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How to Tell The Truth With Statistics

Story, Learning + Photos by J R Compton

Site Statistics

Perhaps DallasArtsRevue's biggest problem is that there are so many bad links on the 7-800 pages comprising this site, that readers get dismayed and go somewhere else to relieve their aching minds/mouse fingers/ whatever.

I was excited when I read that there would be a way for me to track down the errant pages with DreamHost (our new site host)'s statistical analysis routines. I looked in vain for awhile, never very seriously, sorta offhandedly looking for that holy grail.

Then I found them and have been exploiting them ever since. I have yet to tackle the Monthly reports, but my dailies gives me a pretty good idea on which pages the errant links reside. And I've been testing, retesting and rooting them out.

Oh, Damn!

I just realized that Dreamweaver does Link Checks. When I did my first one ever, I learned:


on DallasArtsRevue's 903 html pages Dreamweaver found
33,175 total links
15,525 okay links,
15,883 external links
03,296 Orphaned Links
01,767 Broken Links

Which sounds pretty awful. And it is, of course. But in that total are included a lot of "bad links" that are on pages I don't post to the internet. Even after all those, however, there's still more than a thousand Broken Links. And Dreamweaver cannot check any of the external links (meaning those beginning with http://www), many of which are actually internal links that I've made a little more solid by aiming them at real pages on DARts.

It turns out, however, that Dreamweaver is full of it. Of the half-dozen pages in that list that I have already checked, darned few links were actually broken, certainly nothing like the wholesale list Dreamweaver provided in its report.

That's a big relief, but the Dreamweaver report makes certain patterns clear. A lot of the instances of Ad in the top of page navbar are wrong. A link that works from a page at the top of the hierarchical directory will not necessarily work when that page is inside a directory inside a directory inside a directory.

Luckily, errors such as these that occur on many pages can be found and replaced quickly. What takes me time is then copying the corrected pages onto the internet. But that can be done, and it will be a big relief.

} The Club photo {

My biggest ally, besides the aforementioned DreamHost Stats, is an ancient Macintosh (everything on DallasArtsRevue was created on an ancient Macintosh Cube [Since I feel I always have to illustrate these silly Rambles with something only slightly pertinent, I'll run ya picture of my Cube. Only I've always called it a Club, as in Club Foot. Because it truly was/is a Club-footed Mac from almost the start, despite its chic looks, which I cannot ever enjoy, because when its chic shell is deployed, the damned thing turns itself on and off wlily nilly.]

Big Brother software icon

A similarly ancient Macintosh freeware program called Big Brother (©1996), which runs through each page, one at a time-consuming, grueling, time, reporting in bright red text down a sometimes forever long list of mostly blank text listing all the links on that page, which ones do and don't work.

Then it's decipher that bit of Swahili, change the link on the page, probably update the page because (I'm there anyway, and) it's probably got one of the first few DallasArtsRevue headings or page counters or style sheets (a lot of the old ones still make extensive use of blue and red texts ((which supposedly confuse readers into thinking they are links, cause that's what links look like, and I put them there thinking, oh, my ain't I stylin', when really all I was doing was confusin')) or whatever.

Last night's big finds were a couple errant images on the Calendar Page (very important) 59 bad links from just yesterday, 31 bad hits from the 2004 Summer Solstice Photo page (the 2005 Summer Solstice event is coming up soon, and it's a full moon, too) a couple mostly inconsequential bad links on the Conduit Anniversary Art-In pages (but I had to install new hit counters ((well, not really, had to, but wanted to, and new headers, and new style sheets with new colors, while I was there, all 9 pages of it)), and 7 offsite web pages linking into DARts with bad links — I may figure out how to deal with those guys, but for now, I'm just sorta pleased some of it — 120 bad links a day — is not my fault.

More coming, as I learn more, engage more, then learn even more, then probably get frustrated, then fight against it, then remember I shouldn't, then calm down, and learn some more. Eventually, DARts might actually become a largely link lucky website. Won't that be lovely.

Wonder what I'll find to occupy my worries and consternation then? Oh, something will come up. Yup.


As always, your feedback is appreciated.
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