The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0026  Sunday, 27 January 2013


From:        Eric Johnson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 23, 2013 5:25:27 PM EST

Subject:     Open Source Shakespeare Search Statistics


Hello, list members -- 


In late September, Open Source Shakespeare started logging all of the searches performed on the site. So far, it has compiled over 255,000 search requests, or about 2,000 per day. The logs can show patterns of how people search Shakespeare’s corpus. Here are a few nuggets: 

  • Hamlet is the most-searched work, which isn’t a surprise—but it is searched more than 60% as frequently as the runner-up, Macbeth
  • Othello (#3) is searched considerably more than secondary-school fixture Romeo and Juliet (#4). 
  • Nobody likes poor “Phoenix and the Turtle” (admittedly, it’s so short, you don’t really need to search within it), and the other non-sonnet poems languish at the bottom of the list. “Two Gents” is the least-searched play. 
  • Romantics will be pleased to find that “love” is the most-searched keyword. 
  • Previously, I had assumed that at least 90% of the search requests were simple keyword searches, because that is the normal proportion for on-site search functions. However, it turns out the searches are split much more evenly between simple and advanced requests (about 46% specify a particular work, which means it is an advanced search). 

You can see the list of most-searched works here: 



 . . . and the most-searched keywords here: 



And here’s a brief update of where the site stands, since so many of you have offered critiques and comments over the years. Open Source Shakespeare was announced on SHAKSPER in February 2004, and has grown into one of the more popular sites of its kind. Since June 2006, OSS has attracted 3.7 million unique visitors and 20.8 million page views. In the last year alone, it hosted over 1.1 million visitors and 5.4 million page views. When you search for the keyword “shakespeare” in Google, OSS is now in the first page of search results (it’s at #10, at least as I type this, although it sometimes falls off to #11). 


The site was donated to the George Mason University’s English Department, where we are working to expand its capabilities. More updates will be forthcoming soon. Thanks to everyone who has contributed suggestions in the past, and please keep new ones coming to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Eric Johnson


[Editor's Note: Congratulations, Eric, on the success of your project. We all appreciate having it available. -Hardy]

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