Hoderpad

Hoder according to his readers

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.

P.S:
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.