Re: Question on TechWhirl Forum
My discussion is related to tracking the document. I have been trying to
find a way which will enable me to know which parts of my document is more
popular and which parts are read less.
You can put a counter on a web page, but you cannot know whether the counts you obtain are from robots searching the internet or from people reading your words carefully. You can add a robots nofollow tag (http://www.robotstxt.org/meta.html) to your html, in an attempt to discourage robots, but that will only prevent the honest ones (like Google) that are trying to make an index of your material available to potential readers.
Once you finally have your numbers, the next question is what to do with them. Do they really tell which sections are most popular? Or instead reveal which ones contain the most amusing errors, so that people forward links to them to their friends? Or do they show sections that are perplexing, leading readers to look at them over and over again, never quite gaining an understanding?
Sometimes in the physical sciences, and I think fairly frequently in the softer "social" sciences, the numbers quoted in published papers are those that were Easy To Measure. Surveys for measuring user satisfaction are prone to this difficulty. Reliance on numbers, rather than on careful thought, can thus cause the scholar to miss the larger picture.
Here's a practical example: Librarians decide which books to discard based on circulation statistics, rather than on eyetracks on each book's pages. Our local college library discards circulating reference works (especially mathematics, which cannot possibly be out of date) because they are only used casually, read for one or two facts, and then put back on the shelf. When I find them on the discard rack I buy them, for five cents each. Now my house needs more bookshelves.
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