If You’re Writing on the Internet, China is Watching You


China is definitely watching my Internet writing, anyway, so it’s a pretty good bet they’re watching you, too.

Not that I mind. In fact, I welcome the attention. When it comes to publishing on the world wide web, mo’ views is good views.

The massive attention from the most populous nation on Earth didn’t happen instantly. At first, after completing my migration over from HubPages to my own site (this one) in early October of 2013, human visitors from the United States led the pack by a fair margin, something like 66% of the total. Perhaps that could indicate China wasn’t watching me as closely before I set up my own online writing place.

Even so, I got an eyebrow-cocking surprise in late December when I scanned the World Map distribution of visits provided in color coded form by Slim Stat. The U.S. had dropped into second place, with Chinese visitors adding up to more than half of the total for the site.

Why is this so?

It’s not the spammers; the site’s Akismet plugin weeds those out. Even if every one of them was from China and was counted, the spammers don’t add up to percentages like that.

It could be good old fashioned spying, but what would Chinese spies have to gain from watching this site? A knowledge of off grid life in southern Arizona near the Mexican border? A stray pontification from a politically conservative point of view? There’s just not that much here worth a spy’s effort, at least not that I can see.

That leaves (a) something I’ve not even come close to considering, or (b) the possibility that significant numbers of Chinese nationals actually find the site interesting for one reason or another. (Yes, I’d be delighted to discover that (b) was the case.)

If any of our readers have a clue about this, let us know in the Comments. In the meantime, here’s a look at the statistical map. China is not the only country capable of surprising us.

China Watching You 013

China Watching You 014

The above two screen shots reveal the top fifteen countries that were producing visitors to this site on December 27, 2013, to wit:

    1. China…………… 52.34%
    2. United States……. 32.92%
    3. Netherlands……… 02.30%
    4. Republic of Korea… 01.93%
    5. Ukraine…………. 01.84%
    6. Canada………….. 01.51%
    7. Thailand………… 01.25%
    8. France………….. 00.90%
    9. United Kingdom…… 00.87%
    10. Germany…………. 00.74%
    11. Brazil………….. 00.48%
    12. Russian Federation.. 00.40%
    13. Turkey………….. 00.34%
    14. Poland………….. 00.30%
    15. India…………… 00.29%

Curiously, not only is China producing more than half of all our visitors…but the United States is also producing less than one third of that same total. Also, the small country of Thailand outranks heavy hitters like France, the UK, and Germany.

There are very interesting percentages, but what do they mean in real numbers? After all, if the site only got (for instance) 100 views for the month, the sample would be too small to have much statistical significance in the larger scheme of things.

Here’s a closer look at the Big Three countries (those posting the most views) during the first 26 days of December.

China:  66,229 views.

China: 66,229 views.

China’s 66,229 views made me stop and think. True, that’s not many per capita, considering the huge human population within China’s borders…but it’s not nothing, either. Without those Chinese views, the site certainly would not be doing as well in the Alexa rankings as it is.

This is a demographic I’d truly like to understand.

United States:  44,941 views.

United States: 42,941 views.

When this screen shot was taken, the U.S. showed slightly more than a third of the views (33.44%); a few hours later, it was down to 32.92%. America was “losing position” just that fast. In fact, I just checked Slim Stat again–and while I’ve been typing, the U.S. views have dropped another 0.01%, to 32.90%.

Ghost32writer.com is apparently joining the global economy, or at least the global communications network, big time. Or the global communications network is joining it. However that works.

Is this true for other Internet writers? I don’t know, but if you do, any input would be appreciated.

Netherlands:  3,029 views.

Netherlands: 3,029 views.

Who’d have expected the Netherlands to weigh in with the third highest number of viewers on the planet? Of course, in a land dominated by dykes and such, posts on desert wildlife might be intriguing, if only for the contrast.

Slim Stat lists site views for December from 105 countries. Whether or not that would be 105 out of 196 (the maximum number listed by most sources at this moment in time) or some slightly smaller total, I have no way to know. Also, the number of countries contributing views does vary from month to month. Last month, all but four African countries and three South American countries checked in, but that is clearly not the case this month.

Ghost32writer.com, the Slim Stat World Map as of December 27, 2013.   No one has viewed the site from countries shown in white.

Ghost32writer.com, the Slim Stat World Map as of December 27, 2013. No one has viewed the site from countries shown in white.

If you’re a writer online, it would seem safe to say China is watching you. Perhaps, if your site’s content is not of particular interest to the Chinese, you may never realize the scrutiny is there–but it almost has to be.

Otherwise, how would they know when some American does publish something they find of interest? They’re not a threat like the unwelcome NSA domestic surveillance, but their eyes are open.

You can take that to the bank. They’re no doubt watching that, too.