[Meta] Screenshot Saturday : Image Views Post Mortem

Last Updated: Wed Dec 10th, 2014 @ 10:30a EST

Contents

Background
SSS Graphs
SSS Findings
SSS TL;DR
SSS IPs by Timezone
/r/GameDev Monthly Showcase
FF Graphs
Data Gathering How To

Background

I was chatting with some fine folks on twitter (@LunarPeter @tccoxon @lugdunon @DarkestKale @kristruitt) about posting into the weekly Screenshot Saturday /r/gamedev thread, and if there is a difference on posting right after the thread is created vs posting the next morning.

Specifically, I’m interested in the number of views of the images/content linked in an individual’s post, and not necessarily with the number of upvotes received for the post.

I have a lot of time Friday night to checkout and comment on the Screenshot Saturday posts, but not much time during the day on Saturday. I try to get my post in as soon as the thread goes live, and then spend a few hours checking out and commenting on other Dev’s posts until I’m too tired to continue. I’ll try to check back Saturday day if the kids give me a few minutes of peace, but the majority of my comments on other projects are done on Friday night.

ScreenShot Saturday Image Views

The twitter conversation got me thinking and I took to my Apache logs to see if my data told a consistent story week to week. In general, the data showed that there is a spike in views during that first hour, then another spike 7-10 hours later on Saturday. Also, the data shows that the content views on Sunday are significantly less than on Saturday.

As of SSS137, I started tracking the main post’s up votes, down votes, and comments per hour. Also, as of SSS148, I started tracking the number of top level comments in the main post, which is representative of the number of games submitted. Note, once the post hits 500 comments the accuracy of the top level comments is decreased due to a reddit json limitation.

All times in the graphs are PST/PDT (west coast US), click for full size:

SSS201 – Contest Mode – Running Totals
SSS201
Comments are down about 150-200 comments from normal.

SSS189 – Contest Mode – Running Totals
SSS189
Comments are down about 150-200 comments from normal.

SSS188 – Contest Mode – Running Totals
SSS188: Running Totals
75 Top Level comments – This is inline with normal, however comments are down about 200-250 comments from normal.

SSS156 – Contest Mode – Running Totals
SSS156 : Running Totals
71 Top Level comments

SSS153 – Contest Mode – Running Totals
SSS153 : Running Totals
77 Top Level comments

SSS150 – Running Totals
SSS150 : Totals
64 Top Level comments

SSS148 – Running Totals
SSS148 : Totals
71 Top Level comments

SSS144 – Running Totals
SSS144 : Totals

SSS139 – Running Totals
SSS139 : Totals

SSS137 – Running Totals
SSS137: Running Totals

SSS Findings

  1. Getting in early is helpful, and try to have your post up by Saturday morning (PDT – west coast US). The traffic on image views doesn’t really recover after 5/6pm PDT on Saturday.
  2. Contest Mode image views for the 1st image are still around 500-600 views.
  3. Image order matters. The first linked image usually receives the most views, so be sure to put your best image first.
  4. My title link back to the Dev Log update on my site sees a small fraction of overall image views. Images are easy and fast to consume, so favor those over a link leading to a wordy writeup back on your site.
  5. GIF image views don’t seem to different than static images, but try to keep the file sizes small. Not everyone is on fiber.
  6. Video links don’t do very well. I tried a 1.9MB / 2sec h.264 video file instead of a GIF and it received a small fraction of the GIF views from the previous weeks.
  7. One of the fine members of /r/gamedev has been cross posting the SSS link to /r/indiegaming mid-day Saturday, which does produce a bump before traffic dies off on Sunday. It’s the last noticeable bump before the slide down to nothing.
  8. Also, take time to check out other Dev’s work and leave encouraging comments! Don’t be a drive by poster, try to build a rapport with other Devs.

Here’s a few additional SSS Post Suggestions from NobleKale, another grizzled SSS veteran.

SSS TL;DR

Post early as possible, images over text, put best image first, GIFs do ok, videos do not, and converse and interact with other Devs.

