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.

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

  1. They could be trying to steal you content, to post on one of their sites. I heard that is happening again. That is the only thing I can think of that you have not already thought of. Interesting stats though.

  2. Hm. Yeah, I didn’t think of that. It doesn’t seem all that likely, though. I’ve had content copied, as we all have, but not by the Chinese as far as I can tell. It’s usually by another U.S. based site. And even then, it does the thief little good. Google knows full well who posted the item first and invariably ranks my original work while dropping the copies out of sight in the Google Dustbin from Hell.

    In fact, Google’s so skilled, they even recognized my article, How To Build a Survival Cabin on a Shoestring Budget, after it moved over here from the previous site. That is, it’s now “dated” as having been posted in October of 2013, but Google understands it’s really been around the Net for nearly six years. For a time after the move, the piece floated down around page 6 or page 7 in Google results while several copycat articles (some actually copying the “Shoestring Budget” portion of the title) rose to occupy page one results positions. But as of a few days ago, mine had risen all the way back up to reclaim its #1 spot at the top of page one…and the others with “Shoestring Budget” in the title have disappeared.

    At least, they’re not visible down through page 10 results, which is as far as I usually check.

    I do agree; they are interesting stats. The Chinese views alone add up to quadruple the number of views my stuff was getting at the previous site.

  3. Hmm…. 15 human visits to my site from Pakistan so far this month (thru Dec. to the 28th). I don’t have the sort of copy-catcher HP does, which is fine by me. If I were ever to see one of mine pop up on a search under someone else’s name and outranking my original, I’d be concerned–but so far, I never have. In fact, when I have located copies, they’ve been on sites Alexa didn’t even recognize as existing, they were getting so little traffic.

    In my book, the people that steal the whole hog like that are just shooting themselves in the footsies. The ability of search engines’ technology (especially Google) to recognize the original as the original seems highly effective–AND that aspect of self regulation / enforcement on the Internet is operating WITHOUT the slightest bit of government input.

    (Libs hate to hear that.)

  4. I just received my new Kindle Fire in the mail. My old Kindle broke on one of my trips to the VA. The screen broke and it would cost more to fix it than to buy a good used one. I looked on Ebay, and found a Fire that was going low enough. Dennis got it for me for Christmas. It looks like it has never been used and came with a hard cover easel case. I think we got a very good deal, since the same ones were going for twice as much used on Amazon, with no case and showing scratches. Now I have to figure out how to use it, LOL. I have never used a touch screen before. Katy is tutoring me.

  5. Yeah, whenever we set up our Kindles (not Fires), they’re both touch screens, and I purely hate those. It’s going to be an ugly learning curve for me. Pam seems to have a natural flair for them, though, according to Zach & Steph–to whom touch screens are as natural as breathing.

    Lots of stuff here I need to get around to setting up, but hot water first….:)

  6. Ghost, is Slim-stat a WordPress tool? I’d like to check the stats on my site after reading this. I’ll have to see if Weebly provides comprehensive info like this.

  7. I have a thought on why the Chinese are looking at your writing. Its most likely one of the reasons I follow you. My guess is they are trying to improve their living conditions by using some of your advice on different things you have done with your border fort. I just looked to see if you had anything I could use to improve my “bad camping” home. I now live on a friends 30 acre farm to keep squatters away. I have crazy stuff going on all the time….electrical issues, water issues…currently thinking about running a water line from a different well on the property to my quarters. But we don’t remember where to turn on the other well or if it will work…shoestrings r us kinda thing.

  8. Shauna: Yes, Slim-Stat is a WordPress plugin. Unfortunately, I decided to disable and delete it a couple of months ago. The volume of hits on my site (a good thing) proved too much for the Slim-Stat software so that loading a single page could take multiple minutes or fail entirely AND WP put out the word that it was going to become a paid product only, no longer available for free. The site’s volume has now made it necessary to go to a designated server, which is anything but cheap, so a few more bucks to use Slim-Stat wouldn’t bother me…IF it worked efficiently.

    At the moment, I’ve got nothing comparable in play, just a simple post counter that tells me how many hits my top 100 posts are getting and another that lists just the grand total (but for all posts). I really should start looking around for a Slim-Stat replacement.
    Mary: That’s something to consider. It never dawned on me that the Chinese might actually be drawn to the site for reasons of pure content. If that turned out to be the case, it would almost make their spammers “tolerable”. Almost.

    Shoestrings r us is an extremely specific kinda thing; that’s for sure. Whether or not the other well will work–once you figure out where the controls are hiding–of course depends on several interactive factors:

    1. Juice to the well pump.

    2. Condition of the well pump.

    3. Downhole conditions in the well. When Pam and I lived off grid in Montana (1999-2002), I dug two wells by hand–which was doable because the water table was right up there and because she can psychically witch a well (without a witching wand) like nobody’s business. The first well was great…until the second year, when it dried up completely, sank below the bedrock I’d hit with the shovel. The second well never failed to produce water, but it also produced one heck of a lot of sand.

  9. Ed, just read this article, and I am also surprised by the number of hits. I suspect some English teachers found your site, the english is colloquial and well constructed, and are probably using it for teaching English and American culture.
    I also suspect some of the military are studing the books to learn about american strategies, and some police people might read them to learn how their own people might hide or go off and hide in the wilderness (since most rural China is probably worse off than the Border fort).

    I know I would have used your advice and articles when I was setting up my valley for living there… ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Ed? Um, Manny…who be Ed? (Me be Fred when not be Ghost. Or middle name Mud. You pick.) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Since this article was written, the number of hits from China as dropped off drastically. Not sure why.

    It’s good to see another reader coming up with the thought that content might be the main attraction. Chinese viewership has dropped so drastically, though, that it makes me wonder if perhaps their governmental types decided to discourage that sort of thing. Likely wouldn’t want their own people getting ideas from crazy off grid Americans, eh?

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