Smells fishy: Alexa's data blunder hits Drudge, WUWT, mostly favors leftist news sites over conservative news sites

As many WUWT readers know, I have been using alexa.com for quite sometime to gauge the performance of WUWT. Reader “Pat” brought this recent strange disparity to my attention. When you see things like the Drudge report plummet and MSNBC soar, you know immediately that something isn’t right:

Those who run watchdog news websites are scratching their heads and trying to make sense of the latest data released by a California company that measures website traffic.

According to data for July through September, almost every major website – from WND to the Drudge Report and Breitbart – saw its rankings drop on Alexa.com while pro-government sites mostly went up.

Source: WND

The claim seems to be true when you look at Alexa’s publicly reported traffic graphs. Here’s the Drudge Report according to Alexa:

(Lower numbers are better, for example, Google is #1)

drudge[1]And here is MSNBC according to Alexa:

Alexa_msnbcI find that hard to believe. I find this even harder to believe, Fox News according to Alexa:

Alexa_Fox[1]And the Soros driven Center for American Progress, aka thinkprogress.org according to Alexa

Alexa_thinkprogressThe exception to that knee up for left leaning websites starting in September is CNN.com according to Alexa:

Alexa_CNN

So, this may be some sort of reporting or tracking goof. But, the oddity does not stop there.

Now, look at WUWT compared to the eco-news website “Grist”, which we long ago surpassed.

First, here is WUWT according to Alexa. Note the same “knee” in the graph as seen on the Drudgereport earlier:Alexa_WUWT

And here is grist.org according to Alexa. Same “knee”, opposite direction:

Alexa_Grist

Hmmm.

My internal wordpress.com counter for WUWT shows that WUWT had its best month ever in total views, nearly 5 million:

WUWT_monthly_trafficAnd, WUWT’s best ever day in its seven year history was in September 2014:

WUWT_bestever_trafficSomething is broken at Alexa that seems to favor one sort of website over another. What’s up with that?

It may have to do with this recent “upgrade” at Alexa that explains a new method of calculating its rankings based on what it says is a wider panel of viewers.

“We’re excited to announce that after a lot of hard work, the size of Alexa’s global traffic panel will be significantly increasing,” writes Leigh Katcher in the blog. “Over the next month we’ll be incorporating lots of new data points, which will help improve the accuracy of our metrics. As a reminder, our data panel is a sample of global Internet traffic used to calculate Alexa ranks and estimate non-Certified metrics.”

The blog posting continued, “With better data, we’ll be able to offer deeper insights into your site, your competitors’ site and overall traffic strategy. One immediate result of the additional data is that you may see your traffic rank fluctuate, especially for sites ranked greater than 100,000.”

One wonders how such an “upgrade” can affect one type of site more than others. In the WND article, they say the disparity even extends to things like Planned Parenthood versus Lifenews, two sites that offer politically opposing viewpoints.

We live in interesting times.

 

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Admin
October 15, 2014 6:04 am

Here’s hoping its just a mistake – it would just be pathetic beyond words if a web ratings agency decided they had to cook the books to help the cause.

atthemurph
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 15, 2014 8:00 am

It’s all propaganda. Once you realize that simple fact you can see so much more that is complete BS.

M Seward
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 15, 2014 8:24 am

“cook the books to help the cause” — noooo! Surely not? A ‘progressive’ outfit cooking the books.? Moral authority is an unerring force for good, How can moral authority lead to cooking the books?
sarc off/

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 15, 2014 9:06 am

This is happening with increasing regularity. George Orwell would understand.
One of the few legitimate polling outfits left [the Gallup Poll] lists ‘climate change’ as the very least important to the public. Everything else rates higher:
http://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/h7fjmcrciu6d7y5yx_-zjq.png

Bill 2
Reply to  dbstealey
October 15, 2014 10:04 am

So if climate change is least important to people, why is it surprising that traffic to this site is decreasing?

nielszoo
Reply to  dbstealey
October 15, 2014 1:41 pm

I hate to say it but you can’t trust Gallup either. They folded last election cycle to pressure from Holder’s DoJ. We are living in a post legal world. “Our” government is pressuring (and by that I mean acting as an extortionist) our banks to stop doing business with perfectly legal businesses. Privately owned businesses are being forced to take jobs that directly conflict with their religious beliefs by an out of control judiciary. Freedom of speech is being systematically turned into Progressive censorship with the full power of an out-of-control federal government with 2.8 MILLION petty bureaucrats behind it… and that’s the sad truth.

vern
Reply to  dbstealey
October 17, 2014 6:09 am

Perhaps it’s time to dump Alexa. http://www.similarweb.com provides a slightly better presentation format anyhow.

Konrad
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 15, 2014 1:36 pm

It’s not looking good for “mistake”.
Remember Alexa is run by Amazon. Something very similar happened previously with rankings for sceptic books in their climate books rankings.
This time the site bias looks too distinct to be computer error.

Brute
Reply to  Konrad
October 15, 2014 2:35 pm

It is not an uncommon practice. The IMDb, for instance, fixes ratings of “ecomedia” while dissenting comments fail to make it through.
The thing to do is what’s been done now, that is, to denounce it publicly. I would bet that there very few cases where this sort of thing happens due to “orders from the top”. Most likely, it is the random eco-soldier taking matters into his/her hands.

PeterK
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 15, 2014 2:42 pm

Eric: You mean “massage the data” don’t you?

Gary
October 15, 2014 6:07 am

Obviously it’s a result of station moves, equipment changes, and “adjustments”. 😉

Hector Pascal
Reply to  Gary
October 15, 2014 7:39 am

You missed “Time of observation bias”. TOBS explains everything.

Lars P.
Reply to  Hector Pascal
October 15, 2014 1:55 pm

I think you are right TOBS adjustment seems to be the way how they did it. Nevertheless, I still wonder how the algorhytm runs…

Louis
Reply to  Gary
October 15, 2014 9:10 pm

And the adjustments are probably based on models. Why bother to measure actual results when you can just use models to get the results you want?