Unique IPs by Timezone

I parsed the data from SSS139, and ended up with 589 unique IPs out of 1999 hits, which were then looked up in the IPInfoDB – IP Address Geolocation Database and graphed:

SSS139 Unique IPs by Timezone:
SSS139 : Unique IPs by Timezone

/r/GameDev Monthly Showcase

The first /r/GameDev Monthly Showcase was held on Feb 16th, 2014. Still need data from a few more showcases before any concrete conclusions may be drawn, especially since this showcase fell on a holiday weekend in the United States. However, here are some initial impressions from SC01:

  • Received about half of the unique visitors and views of a normal SSS.
  • SSS visitors are more drive visitors that check the linked images/blog and move on.
  • Showcase visitors stuck around a bit longer and checked out other articles on the site.
  • Just like in SSS, image order still matters with the top image receiving the most views.
  • The showcase post activity/referrals started peaking around 1pm PST on Sunday and were pretty flat after 10pm PST Sunday.

Trisector : /r/GameDev Showcase 01

Feedback Friday

Here’s a few bonus graphs for the Feedback Friday post. It shows a similar falloff in participation in the thread as SSS and shows a small bump from the /r/IndieGaming x-post.

Participation really starts ramping up around 6am PDT on Friday, and levels off after 4/5pm PDT on Friday.

FF49 Graph
FF49 : Totals

FF48 Graph
FF48 : Totals Per Hour

Data Gathering How To!

All of my images in my SSS post are linked back to assets on my server. This way I can parse the Apache access_log files to get view data on each asset.

For example, SSS136 (1mcyag):

http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/1mcyag/screenshot_saturday_136_boasts_and_goblins/

A hit on an image from that thread is logged as:

127.0.0.1 - - [14/Sep/2013:16:55:42 -0700] "GET /wp-content/uploads/2013/09/new_bullet_pattern_2.png HTTP/1.1" 200 722787 "http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/1mcyag/screenshot_saturday_136_boasts_and_goblins/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Browser ID)..."

Here’s the one liner to get the views referred from the screenshot Saturday reddit post bucketed by hour:

ALL files:

grep 1mcyag access_log* | awk '{print $4}' | cut -d[ -f2 | cut -d] -f1 | awk -F: '{print $1":"$2}' | sort -n | uniq -c

Specific file:

grep 1mcyag access_log* | grep "new_bullet_pattern_2.png" | awk '{print $4}' | cut -d[ -f2 | cut -d] -f1 | awk -F: '{print $1":"$2}' | sort -n | uniq -c

What each part in that command is doing:

  1. grep 1mcyag access_log*

    – gets all the log lines for images referred from the SSS thread

  2. awk '{print $4}'

    – gets the 4th chunk of data: [14/Sep/2013:16:55:42 -0700]

  3. cut -d[ -f2 | cut -d] -f1

    – cleans up the date: 14/Sep/2013:16:55:42

  4. awk -F: '{print $1":"$2}'

    – truncate the date to hours: 14/Sep/2013:23

  5. sort -n

    – sorts all the output by date/hour

  6. uniq -c

    – groups the dates together by date/hour and returns a count for each

Output:

     62 13/Sep/2013:21
     70 13/Sep/2013:22
     42 13/Sep/2013:23
     40 14/Sep/2013:00
     42 14/Sep/2013:01
     40 14/Sep/2013:02
     49 14/Sep/2013:03
     61 14/Sep/2013:04
     60 14/Sep/2013:05
     33 14/Sep/2013:06

Since this is a quick hack right now, I then imported all the hourly hit count data into excel and graphed it to generate the above graphs. Here’s a sample xls file of the source data and graph: SSS136 : Image View XLS.

I’m also taking a snapshot of the SSS/FF threads at the top of each hour using their JSON data (e.g. www.reddit.com/comments/1nrpis.json), and using that to provide a more complete view of the threads activity (e.g. Down Votes, Up Votes and Comments) over time.

I may take this a bit further and do some automated collection/graphing. For now I’m going to leave it alone and get back to my game (since the new enemy laser isn’t going to finish coding itself)!

Also, I’d love to see your SSS image view graphs to see how they correlate!

Hope you found this helpful/interesting,

Jesse from Smash/Riot