How many readers? Where from? What were their favourite posts? Stats for 2016 on FP2P

Hi everyone, Happy New Year and all that. Thought I’d kick off with the usual feedback post on last year’s blog stats:


The blog passed a couple of milestones last year – since it started in 2008, it’s clocked up 2000 posts, 1.4 million words, and 10,000 comments (big thanks to everyone who takes the time to add monkey-typingtheirs). Only a matter of time before the blog accidentally reproduces Hamlet (monkeys, typewriters ….)

Overall reader stats for 2016 were:

319,607 ‘unique visitors’ – not quite the same as ‘different readers’, as if you read the blog on your PC, laptop and mobile, that counts as 3 people.  Within the year, the usual trend – a weekly cycle of low weekend reads, and summer and Christmas lulls (see graph). Those numbers are pretty much dog_blog_cartoonidentical to 2015, which I’m happy with as I took a blog break when I was finishing the book in Jan/Feb, so only 214 posts in 2016, compared to 242 the previous year (equal to a 13% increase in hits per post).

Most-read Posts: these continue to surprise me – only two of the top 10 were new – who says blogging is ephemeral? Apart from a possible bias towards aid industry related topics, I can see very little pattern behind this list – polemics, geek-food, how-to guides and just plain random stuff – could someone please tell me why a 2009 post on climate change in South Africa is still getting 10,000 hits a year?

  1. How is climate change affecting South Africa? (a 2009 post – the oldest in the list).
  2. How much should Charity Bosses be paid? (from 2013)
  3. How to get a PhD in a year and still do the day job (from 2011)
  4. Religion and Development: what are the links? Why should we care? (from 2011, but weirdly, a new entrant to the list)
  5. Are women really 70% of the world’s poor? How do we know? (2010, also a new entrant)
  6. What are the limitations to a human rights based approach to development? (2014)
  7. The 2016 Multidimensional Poverty Index was launched yesterday. What does it say? (the highest ranking post from 2016)
  8. How does emigration affect countries-of-origin? Paul Collier kicks off a debate on migration (2014 post, appearing for first time – that has to be Brexit!)
  9. How do developing country decision makers rate aid donors? (2016)
  10. How to write a really good executive summary (2014 post)

Neither of the all time top FP2P posts made it this year – What Brits say v what they mean and The world’s top 100 economies: 53 countries, 34 cities and 13 corporations.

Where were the readers from? Same top 10 to last year, with South Africa moving up the rankings (probably that climate change post, again).


71% of readers used PCs and only 23% read it on their mobiles (5% used tablets). Does that mean the blog’s not very mobile-friendly?

If you can see any other patterns or useful lessons do let me know, and I always appreciate suggestions for improving the blog. It’s about time I ran a reader survey (last one was about five years ago) and had another think about addressing some of the enduring challenges/weaknesses of the blog – eg more debates, getting more posts from Southern authors. Watch this space.


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6 Responses to “How many readers? Where from? What were their favourite posts? Stats for 2016 on FP2P”
  1. John Magrath

    As someone who was heavily involved in that 2009 South Africa report, I’m delighted to know it’s top of the pops + still getting 10,000 hits a year. Maybe one reason for its enduring popularity is that it wasn’t so much about climate change as about the energy challenges facing South Africa, especially the conflict between the drive for coal and the desire for expanding renewable energy. Maybe the energy/renewable energy dimensions go some way to explain its apparently enduring relevance.Generally, it was very eye-opening to hear how, as you say, blogging is not the ephemeral activity so often assumed. More power to your elbow!

    • Duncan Green

      Hope that’s true John, but have a nasty suspicion that either some prof is forcing a lot of students to read it, or (see Steve’s comment), the analytics are messed up……

  2. Steve Lewis

    The top-ten list seems so unlikely I think you should be wary of the analytics. Would not be the first time computer technology /algorithms etc throw up misleading info and no-one has the capacity to check it.

  3. John Magrath

    Ha – Steve might be right of course. On the other hand, the energy debate is a massive one in South Africa, + has been over the years, + Earthlife continue high-profile campaigning on e.g. nuclear being the latest court challenge to the government. See So may not be a total surprise if a 2009 ground breaking (?) report on the issue is still a key reference. But anyway if it is only some prof telling students to read it, what’s wrong with that either? Maybe you should be proud of it – you seem a little disappointed!!

  4. I got your blog from another blog ( Now that I skimmed through quickly (got a lot to catch up!), I really challenged by your writings especially the deep philosophical topic, i.e. why one aid? Your number 5 (religion and development) really hits home. There are lots of reason why one want to do ‘aid’, but not many ponder the why.

    In that post, you brought up lots of practical issues, but deep philosophical questions. Again, I myself is challenged (especially from climate change and economic injustice side), that we (humanity) need a better approach how to do ‘aid’. Facts and figures alone do NOT change people (as some of your posts indicate this).

    Gone the days where you can bring the guilt from people and they give. We need better ‘why’. Wrong motives lead to unsustainable aid. Ultimately, it’s a philosophical / moral / ethics questions.