DD More
Reply to  Gary
October 16, 2014 9:07 am

“Over the next month we’ll be incorporating lots of new data points, which will help improve the accuracy of our metrics. As a reminder, our data panel is a sample of global Internet traffic used to calculate Alexa ranks and estimate non-Certified metrics.”
Or, just like ‘The Hottest Year Ever’, it was hidden where no one lives.

Lester Via
October 15, 2014 6:08 am

Isn’t the Y axis of Alexa’s graphs upside down?

Reply to  Lester Via
October 15, 2014 6:14 am

Yes… only the two of us seem to have noticed that 🙂

scot
Reply to  Jesse Ferrell
October 15, 2014 6:21 am

The Y axis is the log of the rank. Lower numbers indicate higher rankings.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Jesse Ferrell
October 15, 2014 9:43 am

From the author’s OP, “(Lower numbers are better, for example, Google is #1)”

Editor
Reply to  Lester Via
October 15, 2014 6:16 am

It’s not a measure of the # of views, but the popularity. Just chant to yourself “Watch out for Number 1” when you’re on their site and the graphs will make more sense.

Jim G
Reply to  Ric Werme
October 15, 2014 7:49 am

Would be nice if graphs had their axes labeled. I find this is semi-often a problem on this site. Not that I am complaining!! Still the best site for science, in general, as far as I am concerned.

Brian H
Reply to  Lester Via
October 16, 2014 7:33 am

Deliberate, to show “better” as up (lower numbers) and worse as down. I.e. better ranking goes up on the graph. Perfectly fine as long as it’s done consistently.

DirkH
October 15, 2014 6:11 am

“One wonders how such an “upgrade” can affect one type of site more than others.”
Maybe they added data from Oakland?

Brock Way
October 15, 2014 6:12 am

I think it is a time of observation difference.

Editor
October 15, 2014 6:14 am

I wonder which collection procedure is more accurate. I’m more interested in how they changed things and what was wrong with the old way. And what is wrong with the new way.

October 15, 2014 6:14 am

The scale at left is “upside down”, no? So the ‘leftier’ sites are losing, t’udders increasing.

simple-touriste
Reply to  Geoff Gubb
October 15, 2014 6:17 am

“You know Homer, the traditional way to cheat at golf is to lower your score.”

bonanzapilot
Reply to  Geoff Gubb
October 15, 2014 8:24 am

That’s because since lower is better, the inverted y-axis gives a more intuitive display.

Will Nelson
Reply to  bonanzapilot
October 15, 2014 2:12 pm

“V” or “straight” tail?

simple-touriste
October 15, 2014 6:15 am

They do “homogenization”?

Mike M
Reply to  simple-touriste
October 15, 2014 10:29 am

You beat me to it!

Steve Keohane
October 15, 2014 6:15 am

What is a MSNBC?

DirkH
Reply to  Steve Keohane
October 15, 2014 6:18 am

Microsoft National Broadcasting?

mikeishere
Reply to  DirkH
October 15, 2014 10:30 am

Microsoft National Broadcasting Comrades

DirkH
Reply to  DirkH
October 15, 2014 10:45 am

🙂

Owen in GA
Reply to  Steve Keohane
October 16, 2014 5:45 am

The ugly offspring of the union of Microsoft and NBC (National Broadcasting Company). The child is so ugly that Microsoft abandoned it in the wilderness a few years after its birth.

October 15, 2014 6:15 am

Is Alexa now measuring tree ring width, and employing a new and unique multivariate analysis, to measure viewership rates.

Reply to  Tom J
October 15, 2014 8:48 am

How about an algorithm that can turn random numbers into a hockey stick/viewership curve?

Sean Peake
October 15, 2014 6:17 am

The Tiljander Syndrome?

Reply to  Sean Peake
October 15, 2014 9:11 am

Very good! [Maybe a little too much inside baseball for some…]

DirkH
October 15, 2014 6:17 am

Oh, I see they are owned by Amazon. Jeff Bezos having a word with his Alexa CEO I guess.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  DirkH
October 15, 2014 10:56 am

Perhaps he asked them to Mann up.

Nick Milner
October 15, 2014 6:17 am

A couple of those actually look like hoc… no, probably an optical illusion. (Sorry!)

Sweet Old Bob
October 15, 2014 6:18 am

If the data does not fit THEIR model , it MUST be adjusted…..

Robert of Ottawa
October 15, 2014 6:20 am

Maybe some disillusioned crimatologists have taken up new employment 🙂

TheLastDemocrat
October 15, 2014 6:22 am

they possibly switched to monitoring traffic indicators that represent more government activity than private individual activity.
This could be done without it being obvious, and all the while genuinely seeming as if the coverage were becoming more representative – and while actually, literally covering a greater portion or a more “geographically” representative portion of web traffic.
Overall, I have no problem believing it has been done on purpose. The Marxists have been well aware of the relevance of media consumption. This is the basis of a couple leading totalitarianism control efforts that appear well-meaning: the concept that conservatives are in an “echo chamber” and the concept that the government must ensure “diversity” in media so that the public has a sufficient knowledge base to participate in democracy.
The term is “deliberative democracy.” Sunstein The Totalitarian has a book out on this: “Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech.”
Sunstein is a leading edge for the totalitarians. He takes their wolf views and puts them in sheep’s clothing. After reviewing his views on why the govt should dictate portions of viewpoints flowing through the media, in this book, you can then review how he believes the Constitution needs to be re-written: The Partial Constitution. [You can also visit the website of this movement: find the website for “The Constitution in 2020.”]
We know Al Gore censored Google. That was well-documented: when climategate broke, many googled “climategate.” This should have prompted auto-complete to yield “climategate” if you typed “climateg ” into google search bar. But it did not. Even after this censorship was widely shared, and many people virally tried it themselves – the auto-complete failed to respond to the massive google searches for climategate.
https://www.seroundtable.com/archives/021306.html
These people are not regular U.S. Constitution-believing citizens who happen to be democrats; they are using the democrat party and label to advance their farther-left views. Enjoy.

