One easy metric is the number of hits your internet site gets per month. To clarify, here is a screenshot of this blog's hits per month, courtesy of the statistics Google provides:
So, I'm averaging about 150 hits per month, although it's been tailing off lately (partly due to the fact that I'm telling Google not to track my own page views). That's fairly meager, as other sites can get over a million hits per month.
I think another measure of internet popularity is the number of comments generated on the site. Is the site so popular that people feel the need to put in their own two cents? In that regard, I'm pretty meager at (as of this writing) 2 comments. Ever. But many of the sites I read, I read them because of the comments -- sites like slashdot, armscontrolwonk, and arstechnica often have more meat in the comments (from its readership) than in the original postings. And then, of course, there are sites like facebook and twitter where the content is the comments.
So, what if you combine those two metrics? I present the "Measurement of Internet Popularity Score", or MIPS.
Note the log-log scale. This covers a lot of ground. I've highlighted and named a few regions:
- Lonely Outpost: Less than 300 hits per month and typically less than 10 comments per month. Yep, I'm squarely in this field.
- Minor Internet Contributor: These sites have a readership between 100 and about 50,000 hits per month, and generate fewer than 100 comments per month. Niche sites and very popular blogs fall into this category.
- Broadcaster: These are sites with huge levels of readership, but aren't necessarily geared towards generating comments. Some news sites and government information-dissemination pages fall into here.
- Major Internet Contributor: These are the heavy-hitters of the internet, which can draw large readership and spark enough interest that hundreds to thousands of people feel compelled to post their comments.
- Social Media: When the readership gets above about 100,000, and the number of comments approaches the number of readers, now you're into social media territory.
- 4 Chan: This is the land of the absurd, where you get more than 1 comment per hit. 4 Chan is one stereotypical example of a site overrun with internet freaks and teenagers who post their ramblings and inappropriate blather on the internet. For the record, I never go there; I just know about it from xkcd references.