Statistically speaking

By Mir
October 4, 2009

Because my husband is a professor at this here big local university, and because I have befriended lots of other professors at said university, and because I am a giver, I oftentimes do things FOR THE CHILDREN (meaning the children who are old enough to smoke, drink, have orgies, and lie to my husband about why they couldn’t finish that assignment, dude, because they were, like, so close, but then this THING happened and he understands, right?) in the name of academia.

Like, sometimes I go into a class and give a guest lecture. I enjoy having young people stare at me like I have six heads, apparently. You know they’re thinking I am too impossibly OLD and ORDINARY to have anything useful to tell them. Not that this stops me. I’m totally in it for the free lunch I usually get out of the deal. (Here, let us stop and give silent thanks that the Faculty Eatery finally closed. The lunches from there were not so much payment as payBACK, only I’m not sure what I did wrong.)

Anyway, one of the other things I’ve done is allow a friend and professor who teaches social media stuff give a classful of students access to my Google Analytics.

For those of you unfamiliar with Google Analytics, it’s a way to look at site statistics, like who visits from where and for how long. It allows you to drill down several levels and create segmentation of various data, and I have absolutely no idea what that sentence actually means.

Actually, I have no idea what most of Google Analytics means. I installed it a few years ago because someone I was working with wanted some specific information about my site demographics. I, myself, don’t really use it. I mean, if I wanted to, I suppose I could. Entire business strategies are leveraged on the data from Google Analytics! It’s Important Stuff!

Only I mostly don’t care.

The thing about this site is that it’s not my business. It’s just my personal site. And the thing about Want Not is that I don’t really care who visits from where; I care about the nickels and dimes I make on affiliate sales, which are easily measurable from the sorts of reports that the various affiliate programs I belong to are only too happy to generate for me.

In short, I never look at Google Analytics. And if I did, I’m not sure what sort of conclusions I would draw from it.

But the students, man. The students are there to LEARN. And ANALYZE. And PLAN. Part of their assignment, once they’ve been let loose in my modest statistics, is to generate a report not just about my readership and traffic, but to include suggestions on how to improve my sites and generate more visibility and loyalty.

When the assignments are finished and graded, I get a copy of the whole darn packet, as a thank-you for letting them poke around in my numbers. I think next year I may just ask for a nice bottle of wine, instead, but whatever. The reports are always… interesting.

To be clear, I’m not saying the students are doing anything wrong; in fact, they’re doing exactly what they’ve been asked to do, and they’re thinking about things according to principles they’re studying, and DID I MENTION THE EARNEST PART? I have been running this site for five and a half years, and Want Not for over three years, but the suggestions they have for me on how to EXPAND MY BUSINESS are always the very best part of this exercise. Because they are SO SMART.

For example, my bounce rate is quite high here, and even higher on Want Not. So they always offer lots of suggestions on how to lower that (so as to keep people on the site, adding to my traffic). On this site I have a cadre of loyal readers who come and read the day’s new post and then leave, because, um, they’ve already read the other posts. And on Want Not I’ve usually linked off to some deal that they then go check out. So to bounce here on Woulda is expected, and to bounce on Want Not is actually THE POINT, so the many suggestions to decrease my bounce rate always make me giggle a little.

Common suggestions to increase time people spend on either site include: add pictures, make my page more “catchy” (I am not catchy! I lack catch!), make my purpose more clear (my purpose is to confuse you; can you hear me now?), and—this year’s absolute favorite—write more stories about my dog. Because apparently Licorice is the only damn thing keeping this place going, lately.

The students are generally split down the middle on the issue of audience; half of them conclude that only mothers read me (on both sites) and that I should become MORE mother-oriented (extremely popular: suggesting I redesign my site to be a clone of The Pioneer Woman, which is a great idea from a business perspective because there’s no doubt her traffic trumps mine, but turning myself into Ree seems problematic on several levels, starting with I’M NOT HER), and the other half want me to write less about my children and offer everything from job tips to college seniors to sightseeing advice to those new to Georgia.

