I’ve been doing the stats report every month — without a break — since mid-2009. With nearly 300 active grids, many of which don’t have standard stats pages, the amount of work going into this has become unmanageable. It eats up parts of several days of my time, contacting everyone, collecting the stats, analyzing them and writing them up, then fixing any errors and updating data from grids that only respond to my emails after the report has already been published.
But I’ve also received emails from folks who find it valuable. Plus, I also use the opportunity to update the active grids list and the list of most popular hypergrid destinations. These are useful not just for regular users, but also for viewer developers and hyperport operators.
Another issue is that of helping grids get found by search engines. Each stats report has links to the most popular grids, to the largest grids, and to short news announcements.
We’re currently getting more than a quarter million page views a month, which is good for increasing the value of those links. Plus, Hypergrid Business is indexed by Google News — we had to go through a whole approval process. As a result, we’re considered an official news site, and more authoritative than the average site of the same size.
So here is what I’m going to do.
First, I’m going to stop collecting data from grids where I can’t automate the process.
I’ll run a database script that will check whether grids are active or not by going to their grid info pages. For example, here is the one for 3rd Rock Grid: http://grid.3rdrockgrid.com:8002/get_grid_info. I’ll use that to update the list of active grids.
I’ll also run a database script to collect data from all the grids where I can scrape the stats. Some grids do weird stuff with tables, or use periods as a thousands separator, or do other stuff that makes data collection very difficult.
The database can do that in the background, while I do something else, and I’ll just collect the reports.
Second, I’ll send the data — and forward all news announcements — to David Kariuki. He’s been writing a lot about OpenSim lately, and is starting to learn his way around. You can also email him directly at [email protected].
Fixing stats pages
Here’s an example of a stats page that works very well: http://members.greatcanadiangrid.ca/GcgStats.php
It shows total registered users, active 30-day users, and the total land area — and no extra stuff to slow the database down. It’s just what I need.
Hypergrid visitors should be included in the total active user count, and the total land area can be in square meters or kilometers, or in the form of standard region equivalents.
Wifi pages also work well. Like this one: http://login.ansky.ca:8002/wifi. The one problem is that they don’t show the total land area, which means that grids with varregions will be undercounted.
Here are the five biggest grids where I have problems automating the stats:
- OSgrid: Doesn’t show total land area
- Metropolis: Periods in the numbers where a comma should be
- Kitely: Doesn’t show active users
- YrGrid: Has JSON export that I need to load in the browser
- Lost Paradise: Weird formatting
- 3rd Life Grid: Strange HTML that locks up my database
Currently, about a third of all grids have some kind of issue with their stats. Incomplete data, inaccurate data, and assorted weirdnesses of various kinds.
If you have a question about whether my database can read your stats page, or to send me a link to a new stats page, email me at [email protected]
Changing site focus
I’ve made some changes to the site layout and editorial focus over the past year, and will be doing more of that.
I originally got into covering OpenSim because I saw it as the most direct and likely path to an open-source, peer-to-peer, hyper-linked virtual reality metaverse. I’m not so much of a believer in OpenSim as a believer in its potential. I don’t want to live in a metaverse owned by Microsoft or Facebook. I want to be able to create my own virtual world.
When virtual reality finally came along, I was super excited. I few to San Francisco for the conferences, met the guys — and gals — creating the new technology, and tried out every headset I could get my hands on. And I was anxious to start using using this hardware to explore OpenSim. I even got it to run on my smartphone last summer.
There were some complaints, but overall the majority of OpenSim users were with me. (And I ran a survey just to check.)
But then something weird happened last few months. The headset reviews caught on. Traffic exploded. Today, most of my readers come for the virtual reality hardware reviews. I had more than 137,000 unique readers over the past 30 days, which is about 100,000 more people than there are active users of OpenSim.
I’m excited about that, and want to do more of it.
And if anyone is interested in joining me, you know where to find me.