Monday, 21 January 2008

What are we supposed to do with popularity stats?

Like many aspects of online publishing, information about what people actually do online is both a blessing and a curse. Here is what the photos section of the aviation community airspace.aero looks like today:

Yes, scantily clad women are what our users really look at.

It's always a bit puzzling to consider what one should do with this information - upload pictures of more scantily clad women and fewer aircraft?

Of course, in this case it's pretty self-organising as it is the users who are uploading the photographs anyway and the aircraft outnumber the cheap exploitative calendar shots by about 5000 to 1.

But when it comes to news, it's a knottier problem. If you're chasing traffic, do you respond to popularity or do you continue to make grand editorial decisions based on what you believe is important for people to read.

The answer is "both", of course. The most read article on the BBC news website is currently Paxman to meet M&S over underwear even though the lead story is Darling unveils Rock rescue plan.

Publishing "Most read" also gives an added boost to these interesting-but-unimportant stories.

Should one give readers what they need to know or what they want to know? Who's to say?

1 comment:

Dominic said...

In answer to all the fuss caused by Jeremy Paxman's comments to M&S's Stuart Rose concerning his gusset anxiety around the lack of support and quality of their underwear and the job that they do for him, I would like to make the point that you generally get what you pay for in this world. This has always been the case and remains one of lifes golden rules. If you pay peanuts then... etc.

I, as joint owner of Sunspel, would challenge anyone to trial a pair of our underwear and not agree that they have recieved the most comfortable underwear you can get. We have been making underwear in Long Eaton, Derbyshire for the last 150 years and therefore know a thing or two about it. We have made it for all sorts including Johnny Depp, Liam Gallagher, Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Craig as James Bond, Levis 501's Nick Kamen, even Cyril Smith and Prince Charles.

It is not a simple thing to get right, however years of experience gives our designers a unique, almost boffin-like insight into the essentials of fit and fabric quality. Sunspel's unique fabrics have been created for softness, lightness and strength - all 100% long staple Egyptian cotton.

To back up this claim if you follow the link http://www.sunspel.com and use the voucher code paxo-challenge, we will offer you a 50% discount on any of the underwear or t-shirts we sell, including all those made for Casino Royale - try it out and see for yourself what Paxo is missing.