Everyone is very concerned about my decreased traffic on the weekends, and they all want me to fix that by posting more and/or saving the really juicy stuff for Saturdays. If my websites and I existed in a vacuum that would be an EXCELLENT idea, but as it took me several years to get to where I didn’t feel like I had to work seven days a week, I tend to just skip over this part. Tra la la….

In the “reaching” category we have the earnest student who wants me to increase my Asian readership by addressing topics of special interest to Asian mothers. I have nothing against Asians (love me some Asians, man), but not being Asian, myself, I am… not entirely sure how (or why) I should be doing this.

Several reports suggest I create a specific section for regular posts on How To Be A Better Mother, which THANK GOODNESS, THAT wouldn’t be polarizing at all AND I’m so glad someone finally realizes I’m the world’s leading authority on How To Do It Right! HA! Actually, this led me to conclude that those students never read either of my sites. I hope they didn’t fail the assignment, but I do sort of hope the professor laughed at them. (Also, I hope they’re using birth control. Because if any of my writing appears to them to be about how to be a better mother, the future of this country is doomed. DOOMED, I TELL YOU.)

In conclusion, my stats appear to indicate that Dood, I’m doing it wrong, and I sincerely apologize. I will get RIGHT ON revising both sites in accordance with my new business plan.

Just as soon as Licorice finishes writing it for me.


  1. Jomama

    You’re such a wiseass… :-)

  2. Justin

    I am not a mother, but I still find your site very amusing. I must admit I generally leave after I read the new posting.

  3. The Other Leanne

    May I suggest: many pictures of an Asian dog dressed in western wear with captions containing motherly advice. That would certainly keep me on the site for a long time…

  4. The Other Leanne

    Wait, “mothering advice,” not motherly. Dang!

  5. Lise

    I like “motherly advice” – maybe you could advise the Asian dog on how to be a better cowboy? Urm. . . cowdog?

  6. dad

    As an adult, taking any advice from college students is just wrong. You remember, I hardly ever paid attention to your analysis of anything when you were in college. People that age have too many hormones to be rational or helpful.

    I think your analysis of their assignment is on the money.
    What I totally disagree with on is the fact that you “don’t have catch.” Believe me, you’re a catch. Just ask Professor Otto.

  7. Patricia

    Thank you ever so much — it appears I now need to write multiple letters of apology to subject of my market research class from college. I think that perhaps I might have suggested that the symphony would be more popular if it played less classical music. Um, that’s a dark moment in my college life — for which I’m thrilled they still graduated me.

  8. Valery

    “People that age have too many hormones to be rational or helpful.”

    I think this sums up “that age” perfectly. LOL

  9. ccr in MA

    Dood, whatever you’re doing, I for one like it.

    And man, I wouldn’t be college-age again for a million dollars.

  10. Karen

    Oh….you crack me up…..and though I also read the Pioneer Woman….I would much rather you, be you. That is why I read you. I enjoy your sense of humor, sarcasm and words of wisdom.

    It is amazing the perspective that real life gives one.

  11. getsheila

    Reminds me of a sci-fi short story I read as a kid called “Dull Drums” by Anne McCaffrey. A comp sci class is tasked with data erasure of private citizen records from free public data storage vaults to make room for new ones. (Quit laughing. It was written in 1973.)

    They have to audit the old text, audio, and video and cross-check with Obituaries before erasure. They get a nasty surprise at term end when they discover the final has nothing to do with techie tasks but is instead to write an essay on “the psychological trends in personal programming in the early 21st century” based on what they observed as they audited the old text, etc.

    PWN! Couldn’t really work today, though. In the story, no one from prior year classes spills the secret goal of the course. Today, it would be tweeted before that day’s class end. Too bad. It would be AWESOME.

