from some benefactor based on his reported page views? In other words are you accusing Charles Johnson of criminal Fraud?

    Lifeofthemind (88a122)

  2. Lifeofthemind, everyone in internet advertising knows that page views are not a consistent measure, nor representative of distinct individuals.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. hell, i visited the site probably 10 times in the last few days. that is 9 more than i had since 2008.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  4. Lifeofthemind: advertisers will pay based on the number of impressions rendered. In other words, they check how many times a particular image has been downloaded. He doesn’t have control over that. I doubt there’s any other way hes using a page view counter to make money.

    In any event, the counter itself from main page to individual article doesn’t seem like it’s over-inflating the page views by anything more than a factor of 3. However the people that are commenting on the posts are probably hitting refresh all the time to see new comments. Those will show as page-views.

    Newtons.Bit (d4b383)

  5. By the way, it would be ten for the front page, one for the comment sections, and then ten more for going back to the main page. That’s 21 total, not 23.

    I know you lawyer types are bad at math… =p

    Newtons.Bit (d4b383)

  6. At one point, I think his whole site was hand-coded. As a programmer, I can tell you that it isn’t always easy to get everything working right.

    But then, I don’t usually brag about the results of my buggy code until I’ve worked the bugs out.

    Pious Agnostic (f24095)

  7. I bet Newtons is correct. Advertisers have already worked through all the schemes to defraud them, long ago.

    This sounds like a vanity thing.

    If Charles were really interested in his ad revenue, he wouldn’t have taken measures anyone could tell would cause his site’s popularity to vanish.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  8. Nice summary from WizBang on the patterico smackdown of lizard

    breitbartfan77 (b72ab6)

  9. Newtons.Bit, actually no, the problem you have is assuming that there would only be “one” hit for the comments section. In the video, if you watched it, after click on the comments section, it went up by 3.

    So bad at math, or just bad at paying attention?

    G (ce0c1b)

  10. G:

    I get one page view increase when refreshing zombie threads.

    Newtons.Bit (d4b383)

  11. You know, since you brought up the portly, ponytailed standard bearer of principle and civility, I think its worth pointing out that some of the Johnson’s LGF blog entries still show up on the ‘Conservative Blog Advertising’ sidebar ads.

    I’m not sure exactly how much the Johnson would get in the way of revenue, but I think it would be quite unfortunate if the readership here or on other conservative sites found themselves unwittingly clicking on a link to his oh so sane, rational and civil blog. And I’m sure he wouldn’t want any of our wingnut cooties, especially since his principled and not the least bit opportunistic flounce from the right.

    So how exactly would one go about suggesting to the company that puts up the sidebar ads that they should no longer link to anything the Johnson contributes? I mean, I’m sure he’s not making alot of money, but this wouldn’t be about the money- it would be about the principle….

    FenwayNation (516c04)

  12. Put me down as 23 people laughing at Charles Johnson.

    Kevin Stafford (abdb87)

  13. what a douche that guy turned out to be.

    Chris (6b0332)

  14. Patterico-

    It gets weirder. To see why, you’ll have to go to the DoD entry to see the experiment they did, which appears to show jumps in the counter even beyond the artificial numbers obtained by giving 10 page views for every 1. Here is a video that shows it graphically, although I admit I was unable to replicate the results shown in the video.

    Yea as I stated in the thread, it isn’t consistent as far as how much the counter goes up each time you try it. In fact, sometimes it is just one. I think that the randomness could be built in, since all things equal (browser,etc.), you’d think you’d at least get the same result each time.

    This is the main reason why our crew members did the statistical analysis over a time period and across many threads, and used a control group. It averaged out to be about 2x.

    Also, my thread’s been up all day, so it’s possible that CJ changed things too. But just a few minutes ago went to an old thread and saw the counter go up by 9 when I refreshed the comments, so…

    I dunno, it’s his counter, so who knows how he’s got the thing set up. All I can say is what our data showed using systematic tests and what I was able to do to on my machine with the camera rolling. In other words, we haven’t totally cracked the proverbial formula on it. But it certainly ain’t right.

    ChenZhen (1c5e47)

  15. Here is a virtual interview of President Obama discussing California High Speed Rail:

    Wesson (dc314c)

  16. I’m not sure why you bother with Johnson.
    Most serious people stopped paying his site or his bullshit any heed long ago. all this little flame war has done is bring him back to the fore.
    fuck chuckles and his liztards.
    have a nice day

    firefirefire (914e0c)

  17. 465 Charles
    Wed, Jan 26, 2011 7:54:08pm

    By the way, I checked out Patterico’s post about me “faking” my statistics, which includes a video from the stalker site.

    The video is faked. It’s quite easy to see how he did it — he used another browser to reload the page at the same time, thus making it appear as if the ‘views’ counter jumped by several numbers.

