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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Drawer of shame

We've all seen those glittering displays of gewgaws and tchotchkes next to the cash register... tempting the impulsive idiot that lives inside each of us to part with just a little more of our hard-earned cash.  I won't try to make a list of my regretable purchases here... but we all have a special 'drawer of shame' where we hide these impulse buys from our spouses and friends. 

Go ahead and pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

For the most part I've been able to curb my impulse demons while waiting on line at the store.  However, my time spent 'online' is quite another story!  When I'm poking around the blogosphere looking at what other people have on their sites I become the worst sort of impulsive idiot.

The stuff I can't resist are flashy blog tools and assorted scripts that 'might come in handy'.  And the 'drawer of shame' where it all seems to end up is the sidebar of my journal. 

Recently while visiting a fellow blogger's site I noticed a flashy little do-dad on her sidebar that showed a list of pretty flags representing the countries from which her traffic was coming.  When I did a little poking around I discovered that this shiny new toy was free.

Guess how many nanoseconds between reading the word 'free' and pasting the script into my sidebar?  As the not-very-PC expression goes; I was on that script like a bum on a ham sandwich!

Once it was installed I started reading the fine print.  Big surprise, the 'free' part was only for 14 days, after which it would still show up... but it would be intermittently pushing ads at my readers. 

OK... I figured I would leave the pretty flags there for the two week trail period and then remove it.  After all, while I had a pretty good handle on where treppenwitz's traffic was coming from... I figured it would be neat to see the information represented by pretty, colorful flags.

Guess what?  I don't have a very good handle on who is coming here.  What's more... I was so fascinated by how little I knew about my readership that I am now on day 15 with it still in my sidebar. 

Hellooooo ads!

Please allow me digress for a moment.

I knew most of my readers live in the US.  Big surprise.  But I had always figured Israel held the second place position. 

Nope.

Australia!  Huh... whodathunkit?

I know a couple of readers down under (Hi Kay!.. Hi Zemirah!), but I really don't have a clue how in 14 days over 900 hits were registered from down there.

Another few surprises from a clear blue sky;  France, Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland!  Besides the language barrier to comprehending my long-winded ramblings... how did you guys (or girls) end up here?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Anyway, like most impulse purchases, the shiny new toy turned out to be slightly less 'essential' once I'd gotten my hands on it than it seemed at first glance.  The script made my site load extremely slowly... and since the 14 day trial period expired, anyone visiting now has a better-than-average chance of seeing ads in the sidebar rather than the colorful column of pretty flags.

So, if you're curious about it... take a quick look because as of this evening I am deleting the script.... bye bye flags! 

I may decide to allow ads at some point in the future (to help defray the cost of hosting), but it will be on my terms and according to rules that I set... and not pushed by some tired old script that I grabbed on an embarrassing impulse while browsing around the blogosphere.

Go ahead and judge me, but how many of you have virginal sites (or computers, for that matter!) that are completely free of glittery buttons, scripts and toolbars that've been impulsively snapped up while poking around the Web?

I thought so.

Maybe it's time to clean out that 'drawer of shame'.

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Posted by David Bogner on August 16, 2005 | Permalink

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Hellooooo ads!
Hellooooooooo Internet Explorer users!!!!

Since you're a Typepad pro user, this might be interesting to you. And this as well. Add to it, say, 2 hours, and you can prettify it by have it show flags too.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Aug 16, 2005 12:48:20 PM

p.b. how in 14 days over 900 hits were registered from down there.

Given your presence on this world's search engines......*whistle, whistle, hum, hum* If you look at it, Treppenwitz is offering a keyword for almost every situation in life (including comments). Besides your loyal readers, commenters and lurkers, add to it a number of stumbled-upons, bots and spiders.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Aug 16, 2005 12:55:20 PM

Who am I to cast a cyberstone, I get addicted to *cringe* the home shopping network. Yes. I don't buy anything (*clear throat* mostly) but I can watch it for hours. Most soothing. Especially when it's that tiny square man w the pony-tail that flails his arms a lot and tells us in a highly intense, unnatural voice how to get in shape.

Blog decor... I fell in love with Guest maps, the flowers are so pretty and it's such fun to see where people come from. And I have some ideas no what else I'd like to have but no way to implement them yet. You have my deepest sympathy and empathy, absolutely.

Posted by: Lioness | Aug 16, 2005 2:13:42 PM

LOL! Hmm.. what blog did you see those on?
Yes, I had the same draw when I saw it, put it up immediately, and took it down when I saw the ads after the free trial. I liked seeing that someone from Israel and someone from Brazil was on my blog at the same time, but not enough to subject myself or my readers to ads. damn those freebies sucking us in!!

Posted by: celestial blue | Aug 16, 2005 2:30:44 PM

And I downloaded it because I saw it on your blog and thought it was so cool! Will see how long I can put up with the ads...

Posted by: She | Aug 16, 2005 2:51:56 PM

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie - Oy, Oy, Oy!!!
Ok, so i'll have to convince a few more friends to drop in before we come close to the US, but maybe we have the highest percentage of visitors from total population??

