Gwulo in 2019 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Gwulo in 2019

Time for a look back at Gwulo's 2018, and ahead to the plans for 2019.

There weren't any major dramas in 2018, instead it was a year of steady growth. I've put the detailed figures at the bottom of the page for anyone who is interested, but here are a few highlights:

  • 245,000 unique visitors to the website in 2018
  • 2,737 subscribers to the weekly newsletter, up 32% from 2017
  • Over 2,800 new photos, places, people, etc. added, so the site now has over 34,000 pages in total

There is more than enough drama happening elsewhere in the world at the moment, so I'm happy that our little corner of the internet continues to thrive, remains free of spam and any worries of fake news, and has comments that are a pleasure to read.

To all of Gwulo's contributors, please give yourself a pat on the back. I look forward to reading what we all discover in 2019.

Best regards,




2018 Review of progress against plans

Last year's plans were split into four groups:

1. Ask for help with running costs

During 2018, a few patrons left, and a few new patrons signed up, so overall we ended up about where we started. 

  2018 2017 2016
Number of patrons 53 55 54
Total HK$ monthly contribution 2,545 2,425 2,440

Thank you to all Gwulo's patrons for your generous support.


2. Talks and a book

It was a quiet year for giving talks, but the book project continued well. The second volume was published last month, and I'm pleased with how it looks, and the feedback from readers.

Initial orders of the new Volume 2 via the Gwulo website are much less then for Volume 1 over the same period (appx. 350 vs. 600). But this year the new Volume was available in book stores straight away, so I'm hoping some of the sales have happened there instead. I'll find out when the bookstores send in their sales reports, and will have a better comparison around April.


3. Keep the site running smoothly

I'm happy with the performance and reliability of the website over the last year.


4. Add new features

There weren't many changes to the site, just a tidy-up of the tags, and a couple of new features for contributors:



Plans for 2019

1. Ask for help with running costs

If you'd like to become a patron and support Gwulo, please visit Gwulo's Patreon page for more information and to sign up.


2. Talks and a book

Though sales of Volume 2 are slower, they're still easily enough to make it worth publishing, so I plan to publish the next volume, number 3, at the end of this year. A couple of people have suggested that Gwulo's books make a good gift for business visitors, and I've also had an order from a local boutique hotel, who've put a copy in each guest's room. If you have friends at any similar businesses that could benefit from Gwulo's books, I'll be grateful if you could let them know. 

A couple of speaking events are confirmed for Q1, and I hope more organisations will get in touch through the year. I've offered to prepare and give a new talk (number 5) in Q2, so I'll let you know if that goes ahead.

I've also been approached about presenting the material in a couple of interesting new ways. It's early days yet, but if they go ahead you'll be sure to hear about them here. 


3. Keep the site running smoothly

There aren't any major upgrades planned, but no doubt something will turn up during the year that needs fixing.

4. Add new features

I've got four ideas for this year.

4.1 Add a new "Street" page type. Despite being on the last two years to-do lists and not getting done, this still seems a good idea. So I've started work on it, and so far there are a couple of test Street pages to see. There are still more features to add, but expect to see more about how to use the Street pages over the next few weeks.

4.2 Prepare Gwulo for the long term. As the introduction mentioned, the Gwulo website has grown to over 34,000 pages. It is an important resource for information about Hong Kong's history, but a website is a fragile thing: stop paying the website hosting company and all that information would vanish overnight.

So work is underway to maintain a separate copy of the site that will be archived for the long term. I'm waiting to hear that the work is complete then I'll explain it in more detail.

4.3 Relatives, including siblings. The number of People pages grows steadily, and many of them linked together by their parent / child relationships. I'd like to make the relationships easier to view - the current display isn't very clear. And since we know that if two people share the same parents they must be brother or sister, I'd also like to display a person's siblings in their list of relatives.

4.4 Integrate GPS with the maps. Since moving to Kowloon, I'm often walking in the ridge of hills between Fei Ngo Shan and Beacon Hill. I often wonder if there are any of Rob's military sites nearby that I should look at, so what I'd really like is to open Gwulo's map on my smartphone, and use GPS to centre it on my current location. That would let me quickly see what's nearby.



2018 in numbers

Visitors to the website:

     Website traffic (thousands) 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Visitors 400 317 253 230 226 263  250 200 157
  Unique visitors 245 191 148 138 131 155  150 113 88
  Pageviews 1,996 1,647 1,292 1,184 1,186 1,351  1,149 919 872



     Newsletter Subscribers 2018


2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Email subscriptions 2,737 2,067 1,466 1,211 1,030 833  603 353 180
  Facebook 'like / follow' 3,060 2,344 1,849 1,629 965 705  463 273  
  Twitter followers 229 153 114 100 82 58  43 33  
  RSS subscriptions [1]       48 81 31  82 53  
  Total 6,026 4,564 3,420 2,988 2,158 1,627  1,191 712 180
  Wartime Diaries subscribers                  
  77 years ago 56                
  76 years ago 167 108              
  75 years ago 148 141 86            
  74 years ago 156 144 109 79          
  73 years ago 138 131 108 91 100        
  72 years ago [2]   143 115 89 97 109      
  71 years ago [2]     139 85 88 88 81    
  70 years ago [2]       94 42 44 37    
  Total [3] 620 412 380 438 327 241 118    

[1]. Since switching from Feedburner to MailChimp, we have no way to monitor the number of RSS subscriptions.
[2]. These diary cycles had already finished, so I don't count their subscribers this year.
[3]. The Total is less than the sum of the rows because many subscribers are subscribed to more than one year's Wartime Diaries, but I only count them once in the Total.



     Pages on website 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
  Photos 19,870 17,740 15,508 11,670 9,401 7,817 6,359 5,725 4,330
  Places 4,570 4,290 3,770 3,140 2,867 2,440 2,035 1,623 1,310
  Diary pages 4,690 4,630 4,373 3,836 3,243 2,326 1,589    
  People 3,120 2,900 2,696 2,425 1,907 1,522 1,000 28  
  Forum topics 1,460 1,310 1,159 1,019 923 761 639 525 350
  Stories 480 430 405 341 312 265 243 213 170
  Total pages 34,190 31,300 27,911 22,431 18,653 15,131 11,865 8,114 6,160
  Total comments 38,840 35,320 31,861 27,620 24,097 20,883 17,477 14,910 11,370
  Jurors Lists (years) 43 38 35 33 31 29 27 19 11


Would it be possible to add a 'linked to' or 'appears in' section for photographs? For instance the below photo was discussed somewhere on Gwulo but  I cannot remember exactly where.   

Snow on Plantation Road 1893?
Snow on Plantation Road 1893? , by Herostratus

Would it be possible to show every location that the photo has been used on Gwulo, perhaps in a tab next to 'View', 'Places', 'Zoom' etc I have no idea if this is technically possible

I've looked to see what's available. There was an add-on that looked hopeful, but it ignores photos in comments. Given that many photos are posted in comments, that doesn't help us.

A work-around is to search for the photo's title, eg