Gwulo in 2016

Submitted by David on Fri, 01/01/2016 - 00:00

Happy New Year!

We reached a new milestone in 2015 - Gwulo now has over 20,000 pages about old Hong Kong, including over 10,000 photos!

I'll go into the numbers in more detail below, and also talk about the plans for the year ahead. But first, a big thank you to everyone who contributed over the year, and helped us reach that milestone. I hope you've all had a good break over Christmas, and are looking forward to the New Year.

Best regards, David

2015 Review

How did the plans for 2015 turn out?

  • Add new types of page. I've added the new page type for Organisations. It hasn't been used much, but I'm still hopeful it will become more popular in future. I haven't added a Route page yet, and have put that on hold.
  • Updates to Place pages. I've added a field to record the Place's current condition (In use / Ruin / Demolished), and also now show the completion & demolition dates in the Place's title. Both these changes are working well and are well used.
  • Relationships. This feature has been added. Its first use is to describe the relationships between people (e.g. look at the page for William Henry Redwood and you'll see his wife and daughters are listed by their Relationships). The feature is working well, though I think I'm the only person using it at the moment!

Next a few key numbers. First, all those new pages you've created:

     Pages on website 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Photos 11,670 9,401 7,817 6,359 5,725 4,330
  Places 3,140 2,867 2,440 2,035 1,623 1,310
  Diary pages 3,836 3,243 2,326 1,589    
  People 2,425 1,907 1,522 1,000 28  
  Forum topics 1,019 923 761 639 525 350
  Stories 341 312 265 243 213 170
  Total pages 22,431 18,653 15,131 11,865 8,114 6,160
  Total comments 27,620 24,097 20,883 17,477 14,910 11,370
  Jurors Lists (years) 33 31 29 27 19 11

So I wrote we'd passed the 20,000-page milestone but in fact we've already passed 22,000!

Next are the numbers of subscribers:

     Newsletter Subscribers 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Email subscriptions 1,211 1,030 833  603 353 180
  Facebook 'likes' 1,629 965 705  463 273  
  Twitter followers 100 82 58  43 33  
  RSS subscriptions 48 81 31  82 53  
  Total 2,988 2,158 1,627  1,191 712 180
  Wartime Diaries subscribers            
  74 years ago 79          
  73 years ago 91 100        
  72 years ago 89 97 109      
  71 years ago 85 88 88 81    
  70 years ago [1] 94 42 44 37    
  Total [2] 438 327 241 118    

They are growing steadily, which is good to see. Finally, the numbers of visitors to the website:

     Website traffic (thousands) 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Visitors 230 226 263  250 200 157
  Unique visitors 138 131 155  150 113 88
  Pageviews 1,184 1,186 1,351  1,149 919 872

If you remember last year's report, I described a stupid mistake I'd made in 2014. I'd blocked Gwulo from appearing in the results of any searches on Google, so the number of visitors in 2014 was much lower than in 2013.

The worst month was December 2014, but traffic has slowly increased since then. The numbers for the months of December 2015 and December 2013 look very similar, so we're finally back to where we were before the problem. I expect next year's numbers will be closer to 2013's than 2014.

2016 Plans

Keep the site running smoothly

This work is a mixture of upgrades, some to deal with the growing site, and some to stay up to date with browser technology.

  • Upgrade mapping. I must find a faster way to display our Map of all Places. It has become too slow to load (20+ seconds), so I doubt any new visitors to Gwulo ever wait long enough to see it. Before starting I'll need to upgrade the mapping library we use.
  • Upgrade imaging. The software we use to handle images is due for an upgrade, and so is the zooming viewer we use to display them.
  • Switch to a better subscription service. I'll test using a commercial service to send out the weekly newsletters. It looks to offer better performance and less errors than the current free service I use.
  • Upgrade web hosting. We'll soon run out of disk space on the current web hosting plan I use. So it's time to pay them some more money and move up to the next plan. This will give us more disk space, and will also speed up the website.

Add new features

I think about what will encourage visitors to Gwulo to create content, and how to make it easier for them to find what they're looking for. These are the three new features I want to add this year:

  • Media - support Youtube and PDFs. This will extend the way we currently store images and insert them into text, so that we can use a very similar approach for Youtube videos and PDF files. I've been looking for ways to add support for sound recordings too, but for now I think the easiest way is to convert them to video and upload them to Youtube. Then we'll handle them like any other Youtube video.
  • Places / Maps - allow users to add lines, shapes and markers. I want this to work in a couple of ways. First to allow a person creating a Place to draw an area that will show on its map. Most likely used to show the outline of a site's lot. I'd also like an easy way to include simple marked-up maps in comments. We have the "create a map macro", but this hasn't worked well for a long time.
  • Use Relationships to link People and Places to photos. We already have "Place A appears in Photo B" feature, but it can only be used by the whoever uploaded the photo. If we use the new Relationships feature, anyone can link a Place and a Photo that shows it, whether or not they were they created that Place or Photo. A very similar idea will let us note that a Person appears in a given Photo. Then the Person page will show all the photos that the Person appears in, and when you look at a photo you can see a list of the people who are shown in it.

Ask for help with running costs

A good friend asked if anyone had ever offered to help with the running costs. I said yes, but that I'd politely refused. My friend tells me I'm stupid!

So, as the site gets bigger and costs rise, I'll ask if any regular visitors to Gwulo would like to make a small contribution to help with the running costs. I haven't decided how to do this yet, but Patreon looks like it could help.

Talks and a book

I finished my third talk in November, and presented it to members of the Helena May Club and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Both audiences enjoyed it, so this year I'll offer it to other clubs that hire speakers. (If you're a member of a club that might be interested, please let me know!)

Then the last project on the to-do list for the year is to publish an illustrated book. I plan to start small, and make a book of the photos and content from my first talk.

That should be enough to keep me busy for the year ahead!

If you have any questions about these plans, or any ideas for new features that are better than the ones I've listed, please leave a message in the comments below.

Regards, David


Old Hong Kong photos and their wide coverage at Gwulo enable readers like me to reminisce in black and white and Technicolor about our early life there.  What sustains in fact enhances our interest is your forum where we share our knowledge of, and affection for the many places and things about Hong Kong.  For me, your photos have revived some of my long-dormant memories and seeing them again can bring joy and sadness at the same time – but an experience I don’t want to miss.   Your site is my daily diet and this will continue in the new year.  Many thanks, and all the best in 2016.  Peter

I think the new relationship feature is a very good idea and most valuable. In my personal "Barker Road Madness" I run across a lot of other's images where I could add a place, and can't.

Regards, Klaus

David:  Just a note to express my gratitude and admiration for what you do.  Can't tell you how much I enjoy both Gwulo and the wartime diaries.  It's a valuable resource, as well as a labor of love.  Do let me know when/how to contribute!  Cheers!  Jerry Grieder

Thank you for your replies, and to everyone who replied by email. The current plan of attack is to start with mapping, then ask for help with running costs, then add the Place <=> Photo relationships, then choose what's next to attack from the list.

Stay tuned for details!

Regards, David

Above, I wrote:

I've added the new page type for Organisations. It hasn't been used much, but I'm still hopeful it will become more popular in future.

Then over the weekend I received a message that there was an "access denied" error when trying to create an organisation.

Turns out I'd only enabled this for the admin user, not for everyone else. Doh!

If there are any organisations you'd like to make a page for, it works now. 

Regards, David