As mentioned in my last post, I’ve changed the way I collect analytics data but I’ve also changed the analytics platform. This means that the data is collected in a different way and that different pieces of data are collected.
I used to use Google Analytics for my analytics collection endeavors but for several reasons, this wasn’t in-kind with some of the things that I believe in and some of the tenets I strive to achieve great success in. I’ll leave a huge list of reasons I ditched GA for another post but all you need to know for now is that it wasn’t open-source, slowed things down, and presented certain cases of misuse of information.
The new analytics tool I use is called Matomo. Matomo is an open-source analytics platform that respects your privacy and allows the customization of data being collected. I can collect as much or as little information as necessary and fine-tune the analytics platform to my liking. But I’m sure you don’t really care about what platform I’m using as much as you care what information is being collected. Let’s break that down:
Visitor Log Example
When you’ve consented to being involved in analytics data collection, I’ll be able to see part of your IP address. Matomo will obscure the second half your IP address, leaving it as 0’s in the third and fourth octets (Example: 22.214.171.124 becomes 126.96.36.199). This allows a loose location lookup and will allow me to track down a specific problem should I have nefarious activity transpire from another server on the internet.
I’ll be able to see the country you’re located in but it’s not extremely accurate as I’ve chosen to base the location lookup on the browser language you’ve chosen to use. For example, I’ve chosen en-US as my browser language and therefore I’m detected as being located in the US.
Along with the location and IP, Matomo will also take note of the browser you’re using. If you’re using a Firefox-based web browser, I’ll see that you’re using Firefox proper, as well as the version of Firefox. If you’re on Android and using Chrome, I’ll see that you’re using “Chrome Mobile”, and so on, and so forth.
The operating system you’re using will be shown to me, which includes the version number. I’ve seen, so far, some iOS, some Android, but mostly Windows 7 machines browsing my website. When it comes to version number, I only get the major and minor version numbers, not the revision or build number. See below for an example:
This one’s an interesting one because while I’ll be told if you’re on a mobile device or a desktop (which a laptop falls into the category of), if you’re on a desktop, I won’t know much more than that. If you’re on a mobile device, I’ll be able to see the mobile device brand and model. For example I’ll be able to see if you’re using a Motorola Moto Z2 Play (the phone I have). Strangely, Apple’s UIKit reports screen size in points rather than pixels.
This is frankly the most useful part of the analytics information, but it’s not to say that the previous information isn’t important. I’ll touch on that again soon.
On top of all that information, I also get to see what pages you’re browsing to and from. If you’ve come from a link on Mastodon, I’ll see that. If you’re coming from Google, sometimes the search term will be shown to me as well. I’ll be able to see the pages on my website that you’ve visited, specifically I’m referring to which blog posts.
This might be the most controversial part but after knowing that all of this information is very difficult to use to identify a specific user, it might quell any fears you may have. When you agree to be tracked, a cookie is stored in your browser. This cookie has a unique ID that is used to track your visits and whether you’re a returning visitor or not. Keep in mind, you do not have to consent to being tracked.
If you’ve clicked yes, and have decided to change your mind, simply delete the cookies from my site and click no.
What’s the point of collecting all this information?
When writing an article, it helps to know my audience. Are people reading my blog mostly second-language English and so it might be wise to put more pictures when doing guides? Or is the majority of my audience native English speakers? What articles are people viewing the most? If it’s something like the LTSP guide, which gets a majority of hits (yes, just that one guide), then maybe I might want to write more tutorials (which I’ve decided to do). At the end of the day, I can’t get a lot of contextual data but the observations that can be extrapolated from the data is definitely useful on some level.
I might change my mind in the future and decide to drop the analytics when I can get more feedback from my audience, but we’ll leave that conversation for when I get there.
Bottom Line: I will never share with or sell your data to third-parties. I don’t know who you are.
The data I’m collecting cannot be used and will never be used to identify you. It will only be used to cater my blog posts to you. The only person who will ever see this information is me. That best part is that you can totally opt-out of the data collection process. The code will never run in your browser and you’ll never have to worry about it once you explicitly deny consent. I don’t want to hinder you, I want to help you.
If you have any further questions relating to the analytics I collect or me as a person, feel free to hit me up on any of my social media accounts below:
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