The site went live on 7 June 2007. With the help of a ‘blast’ to CEPR’s family email list and mentions on a number of widely read blogs,1 the site had 79,000 visits in its first month. As the table shows, that number climbed steadily over the summer to reach to about 132,000 in September.
It is hard to know how many individuals that 132,000 represents. Since its start, VoxEU.org has been visited from about 90,000 different IP addresses. There are reasons for thinking that this over-represents the number of readers (people access Vox from home and office) and reasons for thinking it’s an underestimate (many people use a given economic department’s IP address). In September, there was an average of 4,400 visitors per day. Since most people probably only access the site at most once a day 4,400 readers seems like a good lower bound. If the average reader only looks at the site once every other day, that means about 9,000 regular readers. One every third day and we’re at 13,000 readers. YouTube is probably not too worried, but if it is the ‘right’ 9,000 readers, VoxEU.org is making good progress of its goal of bring research-based commentary and analysis to the world of professional economists in academics, the private sector, governments, international organization, and the media.
We were somewhat surprised to find that over one-third of Vox readers are based in the US. As the pie chart shows, this is followed by the large European nations, the UK, Italy, France and Germany. Asia accounts for about 5%. Reflecting this global pattern, the hourly visits are spread fairly evenly with the lowest hour 1h00 to 2h00 GMT being only half the peak hour 14h00 to 15h00 GMT.
As far as potential Vox authors are concerned, an important figure is the number of page views. The daily average for September was 10,500, with a standard deviation of 1,800 page views per day. This is not quite views of articles, since many readers also have a look at the author’s short biography.
As happens so often in market outcomes, the number views-per-article is distributed something like a Pareto distribution. The all-time-hit to date is Steve Cecchetti’s early August column explaining the subprime crisis. He’s had over 16,000 views and the number climbs daily. Steve also has the number two post (an earlier version of the same article) and indeed 4 of the top 10. We are very encouraged by this. As a former insider at the Fed, a professor of banking and finance at Brandeis and an excellent writer to boot, Steve was well placed to satisfy the wider profession’s thirst for knowledge; How could some deadbeat homeowners in the US could shake the world credit market? After Steve posted his first columns, outlets such as the Financial Times started to raise the technical level of their articles on the subprime crisis eschewing bland phrases like ‘liquidity problems and ‘structured finance.’ Jargon terms like ‘morale hazard’ found their way into the mainstream press. Steve’s lead on the subprime crisis was followed rapidly by Anne Sibert and Willem Buiter, Charles Wyplosz, and other several authors.
Apart from the subprime crisis, gender economics and income inequality seem to be some of the most read subjects. You can see more detail by looking at the ‘tag cloud’. This shows ‘tag’ words in proportion to the number of articles on which they appear.
Early on, Vox decided not to post the usual comments allowed by the largest blogs. The idea was to create a site that restricted comment to professional comments and people willing to back up their comments with their real name and professional affiliation. The need to discuss, however, seems to be irrepressible so what happened was that Vox columns are continuously picked up by blogs and those blogs host the comments. So far over 1,000 blogs link to Vox and discussion rages on most of them. Most are in English but not exclusively. Vox columns are commented on in Swedish, Finnish, Germany, French, Turkish, a Turkish-like language that we couldn’t identify, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Italian and Chinese.
There are a number of rankings of web sites. Technocrati counts the number of blogs that link to VoxEU.org. Over 1,000 distinct blogs have linked to at least one Vox articles (including a broad gamut of languages ranging from French to Japanese). The number puts Vox as in the top 16,000 blogs including all subjects. Using 26econ.com’s definition of an economics blog, Vox is number 19, up 7 places from early September. Another site lists Vox as one of the top ten in international economics.
1 Thanks especially to Vox’s old and new friends Greg Mankiw, Dani Rodrik, Mark Thoma and Tyler Cowen. Vox also received big boosts in views from references ‘out of the blue’ on Freakomonics and Metafilter.com. Professional economist’s dis-satisfaction with the superficial coverage of the subprime crisis in the mainstream media proved to be a big boost to Vox’s reputation.