Cold Turkey is a website and application blocker that blocks distractions when you’re trying to do work on a computer. When visiting a blocked site, Cold Turkey displays a block page with a motivational quote. It hopefully inspires you to stay focused on your work. But the block page is also what allowed us to determine what the most distracting websites were on the Internet.
In the past, we redirected you to our block page when trying to access a blocked website. Doing so, would make your browser set the blocked URL as the referrer to the block page. To this end, all we had to do to calculate the most distracting websites was analyze the referral data of our block page.
In May 2018, we stopped collecting this information. On one hand, we still wanted to collect referrals to our homepage. This is how we discover which websites our visitors are coming from. On the other hand, we didn’t need to know what websites people were blocking. After all, one of our goals is to collect as little user data as possible.
To solve this problem, our extension now loads the block page into an iframe. Doing this, doesn’t provide referral data to our block page. However, it still allows us to track the total number of sites blocked.
Okay, let’s look at the rankings of the most distracting websites blocked by Cold Turkey. This data covers the months of July 2017 to May 2018.
To highlight a website’s ranking, click it’s name at the top.
It’s pretty reasonable to assume that Facebook and YouTube are the most distracting websites on the Internet. However, it might be worth pointing out a few things.
First of all, the more popular a website is, the higher the ranking it will be. In other words, a less popular website you really feel addicted to may not necessarily rank highly on our list.
In addition, people testing out Cold Turkey for the first time, will usually try a website they are familiar with. Therefore, the data may favor these familiar (and usually popular) websites even more.
Above all, notice how YouTube surpasses Facebook as the most distracting website in January? We won’t speculate as to why this happened, but it does show a possible shift in peoples habits online. After all, people watch one billion hours of video on YouTube, every day. By the same token, people spend an average of 40 minutes on the site, every time they visit!
Also, see how the most distracting websites never really move in rank? In particular, websites ranked in third to sixth place don’t even change positions once! This goes to show how much the popularity of a site may influence it’s ranking. By the same token, as you go down in rankings, the lower a site is in popularity. The lower the popularity, the more volatile it’s ranking becomes.
While the previous chart is pretty cool, it doesn’t help visualize the relative number of blocks each site is responsible for. So, let’s look at the most distracting websites blocked as a percentage of all blocked websites. Again, the data covered is from July 2017 to May 2018.
No surprises here! Facebook takes the number one spot for being the most distracting website blocked by Cold Turkey.
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