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Six strikes out

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By Serendipodous

Summary: There are times when this job is hard. As an analogy, imagine navigating in fog at night, except you don't know where you are, you don't know where you want to go, and your flashlight keeps dying on you. Wikipedia, in the understandable desire to protect users' privacy, has left me with precious few tools to find my way (Bounce rate and HTTP referers would be nice) and so there are times when it is impossible to determine why something is or is not on the list. The hour-by-hour viewing tool I made such a fuss about two weeks ago, and which would at least have suggested which spikes were natural, is currently down; so I'm back to erring on the side of exclusion. Although only two articles were removed from the top 10, six articles—roughly a quarter—have been removed from the top 25.

I'm asking: does anyone know of a way to track down these occasional one-day spikes if they don't appear on Reddit or a Google Doodle? And why is important information like view counts outsourced to volunteer servers liable to crash or lose functionality?

For the full top 25 report, plus exclusions, see WP:TOP25

For the week of 19–25 January, the 10 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the report of the 5,000 most viewed pages* were:

Rank Article Class Views Image Notes
1 Jordan Belfort C-class 799,325 Onetime stockbroker who spent 22 months in prison for running a penny stock boiler room, he went on to write the books that the film The Wolf of Wall Street is based on.
2 Juan Mata C-Class 647,317
Spanish footballer who was transferred this week from Chelsea F.C. to Manchester United for a club record sum of £37.1 million ($61.4 million)
3 Richard Sherman (American football) Start class 638,607
This guy arguably came top of the list of articles related to Super Bowl XLVIII due to his combative talking style, which got him some bad press after taunting Colin Kaepernick (see below) after beating the San Francisco 49ers to reach the Super Bowl.
4 Martin Luther King, Jr. Good Article 607,434
With his birthday a federal holiday, it's not surprising that he makes an annual appearance on this list.
5 The Wolf of Wall Street (2013 film) C-Class 587,561 Martin Scorsese's acclaimed account of one person's contribution to our general economic misery opened to a respectable $34 million on Christmas Day, and has now made over $220 million worldwide
6 Justin Bieber B-Class 554,032
Why is he on this list? Could it be his various indiscretions in Latin America? The lawsuit he was saddled with after egging a neighbour's house? Or, perhaps, his arrest after drag racing a Lamborghini drunk on a beach in Florida? Truth be told it's probably that.
7 Facebook B-class 513,840
A perennially popular article
8 Sherlock (TV series) Good Article 434,520
The contemporary-set revamp of the Sherlock Holmes mythos has become a surprise global hit (and turned its star, Benedict Cumberbatch, into an international sex symbol) and is now watched in 200 countries and territories (out of 254), so it's not surprising that its much ballyhooed return from a two-year hiatus was met with feverish anticipation.
9 Frozen (2013 film) C-class 405,400 Disney's de facto sequel to Tangled has become something of a sensation. It reclaimed the top spot in the US charts on its sixth weekend (a feat only matched by Avatar and Titanic) and has already outgrossed its predecessor both domestically and worldwide, with a total of nearly $820 million. It won a Golden Globe for Animated Feature and seems a shoo-in for the Oscar.
10 Deaths in 2014 List 397,831
The list of deaths in the current year is always quite a popular article.
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  • Re ""why is important information like view counts outsourced to volunteer servers liable to crash or lose functionality?" - because until recently the analytics team was two men and a dog ;p. I understand that a pageviews API is in the pipeline, just as soon as we've (a) built a system that can actually host the pageviews data and (b) worked out what precisely a pageview is. Ironholds (talk) 05:32, 2 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Referer data should be available in a way that doesnt compromise privacy. i.e. aggregate data, just like access log data. e.g. how many hits come from Google, Facebook, BBC, etc is not a privacy problem. Also when a single Internet webpage includes a link to a Wikipedia page that sends more than 200,000 hits our way in a month, that referer data is really useful and doesnt affect privacy. Even at low referrer rates for smaller timespans, e.g. 100 or so per day, there is no issue. I couldnt find a relevant enhancement in the bugzilla database. John Vandenberg (chat) 08:15, 2 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    That data is in the request logs, so building a system that can even store those logs is a dependency. Ironholds (talk) 03:52, 3 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    @Ironholds:, 'is' should be 'isnt'? John Vandenberg (chat) 04:35, 3 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    No, the referrer for a page is in the request logs as they currently stand. The problem is that the volume of requests is such that the WMF is still building a system that can store them, which is kind of necessary to have, say, a reliable API for this kind of information. As an example; if we look just at Mobile, and ignore everything that isn't a direct request (in other words, ignore requests for page elements), we're talking 70 million rows of data every day. Ironholds (talk) 04:45, 3 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    Thanks for clarifying. So you have the request logs stored. It isnt a new scale problem. It is at most a 2x expansion. The WMF already provides raw pageview data, and academics and hobbyists would want raw referer data that would look almost identical to the raw pageview data.
    A separate issue is providing a user-friendly system for accessing the data. WMF pageviews infrastructure is a lot more mature now, and WMF may want to deliver referer analytics tools in the new style of infrastructure, but that is a layer on top. And a new system to process referer isnt much different from processing pageviews, so it should be fairly straightforward since the WMF has conquered most of the relevant problems with pageviews. John Vandenberg (chat) 10:54, 3 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]


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