    Anyone who doesn’t believe this — go ahead and try to duplicate the stalker’s video yourself. Pick an old post from several years ago, reload the page, and watch the views counter — it will increment by one.

    They’re reduced to actually faking things now. There’s nothing faked about LGF’s statistics — the views counters show how many times a page was loaded, period.

    oopsiedaisy (dafbd0)

  18. Seriously? Really? More blog spats?


    Do you seriously have nothing better to write about? Nothing better to think about? Are you really this childish and obsessed?

    I’ll bet if you look, somewhere someone else on the Internet is wrong. You should look into it.

    How the hell do you keep a job?

    Seriously? (8598dc)

  19. oopsidaisy wrote:

    465 Charles
    Wed, Jan 26, 2011 7:54:08pm

    By the way, I checked out Patterico’s post about me “faking” my statistics, which includes a video from the stalker site.

    The video is faked. It’s quite easy to see how he did it — he used another browser to reload the page at the same time, thus making it appear as if the ‘views’ counter jumped by several numbers.

    If there’s one thing I would never believe our esteemed host would do it would be to fabricate evidence on the internet: he is too skilled at spotting when other people try that stuff to ever think that he could get away with it himself.

    Maybe if our host did serious code, it would be different, but Pat needs his own tech guy to take care of complicated site issues.

    The amused Dana (3e4784)

  20. #17:

    It’s not a matter of right or wrong. It’s a matter of rocking Johnson’s leaky little boat. Fake Jesus trying to boss the waves around is a sight to sweeten the darkest of days.

    Hi Lizards!

    Mork (63bc83)

  21. It’s vanity. After the Dan Rather issue– and he drags that out all the time as one who is 80 years old might drag out a high school trophy — Johnson must have felt irrelevant because other bloggers were going further and finding out and substantiating more issues with the blame-stream media.
    The last vestige of hope for his overinflated ego was to surround himself with ONLY those persons who would think, talk and act just like him (MandyManners- a joke moniker because she has the biggest potty mouth on the net- and Sharmuta, who, like a shark, slashes and burns anyone who might insinuate that Charles is a PUNK…unless, ofcourse, he has thrown those two under the bus too) and to inflate his “viewer” counter numbers.
    LGF went from vibrant to circling the bowl. Sad. Johnson needs to reevaluate his sense of “I am” and remember there is only ONE who has that name and that is God.

    LeonidasOfSparta (c9c010)

  22. Reminds me back in the day of the guys who would buy pinball machines and disable the tilt device so they could hear the sound of the games racking up. But they could lift the machine and keep the ball in play pretty much indefinitely.

    kansas (be45b1)

  23. #20:

    Haven’t been to the Village of Lost Lizards lately, have you?

    Sharm left the day the NYT article appeared. Informed speculation is that her massive crush on The Thin-Lipped Moral Paragon™ could not survive the news that he had a girlfriend. (So he claimed.) Ain’t been seen since. All that stroking and kneading for nothing.

    Mandy got banished last year for taking issue with the notion that Tennessee is overwhelmingly more Islamophobic and inbred than, say, a convention full of superannuated jazz guitarists.

    Cato gave Charles the finger when the Great Loozard brought in pop-up ads and suggested people might want to subscribe to his content-free link dump to speed up the load times.

    Just the other day, a third-tier lizard had a very public mental/emotional meltdown that had observers seriously worried for his and others’ safety. Charles’ reaction? “I don’t need the grief. Get lost!” Johnson’s “enemies” are now reaching out to the guy in genuine concern.

    As for God, at LGF his name is Richard Dawkins, thank you very much. The place is a moral sewer.

    Mork (63bc83)

  24. Comment by Seriously? — 1/27/2011 @ 4:49 am

    Hey, I vote you for blog critic. Who gives a sh!t what you think, or find interesting? Start your own d@mn blog, and you can control its content.
    I can’t tell you how original and refreshing it is to read remarks from a blog comment section b!tching about the post. You’re unique, and you certainly deserve kudos for your ground breaking comment.

    vote for pedro (e7577d)

  25. Dana:

    Nobody is saying I created that video — not even Charles — because I didn’t. In fact, as I say in the post, I could not replicate the results. I doubt they faked it. Maybe Charles fixed the code before I tried. He is very aware of the Diary of Daedalus site.

    What is undeniable, and I gather he has not denied because the original proof was his admission — is that he awards himself 10 page views for every single page view of his front page. That’s weaselly enough to justify my headline.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  26. UPDATE: 21, not 23. Duh. Thanks to Newtons.Bit.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  27. I know what I was thinking, but it’s not worth trying to explain.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  28. Gawd, LGF makes me laugh. It just never gets old.