Dire Wolf
Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
October 15, 2014 9:15 am

Thanks for the information. It is always hard to keep up with our “betters” and how they want to improve on our freedoms.

October 15, 2014 6:23 am

Why would they release graphs with an inverted Y-axis? Misleading doesn’t even cover it. It’s just bizarre.

Huroner
Reply to  Steele
October 15, 2014 6:54 am

It isn’t inverted: a higher score means a worse performance and lower means better. Look at it this way: if you were top your score would be 1; if you were 100th your score would be 100.

Reply to  Huroner
October 16, 2014 7:30 am

It’s their algorithms, I suppose they can cook them anyway they wish. But if they misrepresent the value of the data to advertisers they risk their own business.

The Other Phil
Reply to  Steele
October 15, 2014 7:28 am

Huh? It makes perfect sense. Up is good, down is bad. Would you suggest the opposite?

bonanzapilot
Reply to  Steele
October 15, 2014 8:27 am

That’s why I think they invert it.

Bloke down the pub
October 15, 2014 6:27 am

Did the Ministry of Truth get involved?

Kasuha
October 15, 2014 6:28 am

I don’t think Alexa is to blame, it is just counting page views. Something made a lot of people – or at least their computers – to view pages that are otherwise seldom visited, increasing their rank and pushing ranks of other pages down without really affecting their traffic.
It might be related to Ebola for what I know.

DirkH
Reply to  Kasuha
October 15, 2014 10:49 am

Ebola makes people visit Grist?
The only thing that could cause a surge in Grist’s traffic would be if people turned en masse into middle-aged, liberal women. I’m using Alexa’s own information here.

Kasuha
Reply to  DirkH
October 15, 2014 11:32 am

I don’t see Grist getting out of its fluctuation noise level. The same for MSNBC, the same for thinkprogress. I think it’s a bit early to start spinning conspiracy theories.

Justin
October 15, 2014 6:30 am

A better indicator would be Google trends, which measures pretty much everything. The first link is for Watts up with that. The second link is for Thinkprogress.org. The third is for msnbc.com. The fourth for CNN.
WUWT: http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=%2Fm%2F0bh9jm4&cmpt=q
Thinkprogess: http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=ThinkProgress.org&cmpt=q
msnbc: http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=%22msnbc.com%22&cmpt=q
CNN: http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=%22cnn.com%22&cmpt=q
Also, if you enter terms for global warming and climate change, it shows a declining interest in the results graph. I think people are just not interested in the subject, which may explain why it ranks dead last in polls measuring what people are most concerned about.

Dire Wolf
Reply to  Justin
October 15, 2014 9:19 am

Thanks. That really shows where “Think Progress” sits. What do the numbers actually count? Is it some multiplier of hits or searches?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Justin
October 15, 2014 6:38 pm

So WUWT is hotter in South Aftrica and India than in the US? Hmm…

Reply to  Justin
October 17, 2014 5:40 pm

People have left off believing the alarmists. That’s why it’s less of an issue with them. They want jobs for loggers more than they care about the spotted owl. Drill, baby, drill!

cwon14
October 15, 2014 6:32 am

Must be “models” aka “just making it up to fit a political meme”.
Sounds like consensus climate science.

Leon Brozyna
October 15, 2014 6:35 am

Well, I suppose Audit Bureau of Circulation they ain’t … the only metric that matters … $$$

Jimbo
October 15, 2014 6:41 am

Alexa does not matter. What matters is your own stats coming in – actual visitor. The only problem is that you cannot easily compare – but you can compare yourself to yourself.
PS I vaguely remember that Alexa only has data for those who bother to download their toolbar. I maybe mistaken.

Jimbo
Reply to  Jimbo
October 15, 2014 6:42 am

I have my own webiste and I use Google Analytics. I compare my past performance to today. I could not give a rat’s fart what others are doing.

October 15, 2014 6:45 am

Google often produces curious results dependent on how political the query is. I’ve always put that down to Al Gore being a Senior Adviser to their board. Perhaps he’s now got another nice little earner as a Senior Advisor to Alexa as well?
Pointman

Jim G
Reply to  Pointman
October 15, 2014 8:04 am

Well, he invented the internet, after all!

lawrence Cornell
Reply to  Pointman
October 15, 2014 8:56 am

Yahoo search as well Pointman. Whose CEO is/was a major Obama campaign finance bundler.

Reply to  Pointman
October 17, 2014 5:44 pm

Yes, I knew Google was rigging things against alternative Internet media when they announced they were going to add extra points to “expert” web sites. I don’t remember any explanation of what “expert” meant to them. Maybe Mann, probably not WUWT.
Alternative media meaning independent perspectives, libertarians, conservatives…
Seems like there may be a niche opening up. Hard to crack the Google shell, but….

Rob Potter
October 15, 2014 6:49 am

It sounds like Alexa is not actually counting page views, but using a sample set of “people’ and extrapolating what pages they view to the global population – a bit like Nielsen ratings or opinion polls. Such methods are prone to a major source of error – that the sample set does not represent the whole population. There are two ways to address this – try to get a “better” sample set (i.e. more representative), or weight the results based on how you think your sample is biased. Both of these allow room for positive discrimination (getting the result you want) and so there is always the need to consider the source of such sample-based polls.
If Alexa have changed their sample set or changed their weighting, then you might expect a step change in the rankings (as was mentioned above). However, since the ranking would not be a instantaneous thing, but probably based on a using a gradually reducing weight of past views together with present views, there would be a gradual change to the new levels as the older data has a gradually reducing effect on the ranking.
On the whole, I would surmise that Alexa has changed their weighting algorithm to reflect what they think is a better representation of the whole population. This could be an innocent change (you always think that more people think like you) or deliberate (as has been suggested), but regardless some explanation from Alexa is required as these ratings are used by many people to gauge public opinion and are thus of more than just passing interest.

