| During the last fifteen months, Russell Crump -
Eastern Archivist for the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society,
and I have been engaged in a great experiment. We have been trying to make
available to the Society members and the general public historical materials
in his care, via the world wide web.
We started the project in April 1996 after getting together at the KC Connect business show here in Kansas City, Missouri. The Board of Directors gave a green light to the project at its 1996 convention in Fort Worth, Texas.
A full year has passed since that convention and now it is time for an accounting. This is part of our report to the Board of Directors and members of the Society.
Our MethodsAfter a letter, a phone call and a visit to Russell's home during April we settled into a regular meeting schedule of Thursday afternoons between 1:00 and 3:00 PM (usually longer) at my house where I could upload the finished files and make corrections under his direction. I haven't kept exact count but I think we met about 50 out of 56 potential times.
GoalsWe set some goals (and others developed along the way):
To display as many of the Santa Fe historical photos as possible. To make available recognized historical references about the Santa Fe, such as the Splinters and Meade's Mannual. To support the efforts of the Society in the promotion of: *membership *the Warbonnet *Society books and materials To keep the site simple - without a great amount of fancy graphics. To keep the site noncommercial except for the promotion of Society produced materials. To provide members and directors with reports about the site. We also wanted to 'balance' the site between the interests of the historians and the modelers.Frankly, we have lost count of the amount of time that we have both put into the site at this time. The following table shows 202 HTML files and 403 IMAGES available at this time. All of this was done through our typing, some "OCR"ing / retyping, and through scanning of photos. Meeting time alone would be at least 250 man hours. Typing 300 hours estimate. Scanning and rescanning 300 hours, HTML 300 hours, uploading / reuploading / regular changes 150 hours - well you get the idea. . .
Russell kept me going through some of it. Just the fact that I knew he would be arriving on Thursday, as regular as clock work, motivated me to turn out more material. Russell kept me challenged with new items to "display" - we have both learned a great deal about what we can do on a web site. Some of our earlier scanning needs to be redone - we have learned some things about our equipment (and have bought new and upgraded our old equipment). There are probably more typos out there than we care to admit.
Who visits the Web Site?I was selective in picking out these addresses - of course, the bulk of the visitors are from the U.S.A. but here is a sampling of our "guests" from around the world collected off of the site counter:
atsf=11638 06/28/97 07:24:52 sol-13-219.swissonline.ch (Swiss) atsf=11657 06/29/97 02:20:37 glacier21.comdt.uscg.mil (US Military) atsf=11668 06/29/97 15:46:31 p046097.mirai.or.jp (Japan) atsf=11702 06/30/97 20:24:04 iconz1.iconz.co.nz (N. Zealand) atsf=11800 07/05/97 12:19:36 184.108.40.206 y.l1.vfr.net (France) atsf=11803 07/05/97 14:12:37 pc3821.vkl.uni-regensburg.de (Germany) atsf=11859 07/07/97 14:36:34 ecarh29c.nortel.ca (Canada) atsf=11866 07/07/97 18:13:56 rip.axis.se (Sweden) atsf=11877 07/08/97 08:15:00 PortServer-8.dockside.co.za (S. Africa)
Cost to the Society - Returns to the SocietyI will not try to answer this question directly. Answers to those questions must come from the officers of the society after evaluation of all sources of information. Here are some stats that can give some direction.
A great number of individuals (from all over the world) have visited the application text page (635 as of 7/11/97). Between 01/19/97 and 05/17/97 there were 129 accesses of the atsfform.htm and returned forms to that date were 33. (Keep in mind - these are two separate methods of applying for membership). How many real new members that has translated into can not be determined by information gathered by site statistics.
Many individuals have accessed the information about the convention. The "Flyer" gif has been displayed 3,736 times since it went up.
Convention Page 301 Visits Present Page 71 Visits Registration Page 53 Visits Hotel Reservations 49 VisitsDid some actually decide to attend or present after seeing the material on the web? - again we can not tell just from the stats.
