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Note:These pages make extensive use of the latest XHTML and CSS Standards. They ought to look great in any standards-compliant modern browser. Unfortunately, they will probably look horrible in older browsers, like Netscape 4.x and IE 4.x. Moreover, many posts use MathML, which is, currently only supported in Mozilla. My best suggestion (and you will thank me when surfing an ever-increasing number of sites on the web which have been crafted to use the new standards) is to upgrade to the latest version of your browser. If that's not possible, consider moving to the Standards-compliant and open-source Mozilla browser.

October 3, 2004

More Browser Stats

Whenever this blog comes up in conversation with another physicist, the first question I’m invariably asked is, “How many readers do you have?” Considering the sometimes excruciatingly technical, but always exquisitely dull nature of the content here, it would seem unlikely for that number to break out of the double digits.

My web-design/web-standards friends are typically curious about the breakdown of browser usage. As this blog is the poster-child for XHTML and advanced browser support for Web Standards, they’re curious to hear whether MSIE’s redoubtable dominance among browsers is diminished when you’re serving up MathML, and suchlike advanced content, that MSIE doesn’t handle1.

It’s been a year since I published some browser statistics, so perhaps it’s time for another look. I looked at two samples for the month of September:

  1. All visitors.
  2. Visitors who came in via Google searches. The statistics for this latter, and hopefully more representative sample2 of the browsing public are indicated in parentheses.

As before I excluded, as best I could, robots and other junk3. HTML page views have more than doubled since last year. Part of the increase4 is because I’m now hosting a second blog, the String Coffee Table here on golem.

Last year, MSIE and Mozilla were neck-and-neck in popularity in the overall sample, but MSIE beat Mozilla by more than 5-1 in the Google-search sample. With our larger audience, Mozilla has lost ground in the overall sample, but gained significantly — nearly doubled its share — in the Google-search sample:

Browser breakdown:
MSIE:52%(56%)
( MSIE+MathPlayer:7.4%(0.4%))
Mozilla:28%(23%)
Safari:6%(10%)
Netscape:4%(5%)
Opera:1%(2%)

I don’t know whether to be pleased or dismayed by the adoption rate of the MathPlayer plugin. On the one hand, we have more MathPlayer readers than Safari readers. On the other, they still comprise a paltry 14% of the total MSIE readership. It may be that those who want to see the equations switch to Mozilla and that those still using MSIE simply don’t care.

As you’d expect, the penetration of MathPlayer in the Google-search population is negligible.

Another interesting statistic is what operating systems visitors are using.

Operating System breakdown:
Windows:64%(72%)
MacOS:16%(14%)
Unix:12%(10%)

Among the Google-search population, the percentages have not changed significantly from a year ago. In the overall sample, Linux (almost all the Unix systems in these samples are running Linux) lost ground to Windows, while MacOS stayed steady. It’s probably more sensible, though, to think about these latter numbers in absolute, rather than relative terms: the number of our Linux readers remained constant, while the number of Windows (and MSIE) readers grew 2.5-fold and the number of MacOS readers doubled.

I suspect this may say more about trends in our readership than about trends in OS usage.


1 Now that the MathPlayer 2.0 plugin brings it MathML (and XHTML) support, MSIE users no longer need to switch to a more capable browser to view the content here. As you can see above, we have more readers using the MathPlayer plugin than we have readers using Safari.

2 Despite the fact that the most popular search, by far, in September was for “coffee table”, there are many reasons to suspect that the Google searches which landed at this site might be unrepresentative of the websurfing population as a whole. For that matter, the browser stats of any given website, including Google are plausibly atypical of the websurfing population as a whole. Take my numbers with a grain of salt; YMMV and all of that.

3 It’s humbling to note that robots outnumber human visitors. The Googlebot alone would have accounted for 520 “page views”/day, were we not excluding robots.

4 Inexplicable as it may seem, we get, on average, 1200 (110) HTML page views/day. Of these, 71% (64%) were for this blog, 22% (35%) for the String Coffee Table. We also get some 3800 requests/day for our RSS/Atom feeds.

Posted by distler at October 3, 2004 2:02 AM

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2 Comments & 0 Trackbacks

Re: More Browser Stats

What software did you use for categorizing the UA strings?

Posted by: Henri Sivonen on October 3, 2004 6:58 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Log Analyzer

Analog, with an ever-lengthening list of robots to exclude from the listings.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on October 3, 2004 9:02 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

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