Counting Web Users

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Counting Web Users

By: grabitsdm | Information Technology | September 23, 2009

Like many museums, we receive copies of newsletters and mailing from a goodly number of our fellow historical organizations.  I will admit that I don’t always have time to digest everything that is printed.  But on occasion, an item will get my attention.


A copy that recently crossed my desk contained an intriguing statistic.  In a breakdown of their 2008 attendance figures, this organization included web site visits, which amounted to nearly 2/3 of their total attendance for the annum.  It got me to ponder again the question of whether or not we should include web site hits in our attendance figures. 


We have never counted web hits and have no plan to do so any time soon.  Why? For one, we do not use a pay counter service so out stats are not as thorough as others might have.  (We use the free feature of StatCounter dot com.)  Differentiating from actual “human” contact versus machine or spider contacts could be time-consuming. As a result, I have been somewhat suspicious of institutions that have rather large web site hit figures and use those to bolster attendance numbers.


Is there a better way to handle this issue?  Have any of you found a good way to parse those hits to determine a reliable number?  Should grants applications from foundations and other agencies even be asking institutions for those figures as a requisite for funding?

Mike Worcester

Cokato Historical Society