Look At All the People on Government Websites Right Now

Illustration for article titled Look At All the People on Government Websites Right Now

Ever wonder how many people are browsing government websites right this second? Me neither. But once you see the data, it's kind of fascinating.

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The live information on analytics.usa.gov comes from a Google Analytics account for a whole bunch of different federal agencies (over 1,300 domains), though not all of them. The IP addresses are anonymized so it's not like the government is tracking your browsing directly; at least not with this site, anyway.

So what's there to learn? Plenty if you're a nerd. As a nerd, let me highlight a few fun facts.

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  • At the time of this writing, there are some 150,000 people on government websites. That's more than would fit into the largest football stadium in the United States, Michigan Stadium. Which is to say roughly this and a half:
Illustration for article titled Look At All the People on Government Websites Right Now

Image by AndrewHorne/Creative Commons

  • Over the course of about a month, 35 million people clicked on Buzzfeed's post on The Dress. 6 million clicked on Gawker's. Forecast.weather.gov? 75 million people.
  • Government pages had 1.3 billion visits over the past 90 days. That's something like 1 visit for ever 7 people on Earth.
  • Napkin math (i.e. 30 day numbers per site, times 3, divided into the total 1.3 billion visits-over-90-days number) shows that about one third of government site traffic is on irs.gov and weather.gov. At least right now when tax season's coming.
  • Over 50 percent of the people on government websites are running Windows. 41 percent are running Windows 7, and 3.4 percent are still on Windows XP.
  • Popular browsers are Chrome (35 percent), IE (28), Safari (20), and Firefox (11) in that order.
  • The most popular government page right this second is "Where's My Refund," which has about as many people on it as the Gizmodo homepage.
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You can also go explore the data yourself, either live or by downloading some of of the many archives if you're a real maniac. But maybe the best question is one we can't answer yet: How many people are going to be on irs.gov on tax day? [h/t Hacker News]

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DISCUSSION

sigmaoctans
sigmaoctans

The IP addresses are anonymized so it's not like the government is tracking your browsing directly; at least not with this site, anyway.

SHHHH... Don't let the tech-illiterate public know about IP address tracking!

If people knew it was possible for the government (and, well, everyone else who owns a website) to make a rough location estimate of where their vistor's computers were located, the tinfoil-hat crowd would go nuts.

I used to help manage the website at an old workplace that had a news website, and when I showed my coworkers the Google Analytics geo-location map of who was accessing the site, half the people in the room went nuts and said "We can't track our readers! That's an invasion of their privacy!"