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The Unreliable Survey, February 2008

I've already put disclaimers about the relative value of Alexa and Compete data in Read the story...

A Stray Thought on Digital Comics Hardware

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Blog Archive
The Unreliable Survey, February 2008
T Campbell  2008-02-14 12:08:53

I've already put disclaimers about the relative value of Alexa and Compete data in this survey and the piece to which it links. Those disclaimers are still in place. Nevertheless, we've improved our methodologies a bit, setting up a system which will allow us to do these surveys every month from here on out, deepening the data pool. So let's take a look through these cracked binoculars and see what we can see...

SiteCompete "count" (Jan)Month ChangeYear Change
1.I Can Has Cheezburger?416,47213.40%38108.40%
2.xkcd349,7036.60%1378.00%
3.Cyanide and Happiness251,085-7.90%42.00%
4.Penny Arcade156,979-14.50%119.90%
4a.Dilbert129,030-26.10%79.80%
4b.Garfield99,587-20.30%-24.60%
5.Toothpaste for Dinner99,451-7.50%31.10%
6.VG Cats97,503-20.20%-12.10%
6b.Peanuts91,713-13.10%37.70%
7.Ctrl+Alt+Del91,14424.00%160.30%
8.Natalie Dee87,418-7.20%62.30%
9.Order of the Stick/Erfworld77,3057.60%59.10%
10.Questionable Content69,157-26.30%124.90%
11.Day by Day67,06325.40%-2.90%
12.The Perry Bible Fellowship65,459-19.20%368.00%
13.Gaping Void63,2707.40%83.90%
14.Married to the Sea62,477-13.60%233.00%
15.Sinfest53,88029.40%325.80%
16.Sluggy Freelance50,056119.60%288.20%
17.PostSecret48,801-7.60%-17.30%
18.BifSniff46,62062.80%505.50%
19.Least I Could Do45,4184.50%76.90%
20.8-Bit Theater40,4427.30%7.20%


SiteAlexa Rank (current)
1.Cyanide and Happiness1577
2.xkcd1937
3.Penny Arcade2085
4.Ctrl+Alt+Del2379
5.I Can Has Cheezburger?2570
6.VG Cats3154
7.Order of the Stick/Erfworld4472
8.Questionable Content4983
9.Looking for Group5901
9a.Dilbert6526
10.The Perry Bible Fellowship8662
11.8-Bit Theater8819
12.Least I Could Do10019
13.Megatokyo10099
14.Sinfest10563
15.PvP11198
16.User Friendly13964
17.Fanboys Online14493
18.Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal14530
19.Misfile18438
20.Dominic Deegan18576

"You Can't Has That!" The inclusion of I Can Has Cheezburger? and PostSecret on this list may confuse or even infuriate some readers, but I've already presented my argument for their inclusion here, and I think we'd be unwise to ignore the influence of these "community-built" experiments in visual-verbal sequences, especially since they serve as a source of new ideas. Certainly nothing else in webcomics has an apparent year-to-year growth curve like ICHC?: it's climbed from the 60,000s in Alexa to its current 2085 ranking, while Compete puts its year-to-year growth at 38,108.4%.

Top Three Shakeup.: The addition of I Can Has Cheezburger? knocks xkcd out of the top spot on Compete, but Cyanide and Happiness surges ahead of it on Alexa. Penny Arcade comes in fourth and third. This doesn't bode well for my prediction that Cyanide and Happiness would decline out of the top three, but we still got a long year ahead.

Points of Agreement. In both lists: I Can Has Cheezburger?, xkcd, Penny Arcade, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Cyanide and Happiness, VG Cats, Questionable Content, The Perry Bible Fellowship, Order of the Stick/Erfworld, Sinfest, 8-Bit Theater and Least I Could Do.

Spikes. According to Compete, the biggest month-to-month spike in traffic comes from Elsie Hooper, a cult black-and-white horror comic coming back from a period of inactivity, with a 1575.20% traffic gain. Another big gainer was Joe Infurnari's The Process (1251.6%), which has gotten a lot of buzz all over via Juxtapoz Magazine, Newsarama, and especially Webcomicgeek, which called Infurnari "The Artist of the Year." Alexa hasn't noticed these two yet, but it does confirm Compete's third-biggest spike, 849.9% for The Slackerz, whose recent strips, ironically, feature its characters fretting about their traffic figures and Internet politics. UPDATE: Scott Smith of Slackerz kindly wrote in to correct my earlier impression. He reports "an unexplained mass of referrals from StumbleUpon regarding a couple of my past strips, like this one, a comic about CSI that was published a year ago." Reddit also referred to the strip soon after, but StumbleUpon referrals made up the lion's share of the traffic boost, a boost which continues at this writing-- although now with Smith's active encouragement.

Alexa, then and now. Pulling Alexa's three-month percentages for this survey turned out to be more challenging than I could manage, so instead, I've compared the scores to the data from the November survey, subtracting the new Alexa rankings from the old ones and dividing the results by the new ones. Of course, this system exempts any site that was not surveyed last time, so I Can Has Cheezburger? doesn't qualify. That makes the biggest gainer over the last four months Freak Angels, Warren Ellis' hotly anticipated new project, going from 2391673 to 257553 as it developed an online community and neared its launch date today. The biggest losers are No 4th Wall to Break, the completed In Wily's Defense and the years-since-an-update Stupid Children, all of which dropped off Alexa's radar altogether.

Zero to 60. Hijinks Ensue gets the highest Compete ranking of any strip that wasn't around last year. I've documented one incident that may have promoted its growth here.

Dead stop. Of the strips that went to a zero score in Compete this time from non-zero scores last time, the biggest decline came from Digital Purgatory, but it wasn't that notable a fall-- the "people score" was only 455 before. Site seems to be between updates and a planned redesign.

Year-to-year growth. Nothing matches I Can Has Cheezburger?, but Compete also reports strong gains for Left-Handed Toons, Lucid TV, Hyper Death Babies, The Slackerz, Simulated Comic Product, Captain Excelsior, Tiny Ghosts and Dresden Codak. (Gains for Unshelved are illusory, as it switched URLs last year from overduemedia.com to unshelved.com. Alexa's different system assigns the same rank to both URLs.)

Steady as a rock. Features whose Alexa ranking has changed less than 1% since November '07: Achewood, Unshelved, Transe-Generation, Striptease, as well as Comic Genesis. Strips whose Compete ranking changed less than 1% between December and January:Melonpool, Girly, Pure Pwnage, I Drew This.

Sinking fast. Compete's biggest year-to-year losers, excepting URLs that have been replaced or have lost interest in comics altogether, are Carpe Diem, Silent Devil Productions and Where The Buffalo Roam. Carpe Diem's loss probably reflects series creator Graveyard Greg's long periods of inactivity, but his recent return may pull it out of this slump. Silent Devil generated some attention last year by getting into webcomics and cutting a deal with the popular The Devil's Panties, but its new print projects haven't generated a lot of heat, and projects like The Devil's Panties and Super Frat have largely independent brands. Where The Buffalo Roam's decline is a bit depressing… it was the first true webcomic… but creator Hans Bjordahl hasn't been keeping up with his new Bug Bash lately, and general interest in "artifact comics" may be on the decline.

Over to you: For a full gathering of this month's data, click here. And to discuss this survey and make suggestions for the March edition, go here.

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