Stop it, already! Enough with mis-use of ‘hits’!

By Steve Outing

Increasingly of late, I’m seeing writers use the term “hits” when talking about webpage usage. I’ve lost count of how often this has assaulted my ex-copy editor eyes, but it happened again in this story. An excerpt:

“Thousands of Seattlites will miss their morning ‘fish wrapper.’ But as other newspapers saw fewer web ‘hits’ after the November election, the P-I website has climbed close to the three million mark.”

Ugh. As an Internet publishing veteran, I have to point out to the growing horde of misinformed writers that a “page-view” is the word they’re looking for. It indicates that a web user has seen a particular webpage. If the P-I website only got three million hits (the writer doesn’t says if that’s per day, but I assume so), that’s pretty poor because it represents far, far fewer page-views.

What’s a “hit”? I’ll let Wikipedia explain:

“A hit is a request to a web server for a file (web page, image, JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheet, etc.). When a web page is uploaded from a server the number of ‘hits’ or ‘page hits’ is equal to the number of files requested. Therefore, one page load does not always equal one hit because often pages are made up of other images and other files which stack up the number of hits counted. Because one page load does not equal one hit it is an inaccurate measure of a website’s popularity or web traffic. A more accurate measure of web traffic is how many page views a web site has. Hits are useful when evaluating the requirements of your server, depending on the number and size of files which need to be transferred for one request. Servers should be tested to make sure they meet throughput targets (i.e. they should be capable of processing a certain amount of ‘hits’ per second).”

Sorry for nitpicking, but doing time as a copy editor at any time of your career will make you this way. :)

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!