Billy Liar
Reply to  Rob Potter
October 15, 2014 8:36 am

Another major source of error in polls are that they reflect the views of the sort of people who self-select themselves for doing polls.

Dire Wolf
Reply to  Rob Potter
October 15, 2014 9:22 am

So you think this is like overweighting Democrats in political polls (saying 35% are Dems/25% Republicans when the registration numbers are reversed)? That seems a good guess. Thanks for your insight.

Lars P.
Reply to  Rob Potter
October 15, 2014 2:26 pm

I think Rob Potter above nailed it:
October 15, 2014 at 6:49 am
“….On the whole, I would surmise that Alexa has changed their weighting algorithm to reflect what they think is a better representation of the whole population. …”
And from the way how the graphs move it really look like they use some adjustments – as Hector Pascal said, October 15, 2014 at 7:39 am
” You missed “Time of observation bias”. TOBS explains everything.”
Wonder when they will move to models and name it “data”. That must come as next step….

Richard Dekker
October 15, 2014 6:53 am

That’s a lot of hockeysticks.

jayhd
October 15, 2014 6:55 am

It is time for Drudge, WUWT and all the other conservative sites to stop referencing the stupid things MSNBC and the other “progressive” sites publish. Those references alone probably increase traffic.

M Courtney
Reply to  jayhd
October 15, 2014 11:34 am

And to increase groupthink. You need to see what those who disagree with you are saying to hone your arguments and understand your own weaknesses.
Only God has all of the truth. And He doesn’t blog.

Reply to  M Courtney
October 17, 2014 5:48 pm

God has a lot of busy little bees. Besides, he turns evil against itself.
Nobody believes in governments anymore, except the ones who profit from it. Look at the reaction to Ebola. The director of the CDC oozes incompetence in his daily briefings, with stops and starts in his reading of the Teleprompter.

October 15, 2014 6:56 am

I would also look at an organized effort among those on the left to cook the data, sorta like an Alexa bomb (see Google bomb of George Bush for an example). As I understood it to work last I looked Alexa uses data from browser plugins to monitor traffic among others. Webmasters have long been aware that for a low ranked site downloading the plugin yourself as you visit your own site constantly could do wonders for your rank. I wonder if an organization on the left could make sure the plugin was installed on all their members/employees/users etc computers so as to skew the data with an non representative sample…

M Courtney
Reply to  Ryan P
October 15, 2014 11:36 am

But why?
OK, advertisers are likely to skew their payments on hits but equally so on the demographics.
It just seems like a bit of a pointless thing to do.

ImranCan
October 15, 2014 6:56 am

1984 here we come

Alx
October 15, 2014 7:01 am

As a reminder, our data panel is a sample of global Internet traffic
Alexa has developed it’s own “data” panel. I think what this means it selects who provides the data. The term data panel is misleading, it really is a panel of people and of course changing the demographics picked will change results.
This more “accurate” panel of internet users, was made up of a much greater percentage of left leaning users. If I was an advertiser who feels their product was geared to the left, for example Climate Change Anxiety Supplements, I would use Alexa data. Otherwise, it has no value in understanding internet traffic.
BTW “Climate Change Anxiety Supplements” or CCAS probably could be a big moneymaker, I should copyright that.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Alx
October 15, 2014 9:48 am

As taught by the left’s godfather; “I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how. Я считаю, что совершенно неважно, кто и как будет в партии голосовать; но вот что чрезвычайно важно, это – кто и как будет считать голоса.(The Memoirs of Stalin’s Former Secretary (1992) by Boris Bazhanov [Saint Petersburg] (Борис Бажанов. Воспоминания бывшего секретаря Сталина).

D. B. Cooper
October 15, 2014 7:05 am

So, does this mean Alexa has hired Gavin?

Doug
October 15, 2014 7:08 am

But WUWT is up…..you’ve been exposed, you closet commie!

Jeremy
October 15, 2014 7:11 am

We all saw how google manipulated searches to make it harder to find “climategate” – those who control the story are always inclined to twist things to their agenda. Don’t believe anything you read or are told! Check the facts as best as you can and if there are no facts to check then take whatever is said with a grain of salt.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Jeremy
October 15, 2014 7:34 pm

Make that a bag of salt.

markn
October 15, 2014 7:13 am

Odd. Know nothing about it. Suspect there must be various degrees of corruption. Be nice to know. Guess it’s between 10 – 30% depending where you are on the planet and what your business is.

Joe Minick
October 15, 2014 7:14 am

If I recall… In logic class… It was called slippery slope.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Joe Minick
October 15, 2014 10:21 am

Slippery slopes are covered in rhetoric or propaganda or agit-prop,

Winston
October 15, 2014 7:23 am

Could it be related to the level of the service plan subscribed to? Yelp apparently blackmails businesses that don’t advertise by removing good reviews. Perhaps Alexa came up with an algorithm that is “more accurate” for customers with the their most expensive plan. About the Yelp technique:
http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?singlepost=3364742
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/yelp-and-the-business-of-extortion-20/Content?oid=1176635
http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=12380900#page:showThread,12380900

Collin Maessen
October 15, 2014 7:29 am

Well I’ve said it before to you that Alexa cannot be trusted for accurate statistics. They use indirect measurements to give an estimate on the traffic a website is receiving, where this is coming from, and what their audience is. At best you can use indirect methods to give an indication of what is going on, but even that cannot be trusted on.
The other detail also is that it’s quite easy to manipulate/pollute the data Alexa gathers. Though I do not yet know how their recent changes will affect this.
The only thing that I can say with certainty is that you shouldn’t rely on Alexa statistics, or any other statistics gathered through indirect measures. They all have some big disadvantages that make them unreliable compared to data gathered from direct measurements.
REPLY: Colin, as usual, you miss this real issue, due to your own biases against myself and WUWT. Alexa has been doing just fine for millions of websites, it’s the change now that is the issue. It can’t simply be explained away, even if you disagree with the previous data gathering methods. Just a reminder. You’re banned from commenting here, due to your previous thread disruptions spouting your bias, and some moderator accidentally let your comment through. So there is no need to reply. – Anthony

October 15, 2014 7:32 am

HA !!
Nothing can save CNN from bottoming out !!
Maybe the “New” system at Alexa allows leftists to fudge rankings like they do for google searches.

jeo
October 15, 2014 7:43 am

Oh god, please don’t cite WND. That makes this site’s credibility go down dramatically.

