Why is Hoder different?
Ramin Jahanbagloo's confessions after he was released has been a controversial subject since. Many doubts on the accuracy of such statements arise because we have had so many examples where political activist made surprising confessions under sever pressure from the authorities.
On 2 September Hoder told us he has a rave article about Jahanbagloo and his confessions and that he seeks to find an English newspaper to publish it. One day later he published the Persian version of the article. It is very interesting and important mainly because of two things:
First Hoder tells us he is sure Jahanbagloo was not under threat or pressure from Iran's judicial or security system to make those statements: "Ramin is right when he says he was misused and the result of his academic projects was in the end used by American security officers – which their numbers are considerable in academic environments… He was deceived because of academic and economic limitations… Ramin was lucky enough that he lived in Iran and that was saved by Iran's security authorities to become another Sazgara…"
Well, it is soon to judge which version can be right unless Jahanbagloo can confirm or deny his statements in a secure condition.
Secondly this is an outstanding article to show what and how Hoder thinks about himself and his position as an intellectual person in comparison with others, specially other activists. At the very first line Hoder asks his readers to break their "thinking habits". And few lines later: "Unlike to the analysis of people's lazy minds, Ramin was not arrested for his intellectual activities…" Hoder then continues by reflecting on a paradox: "Ganji shows an anti-Bush gesture, but, on the other hand defends USA's most favorite project, toppling Iran's regime through civil disobedience. How is it possible to explain this contradiction?" He has already the answer: "That is why I say Ganji is a fool”.
He also refers to two other activists and writes:" For example Washington institute in where Mehdi Khalaji and Sazgara work or have worked, openly supports Iran's regime change even by military action. Just imagine that Mehdi Khalaji has worked both for Entekhab newspaper which is related to Khamenei's office and for the institute which tries to destroy that office. What a consistent moral system!" Hoder then amazingly reveals the "secret policy" of The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center . Inconsistency in the moral system or just being a fool are the reasons which make other activists to be for or against something, if we are going to agree with Hoder.
But what if Hoder changes his mind and standpoints? Should we use the same criteria? Has it something to do with silliness? Let me formulate a question in this way: "Hoder shows an anti-Khamenei, anti-Ahmadinejad gesture, but, on the other hand defends (in fact encourages) regimes's most favorite project, producing nuclear bombs. How is it possible to explain this contradiction?" No. We should never suppose that because someone employs the tricks of a charlatan he cannot also have genuine talent.
On October 2004 he wrote: "It's really a shame that people have been kept uninformed about the dangers of achieving nukes by this regime and now a few dozen are deciding for the future of millions of ordinary Iranians" And "Needless to say that if people were aware of how easily this technology, if not curbed by the UN, could be used by the regime to produce nuclear weapons, and how such power could weaken the already humble foundations of democracy in Iran by giving more military power to the most radical and fundamentalist parts of the regime, they'd hardly be backing it as they do now – if we accept that they really are"
But now: "For this reason, I believe Iran needs to produce nuclear weapons as a defensive mechanism, to deter the U.S. today and the ever-expanding and equally energy-hungry China tomorrow". Reason:"what's happening in Iraq, along with last year's presidential election and other unfortunate events in the region"
Is this because of inconsistency of his moral system? No!. One should not compare Hoder with those activists. Hoder is a genius fearless thinker that his active and creative mind has broken traditional thinking habits long time ago, and his ideas and standpoints are based on solid facts. It is mere accident that his approach to Iran's nuclear program is in the same line with Ahmadinejad.
Finally Hoder in his rave article writes: "Now billions of dollars and euros are available for various political groups to help to know Iran and Middle East better and to predict or change them". Hoder in the past 3 years has tried to acquire some of this money to his endless projects namely a TV-channel and recently a foundation to make peace between Iran and Israel. He has laid the foundation for such a lasting peace when he was in Israel. Unfortunately his share was limited to the fame and newspaper's cover.
For a while ago Hoder put his finger on an important issue when he advised (and here)the Iranian girls to support Iran's nuclear program in front of western journalists as a ticket to watch football camps in the stadiums. Iran's regime desperately tries to verify its atomic program and has no limits on investing on groups or influential people, or to remove some restrictions in order to get more support. Best candidates are those who have shown anti-regimes gesture before and have relatively easy access to western media.
That was why sometimes it was difficult to refute the claims of people who say Hoder was an easy target for Iran's regime because of his "economic limitations" and being jobless and living on handouts from others for a long time.
How many readers Hoder actually has?
As we have been expecting for a while, Hoder has removed the sitemeter link and script from his Persian weblog. It was the only way one could see how many daily readers his weblog received.
Why did Hoder remove the link?
There are many possible reasons. But given recent developments, we believe he concluded that he could no longer claim he had more than 20,000 " daily readers ", with sitemeter showing approximately 3,000 hits.
For Hoder, his number of readers is very important because it is a means of presenting his weblog's influence. That is why he always corrects people who quote a number that differs from what Hoder claims, because "these mistakes would really cost" him "a lot".
