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Crunching the numbers on TimesSelect

Jon Garfunkel crunches lots of numbers in his attempt to see whether the New York Times’ much criticized two-year venture with paid content, TimesSelect, hurt traffic on the site and reduced Times buzz on the Web. It’s hard to come to clear conclusions, because with or without TimesSelect, the Times runs a thriving Web site in a fast-growing industry. So what to compare it too?

All kinds of things resist counting. Consider his tribulations trying to measure Web traffic around one conservative columnist:

In one case (George Will), I had to estimate the number of references to the columnist and not to the coincidental use of his name in a completely different context: from looking at the last 50 blog posts, 20% were constructions where “will” was used as a verb. (USA Today: “Boy George Will Be Picking Up Street Trash.”)

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