Gwulo in 2015 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
Pre-order the new Gwulo book to get special pricing, free shipping, and signed copies.

Gwulo in 2015

It's time for a quick review of last year, and a look forward to the plans for 2015.

Before that let me say thank you for reading Gwulo over the last twelve months, offer special thanks to everyone who has contributed to the website, and send best wishes to you for the year ahead.

Regards, David

2014 Review

How did last year's plans turn out?

  • Upgrade the website software. After saying it would be upgraded in 2012 and 2013, I finally managed to get the upgrade done in 2014. It took more work than I expected, but I'm pleased with the results - the upgraded website works better on smartphones and tablets, it is easier to handle photos, and it opens the door to further enhancements.

Other highlights for 2014 include:

  • In this year's SCMP Spirit of Hong Kong Awards, they gave me the Heritage Preservation Award for the work I've done on Gwulo [1].
  • As well as all the contributions and conversations on the website, there have been enjoyable meetings in person, and several generous donations of photos and other material have arrived in the mail.

2014 had a lowlight when the site was hacked. Luckily there was no serious damage done, so we got off very lightly compared with some of the other sites that were attacked at the same time [2].

Here is how our work over the year looks in numbers:

     Pages on website 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Photos 9,401 7,817 6,359 5,725 4,330
  Places 2,867 2,440 2,035 1,623 1,310
  Diary pages 3,243 2,326 1,589    
  People 1,907 1,522 1,000 28  
  Forum topics 923 761 639 525 350
  Stories 312 265 243 213 170
  Total pages 18,653 15,131 11,865 8,114 6,160
  Total comments 24,097 20,883 17,477 14,910 11,370
  Jurors Lists (years) 31 29 27 19 11

And here's who is reading them, either by subscription:

     Newsletter Subscribers 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Email subscriptions 1,030 833  603 353 180
  Facebook 'likes' 965 705  463 273  
  Twitter followers 82 58  43 33  
  RSS subscriptions 81 31  82 53  
  Total 2,158 1,627  1,191 712 180
  Wartime Diaries subscribers          
  73 yeas ago 100        
  72 years ago 97 109      
  71 years ago 88 88 81    
  70 years ago 42 44 37    
  Total [3] 327 241 118    

Or by visiting the website:

     Website traffic (thousands) 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Visits 226 263  250 200 157
  Unique visitors 131 155  150 113 88
  Pageviews 1,186 1,351  1,149 919 872

You'll see that the number of people visiting the website has dropped considerably. Why is that?

I can think of a couple of reasons. First, the number of good websites / blogs / Facebook pages about Hong Kong's history continues to grow. Some of the people who used to visit Gwulo may now visit these other sites.

Next, I see that most of the drop in traffic to Gwulo happened in the second half of the year, and the missing visitors are people that Google search used to send to Gwulo. The drop started around the same time the upgrade started. That is to be expected - no new content was posted for several weeks, so Gwulo dropped down the Google rankings.

Then it dropped even more when I did something daft... I thought I'd found a way to automatically block spammers from visiting the website. But I also blocked Google's spiders, so anyone searching for old Hong Kong on Google no longer saw Gwulo listed in the results. Ooops. After fixing that, traffic from Google is increasing again, but is still well below pre-Ooops levels. I expect it will get back to normal over the next month or two.

Despite the drop in website visitors, the amount of information on Gwulo continues to grow steadily, as does the number of people who subscribe to it. My main measure for the site is the amount of interesting content we add each year, so 2014 was a good year!

2015 Plans

There is still some tidying up to be done after the upgrade. I'll work through that in the coming months.

Another job is to make a third illustrated talk to add to the two I already have. The style of the new talk will be very similar to the earlier two, but with a new set of photographs. These photos will use the sea around Hong Kong as their common theme.

Finally, I want to expand Gwulo's features this year. Here are my ideas:

  • Add new types of page. We currently have pages for Person, Place, etc. I've thought of two possible additions:
     - Organisation. This could be a business (eg CE Warren & Co. Ltd.), a school (eg KGV), or any other group of people (eg The Hong Kong Police Force).
     - Route. A Place shows a single location, but a Route would show a path (eg a Boulder Trackway) or a road (eg Nathan Road).
  • Add status to Places. That will let us record whether a Place is intact, in ruins, or demolished, similar to how we record whether a Person is living or deceased.
  • Add dates to Place's title. We'll automatically add dates of completion and demolition to the Place's name, again copying from the way we automatically add dates of birth & death to a Person's name.
  • Relationships. These will let us link pages together in a more formal way. The natural place to start is with the Person pages, eg Person A is child of Person B. Person C is spouse of Person D. etc. There are plenty of other possibilities, eg Person E appears in Photo F; Person G lived in Place H; etc.

I don't want to add features that no-one uses - that just makes the website harder to use and maintain - so I'm interested to hear from you: Which of these new features would you use? And are there other new features you'd like to see that are missing from this list?


  1. The SCMP Heritage Preservation Award:
  2. was hacked:
  3. Some people have subscribed to multiple years of the Wartime Diaries, so the total number of unique subscribers will be lower than the "Total" number shown here.


Michael writes:

I have one suggestion for expanding Gwulo features.  I know you already have pages for persons, but how about family histories and family trees? 

The "Relationships" feature mentioned above is a step towards family trees. If we know a Person's parents and children it will be possible to show them. Maybe not a full family tree initially, but at least something like the Timeline we show on Places.

Please tell me more about how a family history would work. We already have diaries / memoirs,, for documents where the sections / pages need to be ordered by time. Would that do what you need, or are there other features you are looking for? eg is it a feature you like on another website that I could take a look at?

Regards, David

Several people have replied by email saying that organisations would be useful, so I've gone ahead and added them. You'll see the options to view / create them in the Directory menu on the left.

We can probably do a better job with the way I've described the Status and Dates, so please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Regards, David