John Boles
October 15, 2014 7:51 am

I have found over the last few years that leftist bias suffers from incredible NOBLE CAUSE CORRUPTION and knows NO limits, yes it runs very deep! Leftists will do anything for their cause, as long as they do not have to sacrifice much.

Jim G
October 15, 2014 7:55 am

The left lies about everything, so why not this as well? Inflation, GDP, employment, IRS, Benghazi, fast and furious, Obamacare, yata, yata, yata…. If their lips are moving they are lying.

Mark from the Midwest
October 15, 2014 7:55 am

It’s really pretty simple, their recruitment process leads to a biased, not representative sample. When you do heavy recruiting on Puffington Host you will get a liberally biased sample. No one in the media industry takes Alexa seriously. Nielsen and Comscore are the only generally accepted measurement platforms.

October 15, 2014 7:57 am

You know all those inept reporters the MSM let go because they can’t sell enough of their reports to keep them employed? Well, probably Alexa hired some of them. Ergo, Alexa’s bad reporting of internet rankings.
John

schitzree
October 15, 2014 7:58 am

Since the rank reflects a websites place RELATIVE to all other sites, if 5 thousand progressive sites were pushed up in rank significant then all sites they passed would see a 5k drop in their rank.
Something must be inflating a lot of progressive sites if the effect shows up even on sites in the top tier though, and it must be a very large boost. Not just +/- 500 visits.

joe2011
Reply to  schitzree
October 17, 2014 1:15 pm

i was wondering this too. Is it a huge influx of fake traffic to liberal websites? they liberals were found out to be sending tons of fake email to influence conservative reps and senators in 2010 on crucilal votes iirc. Fake twitter accts retweeting bs too.

Otteryd
October 15, 2014 8:03 am

I think we need to wait for five years worth of data before we can say for sure. Or ten years? Or Eighteen years? Or perhaps it will descend to zero by 2035?

Ralph Kramden
October 15, 2014 8:06 am

If Alexa.com’s numbers can’t be trusted it would finish Alexa.

eyesonu
October 15, 2014 8:21 am

Serious question here. I have WUWT bookmarked on my browser and use it exclusively to access WUWT. Since I don’t use ‘google search’ or other search engines to get here what effect would/could that have on various ranking results?

Harold
October 15, 2014 8:44 am

Kinda looks like Mike’s trick. Mikey likes it.

ossqss
October 15, 2014 8:46 am

Resistance is futile! You will be extrapolated!
Sarc》
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bc/Borg_Queen_2372.jpg

wws
October 15, 2014 8:57 am

Here’s a reality check on just how fishy those numbers are – Alexa shows MSNBC’s rankings going up, when the New York Times has just published a piece on how MSNBC’s ratings just hit a new all time low.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/13/business/media/leaning-forward-msnbc-loses-ground-to-rival-cnn-.html?_r=0
“However the slide of MSNBC is especially dramatic. The Times reports that MSNBC averaged 392,000 key demo viewers per night in the first quarter of 2009. Last quarter that number was down to 125,000, representing a loss of two-thirds of their total audience.”
So, Alexa is trying to say that even though on-air viewership has just hit an All Time Low, somehow online page views are going up. I don’t think so.
It may be time for some entrepreneur to start a competing ranking service, since Alexa’s can apparently no longer be trusted.

freeHat
October 15, 2014 9:15 am

Alexa rankings mean very little in the SEO industry-no one trusts them as they can be easily faked with bots, etc.. People aren’t exactly buying or selling websites based on Alexa ranking.

Harold
Reply to  freeHat
October 15, 2014 9:25 am

A clue is the countries traffic is coming from. If you have a site about American politics, and a lot of traffic from Uzbeckistan, something’s fishy.

Harold
October 15, 2014 9:41 am

This sounds like a puzzle for McIntyre, McKitrick and Jean S. If they can make sense of Mann’s dog’s breakfast, this is an evening’s work.

CC Reader
October 15, 2014 9:44 am

Mann, I get a new job and you are still complaining. Whiners…… I can’t win, I just reversed the graph by mistake!

dynam01
October 15, 2014 9:53 am

At first blush, this seems like a simple data entry/formatting error. GIGO. Then again, knowing what we know of the IRSs serial abuses, nothing surprises me anymore. I’m hoping it’s the former.

October 15, 2014 10:40 am

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

Newspeak!

Reg Nelson
October 15, 2014 11:08 am

The paqe views aren’t missing. They’re sitting at the bottom of the ocean (below 700 meters). 10,000 Hirosima page views per second, measured of course in K Joules or Manhattan Islands.

pokerguy
October 15, 2014 11:13 am

“Something is broken at Alexa that seems to favor one sort of website over another. What’s up with that?”
As a lifelong liberal, I used to laugh at wacko, paranoid conservatives. Now I’ve become one. Whatever’s “broken” might well be an honest mistake. But then again, nothing these days would surprise me.

Harold
Reply to  pokerguy
October 15, 2014 11:28 am

The Occam’s razor explanation, given what they said in their announcement, is that they changed the demographics of their control groups. Dramatically. To a bunch of college kids.
The question is, exactly what was changed, and why. There’s probably a memo somewhere in the bowels of Alexa with a justification.

wws
Reply to  pokerguy
October 15, 2014 11:37 am

“As a lifelong liberal, I used to laugh at wacko, paranoid conservatives.”
Here’s a good one: “You can trust the CDC when they say there’s no public risk, they would NEVER lie to us about something as important as Ebola transmission, would they???”

