Personal Musings

The Visitor Counter


Back in the 90s when I started blogging, before the term itself existed, stats and analytics weren’t a thing. At most, you could opt for a tiny visitor counter, also known as a hit counter, on the bottom of your site. That was it. No detailed analytics. No dashboard highlighting your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual traffic stats.

You wrote and people swung by to read or they didn’t. You didn’t know if a particular essay (or log) bombed because you had no idea how many people read it. It was simple. The human emotion of feeling like a failure when you’d worked hard on an individual piece and it was met with crickets was almost unheard of. Because, again, you had no idea if your piece resonated with one person, ten people, or ten thousand.

I miss not knowing. I miss not caring.


The growth hacking concept which has plagued the Internet for the past fifteen years wasn’t a thing. We were better without it. We were better without the marketers and gurus disguising themselves as writers. Without the success stories designed to create tiers on who is doing this online thing right or wrong.

We celebrated our successes, but we celebrated our failures as much. Finding a good personal blog where someone shared their mundane, ordinary existence, and not just their life’s highlights, was interesting. It was like discovering a new world.

If you wanted to write about the watch you were wearing that day, you did. Most of your readers may not have cared, but there was someone who found it interesting. So that post was for them. Not the others. Definitely not for the cloudy fellow coming to bring the rain.

The Internet was better before SEO. Before affiliate marketing. Before sponsored posts. Before algorithms. Before influencers.


The visitor counter was full of lies anyway. It didn’t just count unique readers or visitors. It counted every single visit. You could refresh the page repeatedly to inflate your visitor stats. I’d be lying if I told you I never did that. I did back in 1998. My site was closing in on 10,000 visitors, but then traffic slowed to a crawl at 9,850 visitors. I wanted to see it hit 10,000 so I may have refreshed the page a dozen times to inch it closer before the true ten-thousandth visitor arrived.


There’s a lot of things I’ve been meaning to do instead of doing. But one of those is getting back more to the old school way. The way I blogged when I was in my teens still living with my parents in the 1990s.

I miss the visitor counter not because of the statistical number at the bottom. I miss it because it was small. This small little button that signified in a way how unimportant it was in the grand scheme of things.