[Paul Ohm (guest-blogging), April 15, 2007 at 12:55am] Trackbacks
Do Blogs Influence SSRN Downloads?

Yes. In fact, yes, they do.

Today is my last day as a guest blogger, and I wanted to start by thanking my hosts and also you, the VC reader. This is an amazing place to workshop a paper having to do with computer security.

Last Monday, immediately after posting for the first time to the VC, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I wrote a quick computer program (for the more technically minded, a perl script and a cronjob) which downloaded and saved the SSRN statistics relating to my Superuser and Analog Hole papers every fifteen minutes, for the entire week.

I started picking through the data Friday afternoon, and as I am too often wont to do, I took a fun little exercise a bit too far and turned it into a 22 page article you can download, naturally, from SSRN.

I'll summarize some of the high points below, but I hope you read the paper. It's a quick 22 pages, complete with 10 charts and 7 tables.

The best way to summarize the study is to show two (admittedly overly busy) charts. Click a chart to enlarge:

Here are some observations from the paper about the effects of blogging on SSRN statistics:

  • Blogging about an article at the Volokh Conspiracy appears to be a good way to increase SSRN "Abstract Views" and "Downloads"
  • These statistics grow much more quickly when your Volokh Conspiracy posts are picked up by Slashdot.
  • Interesting comparisons can be made between the SSRN habits of Slashdot readers and Volokh Conspiracy Readers.
  • The ratio of Downloads to Abstract Views (which I call, Abstract Click-through Rate or ACTR) is a very interesting number which deserves much more scrutiny.
  • VC readers tended to cause the ACTR for my articles to plummet. In other words, VC readers tended to visit my abstracts without downloading the articles more often than the people who had visited my abstracts prior to this week. I'd love to hear your theories about why this may be.
  • If you stare hard enough at the trends in these graphs, you can begin to make out the effects of people waking up, getting to work, and leaving work. Based on my data, I'm willing to bet that a lot of people read the VC and download from SSRN while at work.

Thanks again for a very stimulating week!