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Top 10 Most Viewed Notebooks in 2020 created by the community

Over the next two weeks, we’ll review some of our top posts, collections based on views and impact.

For today here’s a collection of our Top 10 Most Viewed Notebooks in 2020 created by the community


How did you measure views? Position 9 looks like an outlier.

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This kind of list is likely mostly related to the reach of other places around the web (blogs, social media platforms, news discussion sites, etc.) where each notebook was shared.

Absolutely, I just wanted to learn if it also accounts for bot/crawler requests. (Although the notebook, while mentioning scraping, doesn’t appear to be a target of the scraper.)

Maybe it was embedded on a page that was visited a lot? Looks like the kind of quick hack¹ someone might put together to get a live-updated graph running on a website - and if it was used on some much-visited website during the election that could push the numbers

¹ where “hack” is just describing the creation process and not intended to devalue the notebook or the result in any way

I wonder how many of Tom Larkworthy’s visitors are from the HN crowd

Personally I’m a bit more curious about the most liked notebooks, since that actually represents the people who are at least somewhat active on Observable (even though that’s skewed towards people that give classes and workshops using Observable, as well as the Observable staff, it still feels closer to a representation of what is happening on the website)

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#2 is a ton of traffic coz of HN popularity. That post landed well with 1266 votes https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24351073 . So yes, it’s 90% HN traffic I expect. Though, it’s also a good list, which is why the hackers like it. It’s also a data based post, so I would argue it has genuine societal impact: i.e. it has genuinely aggregated some useful information and presented in a form that has a lot of consumers outside the Observable community. So I think it aligns with the mission of Observable too, to create ripples in society through data communication. (albeit, maybe pleasing the tech crows is not the noblest of causes and a little self serving).

I expect some of the graphics shared on twitter have had more views in real term though, and therefore have more real impact even by the poor measure of views. This top 10 can only count views on the site, but the Observable mission probably is not optimizing this…

#8 the SaaS post has had 0 impact outside the Observable community, despite me posting it on Reddit, HN and IH and trying really hard to promote it. So I guess my messaging is off with that one for wider impact. Maybe the title is too over the top. So all those views are mostly internal to the Observable community which I interpret as people are quite interested that you can implement that kind of thing on Observable.

I am pleased with both posts. I think #8 will be useful to this community longer term, and #2 has crowdsourced a lot of useful technical resources and I think has had reasonable impact across the tech community. Do read #2 properly if you have not, coz actually its a goldmine of interesting topics.

Obviously this top 10 list is quite a poor measure of value, but thats why the title is “Most viewed Notebooks”. It is what it is. It’s easy to measure, but it’s a poor proxy for historical importance. I get the impression they will have a few more measures of impacts from different angles, so I would not get hung up on the accuracy of this one. Maybe there will be another set of ranks that capture something else interesting. The ranking here is at least interesting, and all the notebooks are generally higher quality ones. Its definitely picked a good set of notebooks worth a read, though maybe the exact ranking is a little screwy


Yes, most liked are coming next week!

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FYI top 10 liked notebooks created by the community in 2020 https://observablehq.com/collection/@observablehq/top-10-liked-notebooks-created-by-the-community-in-2020

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My apologies Tom, I just realized that in my previous message I’m speculating that the HN list notebook appeals a lot to HN people on the one hand, right next to suggesting that a “most liked” list represents the Observable community more. It didn’t occur to me that putting those to next to each other implies that I’m downplaying the quality and value of your notebooks! Those were not supposed to be connected thoughts, and I’m sorry that I expressed myself that way. Your output is amazing!

(Also when it comes to difficult to quantify terms like “value”, well, it’s always about what kind of value in which context to whom, right? A list summarizing other content is by definition not producing new content in and of itself, it is instead an aggregation of other content. So when quantified as original content in and of itself it would not seem very valuable. However, as a reference to other content, it can still be incredibly useful and valuable)