And now for something completely different.
I have a question- something vaguely off topic which I have wanted to know for ages, but I could never really find the right moment to bring it up. Thing is, I suspect it might be quite a stupid thing to ask. But then, when you don't know the answer to something, it's often quite easy to assume that everyone else in the universe has the understanding and knowledge that you do not- when in fact they too are sitting home scratching their heads over precisely the same little mystery, and wishing like hell somebody else would pipe up and ask.
My question relates to my Site Meter. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's basically a hit counter that tells you how many people are visiting your site per day. If you blog, and don't have a site meter, then run run run as fast your little fingers will carry you to sign up for one! Here is a helpful guide to get you started.
Bloggers love site meters. Because not only does the counter tell you how many site hits you receive, but it tells you when, and for how long. Plus, you also find out all manner of other gripping little factoids you would never otherwise have known. For example, you can see not only from which countries do your visitors hail, but from which particular cities or towns or lifeboats. You learn what times of day are the busiest for web traffic. You discover how people are coming to you and sometimes what led them there - from Google, from another blog link, from the depths of hell. If you ask it nicely, the site meter site will give you little charts and graphs and forecasts for you to pore over in amused fascination.
It's almost like a blog ultrasound, only without the cold lubricant and the monkeys. And if you look at it long enough, or often enough, or even occasionally out of boredom or passing interest, the site meter can tell you something about the life and pulse of your blog. Best of all, it's deliciously free. Freeeee!
Anyway, what I have always wondered about this: There's a site meter log which records the duration of each visit. So, for example, I can see that in the last hour, there were 13 hits, and that Betty Smith from Pocatello, Idaho logged on at 3.15 pm and looked at 3 different pages within the site for 4.36 minutes.
Ha. Don't worry, Betty, I was kidding. It doesn't give me your name or anything else about you personally. But I do get the rest of that information.
Here's the thing, though - who are the people who visit for 0.00 seconds? I always have lots of these in the records. At first I thought the meter could only pick up hits if the visitor stayed for a certain length of time- like for more than 10 seconds. But then I looked back through the log a bit, and found visits that lasted, say, 4 seconds. Which threw that theory out the window.
I'm not really bothered or worried about this odd, repetitive non-event. I am curious, though. My confusion is twofold- first, if the visit is really lasting only 0.00 seconds, how the hell does the site meter pick that up? Is it just really, really alert and on the ball?
Secondly, and more crucially, how does anyone make up their mind about my site in 0.00 seconds? This causes me continual, gentle bafflement. I mean, I'm capable of some mighty snap decisions- for example, "No, I won't go to the gym tonight but instead will collapse like a beached baby seal on my sofa in front of the TV while nibbling something yummy." And I'm completely down with getting your groove on with some free-flowing web surfing, click click click. But even I usually take more than 0.00 seconds to ascertain if the web site I am on is someplace I want to be.
So what the hell is going on with the old 0.00? Is it only happening to me, or does everyone get these insta-drive bys? Does anyone know the answer?