ONDCP: A Million Hits or Blackwhite?

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In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, blackwhite means the ability to accept whatever “truth” the governing totalitarian party puts out, no matter how absurd it may be. Orwell described it as “…loyal willingness to say black is white when party discipline demands this. It also means the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know black is white, and forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”

The ability to blindly believe anything, regardless of its absurdity, can have different causes: respect for authority, fear, indoctrination, even critical laziness or gullibility. Orwell’s blackwhite refers only to that caused by fear, indoctrination or repression of one’s individual critical thinking (“to know black is white”), rather than caused by laziness or gullibility.Wiki

This latest press release from the Ministry of Truth shows just how freakin’ stupid the drug warriors really are:

John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), today announced that www.PushingBack.com, the Federal Government’s first Web blog, has received over one million hits since going live in March of last year. Pushing Back was created to take advantage of the popularity of “blogging” to convey information about the latest National efforts to reduce the harms that illegal drugs cause to the United States. The blog provides daily updates on the White House “Drug Czar,” highlights community efforts that “push back” against drug use, and showcases new research that serves to inform policymakers and anti-drug leaders throughout America.

Pete Guither took a look at 1,000,000 hit claim and performed the following comparisons:

John’s blog: About 17 links (including Narcosphere, Stop the Drug War, Drug WarRant, Drug Policy Alliance, and an old parody blog of the ONDCP that I used to write. Pretty much the only pro-drug-war links to the site are from… the actual ONDCP. As far as I can tell, we’re the only ones reading him!)

My blog: About 4540 links.

OK. How about Technorati — the blog searching site?

John’s blog: 4 sites currently link with only 18 posts that linked to his blog in the last 298 days (mostly from us, of course).

My blog: 813 current links from 214 sites

So how many hits have I had? Well, that depends on what statistics you use — different systems come up with different results, depending on what they count (story pages and archives, etc.) In over 2 1/2 years, SiteMeter says I’ve gotten 493,225 page hits, and SalonBlogs says that I’ve gotten 815,617. That’s great! In fact, it’s pretty incredible for a single-issue blog that only covers drug policy.

There are inherent problems with all external web traffic tracking devices, as Guither pointed out. Without looking at a real server log, it is difficult to tell exactly how much traffic a site is receiving. However, tools like Alexa, Google searches and Technorati at least give indications of traffic levels and provide a pretty clear picture of how various sites compare. Like Guither, I thought I’d take a look at our SiteMeter stats to see what I could dig up. Similar to Guither, our SiteMeter data show about 5/8ths of the traffic indicated by more accurate methods. With an Alexa site comparison the ONDCP blog barely even hit the chart.

I’m also not sure exactly what Walters meant by “hits”. If he was trying to provide information about the total amount of visitors or page views his site has received, his claim seems absolutely impossible. It’s more likely that he’s using the word hit (which simply means every individual file which is served, as opposed to complete pages) to misrepresent the amount of traffic he receives. Based on our more accurate AWStats data, we’ve received 5,093,282 viewable hits so far this year. One can add an additional million or two if they count the invisible hits from spiders, robots, web crawlers and perhaps some internal spam or security controls. Unlike this site, it seems unlikely that a lot of people are hotlinking graphics from his blog.

While it’s remotely possible that Walters can provide some sort of evidence to indicate he’s received his claimed million hits, such claims misrepresent reality — just like many other distorted ONDCP claims. Any suggestion that PushingBack is serving a million pages or unique visitors is doobie-ous, at best.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. That’s not a fucking blog. As expected, there are no public comments.

    The drug warriors’ days are numbered.

  2. I never fell for the “Addiction is a disease” crap largely because a disease requires a biological vector such as microorganisms; ‘ain’t no such animal’ when it comes to addictive drugs, it’s a host of factors involved. That ‘addiction is disease’ was always little more than revamped Behaviorlism, which would have you believe people are biological robots incapable of modifying their own behavior, prone to instant addiction and producing an entire population running around like hopelessly crazed junkies.

    People who harbor such ideas naturally favor any drug prohibition, as the assumption is that people cannot refuse the opportunity for self-destruction, and must have baby’s hands kept away from the fire. Hence the nanny-state. I wish they’d all just bugger off and leave their prospective beneficiaries/victims alone…

  3. And once again, the government bites the dust, yeah, the government bites the dust; and another one’s gone another one’s gone, the government bites the dust. ;)