Thanks for the link to my blog (i'm honoured). When I click on the link though, it goes straight to some 'junk' pages. Is it just me? Is that my punishment for being narcissistic enough to click on a link to my own blog?!

I've enjoyed the flags; nice to see you've had some Arab visitors too. Even if they quickly backed out again, I don't think its possible to read Treppenwitz without being made to think.

(I hope Elroi is on the way to recovery, and that his friends and family are surrounded by care and comfort)

Posted by: zemirah | Aug 16, 2005 4:10:03 PM

I have to admit, David, when I saw you post your flags/visiting countries a couple of weeks ago, I jumped on your coattails and did the same.

Yesterday I got that "14-day premium trial is over" notice but I might just hang on a bit longer to my visitor log, although it was never as exciting as yours. When it did show a country other than Canada, U.S., U.K. or Israel, it was usually SPAM coming through. So some Spammer on the other side of the world had their eyes on me and my words.

I should probably get rid of all stat recorders on my blog: I'm pretty content with my regular readership, the "chevra" who stop in and visit daily or every now and again.

Posted by: Pearl | Aug 16, 2005 4:33:00 PM

Hola! Me llamo Doctor Bean. Yo no soy marinero. Soy capitan. Yo quiero un burrito muy grande. Me gusta Treppenwitz mucho, porque David es muy simpatico.

(That was for your visitors from Spain, and Central and South America, except for Brazil, of course, since they speak Portugese. The flags are gone, so I don't know how many of them there are.)

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Aug 16, 2005 4:34:19 PM

Doc,

That was impressive. I grew up in a home with parents who flipped into speaking Spanish when they did not the children to understand what was going on. Oh the joys of being a Peace Corps baby.

So allow me to translate for those who do not speak Spanish.

Welcome to the blog Treppenwitz. Here you can see giant bugs eat raw meat and make honey. I like chopped liver with my giant burrito but sometimes it makes my back hurt when I run too fast. I sail away now.

And you sounded so masculine while you said it too.

Personally I managed to avoid using that little flag doodad because I didn't want to stretch out my page, but that is the only reason.

And while I am prattling on here I wonder how much excitement we could create in the Bogner home if we dropped a Sharper Image store into the neighborhood or some other similar gadget store.

Posted by: Jack | Aug 16, 2005 4:47:53 PM

Oh, too bad it's going. I loved those little flags! But of course you don't want someone putting ads up on your site. Still... I'll just go back and stare at that column of pretty flags some more now.

Posted by: Mary | Aug 16, 2005 4:57:17 PM

Me, I'm curious about your 6 visitors from Saudi Arabia ...

Posted by: proudmommy0f4 | Aug 16, 2005 5:03:29 PM

Jack: que bueno! :)

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Aug 16, 2005 5:11:43 PM

mademoiselle a. ... As usual I owe you a big thank you. I obviously haven't looked very closely at my own back yard (typepad). as to the number of hits from Australia... I highly doubt that more than 20-30% were search engines or bots. Over the past week whenever I saw someone from Australia on the site I made a point of checking the referrer and visit length. Many of them were direct hits and quite a few followed links from other Jewish bloggers.

Lioness... No need to be ashamed. When I was University I was addicted to Bob Ross (the white guy with the afro who had that cable painting program) An hour with his soothing voice and positive style was better than a year of therapy!

Celestial... Yes, you were the one you trend-setter you! :-)

She... The ads don't bother me nearly as much as the slooooow page loading from the flags.

Zemirah... I think we can safely assume that any of those with only one or two visitors were one-off search engine hits or bots of some sort. Sorry about the bad link... I forgot to put www in front of the URL.

Pearl... I'm flattered that you would emulate me (as I emulated someone else). I think my sidebar is overdue for a good clean-up. :-)

Doctor Bean... The flags (unlike your mind) are still there... at least for the time being. :-)

Jack... Naaah, Sharper Image is mostly junk. Brookstone is slightly better, but only slightly. I have an overdue post on gadgets that will make anyone with my particular addiction go gaga. Stay tuned.

Mary... as I said, I may be adding unobtrusive ads to the site to help pay for the hosting. If I do, it will be a trial balloon to see how much revenue they actually produce.

proudmommy0f4: They probably did the standard google search for 'naked Zionist harlots'. (I know I'm going to regret that one).

Posted by: David | Aug 16, 2005 5:51:13 PM

As if I didn't feel crazy enough already - you brought my attention to the fact that I may be one of the few people that does not have tchotchkes's (online or otherwise). I'm going to chalk it up to my young age and hope no one else finds out. ;-)

Posted by: tmeishar | Aug 16, 2005 6:12:58 PM

I saw that flaggy dingus on your sidebar and was all ready to sign up when I read the fine print. Er...no thankyew.

But I use StatCounter (among other tools) to track visitors, and they have a nifty report that shows where people come from. Even better is the little HitMaps thingie, which shows where visitors come from graphically.

