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Lies, damn lies, hits and views

By Tom Chatfield  

Internet statistics offer a beguiling mixture of detail and imprecision. Endless data about individual web users’ habits lies at our fingertips, yet considerable confusion awaits anyone who wants to know how “popular” their (let alone anyone else’s) website is. What’s the best measure to use, and how accurate is it? What is a “good,” or even a respectable, result? And how can this be turned into revenue?

To cover basic ground briefly, the number of hits a website claims to receive tells you the number of requests its server gets for file downloads over a certain period of time. Every…

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