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Wesley Ameling
Wesley Ameling

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So I forgot about a scraper

Back in April I contacted whether there was an API available or not. I needed that API because back then (and now!) I thought that the content was worth saving as reference. I coded a simple python scraper and converted the plain text to an PDF because those are more readable to me. I started running this program on my raspberry pi.

My data store grew and grew, but I never read anything. It was pointless, and decided to pull the plug on it. At least, I thought I pulled the plug. I remember disabling the cronjob, but today I was messing some more with cronjobs and found out was running ever since. I think this scraper has been running for at least 7 months.

Editors note: The reason why the plug wasnt pulled is because my SD card was in read-only mode. This means that I could make changes, which would only live in thee RAM. When the RPI was rebooted, the data disappeared. This renders this data useless, because it is data what got scraped to some point in time + the days while the pi was running.

Note that the data is only the raw text of the articles, not the comments and such. Discuss topics weren't really a thing in April.

Disclaimer: those numbers are probably not 100% accurate as it was just a quick script

First of all I decided to get some basic statistics on the dataset:

Category Statistic
Amount of articles 1759
Total size 196608 bytes
Amount of authors 793

Then I was wondering who were the top 10 posters:

Who Amount of posts
Ben Halpern 128
Vaidehi Joshi 30
Beekey Cheung 25
Walker Harrison 24
edA 22
K. 👓 21
Ken W Alger 19
Phil Nash 18
Ryan Palo 16 staff 16

And for fun I checked a few terms whether how much they existed in unique article titles. Note for words like 'go' it is taken into account that it could have other meanings and thus those were handpicked.

A graph with random terms

For now I will turn my scraper off, but I will keep this corpus to practise some text mining on. If you have ideas on what to do with this data, please share!

Top comments (5)

andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

@walker looks like you got top 5 ;)

maestromac profile image
Mac Siri

These are some cool stats. Thank you for sharing!

elcotu profile image
Daniel Coturel

Hi! Can you share the code?

engineercoding profile image
Wesley Ameling

Sure, the code was part of a bigger plan but never actually finished it for some reason. Turns out the PDF generation was not even implemented yet.

andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

Oh, also we'll get that API out soon... 😓