Zeke
October 15, 2014 11:25 am

This might also have something to do with it:
Conn. student: Conservative websites blocked by school
“Andrew Lampart of Woodbury asked the local board of education last week to explain why he couldn’t access websites such as ctgop.org, teaparty.org and those of right-to-life and gun-rights advocates.
Lampart, 18, says such sites were blocked when he tried to access them on his tablet and a Nonnewaug High School computer, while websites with opposing views — including ctdems.org, plannedparenthood.org and banhandgunsnow.org — weren’t blocked.”
Common Core will feature climate change and evolutionary theory as its main academic science objectives for the classroom, to the exclusion of other sciences such as biology and chemistry. If schools and gov’t traffic are emphasized, and they have blocked websites, then this will affect traffic.

M Courtney
Reply to  Zeke
October 15, 2014 11:40 am

That may be a valid point.
It would have to be a lot of schools to make the change so noticeable. But it does fit the pattern.

Anubis
Reply to  Zeke
October 17, 2014 7:44 am

Oddly enough common core will teach evolution but preach white privilege. When white privilege can be best understood as evolution since Asians have it also and evolved under similar conditions.

Zeke
Reply to  Anubis
October 17, 2014 2:06 pm

Social Darwinism is a highly probable conclusion for evolutionary theory, as many critics have pointed out. This is true both logically and historically. For example:
http://youtu.be/8ceTeJeUnNw?t=5m38s
However, Anubis, it is not helpful to start rumors about what Common Core says about genetic or ethnic superiority. Can you provide any evidence?
The bankroller and overseer of Common Core is Bill Gates. Contrary to what you say, Anubis, the science curricula focuses on global warming, sustainability, and population control.

Bill Gates’ ‘Big History Project’ Teaches Kids Climate Change and Population Stagnation
September 18, 2014 – 9:58 AM
By Sandra Stotsky
The best—or the worst—idea Bill Gates has come up with, depending on whether your school system is being funded by the Gates Foundation to pilot the “history” curriculum he recently developed that is being praised by the New York Times, is something called the Big History Project. An “integration” of astronomy, geology, and a tiny bit of history, it is described as an example of inter-disciplinary thinking with big ideas.
What are some of the big ideas? The last “threshold,” or big unit of study, is the “modern” age, that is, when pre-historic man first appears and later comes to dominate the world. It ends with the voice-over narrator warning viewers: “At present, we can see both dangerous trends, such as global warming and the continued existence of nuclear weapons, as well as positive trends, such as increased collaboration in dealing with climate change, a slowing in population growth, and an acceleration in our knowledge about the biosphere.”
http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/sandra-stotsky/bill-gates-big-history-project-teaches-kids-climate-change-and-population

CC Reader
October 15, 2014 11:45 am

Have any of you looked in your JUNK folder in gmail? Gmail is dumping all republican funding requests and news letters there.
Is there a conservative version of gmail some where on the net?
Is this happening to democrat funding requests?
Remember, The Democrat Party, not democratic.
Dumocrat, huummmmm

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  CC Reader
October 15, 2014 7:49 pm

My Yahoo mail sent 100 Republican funding requests to my junk mail. 90% of my junk mail folder is diverted NRC emails.

tadchem
October 15, 2014 12:10 pm

Alexa: The problem with changing the rules of measurement is that nothing you do *after* the change can be reasonably compared to what you have done *before* the change. You have just tossed out your entire work history.

Frank Kotler
October 15, 2014 12:17 pm

The algoritm is working as intended.

AnonyMoose
October 15, 2014 12:20 pm

Maybe Alexa added a data collection interface to an advertising company, but the ad company happens to be most popular on left-leaning web sites.

Robert W Turner
October 15, 2014 12:42 pm

Some formal IRS employee found a new job.

Boulder Skeptic
October 15, 2014 12:51 pm

Based on these data, and my internet traffic model built on CO2 forcing, WUWT will very likely (95% confidence) be viewer-free within the next 6 years.
Here’s to hoping that people who believe in a democratic-republic form of government, the US Constitution and conservative, capitalist-based ideals start putting their time and money into building alternatives that are truth based. The watermelons always seem to control information to, and education of, the masses (google, MSM, public schools, universities, government agencies, wiki, Hollywood, factcheck, etc). What’s it going to take for conservatives to grow some cahones, and start fighting back? Our way of life, our liberty, the upward mobility of minorities and the poor, and opportunities for our children and grand-children are at stake. Congrats to Anthony for doing more than his part (although apparently not in the last few months, haha). I’m trying to figure out ways I can make a difference more globally.
/sarc (for the first sentence)
Bruce

Merrick
October 15, 2014 1:17 pm

Yeah. I’m sure that the MSNBC website was shocking them in at the same time the cable network’s already abyssmal ratings are taking even deeper nose dives.
And from what I understand even those miserable numbers were padded by the recently discovered Neisen “bug.”

Gunga Din
October 15, 2014 1:34 pm

A few possible possibilities.
1 They’ve incorporated the “Fudge Factor” from the HarryReadme file into their calculations.
2 James Hansen is now their programmer.
3 CO2 has infiltrated the “clean room” that contains their servers.
4 Their servers are also used to generate climate models.
5 Somebody screwed up.
6 Gorebots are now counted.
7 Since everyone is equal but some people are more equal than others, they are counted twice (or more).

