Friday, July 22, 2016


I’m a longtime fan of the web service StatCounter, which I use with Orange Crate Art. (See the orange odometer in the sidebar.) But I’m not a fan of the service’s new offering:

The StatCounter Growth Plan goes the next step and uses sophisticated technology to analyze your data and website for you. It then tells you in simple terms how to grow your traffic and improve your visitor experience with easy-to-understand steps.
Or rather: I’m not a fan of the pitch for this new offering, which appears every time I check my stats, in the form of a banner that clicks open to reveal my “Rank Against [My] Competitors,” or my blog’s grades:

[“Overall Industry Ranking: C+.” The ignominy! But for $29.99 a month I can learn how to improve.]

I wrote to StatCounter with some thoughts about this pitch, which I find more than a little insulting, partly because I’m a paying customer, but mainly because I didn’t ask for my work to be graded. (Sheesh.) I’ll quote from my e-mail:
My blog, which has been going for nearly twelve years, gives me great pleasure without making me a dime. It has brought me into contact with wonderful people I would never have met otherwise. Believe me, I don’t feel that I’m getting a C+ (your overall grade for me). And I have no competitors. I don’t regard other websites as competition. The only person I’m competing against is myself — to stay curious and be the best writer I can be.
I added that not everyone who’s online is looking for increased page hits or profit. There are other forms of satisfaction to be had in creating, as they say, “content.” I received a friendly reply from someone at StatCounter, saying that no insult was intended. I knew that, and wrote back to say so. It would be smart though for the company to realize that giving its users grades is probably not a great way to win their favor.

I suspect that StatCounter has been tweaking its metrics: since taking the above screenshot, I’ve dropped to a D- and moved up to a B-. But I’ve also discovered that I can use the nifty uBlock Origin extension to block the Growth Plan page element. I plan to check it on occasion though, to see if the pitch changes.

[“‘Underachiever.’ And proud of it, man!”]

A related post
Why I (still) blog

[Full disclosure: “How to e-mail a professor” has appeared in two textbooks for college students, bringing me a good number of dimes. And I’ve requested and received review copies of books and music over the years. But my blog is not a money-making proposition.]

comments: 2

Fresca said...

Well, Michael, I certainly see you as my competition:
who can underachieve more? faster? better?

(ACtually, I'm a little unhappy with my success at bloggish underachievement--
Not posting at all is a little too successful.
After all, as they say in the Wire,
"If you don't play, you can't lose.

And if the intention is to lose,
I have to play.

(Sorry, I am overheated. Days of humidity has sucked the logic right out of me.)

Michael Leddy said...

But not your wit. :)