    From one of Johnson’s blogroupies:

    “LGF is the only bastion of true politically diverse discussion on the internet as far as I’m concerned (as well as a pretty groovy community). I wouldn’t post anywhere else.”

    Oh, I need a drink after that.

    Mork (a6b7f6)

  29. BTW, Leonidas, my #23 was meant in reply to your #21.

    Mork (a6b7f6)

  30. CtheJ’s whole genius was that he built a platform for people to meet and share/provide content. He was never much of an original content provider: he was just good at promoting stuff other people found.

    In his laissez-faire days he had some complete whackos commenting (Bigel, anyone) and some unsavory people. This WILL happen if you run a laissez-faire comment policy, but of course his enemies used it against him. For whatever reason (internalized criticism or righteous indignation) he started micromanaging his comment threads, and gradually shifted from justified suspiciousness to outright paranoia. Blogwars begat boycotts, boycotts begot secondary boycotts (anyone who commented on a banned blog was banned), then tertiary boycotts,…

    And so, gradually, he banned 99% of the people that made LGF what it was. Now he’s left with, basically, a poor man’s Daily Kotz. Conservatives and libertarians mock or despise him, leftists will never trust him, and centrists ignore him.

    And guess what? Several of his now-banned blogchildren either have more views on their own sites, or have moved on to paid writing gigs.

    The first sign something was amiss was his white whale-like pursuit of Pamela Geller (whom I am no fan of, mind you). The secondary boycott and begining of the “memory holing” should have been a red alert for all of us, but we kept rationalizing until the evidence that Icarus was burned by the sun could no longer be ignored by even the most obtuse of us.

    Lightmore (6787a8)

  31. PS: the man who (most deservedly) heaped abuse on “al-Guardian” (a.k.a. the Daily W*nker) for years published a piece there, thrashing his former protege Pamela Geller. Either he’s so obsessed with her that he is willing to run to the devil for succor, or he’s willing to side with whoever will give him a bit of relevancy. I don’t know which is worse. In any case, as he couldn’t wield a banning stick in the comment threads there, his foray became quite the fiasco.

    Lightmore (6787a8)

  32. I reproduced this result… at least with IE. Looked at this story:

    Admittedly it’s from Monday so could still have some activity. I loaded it, refreshed it: views increased by somewhere between 5 and 9 (I don’t recall exactly). But people could be looking at it, right? I saw that comments were automatically expanded; I hid them. Over the next 2-3 minutes the counter only incremented by my refreshes (two in that period). Then I expanded the comments and the counter increased by 9.

    It’s hard to say it’s malicious, in fact I really doubt that it is, but I believe the video and the assertion that the counter is being incorrectly incremented.

    Brian (cd6722)

  33. I updated my thread:

    Also, in the day since we’ve posted this, we’ve natually had a lot of folks try to duplicate what happened there in the video (Patterico said he couldn’t). With the other feedback that we’re getting, it appears that the refresh issue I’m demonstrating is specific to IE users, and that you must allow the page to load completely for it to jump by 9 like that.

    So, I whipped up another quick video, this time just refreshing the page with comments, and making sure to wait for the page to load completely. I’m using IE8 on my VAIO, and was able to get it to jump by 9 with each refresh:

    Probably not intentional, although CJ likes to fiddle with code and I wouldn’t put much past him. Either way, until he fixes that and the other stuff we pointed out his view counter is pretty much meaningless.

    ChenZhen (1c5e47)

  34. #28
    “LGF is the only bastion of true politically diverse discussion on the internet as far as I’m concerned (as well as a pretty groovy community). I wouldn’t am not allowed to post anywhere else.”

    There, fixed.

    Ricardo Multiban (f09ebd)

  35. Google Charles Johnson editorial on the Guardian. First thing that pops up is Pamela Geller and the Bloggers of Hate. CJ says, “My site gave Geller her ‘break’ on the web. These days, I work hard to stop such extremists drowning out the moderate majority.”

    Picture of Geller refers to her as anti-Islam blogger. jajajaja. what about all the arab assclowns KILLING innocents. I don’t follow LGF now, but wonder if they have frightened him or has someone paid him off? Not that I much care. His 15 minutes are up. I see some comments have been removed by a moderator so I don’t give much credence to the people kissing CJ’s ass there. Free speech for me, but not for thee, indeed.

    Calypso Louie Farrakhan (798aba)

  36. It would have been better for Charles to check and see if this is true, in all major browsers, before scoffing that it’s not true.

    That’s how he fell on his ass with his St Pancake lying. Now, a lot of people will reproduce this fault and he’ll have to fix it, or at least admit that he awards himself 10 page views per page view.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  37. Who gives a shit?

