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2011 at Flash of Steel and Three Moves Ahead By the Numbers

January 1st, 2012 by Troy Goodfellow · 14 Comments · Blogs

Though I write for myself and would podcast for a few dozen, I am a statistics freak. So here’s how it looked for the blog and podcast in 2011.

2011 was the best year ever for visits and for downloads – in spite of me not writing much and me ceding first chair on the show. Lesson? Maybe less of me is more. I won’t give you the full numbers, but the blog peaked when the National Character series was being spread around the past summer, and the podcast has steadily grown.

Three Moves Ahead started surging in Fall 2010 and this year has climbed to new heights. The final show of the year – which attracted a Battletech audience that had never heard of us – helped push December into new territory with over 30,000 total downloads of the podcast that month. We were on track for a record month before that. The really boring stuff is after the jump, but also some revelations from the search content.

People in 175 nations stumbled onto FoS at least once, and the podcast was downloaded in 136. The top nations for visitors to the blog are the usual suspects:


Top podcast audiences are similar. Exact same top four, but then it’s Sweden, Germany, China, Norway, Ireland, Denmark.

Australian centers of population dominate the city list for blog traffic, probably because Aussies are so concentrated. The following cities all visited over 2000 times.

London, UK
New York
San Francisco

Top 10 Canadian cities are not surprises – every major Canadian city plus Burlington, ON – except for Elliot Lake, ON in 8th place and Corner Brook, NL in 10th. I am assuming I have a couple of very dedicated readers in those places.

For site referrals, Rock Paper Shotgun sent THREE TIMES the traffic to FoS that Google did. Some of that traffic is from the posts there but a lot of it from people in the comments pointing to podcasts we did on a topic referenced at the pre-eminent PC gaming blog.

Leaving search engines and social media out of the equation, top ten referring sites were:

Quarter to Three
Board Game Geek
Matrix Games
Something Awful forums
No High Scores
Paradox Forums
Fog of War Games blog

The most popular searches that led people to the blog and podcast were, of course, people looking for the blog and podcast. Other than that, visitors find what they want about Civilization, National Characters, Alpha Centauri, Hegemony: Philip of Macdeon, Star Ruler, and a dozen other games.

I get more people looking for Tom Chick (over 2000) and Bruce Geryk (over 1000) than for Rob Zacny (over 50). To Rob’s eternal glory, someone looked for “Rob Goodfellow National Character”. I guess we’re married now. Julian Murdoch barely pops up as a search that brings people here, which probably underlines the power of Gamers with Jobs.

Other names people look for:

Sid Meier (over 500 times, but mostly as part of a game name. Gettysburg the most popular of these.)
Jon Shafer (over 350 times)
Bill Abner (over 100 and all of them asking about Warhammer Miniatures)
Soren Johnson (over 25 times, and overwhelmingly connected to board games)

There are the usual interesting searches that make me wonder what someone is looking for.

1) A Philadelphia visitor came to the blog 4 times looking for the same sentences on my blog. (The ones from the Aztec post on how history is not really written by the winners.) Did the visitor just like this phrasing? Were they checking to see if I plagiarized it? Why four times via search?

2) Eight or nine times a month, somebody comes looking for information on Rome on 640K a Day. I wrote a blog post about it over five years ago. Nice to see the book is remembered and to see that post still get eyeballs.

3) Visitors want to know if some people are gay. Of those names searched that I can confirm, none are.

4) People think that Bruce played 1960: Making of the President with Tom, not me.

5) My marital status was of interest to people in Connecticut, New York, Michigan, Seattle and Canberra.

6) People still want a Hitler mod for Civ 4

7) My post on Sims 3 and religion from 2009 still gets a lot of traffic. Disturbing that some of it is from a sick person looking for a concentration camp game.

8) Searches for Caesar 100. Searches for Pompey 1.

9) Lots of questions about the Mongols. Mongols in Civ, Mongols in history, Mongols having sex on horseback.

10) And the prize for creepy search of the year, from a Scottish visitor: “did tom chick send pictures of his weiner to barack obama”


14 Comments so far ↓

  • Rob Thomasson

    Well, did he?

  • Vinraith

    Has Star Ruler gotten any coverage on the blog or podcast? If so, I must have missed it.

    Also, what Rob asked above.

  • James Woodall

    Question 10 deserves an official answer! The peanut gallery demands it!

    Nice to see Star Ruler is still showing up in searches on Flash of Steel. :)

  • Troy Goodfellow


    A friend wrote a guest review of it in 2010.

    And only Tom or the Secret Service know the answer to that question with 100% certainty.

  • James Woodall

    @Vinraith: There was a guest post about it back in the middling days of Star Ruler (about v1060~ I think?). It’s out-of-date now (we’re @1.1 and have reached “stable” status with only one remaining patch forthcoming) but really that’s the same with most reviews of Star Ruler.

    I’d welcome a re-review/re-visit of course but I won’t hold it against anyone if it doesn’t get one. There are *many* games that FoS covers after all; I shouldn’t expect a special exception just because our game underwent significant changes.

    Besides, it wasn’t even Troy who reviewed it, but a friend of his — so I’d be asking him to ask his friend to re-review it. Hahahaha! :P

  • James Woodall

    @Troy: Drat! If this were the wild west I’d have lost that quick-draw. Kudos to your superior typing skills.

    Would you do a further breakdown on the top 3 referrals? I’m curious to know what each site was most often linking to. (Is that info even available?)

  • Troy Goodfellow

    That info is readily available. Google Analytics is pretty damned thorough – one thing they don’t track is Out Clicks, however, which is why I keep Sitemeter around, too.

    For RPS, the top links were to the podcast on deception in the Game of Thrones game, the National Character series epilogue and posts, and my post on convincing worlds in strategy games.

    Qt3 sent traffic to the front page most of the time. But for specific posts, the podcast on Age of Empires Online, my take on the contemporary value of strategy games, and Bruce’s recent holiday blog.

    Wargamer (naturally) mostly went to the podcast on War in the East, the podcast on Panzer General, and my early thoughts on Pride of Nations.

  • Vinraith

    Thanks, 2010 was (I will shamefully admit) in that dark time before I discovered FoS/3MA.

    It seems to me there are a lot of space games that need a revisit by the podcast. I’d love to hear some current coverage of Star Ruler, some coverage of Distant Worlds with the expansions, and some coverage of AI War with its expansions. Those are all pretty time consuming requests though, I know.

  • ShadowTiger

    This was a cool article, its nice to get an inside look in web statistics.

    Its interesting that you mentioned Rome on 640K a Day, as I have read that book and enjoyed it (even though I never played civ 1!)

    I love reading strategy guides and video game manuals just for fun. My favorite of all time was the Strategy Guide for Master of Magic. Definetly worth reading if you can get a hold of it.

  • skyrider68

    Hilarious. Sorry, Tom.

  • garion333

    I’ve posted about the guest Star Ruler review on GWJ a couple times, so count, say, 10 of those hits because of me. ;)

    Oh, and poor Tom.

  • MikeO

    Anyone who really follows this blog know that Tom did, indeed, send Obama pics of his wiener. Any update on that?

  • Warren

    I shudder to think what kind of traffic number ten might bring to the table in the numbers for 2012!

  • Strangeblades

    There is someone in Elliot Lake, ON besides me who loves this site? Gotta track ’em down and have a FoS-3MA meet-up. :)