Gunga Din
October 15, 2014 1:37 pm

8 Windows XP users no longer count.

October 15, 2014 2:12 pm

Did a Google search on “global warming”:
WUWT didn’t show until Page 10 of about 29,100,000 results (0.36 seconds), this is what was shown:
Yet another significant paper finds low climate sensitivity to …
wattsupwiththat.com/…/yet-another-significicant-pa…
Watts Up With That?
1 day ago – Assessment of global warming due to CO2 and solar influence … increasing CO2-concentration and a varying solar activity on global warming…
**********************************************************************
Did a Google search on “climate change”:
WUWT didn’t show until Page 22 of about 69,000,000 results (0.45 seconds), this is what was shown:
Climate change:
Watts Up With That? | The world’s most viewed site on …
wattsupwiththat.com/
Watts Up With That?
But then,we are dealing with a science that in some cases has lost all sense of seriousness, such as the bonkers claim that “climate change” will start killing off…
**************************************************************************
Did a Google search on “global warming skeptics” – (Skeptical Science came up #1)
WUWT came up #6 on page 1, About 1,050,000 results (0.29 seconds), this is what was shown:
Watts Up With That? | The world’s most viewed site on …
wattsupwiththat.com/
Watts Up With That?
Former meteorologist and weather expert Anthony Watts maintains this site, skeptical of the man-made global warming topic.
*************************************************************************
Just for what it’s worth – most people still do their searches using Google…

Streetcred
October 15, 2014 3:46 pm

The new ‘algorethim’ has grafted on an upside down Tjalander series of data points.

michael hart
October 15, 2014 4:06 pm

Whatever the reasons, I don’t think Alexa rankings are going to have any affect on Chinese power stations burning coal.

Tucci78
October 15, 2014 4:26 pm

Robust among the the politically manipulative is the axiom that “Perception is reality” (attributed to Republican National Committee chairman Lee Atwater) and therefore the tools of perception are considered high-priority targets among those whose interests are at odds with reality and must therefore depend upon deceit to gull, cully, and diddle the people they’re trying to control.
It has been a mistake for Mr. Watts – and other advocates of objectively truthful consideration of climate phenomena – to have relied upon the reports of services like Alexa with regard to boasts about the relative popularity of their online promulgations. Though it is comforting to know that one is not alone in assessing the preposterous bogosity of the anthropogenic global climate change fraud, it skates close to the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum – i.e., that you’re correct in debunking this flaming idiocy not only because the facts on the ground support your position but also because large numbers of other people share your opinion.
But the means of mensuration upon which we depend for observing the operations of the Internet are owned and operated by human beings who can themselves be manipulated into reporting falsely. Those conduits of information with track records of accuracy and therefore reliability are bound to draw the attention of the “Perception is reality” types.
And these people literally lie for a living. They’re better at it than we are. More practiced. High incentive. Zero moral scruples.
Those of us who value the dispassionate validity of honest observation – the foundation of scientific method – despise the political manipulators who depend upon warping popular perception away from objective reality to suit their purposes.
They’re the enemy of everything we hold dear, and there’s an old German proverb:
“Keiner kluger Krieger hält seinen Feind gering.”
Translates as:
“No wise warrior underestimates his enemy.”

Jeff
October 15, 2014 4:28 pm

I think I see a hockey stick.

October 15, 2014 4:54 pm

J. Philip Peterson,
Those numbers are completely bogus. SkepticalScience has more traffic than WUWT??
There is no way. Here is Wolfram Alpha’s algorithm:
https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=wattsupwiththat.com+vs+www.skepticalscience.com
WUWT has ten times the traffic of SkS!
And here’s a comparison of WUWT vs SkS vs Michael Mann’s RealClimate:
https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=wattsupwiththat.com+vs+www.realclimate.org+vs+www.skepticalscience.com
Realclimate should just throw in the towel. They’re toast.

Richard
October 15, 2014 5:42 pm

It seems like Alexa has learned to calculate web traffic the same way globalwarmists calculate temperatures:
If data doesn’t fit expectations, then the data is biased and must be corrected to comply with model outputs.

KenB
October 15, 2014 5:43 pm

In the world of propaganda and manipulation, there is a crying need to have fiercely independent investigative reporters and a media prepared to expose any attempt to manipulate truth and public perception for political purposes.
When you consider the growing employment of propaganda agents (spin doctors) by all political parties and within media organisations this needs careful attention.
Truth and justice is a cornerstone of democracy and public confidence in that democratic process. Any attempt to undermine or counter truth or tip the balance in favour of propaganda, needs to be exposed by an active media dedicated to both investigation and wide attention so that Justice can be lawfully applied and erosion of personal liberty prevented?.

mem
October 15, 2014 6:32 pm

Did Alexa get a grant or sponsorship? Perhaps a word from the big O’s office to be more positive towards climate change. Maybe an award pending from his office if Alexa co-operates? In Australia when the previous warmist government was in office nearly every media body, academic institution, ” independent advisory body” was pressured or corrupted via funding stream, selective appointments and in some cases sackings. Nothing left untouched I’m afraid.Thankfully Mr Murdoch doesn’t respond well to being bullied so his publications maintained some independence on the climate issue and he won additional readers whilst the leftist drones lost ground as people woke-up to the scam.

joe2011
Reply to  mem
October 17, 2014 1:45 pm

actually i think Mr. Murdoch does respond to bullying. I think i heard rumblings last year to the effect that Mr Murdoch would be arrested if he returned to the U.S. Was this a joke or perhaps i heard incorrectly?
What i’m sure i did hear was Mr Murdoch saying something to the effect of “the King has been mighty restrained with his illegal orders of late, best for Congress to give him what he wants (amnesty) without him having to ask for it”

KevinM
October 15, 2014 7:21 pm

What if WUWT etc stayed same but bots cranked up everything else?

John Hauenstien
October 15, 2014 8:08 pm

What am I missing here? the note above the Drudge Report graph -copied here-“(Lower numbers are better, for example, Google is #1)” clearly states graphs are “upside down” to normal with ordinate numbers getting larger as they approach the horizontal axis. So in all the plots the Drudge Report, WUWT etc. thus show a large jump in readership and the lefties show a decline.

Pamela Gray
October 15, 2014 8:23 pm

I know what this is. The new fad in data graphing is to use it upsidedown.

mmann
October 15, 2014 8:35 pm

We must hide the decline!

October 15, 2014 9:18 pm

Alexa statistics are absolutely worthless and can be manufactured at will. They only track people foolish enough to install their Toolbar which does not have to be human. I was thinking about setting up some Alexa rank spam servers to make my point as this nonsense never goes away.

IanH
October 15, 2014 9:19 pm

Meh… I trust Breitbart for news as much as I trust Al Gore on climate change. When a “news” organization makes up stories like “Friends of Hamas” it really isn’t a news organization.