I'm guilty of having too much crap on th' sidebar, like everyone else...but I've pruned it from time to time when some of the components either got no attention (GuestMaps and Message Board stuff, which is conflated with too much adware) or didn't add value, or caused the page to load too slowly.

Posted by: Elisson | Aug 16, 2005 6:14:13 PM

I noticed that sidebar yesterday and thought it was so cool. 6513 visitors...wow..you are becoming an international pop star. You even got some hits from the Palestinian territories (?)

Posted by: Jaime | Aug 16, 2005 6:55:27 PM

really i only came to israel to give you more israeli hits, i felt bad. lol, glad i could help, but looks likes its not enough.

and i love being able to see that. looks like im not the only one who finds your entries facinating. its wierder now though, that i know the areas and things you talk about

Posted by: lisa | Aug 16, 2005 7:07:35 PM

I just noticed the flags yesterday and thought they were really cute!

Posted by: Essie | Aug 16, 2005 7:17:28 PM

Ha! I saw a guy this weekend with a "happy little trees" shirt on, and did a huge double take!

Posted by: Tanya | Aug 16, 2005 8:00:51 PM

Tmeishar... Good for you! Don't start collecting that junk... learn your lesson from my mistakes.

Elisson... Yeah, reading the fine print before saying 'gimmegimmegimeee' might have been a good idea. I'll make a note to myself. :-)

Jaime... That's in two weeks! I read blogs that get that on a slow day! I'm no rock star, but thanks.

Lisa... Thanks for doing your part. Hope to see you soon.

Essie... Cute isn't always a good thing. :-)

Tanya... Are you suggesting that the shirt might have been an impulse purchase? :-)

Posted by: David | Aug 16, 2005 9:18:12 PM

Many of them were direct hits and quite a few followed links from other Jewish bloggers.
Neither one nore the other is a hint that it wasn't a bot. You have to do a bit more research to find out whether it was a bot/spider/email stealer. There are search engine referrers, real people, and there are bad things coming in from search engines.
There are real humans coming in through a bookmark that doesn't "fill in" the referrer tag [the one you would see in, say, you raw apache stats], and there are snipers who ripped your URL from somewhere [search engine? another blog??], stored it in a data base and then send their scripts their way on a regular base. I, for example, receive some occasional referrers from your sidebar, but mostly it's bots and email harvester scripts.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying most of the hits are "crap" and no real humans [i.e. valuable readers]. Your audience is large and wonderful. But I just wanted to have some terminologies be understood.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Aug 16, 2005 11:14:46 PM

And I was thinking of getting the flags for my own sidebar. Oh, well, so much for that idea. Thanks for the warning.

Posted by: Rahel | Aug 17, 2005 12:07:33 AM

Well... I took the Fresco thing idea from your site (which you discarded in a fit of spring cleaning it seems) and I like it. But I put it in the footer, together with the links to different blog counters I never use anyway. My sidebar is not very crowded (clock, inspired by Bert, and flickr). But if you had a flickr badge I'm sure a lot of people would click it...

How is Elroi?

Posted by: Lila | Aug 17, 2005 12:56:20 AM

Well... I took the Fresco thing idea from your site (which you discarded in a fit of spring cleaning it seems) and I like it. But I put it in the footer, together with the links to different blog counters I never use anyway. My sidebar is not very crowded (clock, inspired by Bert, and flickr). But if you had a flickr badge I'm sure a lot of people would click it...

How is Elroi?

Posted by: Lila | Aug 17, 2005 12:56:57 AM

David,

This also works...very comprehensive counter and visitor country map for free (alas, it does not post on your blog...only you get to see it.

Posted by: V.ko | Aug 17, 2005 1:59:12 PM

I'm not sure if you're being facetious or not. One of the burdens of typed conversation.

When Bob Ross was painting, he'd murmur, "Let's put a tree right here. A happy little tree." I hadn't thought of him in years, and suddenly two "brushes" with him in as many days.

Posted by: Tanya | Aug 18, 2005 2:11:19 AM

mademoiselle a. ... No worries. Most of what I know about the science of web statistics I've learned from you. Thanks.

Rahel... Probably not a good idea.

Lila... Even when the stuff is placed in the footer it will slow down the completion of the page load. This becomes frustrating for the reader... and it will throw off the statistics for how long the average visits are.

v.ko... Thanks. I don't really have a preference for whether it is public or not. My statistics are nothing to be ashamed of... but they're nothing to brag about either.

Tanya... facetious? Moi? No, actually in this rare instance I was being quite serious. I used to love watching him paint. I was never tempted to paint along with him, but he was soooo soothing. I also loved the line he always threw in about "... remember, there are no mistakes in our world... just happy accidents". I also loved that his mic used to pick up the scrapping and tapping of his brushes and other tools on the canvas. For some reason this was incredibly soothing to me.

Posted by: David | Aug 18, 2005 9:30:26 AM

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