The western media has mostly accepted Hoder's narrative at face value. Nobody has shown any interest in fact checking his story. If they were to make this effort, they would discover that there are almost never independent sources that can confirm what he says.
When a BBC's article introduced him as the creator of a script that enabled blogging in Persian, he corrected them by writing " ّI've never claimed to create any script or technical tool for Persian blogging. These are all the reporters' own conclusions which are sometimes really embarrassing to me" Then he continued in Persian, "these foreign journalists unfortunately know very little about these technical details".
Removing sitemeter has something to do with one of those "details". Hoder says frequently that he has 11,000 email subscribers to his blog and more than 10,000 daily readers, but in fact no one has direct access to an independent stats counter that would verify the number of subscribers he actually has. Most of his subscribers are in Iran; they are the only group that was affected by Hoder's weblog being filtered in Iran. According to "webstats4u" one third of his total hits come from Iran (1).
So let's focus only on his "10,000 daily readers." How did Hoder come up with that number, and how can his readers verify it for themselves?
Both webstats4u and sitemeter measure the number of " hits", not actual "readers." One reader can produce many hits, simply by clicking the refresh bottom on his web browser or revisiting the website several times on a single day. This is the case with websites that are frequently updated on any given day ( e.g., kottke, Buzzmachine, and dailykos (2)) as well as editormyself.com (Hoder's Persian weblog) and nik's weblog, the most popular Persian weblog. For more information, read this article by Jeff Jarvis .
Just for argument's sake, let's assume that Hoder's readers visit his weblog once a day, not more, so his hits show the number of actual readers and not just page views. But the problem is that his weblog does not receive 10,000 hits per day. In fact, it receives an average number of 3,000 hits ( i.e., readers) per day.
Of course in special circumstances, his weblog get more hits e.g. when he went to Iran to cover the presidential election or when he went to Israel to do his taboo-breaking mission. He had 5,900 daily hits during his staying in Israel.
Only recently have English-language bloggers begun to write about Hoder's tendency to "play" with the number of daily hits on his blog. But Persian bloggers have been on to Hoder for a long time; many of them have written about the subject, but unfortunately the information was not accessible to people who didn't speak Persian.
It appears that Hoder has become alarmed. If Western journalists notice his numbers manipulation game, they might ask him to provide evidence that would back up his claims. That is why removing the sitemeter was a very smart move: he has hidden the actual numbers from public view, because the truth may cost him a lot. But Hoder can disprove our theory quite easily. All he has to do is explain why he removed sitemeter, and show the source of his claim that he has 10,000 daily readers.
Now he has added "google analytics", a new and more advanced tool to register statistics. But here's the catch: it is private. No one has direct access to Google Analytics information. Just by the way, Google Analytics does not prevent the simultaneous use of sitemeter, meaning that there is no technical reason to explain why Hoder removed the sitemeter link.
Recently he published a letter on his English weblog, claiming that he was threatened. After he published the letter his Persian weblog, his site was down (inaccessible) from time to time. Hoder says this problem was caused by the person behind that letter. Given that Hoder has so many enemies - people who are, as he remarks so frequently, terribly jealous of his extraordinary success - one could reasonably assume that the person who sent the letter really did intend to threaten him.
On the other hand, given Hoder's well-known propensity for manipulative tricks – like filtering his comments to reflect his agenda – one might not be totally off base in suspecting that he purposely made his blog inaccessible in order to bolster his claim that he was threatened. If he was really threatened for what he writes on his blog, then he must be very important!
But even people who are not Hoder's enemies are sometimes a bit suspicious about his claims. They know that:
- He is very smart
- He needs to prove he has a lot of readers and knows people may start to ask for evidence to back up his claims
- That he once put the link to his own webstats4u's account on another website so that the hits for the other website showed up on his webstats account as Hoder's readers. (Hoder is the webmaster of the mentioned website). When the trick was discovered, Hoder was forced to remove his stats counter link from the other website. He claimed, at the time, that it was a "design mistake." (Although it's difficult to imagine such a smart guy making a stupid mistake like that, isn't it?)
- Hoder published the "threatening" letter and removed the link to his sitemeter's account nearly simultaneously
One could speculate that Hoder is trying to raise the number of hits for his new private Google Analytics account, by using the scripts provided by websites like this. A side effect of these scripts is that one's website can be down sometimes, which is what has been happening lately to editormyself.com.
To be honest, we at hoderpad find the whole story rather absurd. But if it does happen to be true, then journalists will receive fabricated numbers as proof that Hoder has 10,000 readers per day. If someone is capable of lying about the number of his readers while his freely available statistics tell a completely different story, then perhaps the story is not so absurd after all.
1) Hoder used both sitemeter and webstats4u in his weblog. A few months ago he removed webstats4u account link because it started to send advertisement pop-ups. Many others bloggers did the same thing.
2) During the American presidential elections, the New York Times, published an article about dailykos that overestimated dailykos' readers by taking the number of hits as the same as the number of readers. The paper later published a correction.
3) He use a different account of sitemeter for his English weblog. It's stille there.