We have reached our 2010 fundraising goal thanks to the last-minute contributions of Richard Brand, John McVey, Marsha Botzer, Karen Moller, Miriam Adams, Michael & Therese Pacheco, Melissa Smith & David Saslav, and Frank Lieser Hill. Many, many thanks to all who have generously supported our efforts. Best wishes for the New Year.
(Swans - December 27, 2010) I am often asked about the nuts and bolts that help the birds fly and what are the results of our labor. So, let me offer a few responses to the questions I have received. All the information and data relate to the year 2010. Hopefully, they will answer your legitimate curiosity. Call it a little window under the hood of Swans engine. Here it goes:
26 bi-weekly issues published. All work is done on a volunteer basis.
Almost 325 articles (or on average 12.5 pieces published per issue), and 25 series of readers' Letters to the Editor -- Overall +/- 350 documents (not counting pictures and the archives).
All pieces are original works (with the exception of a very few non-copyrighted oldies and goodies) -- that is, they have not been published or multiposted elsewhere in the digital realm. Our policy has not changed. We ask for Web exclusivity and do not authorize multiposting.
About 40 regular and occasional contributors, a significant number from academia. (As a reference, we began in 1996 with just about four contributors, including Jan Baughman and me!)
Swans contributors come from many countries and continents, bringing a diverse view of opinions within, for the most part, the political and philosophical sensitivities of the editors.
The youngest current contributor is 26, the oldest 81. The average age hovers around 55.
Lost contributors in 2010: Three.
New contributors in 2010: Seven, including French-only writers.
All the pieces are fully edited by the two co-editors, Jan Baughman and me. Rare typos are quickly corrected thanks to Peter Byrne's prompt alerts.
All the pieces include a description and a series of personified meta-words, courtesy of Jan Baughman. (Check the "Page Source" in your Web browser.)
All the pieces are HTML hand-formatted by me.
All the pieces are fully validated by the World Wide Web Consortium (aka, W3C) Markup Validation Services. They can be read on all media (PCs, tablets, smart phones, etc.), including text-only browsers, and accessed in Braille (or voice recognition software) for people with visual disabilities...
All HTML formatting takes into account the myriad people around the world who do not have access to broadband Internet and keep using modems.
Swans is one of the fastest downloading Web sites in the entire world.
Swans publishes in English overwhelmingly but has a small French corner led by French chief editor Marie Rennard, and a few texts in Spanish (with English translation)...and let's not forget the multilingual work of Guido Monte and his many friends.
Estimated amount of time spent on a bi-weekly basis for the preparation of a new edition, the maintenance of the site, e-mail correspondence, etc.: 65 hours (Jan Baughman: 15 hours, me: 50 hours), not included time for researching and writing articles. (Editing and HTML formatting are very labor intensive.) People tend to forget the essential work that Jan performs (beside, thanks to her full-time job, bringing the bacon home, thus allowing me to dedicate myself full time to the project). But without Jan there would be no Swans or what would remain of it would be of sub-par quality. Never forget Jan!
Swans receives no financial support from the corporate world and shuns commercial advertising. We are totally dependent on the generosity of individual supporters to cover the operating costs. (see the Donate page)
Financial donors in 2010: 42
Number of check-only contributions: 13
Highest financial contribution: $500
Lowest financial contribution: $5
Total financial contributions: $4,136.00
PayPal commissions: $88.30
Total net contributions: $4,047.70
Average financial contribution: $98.48
Unethical Web sites and Blogs stealing original material from Swans: Seven.
Estimated amount of time spent to have the stolen material removed: 150 hours.
General site analysis: Note that I use the logfile analyzer Analog, version 6.0, as well as less comprehensive stats provided by Pittsburgh-based (PA) Pair.com, the excellent company that hosts Swans. To get an idea of the information I can gather, please read a description of the "Analog's reports" and to understand the limitations of these reports please read "How the Web works." Also, I only have access to a 90-day analysis at any one time and do not keep or save the logs older than six months. With these caveats in mind:
Number of countries from which visitors reached the publication: About 160. The vast majority of requests come from the following 26 countries (in alphabetical order): Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The top domain names are .com, .net, .org, and .edu.
The average number of successful requests for pages per day varies from 8,000 to 10,000 (or more when one takes into account graphical files). Almost 95 percent of these requests are directed to the root directory (20%) and the "library" directory (75%). About 28 percent of these requests come from the crawlers and bots used by search engines to index the site.
The distinct hosts served fluctuates between 7,000 and 10,000 per week.
The average data transferred per day is about 160 MB, with substantial variations (from 120 to over 200 MB).
Number of readers: This is a question I am often asked. However, if you have taken the time to read "How the Web works" you know that it's not possible to find out the number of unique visitors to a site (in spite of all the claims made by many Web sites). To reach an estimate I study a series of data: The number of people who receive our bi-weekly "Swans Release" notice, people who use our RSS, the number of distinct hosts served, and the number of times the front page is requested. The latter number is difficult to find with accuracy since people reach the front page through either one of four URLs:
Only visitors who use the first URL are accounted for by the front-page counter, which I installed in October 2006. But even this counter cannot distinguish between a "unique" or a "repeat" visitor. So you can imagine the conundrum of trying to figure out the number of readers. We have about 2,000 e-mail addresses in our distribution list. About 700 people use our RSS. The front page is accessed between 6,000 and 9,000 times every fortnight. (Remember the front page, or root directory, is only requested 20 percent of the time while the content of the library is directly requested 75 percent of the time.) And, as said, the distinct hosts served fluctuates between 7,000 and 10,000 per week. So all in all, when I am being asked for the number of readers, I answer "about 16,000." It could be more, and it could be less, for all I know is that I know not!
In conclusion, Jan and I know something most definitely. When we receive a message from a donor that reads, "I think that [Swans] is one of the best Internet sites" or another that reads "your Web site is much needed as you endeavor to provide real alternatives to a socioeconomic system in tatters," we know then that in spite of the many challenges and sacrifices or perhaps because of them this adventure is worth carrying on, at least as long as my carpal tunnel syndrome stays in check and Jan stays alive and well...and employed.
If you find Gilles d'Aymery's article and the work of the Swans collective
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Feel free to insert a link to this work on your Web site or to disseminate its URL on your favorite lists, quoting the first paragraph or providing a summary. However, DO NOT steal, scavenge, or repost this work on the Web or any electronic media. Inlining, mirroring, and framing are expressly prohibited. Pulp re-publishing is welcome -- please contact the publisher. This material is copyrighted, © Gilles d'Aymery 2010. All rights reserved.
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