  12. Erin

    Awesome! I absolutely love your blog. I’ve been reading for almost 2 years now and your wit and subtle (sometimes not so subtle) sarcasm keep me laughing and coming back every day :-) Kudos to you, Mir! And whether it was your intention or not, I have definitely learned some things about mothering from you. Good things. Keep it up!

  13. Headless Mom

    They clearly missed the ‘dad’ factor. He is a gem, that one.

  14. Aubri

    Wow. College kids are fun. Oh wait, I am one… Hmmm… At any rate, I’m not a mother, and I’m in college, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with your site the way it is. I’ve been reading for over four years, and think it’s grand. :)

  15. Traci

    I’d comment…but I just finished today’s post…hafta bounce… ;)

  16. Traci

    Did the students happen to track how often your readers “bounce” to another blog of yours? Not just from here to Wantnot but to any of the others you write for regularly? Personally, I have a folder in my favorite’s that’s called “Mir’s blogs” with links to: Iddy Biddy Blog, Kitchen Table Reviews at Scholastic, Work It Mom, Cool Mom Picks, Woulda Coulda, Want Not.. and it used to have Ty’s Toy Box Blog (do you still write that?)…and…what am I missing?

  17. Brandy

    The first time I read your blog I immediately went back and read your back posts. So, there goes the whole “bounce” theory. I’ve been visiting your sight and sometimes commenting (I’m no good at that, a bit too shy.) and am delighted with each post. Those students are just silly.

  18. Heidi D

    I like that your blog is not strictly pictures of your children every single day. I’ve read too many blogs where that’s the only content. Or that it’s geared strictly towards mothers. I love that you write about many different things going on in your life. Your stories about Monkey helped me realize that good grief! I’m not the only mother dealing with Issues With the School.
    And, you’re funny! I’ve often nearly spit out my coffee while reading here. Also, your style of writing is awesome.
    I come here everday to see if you’ve posted, but I totally understand if you don’t because you needed a break.

    So don’t change too much, okay. :)

  19. BethR

    Just remember: there’s lies, damn lies and statistics. They’ll all make an ass out of you :)

    Thanks again for sharing your life with us, Mir. It’s a giggle and an honor to go through it with you!

  20. sassymonkey

    Hahahahaha! Oh my. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages.

    Wait? I’m reading you. Does that mean I’m a mom now? Children aren’t going to start popping out of my laptop are they? *hides*

  21. Megumi

    Erm wait… there are topics specifically interesting to Asian Mothers (other than what is already here)? I must be missing something because as one of those “Asian Mothers” I dig your site just the way it is :)

  22. angela

    I agree with Dad completely. When I was a college student I was a moron who thought I knew everything. Then When i wasn’t any more I realized I knew nothing. They’ll realize that one day.

  23. Sheila

    Have any of those Poindexters specifically studied your post on the Adult Toys party? You’d think that at least one of the kids would have caught on to the whole “sex sells” thing and encouraged you to be more lusty. That’s catchy stuff, right there.

  24. Mara

    Probably not what you want to hear, but I just had my first baby and actually do hold you as one of my ‘good mom’ examples. Not to a “what would Mir do” extent, but still. I’m not quite college-age anymore… maybe grad-school-aged? Anyway. More dog stories = always a good thing.

  25. Sara

    I love it! Assvice from university students…although, I wonder, is there any other kind? And I kind of have to love the professor who uses this as an assignment.
    Also, I must again state that I continue to have a weensie crush on your dad.

  26. Jessica @ Acting Adult

    I think your site is a perfect blend of topics! You shouldn’t try to be a clone of anyone else – that would ME stop reading. So yeah! Keep doing what you’re doing and let the kids do their silly research project on you. :)

  27. Anna Marie

    Don’t you change a gosh-darn thing! We love you just the way you are.