Many e-mails have been received about society publications (1,205 have visited the books page) and materials for sale. Individual visits to back issues pages can be gleaned from the stats at the end of this report.
Has this generated some interest in the Warbonnet? Many letters to the editor are marked "via Internet" now as they appear in the publication and 167 visits have been made to the 'Submit' page. Articles by Stan Kistler, Russell Crump, Steve & Cynthia Priest and Frank Ellington have been accessed 1,563 times since they went on the site.
The table shows the status of the site at this time. 20 meg of data are now on the site - mostly in image form. A typical web business account would find it hard to fill 4 meg of space. Personal sites are often much less than 1 meg. I have an additional 40 files on my hard drive to be displayed in the near future (some requiring divisions and new structures).
The following chart shows the growth path of three measure elements in the analysis of the SFRH&MS web site. Figures represent the actual accesses for each month and therefore show actual / comparative increases / decreases.
The Home Page track (green) is the one that most people have heard of. The Home Page is the page that people see first if they come to the site through the address http://www.kcmo.com/ATSF/ Now http://www.ATSFRR.com/ This has shown a steady upward trend in the number of accesses of the Home Page since the start of the project.
The peak at this point is March 1997. HOWEVER, this is not
a true measure of the number of people accessing material on the site.
People can come to the site through any of the over 202 HTML pages now
located on the site. They do this through looking up certain key interest
words in the search engines such as Yahoo and Excite. They may in fact
come into the site through any subpage - look around parts of the site -
and then exit the site without ever visiting the Home Page.
A second consideration might be this. After visiting the site several times through the Home Page, a visitor might decide that he is only interested in a certain subsection of the site - thus he 'bookmarks' the index page of the subsection and does not necessarily visit the Home Page every time he comes to the site.
The red bars indicate the number of unique computers that have
visited the site for each month. Again, there is a steady growth
that seems to peak in May 1997 and then drop slightly in June. This
measure is probably one of the most important. In general, unique
computer, equates to "individual". At this time, we are looking at
about 1,000 users accessing the site per month. (This point is very
general, in fact a unique machine might represent many individuals
accessing the site through a common gateway. On the other hand, an
individual may leave several unique addresses - I have a least three
- or they might be going through a provider that uses dynamically
generated addresses.) Lets keep it simple and say that unique computer =
The leveling off or drop is probably seasonal. Let's face it, in
the summer people spend more time outside on activities - in general,
across the web, traffic drops by up to 40% in the summer. The site
traffic as measured in total accesses hit its high point to date in June
(yellow bar graph).
The Objects (purple) indicates the total number of items (text and graphic) that were looked at that month by the unique computers. Again, steady growth - Russell and I have been adding items to the site every month. As of this date there are 202 html (text) items and 403 images on the site. In June, approximately 500 out of 605 available items were viewed by at least one computer.
As of July 1998 the site was averaging 30,000 hits per month.
10,000 accesses per month has been used by many
Internet providers as a benchmark in charging for a site by usage. This
site passed that mark in April 1997 - one year after start up.
The total overall accesses has grown in a wave like (or step like)
fashion - which seems to be typical of many sites. There may be a number
of factors involved in this:
THE FUTURE OF THE SITE
The annual convention is being held July 17th . There
is bound to be some discussion about the web site. Since the WWW is
still quite new, it is difficult to make projections.
Surveys indicate great growth taking place in numbers of users and
development of infrastructure in the US and world wide.
The counter was added to the Home Page only after the number of total accesses was about 11,500. The following information for June might gives us a basis to work from:
The trend lines on all the data indicate a steady growth. I have worked on other sites that have special interest groups that had up to 70 new unique visitors entering each day. There is no reason why this might not happen with this site. These are my conservative projections.
Has the site been successful? We think so.
Can the site be improved? We believe so.
Can we use some help? Most certainly.
Are there other ways the site can be used to serve the Society and its mission to the Public? We look for suggestions.
I look forward to another exciting year.
William R. Eubank
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William R. Eubank
1632 Burcham Drive
East Lansing, Michigan 48823
United States of America