    I can not imagine a sane person caring. Or looking.

    I certainly am not going to be tricked into attempts to drive traffic there.

    Larry Sheldon (7d77d0)

  38. I’ve long suspected a psuedonym of running the site. There is a total 180 in approach and perspective from when I visited there long ago (~2005-6)

    Kinda like John Cole and Balloon Juice post-Terry Schivao It’s almost like two different people.

    Just my two cents. People change, I guess.

    Techie (7c748a)

  39. Update: We’re getting hints that CJ is quietly fixing the problem with the comment page refreshes now.

    BTW- That copy/pasted comment from Charles at #17 up there appears to have been from yesterday’s [private] thread, before the truth sunk in, so we assume he won’t be claiming publicly that my video was faked.

    Uncertain whether he’ll own up, or even thank us for finding that glitch, though. :)

    ChenZhen (1c5e47)

  40. I need to step away from my computer for a little while later. It wouldn’t be that big a deal to open up one of the threads here and then put something on my F5 key. Any threads you want to have a high number of page views on?

    malclave (4f3ec1)

  41. even thank us for finding that glitch, though


    No, don’t bet on it. Great work, though. No surprise he is now fully aware of the problem, but hasn’t offered an apology of his accusations.

    You’d think he’d eventually feel some shame. I guess he probably does.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  42. One more thing- LGF is currently rockin’ twelve threads on the front page.

    ChenZhen (1c5e47)

  43. The counter isn’t counting your page views, it’s counting all page views. So, for example, say a page shows 100 views, and then when you reload it, it shows 105 views. It’s possible 4 other people viewed the page between your loads.

    I’m no fan of CJ, who seems to have had some sort of mental breakdown a few years ago. But this issue seems bogus (except incrementing 10 page counts when the front page is loaded is deceptive).

    Not So Fast (c9ad0c)

  44. I went and read the post at Probably should have done so first. :)

    Old posts most likely aren’t getting constant traffic. If this behavior is happening on old posts, then his counter is likely inflating the numbers.

    Poor guy. Hopefully he’ll get some professional help.

    Not So Fast (c9ad0c)

  45. I wonder how many hits came from here?

    Been a long time since I went to that website

    a few posts here have been the only reason to go over and check it out

    Dan Kauffman (9a7fc3)

  46. Perhaps it’s time someone pointed out that you still have Little Green Footballs on your blogroll. :)

    The Dana who notices these things (3e4784)

  47. #23 Mork– thanks for the update on LGF. I think I was banned. Or not. The day I left the schmeer of brownnosing by Sharm and Mandy was so disgusting that I wrote Chucky and told him what I thought. I didn’t diss him publicly, but via an email. Given his ego I figured he wouldn’t allow such insurrection from a mere mortal. I haven’t been back since. And I noticed, before I exited ‘stage left’ that the loud,phoney, Richard Dawkins was the favored “intellectual and spiritual” advisor and ‘go-to’ answer man…go figure. Wierd. I mean, Mork, Charles used to make fun of AlGore. Now he supports and worships at the altar of AGW. Even Zombie couldn’t take it any more.

    LeonidasOfSparta (c9c010)

  48. What am I missing?

    As I mentioned on/to Pamela’s aways back (when it comes to all teengs Chuckles Yawnson).

    Forget the freak. Don’t talk. Don’t link.

    He’s a piece of excrement for crying out loud (repeat after me: flush, wash, forget ….)

    Elmo (581b62)

  49. Who even checks to see what’s on LGF any more ?

    What a shame that the folks who run LGF went off the rails. I mean, for a long time it was an indispensable web site, what with the Smoking Memorandum & all.

    They did invaluable work for ever so long & then they lost their way.

    A real shame.

    faxhorn (b74a7f)

  50. The 9x refresh inflation was real, I confirmed it. It now appears to be corrected.

    But the front page refresh still updates every article on the front page. That is 12 for 1.

    The claim in his tweet that x number of people were laughing at you was a deliberate lie, those were refreshes, not people.

    LGF is a chat room, a couple dozen commenters refreshing refreshing twice a minute over 3 hours would result in 8,650 “views”.

    A bigger fraud is in the statistics sidebar. It shows 84% of the “page views” as “visits”. Any fool can see this is impossible due to the front page issues and the undeniable fact that commenters refreshing are counted as views.

    The statistics are complete BS since he purged the site meter and blocks websites that measure traffic.

    Bagua (02884c)

  51. Really, why do you guys care? Ignore him.

    SunSword (5d2ce9)

  52. CJ has now admitted that the LGF page views were false.

    With typical dishonesty, this was done on a private thread only viewable by registered users.


    Bagua (02884c)

  53. Page counters are so 1995 Geocities anyway.

    Vatar (3899d0)

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