Analyzing HeyJackass!


The “30 Day Stupidity Trend” displayed on the HeyJackass! homepage.

There are a variety of sites and sources for keeping up with Chicago’s violence, and one that I think does a good job with the statistics is HeyJackass! The site, whose subhead is “Illustrating Chicago Values,” compiles data from Chicago news outlets, the city police department, historical data sets, and city blogs to track homicides and shootings.

I like this website for the simplicity and presentation of data relevant to thinking about city violence. Updated information on citywide shootings by date and location, information on victims including race, gender, even where they were shot (leg, arm, head,etc.), information on deadly neighborhoods, and even the legal follow-up to violence are all available on the site’s homepage. There are also “commentaries,” or periodic summaries of violent incidents, their locations, and how they stack up historically, as well as a gallery of some crime scenes. The amount of data from reliable sources and how up to date the site is kept are nice, and the varied visuals on the homepage make each topic easy to read.

While the data does come from what by all accounts are good resources, I wish there was a little more citation on the site. Checking with the links provided to newspapers, police, etc., show that the data is correct, but case-by-case citation or attribution would help credibility a bit. And while I do like the infographic-style home page and the amount of data presented easily, I wish it was a little more clean or spaced out. Finally, the site has a lighter tone than I’d expect from a journalistic source on this subject matter. I understand this is more of a statistics outlet with an aggregation of data than a focused blog or newspaper, but it seems a bit flippant about homicide and violence.

I couldn’t find much about who is behind this site, with no links to other outlets or names attached to the various commentaries and posts. The owner of the site does engage their audience with frequent updates to their Twitter and Facebook feeds as an extension of the site’s data and summaries, but there is no more information on who’s behind it on either of those accounts (the Twitter profile is named after a former Chicago mayor).

According to Whois, the domain was obtained through GoDaddy, but that’s all the information I could get on that. SimilarWeb shows that the site’s rankings are falling across the board while still pulling anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 visits per month, 88 percent of which are (unsurprisingly) American. Half of the site’s traffic is direct, and of the 35 percent that comes from searches, none is paid. In addition, there is no advertising on the site although there are links to donate through PayPal and shop on Amazon, so I’d guess revenue is not a concern for the site manager and more of a perk if their audience decides to forward any money.

Interestingly, of the five percent of traffic that comes from social media, the majority (70 percent) comes from Reddit rather than the Twitter or Facebook feeds. There is a “subreddit” called which simply features links to the site along with commentary on the violence. And the “Crime in Chicago” subreddit features HeyJackass! as a “friend” and featured link for more information.

Overall, I like the site for its simplicity, updates, and relevant statistics. I don’t love the tone it takes with regard to the violence and I’d like to know more about who’s behind it, but the information is good and compiled from the best sources on the data in Chicago so I’ll keep checking on HeyJackass! for these kinds of statistics.

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