  28. Sharon

    If they had been tracking your stats the summer of ’08 they would have been amazed at the activity in your archives – I read ALL of your posts up to the point I found your blog. Then I bookmarked many of them and read them AGAIN. My daughter was reading you before I found you, and she’s a 20-something resident, as in going to be a doctor. You attract all kinds, Mir. Keep up the good work!

  29. Otto

    So you know, had my students done the analysis, they would not have recommended more photos of Licorice.

    They would have recommended more stories on the homeless in our county, the International Student Coffee Hour (Every Friday!) and something about football …


  30. Karen

    Well Mir, I am a mom, and I am a dog lover.. but it’s your sarcasm and wit and honest humor that keep me coming back…about the only change I would make is… your header photo still reminds me of bacon…lol…

  31. joaaanna

    Oh Mir. I love you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!

  32. mama speak

    Bounce…hmmm. Well, I’m thinking once one has gone a read a large portion of your archives they’re probably more or less done with it. I mean I love your writing and all, but I do have a life, what w/being a mom.

    Ok, and now the communication major in me is going to come out and point out how out of touch they are, based on the bounce comment alone; IF they had done ANY research at all about blogging, and they were giving you assvice on ways to “reduce your bounce” one would think they would suggest a “linked within” type program. Suggesting similar stories on your site. I couldn’t help it. Sorry.

    Licorice stories = good, but so do Otto, Chickie, Monkey, garden, bug, etc…stories. It’s you’re writing Mir (you know that) THAT’s why you’re a catch. (You don’t have a catch…grumble, grumble, you kids get off my lawn!)

  33. Heather

    I’m not a mom, but I love your writing :) That’s what keeps me coming back. (That, and the partial RSS feed lol.)

  34. jess

    I’m wondering if your weekend drop has to do with the fact that you don’t write as much on the weekend (one post for the two days usually, right?) or the fact that a lot of us have weekend lives. Hmmmm… also, I’m a twenty-something, non-mother (who will never be a mother), so there goes the idea that you only appeal to mom-types. *winks* I think you’re just a really good writer who seems to have similar values, views, and frugal ideas. I wouldn’t mind more Licorice posts, but all-Licorice, all the time would get a little doggone tiresome, Mir.

    (Just one thing: Please don’t post spider pics again. I still remember that, and I still tremble in fear of the spider pics.)

  35. gloria

    You’re really annoying sometimes; lighten up. Have you ever taken into consideration these students are just writing crass suggestions because they hate the assignment? I was one of them once.

    In the future, don’t offer your site to student criticism!

    [Ed. note: Yes, Gloria, clearly I’m the one who needs to lighten up, here….]

  36. Karen Russell

    So, I teach at said local university (no, Mir’s readers, not the class Mir’s working with), and I’ll be sending a bunch of students to your post tomorrow. I’m not sure what they’ll make of it, so let’s just assume it’ll be a terrific learning experience for everyone. Heh.

  37. Dawn

    Hmmm… the reason you have such a high bounce rate is because you have very loyal readers who visit EVERY DAY. They don’t need to stay longer to read previous posts because they stay up-to-date with you and have already read the blog COVER TO COVER… so to speak. And they don’t visit on the weekends because they know you don’t usually post on weekends. This is called success.

    I really like that you blog about other aspects of your life in addition to motherhood. No one is just a mother.

    And you’re not annoying. You seem like someone I’d like to be friends with in real life. Y’know, if it weren’t for the three-day long commute. One way.

  38. BethRD

    Personally, my biggest complaint is that you only have *one* dog. I’m not sure I can feel any loyalty to a site like that. What you need is a *bunch* of dogs, maybe eight or nine, assorted sizes. And a llama. Definitely a llama.

  39. Heather Cook

    Oh my gosh… if you change that would be horrible. Life would be crap. I’m just saying. Keep doing what you are doing!

  40. wilma ham

    Now I know why it has taken me such a long time to recover my common sense after 4 years of college. Mystery solved, thanks Mir.

