Wings Over Scotland | Challenge accepted

As a rule I try not to respond to the literally dozens of deranged attacks on this site that are posted by James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop, but I really dislike being called a liar so I’m going to take a moment for this one.

James appears to have taken extraordinary offence to a two-paragraph stats post I put up to mark Wings’ 11th birthday this week, and has written two purple-faced rants about it. So for the record’s sake I’m going to comply with his demand as best I can.

I say “as best I can” because annoyingly Wings’ webhost stats have been buggered for most of the summer/autumn due to a number of issues at the server end (readers will have noticed the site itself was somewhat flaky in that period for related reasons). They fell over in early July and were only recently fully fixed again, with restoring the site’s stability having taken priority over sorting the stats out.

But as far as the overall reliability and credibility of SimilarWeb’s figures go, we can use some slightly earlier figures to check, because at the start of June we published a stat post using SimilarWeb’s stats for March, April and May.

(It was the first of three such stats posts we’ve put up in the year and a half since Wings retired in May 2021, slightly fewer than the “billion” claimed by Kelly.)

Their estimate was a total 840,800 visits over the three months.

These are our private webhost figures for the same period:

They total 895,499. So as you can see, the SimilarWeb figure was a little bit of an underestimate, but it was only out by around 6.5% – not half bad for a “speculative extrapolation”. (Some months they overshoot our own figures and sometimes they’re lower, so using three balances it out a bit.) We used the lower of the two figures in the article so that it would be an apples-for-apples comparison with the other sites. We’re scrupulously fair that way.

So since James Kelly demanded we both make our private stats available to permit comparison with each other, we’re sure he’ll now post his own for those months. What could he possibly have to hide?



During this evening’s spittle-flecked diatribe, Kelly also claimed that Wings wasn’t really “closed” because we still put posts up occasionally – mostly short throwaway ones or guest posts other people have asked us to give a wider audience to.

(It seems a waste to spend thousands of pounds on hosting every year to keep the site live as an archive and not use it when there’s something we want to say or when someone asks for a favour.)

For the record, though, since we announced the site’s effective retirement in May 2021 there have been a total of 95 posts in 17 months, which is about one a week. For comparison, in the five months of 2021 leading up to the retirement there were 286, or about two a day.

So we must apologise – we’re actually only about 93% retired. Sorry, James.

[EDIT 9.20am Saturday 12th] Goodness gracious. I’ve just seen that Kelly has responded with another furious screed, but – surprise! – still hasn’t provided any evidence of his own stats. Instead he’s suddenly moved the goalposts and taken aim at a straw man about unique visitor numbers.

I made no claim about unique visitor numbers, explicit or implied. I said Wings was “still far and away the most-read in the country, despite that readership now being mostly angry overgrown children squabbling with each other in the comments”. Which is a stat about how often people visit, not how many of them there are. Of course a site with 95% less content than it used to will have both fewer visits and readers than it used to. Like, duh.

And Kelly hasn’t offered any evidence for HIS unique visitor numbers either anyway, other than to say that they’re only a small fraction of ours, so goodness knows what he thinks his point is, and he’s blocked replies to his tweet so nobody can ask him.

I fear the chap’s quite, quite bananas.

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