Where have the camels gone?

teveclub.hu used to be one of the most well-known websites among Hungarian teenagers. It is a Neopets clone where you can raise your own camel: feed it, and teach it various tricks day by day. I had the feeling that the site was slowly dying. I used data from archive.org to verify this hypothesis and I found that it was true: the total number of camels in the system has dropped from the ~320 thousand peak in 2006 to less than 26 thousand in 2018.

This pattern does not look promising. I have a camel on this site since January 21, 2003, and I am always a bit scared that the owners may end up shutting down the website for good.

The chart is generated fully programmatically; the code and the final data table are available on GitHub. It was a good exercise to practice scraping web data in Python as well as the various options in Matplotlib.

Luckily, the website has a page where they display the count of all camels, so the logic to get the data is simple:

for each year: 
check archive.org for links to individual snapshots
for each snapshot:
find number of camels
save snapshot date
save count of camels
plot (date, count) pairs

The code in the notebook could be used for any other historical investigation, for example property prices or the number of available used cars in a given location. Of course this assumes that the data is indeed backed up, but this is the case for most large websites.

Note: the analysis was originally conducted in November 2016, however, this article was written in 2018. I also reran the code to include more recent data.

Originally published at hann.io on November 29, 2016.

Transportation Economist by training, currently working as a Data Scientist at Booking.com. Map and geo data enthusiast. Avid hiker. Personal website: hann.io

Transportation Economist by training, currently working as a Data Scientist at Booking.com. Map and geo data enthusiast. Avid hiker. Personal website: hann.io