  41. Lady M

    I totally think you should add a column on how to be a Better Asian Mother.

  42. mom, again

    So, they are just looking at the stats and making recommendations, not actually studying the product itself?

    Evidently, that lesson is common to many sorts of products analysts, not just, ummmm *scrolls up* social media analysts. Because, exactly what the product is and how well it works has nothing to do, quite often, with the numbers it generates.

    I read all, or most of the site sometime about 18 months ago. Since then, I bounce right out after catching up.

  43. Flea

    My husband, who is an expert on storm troopers, thinks you need to go to more sex toy parties then write about them. Just passing on his expert advice.

    Seriously – that was the funniest post I think I’ve ever read. Anywhere. Anytime.

  44. Tam

    I started reading your blog about five months ago, and also went straight back and read your archives from start to finish – yeah, being a mum doesn’t keep me busy enough. I can’t get enough of what you write!

  45. Camilla

    I am a complete lurker, but i feel it is time to show my face! I’m a daily visitor now (you’re part of my ‘oh god i’m suddenly not in my bed anymore i’m at work instead quick someone give me loads of entertaining blogs to read’ self-medication on weekday mornings) and i’m always happy to come read your dose of snark. So wanted to say thankyou!

    The kids suggestions were kinda sweet (and some of them pretty good – what they were doing is part of my dayjob) – pity they weren’t given an online business to analyse as their responses would be so much more relevant! I can help dispel some of their assumptions, because i’m late twenties and definitely not a mother, and i’m one of those ‘bouncers’ as i come to read your latest post and then skip off merrily to another blog.

    Anyhoo, keep up the writing, i’m always very grateful you’ve got a new post up and waiting for me to read with my coffee before diving into the pile of work in my todo list. :D

  46. Nicki

    Oh, Mir, your loyal readers like you just the way you are. (Clearly, I’m a mom giving momtastic advice.)
    And suddenly, I’m grateful I don’t have anyone to analyze my site. I’d hate to feel compelled to listen to a lot of unwanted advice. Just remember, we never knew anything in college either, we just thought we did.

  47. Alison C

    I bounce a lot here because I have no life of my own and check to see if you have updated.

    But really not a mom and love your wit and insight. I don’t spend long here because I’ve already read all the archives. Keep it just as it is!

  48. Frank

    I will, of course, state the obvious… because that is what I am best at.
    The biggest problem with this analysis is that it is based almost (if not totally) on modeling a business to make money in the same old way. It is generic, canned responses based on their academic requisites (slightly altered to appear to make them fresh). Change your content to change, expand, or focus your readership… not even considering what the point of the blog is (either blog). I laughed out loud at the ideas for WantNot. See, the idea of 99% of websites is to make money. better than 90% (guessing) do it by making you stay and buy something. They totally didnt check the content to see that the point WAS to bounce.. to an affiliated site. They went with the canned responses for keeping traffic from leaving. I hope the teacher understands this, and uses it to show that a little personalized or more careful analysis can go a long way to making their suggestions both make sense, and make cents.
    It is funny, tho. It strikes me as a microcosm of today’s business environment. There are too many companies doing things the same old way. They need new ideas, new ways to do things, and newer analysis tools that include a more personal touch. It is easier than ever today to take the pulse of one’s audience. The tools are there. Just need to break the mindset.
    Sorry, really didnt expect that to go on like it did. Understand that it is a criticism of the methodology to gain the results more than anything specific. Your own analysis of the specifics is enough to make me laugh
    Now I can get back to my regularly scheduled bouncing.

  49. Brigitte

    Boing! ;-)

  50. Heather J

    I don’t think “study” takes into account that some of us bounce in and out to see if your dad or Otto have posted a comment. :)

  51. Randi

    Ha ha ha ha :). The only thing I’d say is that yes, PLEASE more photos! I love having a peek into your world! Even photos of just things around the house! Guess I’m just a visual person :)

  52. Karen

    Well, I think I need to bounce now. A) I am not a mother. B) I love hearing about your children. C) I am Asian.

