By Rex Cleveland
Gulf Winds Track Club has a hit on its hands. As I write this, our Club’s web site is rapidly approaching the 100,000 hit mark. In the web site biz, “hit” merely refers to each time a site is accessed by someone. Since we don’t know whether a given visit to the site was pleasing or disappointing, it’s more accurate to say our site has been the target of 100,000 attempts at instant gratification.
The most powerful schedule for reinforcing a behavior is intermittent and random. It’s the model used in programming slot machines: give the user some occasional encouragement with small awards, and every once in a great while schedule a huge payoff that makes the 11 o’clock news. So, to inflate the number of hits on a web site, you should disappoint visitors at least some of the time. For example, someone arriving home after a Saturday race may look to see if the results are posted on the web site. If the results are there, chalk up one hit and a satisfied user. But next weekend, not finding the results there on Saturday, that person may hit the site numerous times over the weekend and even resort to emailing our web master, Martha Haynes, to ask where they are.
Perhaps you’ve had that very experience and are now thinking that Martha has indeed set up the web site like a slot machine. I don’t think so, because if she had, we would have even more hits by now. If Martha has anything for the web site, she puts it up as soon as she possibly can, so it’s not fair to blame her for those extra hits. Whatever you’re looking for, if it isn’t up there, it’s probably because others failed to get it to her on time or in proper condition.
Another chunk of hits that we can’t blame Martha for are those attributable to David Yon, who she claims accounts for about half of them. I suspect she is exaggerating, but I also suspect David does visit the site a lot because he contributes much of the writing and his firm provides the server it resides on, so let’s say that 10 percent of the hits are David checking to see if he misspelled something or making sure the site is up and running properly. At the present rate of 100 hits per day that would mean 10 a day for David, which seems more believable. By the way, Martha probably visits the site more than anyone, but her visits are not counted.
While the 100,000 figure may be somewhat inflated, it is not without value. It provides a sort of milestone, a chance to pause and consider what a great thing this web site is. It contains 1375 files, which we would call pages if it were a book, which it arguably is, sort of an online encyclopedia of Gulf Winds Track Club and the running community that exists in the Tallahassee area. It occupies 27 megabytes of storage space, larger than the early hard drives, which were usually 20 megabytes. It gets the most visitors on Mondays (because many people have internet access only at work?) and the fewest on Saturdays (too busy running?). The busiest hours for visiting are 8 and 9 in the morning. The large quantity and high quality of material on the site would not be there without such a large and active membership as ours that is so enthusiastic about the running, fitness and fellowship around which the our Club is based, but after nearly three and a half years, it’s time we were all saying, “Thanks David, Martha and all who have contributed to the site for your time and effort in putting us out there and making us look good.”