MikeN
October 15, 2014 10:20 pm

Isn’t Alexa rankings based on a toolbar installed by users? Is so, it is possible that a group had an organized effort to install this toolbar and move the ratings. How much did Skeptical Science move?

mjh10
October 15, 2014 10:37 pm

I think they got mike mann to draw their graphs.

pat
October 15, 2014 11:35 pm

an update at WND:
15 Oct: WND: Leo Hohmann: Caught ‘red-handed’: News-site deception uncovered
‘This is the smoking gun. This is huge’
Statistically, it would seem to be impossible.
How could every major alternative website that challenges the mainstream, establishment view of Washington and the world be experiencing a drop-off in readership while their counterparts on the other side of the political spectrum are gaining readers? …
The Drudge Report, WND, Breitbart, Fox News, the Blaze, Newsmax, CNSNEWS, the Daily Caller, Infowars and Natural News are all plunging in popularity, according to Alexa’s rankings.
At the same time, pro-government sites like the Daily Kos, ThinkProgress, Media Matters, MSNBC, NPR.org and Democracy Now! are all rising in popularity, according to Alexa…
Several responded in WND’s first report on the mysterious trend. And more have responded since that article was published, including the head of Breitbart News, who is not buying the new figures released by Alexa.
“Despite increasing traffic on Breitbart.com, the Alexa rankings for Breibart.com dropped significantly in one month. That certainly calls into question Alexa’s newly reported numbers,” Larry Solov, president and CEO of Breitbart News, told WND.
What’s even more surprising is that a top alternative website focusing on health issues, which has been reporting daily on the hottest news topic concerning health in years, Ebola, would also be down in the Alexa rankings.
But that’s exactly what happened to NaturalNews.com, a site operated by Mike Adams, a scientist also known as the “health ranger.”…
http://mobile.wnd.com/2014/10/caught-red-handed-news-site-deception-uncovered/

John Of Cloverdale WA, Australia
October 16, 2014 3:46 am

As Dickens once wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Yes, we do live in interesting times, mostly ignorant (of facts).

mac
October 16, 2014 5:08 am

Clearly they have adopted NOAA’s temperature adjustment algorithm to better represent what they think should happen.

October 16, 2014 8:07 am

Lefty ideas: Ideas so good that we must lie about how popular they are…
I always wondered about censorship and lying in general for lefty causes. We have seen it time and time again from cartoonists from a certain un-named site, and we have seen that at first these campaigns work. They work for a short time period before people wise up and learn the truth. The truth has this bad habit of slipping out and becoming known by all.
So eventually, people might think lefty causes are popular for awhile, until they start talking to people they know and realize that no one in the world is actually watching MSNBC. You see, the way I look at it is like this: Lie all you want for your cause. The fact that you MUST lie for that cause proves that the cause is so unimportant and so stupid that you can not get people fired up without being deceptive. And if that is the case, you are a moron for following a bad cause in the first place…and so you deserve to be mocked and censored and have rotten veggies thrown at you. Let them prove to the world that these causes are pointless and let them prove that they must lie to the people…because eventually people will simply stop believing what alexa says unless they fix this update, and if that happens alexa becomes kind of like climate science: the next pariah who no one will love.
Time makes believers of the truth of all of us. Give em time to hang themselves.

Lars P.
Reply to  benfrommo
October 16, 2014 11:45 am

Well, yes, I think now it became more clear to many people how Alexa is making their ranking – based on a toolbar installed by users – and then fudging the results with getting a statistic relevant sample from it – from where they could extract almost anything that they want.
The result is somehow influenced by reality but can be fudged with “ad nauseam” depending how the sample is being computed.
And as mentioned by somebody above, a reputation is won slowly, through hard work, but can be destroyed much faster. Not sure how much did Alexa won through this adjustment, but sure they lost.
And indeed that fact that one MUST lie for “the cause” really proves a lot

DØN
October 16, 2014 12:56 pm

Must have been an upside down proxy-method….

Pull My Finger
October 17, 2014 1:04 pm

Hockey Stick like.

Gregory
October 17, 2014 4:38 pm

Another October surprise, hits mean ad money. Time to ramp up money for the November midterms to protect Democrat Senators.

empiresentry
October 18, 2014 2:38 pm

mann found a new job

October 20, 2014 6:52 am

THANK YOU for explaining what’s going on. One of the most politically incorrect sites is catholicfundamentalism.com. It’s also growing on Facebook. Yet, the Alexa ratings just went from 65,000 to 95,000 in less than a week! At the same time, Similar to WUWT, the WordPress counter has shown record, and growing, readership. So, the same changes are being worked on very small sites like catholicfundamentalism.com AND the much larger sites like this.

Reply to  Bill Adams
October 21, 2014 9:18 am

UPDATE: In two more days, the catholicfundamentalsm.com DROPPED another 35,000, and is now at 130,000 (down from 73,000 at the beginning of the month) despite actual increases recorded on the actual site. This is a wonderful compliment to all the sites that have been diminished.

tony
October 21, 2014 9:04 am

This has happened to a few websites I have been noticing. One of my personal favorite websites (http://TheLifeStyleElite.com) was in the 50,000s at the beginning of this month,and now just two weeks in they are in the 100,000s. So it is affecting all website I mean if what you are saying is true it’s most likely they only deal with real ranking if you pay them.

Roy
October 22, 2014 5:48 am

I’m not using Alexa any more – http://www.similarweb.com is the most accurate tool to measure any website traffic.

Martin Lewitt
October 27, 2014 3:18 am

I use the WUWT tool bar that had an option to display the Alexa ranking for the site my Firefox browser was on. That option is no longer displayed on the toolbar since I updated firefox. Could this be the explanation for the drop in rankings? The rest of the toolbar works.

Martin Lewitt
October 27, 2014 3:26 am

The Alexa Toolbar Creator is no longer supported, as of Oct 2, 2014
That combined with a firefox upgrade may account for the drop?
http://support.alexa.com/hc/en-us/articles/203271020

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