    Maybe the caveat is that I love dogs. Only you JUST got her. Maybe I sensed that you were going to get one all along and I was just reading all the other posts just waiting for your doggy tales to unfold.

    Love your blog. It’s all good stuff to me. :)

    Btw, how come nobody analyzed it’s your Otto stories that keep us here? Is it because they know he’s a professor there and that would make it forbidden?

  53. radioactivetori

    You are in luck if you want people to stay on your site longer. Right now I am making cookies with my son. I have been here for HOURS trying to get a chance to read this. So really, what you need to do to get people to stay longer is to just find busy crazy people who actually think they can read a blog, fold laundry and make cookies with their son all at the same time.

  54. Annette

    Since we are talking hypothetically, can’t we just wish they don’t have sex?

    I am sure the professor took the opportunity to discuss thinking outside of the box. Because, obviously, they are all about being in the box. You don’t learn about being out until you are in the real world. Then you realize the only reason you went to college was to mature a few more years before you procreate:).

  55. Aimee

    Well, ma’am, I’m sorry for adding to your bounce ratio. But I beg to disagree – you do too have catch!

  56. laura

    Learning, analyzing, planning…..How amazing would this be if this worked in real life? The BEST part of this site is when YOU triumph over the ignorant, unanalyzed and unplanned ‘stuff’ of the every day. Gives the rest of us hope (and a whole lot of laughs).

  57. Heidi

    I really enjoy Pioneer Woman, but if you became Ree you’d have to homeschool Monkey and Chickadee. Ooh–that would provide PLENTY of blog fodder! Right up until you’re admitted to the funny farm. Which would also provide blog fodder. And then your triumphant come-back to society. See where I’m going here? Forget the blogs, you’re a reality show in the making.

  58. midj

    Also being a mother in a University town (UF), with a daughter majoring in PR, I see what you’re saying, up close and personal, with regards to what she’s “learning” in her classes. A dose of reality every now and then is warranted. That said, I come here for the snark, have read the archives, and as Heather said sometimes bounce in and out to see if Otto or Dad has commented. I enjoy what you do and how you do it. Thanks for keeping it real, and for sending me off to read other blogs that are now on my bloglines list! Bouncing off now…

  59. Dawn

    “People that age have too many hormones to be rational or helpful.”
    I love your Dad too. He is right on. I work in IT for a university, and I cannot tell you the number of completely ludicrous solutions they propose to us when they only see 1% of the problem (the part that affects THEM of course) filtered through their limited experience.
    Don’t change a thing!

  60. Shelley

    My opinion for slow traffic on the weekend is due to people reading at work. Who’s with me?

  61. Kathi

    Just read your dad’s comment. Can I please have him? Or maybe could he just call me a few times a week and say all those really nice things to me? Thanks!

  62. Zilla

    I bounce in and out cuz I’m supposed to be working. Can’t have your site up all day – have to do some work. Keep up your good work – love it!!!

  63. Scottsdale Girl


    *bouncing to next post*

  64. Shan

    I’m not a mom, but I love your site. Your humour keeps bringing me back. Your relationship with your children, reminds me so much of my relationship with my mom. I just come and read the day’s posts then leave, but I’ll be a reader for as long as you keep this site up and running.

  65. Katie in MA

    Wait, I’m still stuck back at “increase loyalty.” Do these students and Google Analytics not look at the comments? :)

  66. k

    I think you need more pictures of your dog. Preferably in clothes. Stylish clothes that make all the other dogs jealous.

  67. Angie

    Pardon me for stating the obvious, but if you’d just post a little more porn (with or without you and Otto) things would really start hopping here.

  68. Sharon

    I hope you told these kids to get off your lawn! Woulda Coulda Shoulda is awesome just like it is!

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