Why I do not trust web statistics

15 Oct

Any of us that host websites like to use stats. We like to review our traffic, our hits, some of us follow our Alexa ranking or our Compete ranking. I have blogged previously about Alexa applied to ChemSpider and Compete applied to ChemSpider. The Alexa rankings and Compete rankings are available for the site online. These are PUBLIC rankings and the value of public rankings such as this is the relative ranking that you can observe…according to Compete ChemSpider unique users is about 1/2 that of PubChem and 9 times that of eMolecules.

Whether this is true or not is a whole different question. Why? Because I simply don’t believe most public stats on websites like this. For accurate measures of traffic I would choose internal Google Analytics code over any of the public website measures.

Here’s an example of how stats get distorted. I’d like to celebrate the result I am about to report but I DOUBT it’s true! Yesterday I gave a talk to a group of students and faculty at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. The presentation is below.


Based on feedback from my host, Bob Belford, the presentation was well received. I enjoyed giving the presentation and used the BigBlueButton system to do it, using with skype for audio, and then sharing my desktop from Skype for a live demo of ChemSpider. However, I doubt it’s my best ever presentation! Within 5 hours I had received an email from Slideshare that it was being talked about on LinkedIn and was one of the top talked about presentations and they had put it on the home page of Slideshare! Overnight it had registered >10,000 views.

My Slideshare presentation on the Slideshare Home Page

Now, I wish that 10,000 people had looked at the presentation! That’s what it says now! But I believe the stats are likely biased and people have looked at the Slideshare home page 10,000 times while it was shown in the “Hot on LinkedIn” page. I may be wrong…maybe it is that popular! And if so thanks for reading.



About tony

Founder of ChemZoo Inc., the host of ChemSpider ( ChemSpider is an open access online database of chemical structures and property transaction based services to enable chemists around the world to data mine chemistry databases. The Royal Society of Chemistry acquired ChemSpider in May 2009. Presently working as a consortium member of the OpenPHACTS IMI project ( This focuses on how drug discovery can utilize semantic technologies to improve decision making and brings together 22 European team members to develop an infrastructure to link together public and private data for the drug discovery community. I am also involved with the PharmaSea FP7 project ( trying to identify new classes of marine natural products with potential pharmacological activity. I am also one of the hosts for three wikis for Science: ScientistsDB, SciMobileApps and SciDBs. Over the past decade I held many responsibilities including the direction of the development of scientific software applications for spectroscopy and general chemistry, directing marketing efforts, sales and business development collaborations for the company. Eight years experience of analytical laboratory leadership and management. Experienced in experimental techniques, implementation of new NMR technologies, walk-up facility management, research and development, manufacturing support and teaching. Ability to provide situation analysis, creative solutions and establish good working relationships. Prolific author with over a 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 3 patents and over 300 public presentations. Specialties Leadership in the domain of free access Chemistry, Product and project management, Organizational and Leadership development, Competitive analysis and Business Development, Entrepreneurial.

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