Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

A Month on the Space Subsite

It's a few days short of a full month, but I'll be daring and give you the March-summary anyway. After staring with AstroSloth, I'll give you a peek behind the scenes at the traffic patterns for the Space subsite in terms of geography, chronology, and content.

Astronaut Sloth, because who better for deep-space missions than a creature that will nap through them?


Jumping right in, the numbers are scarily close to hitting 300k in a month, according to the internal statistics. The externally-counted US Uniques is 175-200k, far short of the target but not too shabby for my first month as a Recruit. A massive 80k is directly due to the announcement of gravitational waves, but even excluding that, traffic has been steadily increasing.

Geographic Distribution

More interestingly, international readers makes up a substantial portion of my traffic. Yes, readers show up from major US population centres — hello, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, DC, Huston, Philadelphia, Denver, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Portland, Detroit, and more — but a fair chunk (100+k) are coming from elsewhere in the world. The Commonwealth countries of Canada, the UK, and Australia are the biggest chunk of international readers, but Space is even getting readers in countries where English isn't the primary language, like Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Brazil, and France.


Chronological Distribution


3am Witching Hour: take your pants off & party!

Traffic ebbs and flows over the course day. Peak traffic is in the morning and early afternoon — 9am to 1pm PDT EDT, with a fat curve drop-off into the afternoon and evening. Nights are quiet with a distinct lull from midnight to 3am. My favourite quirk is that 3am really is the witching hour. Even if a few hundred people are reading articles at 2am and 4m, traffic will drop to a few dozen when the bell tolls 3. If you find yourself awake at 3am PDT EDT, feel free to run down the digital hallways naked waving your arms in the air — you've got the place to yourself.


Early afternoon traffic peaks mark each day.

Weeks have less clear ebbs and flows, but still recognizable patterns. For the most part, traffic on weekends is spread out over the course of a day. It doesn't peak as high as week-days, but instead has much wider, flatter curve of more steady concurrent readers.


As an aside, the same patterns hold true for Observation Deck, although you lack the sharp 3am drop. Most people spend 30 seconds to a minute reading a post, and recirculation is high (meaning many people read more than one article in a row). ODeck gets a lot more referrals from elsewhere in the Gawker empire, and has an overwhelmingly loyal audience with very few people popping by for a one-off read.

Content Comments

I couldn't pull off the zero-gravity boobs or fuzzy animals in space from your suggestions earlier in the week, but I did get almost-viral activity on the JPL rocket history post. Apparently, people like crazy history & things that go boom! The article got picked up by Jalopnik, re-headed by Gizmodo, and passed around Twitter by Gawker's Editorial Director.


I've decided that "Space" actually means all forms of astronomy and planetary science, letting me talk about natural catastrophes. Although the traffic on current-events posts like the Steelhead landslide in Washington and the La Habra earthquake in Los Angeles don't come close to gravitation waves or even rocket-history, my geoscientist soul feels pretty happy to be getting hardcore accurate science reporting into the news cycle. If you have any geohazards questions, please do ask me!


This week Space had it's first story directly inspired by an Observation Deck contributor, and another is going to go live on Monday. As always, thank you so much for the support! If you like what you read, pass it on so I can keep getting paid to write it for you.


According to internal statistics, people spend between 250,000 and 400,000 minutes a day on the Space subsite, an awe-inspiring and terrifying statistic. In my new role as the place that steals your time from you, I'll be stashing away your lost minutes in a bucket for my own private consumption. ...or use them to build a time-machine.


Update: As of 9am March 31st, I crossed the 300k threshold for global traffic. Fairly certain I'm actually measured against US Uniques and am <100k short for March, but still pretty pleased!

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