Monday, February 18, 2008

Blogs and Privacy

Happy Monday. (I am, of course, kidding; it's raining, and I have just started my taxes).

Anyway, my blog is pretty new, and I have been interested in figuring out how many people are reading it. Naturally, I thought of Site Meter, and, on the advice of the BF's DH, Google Analytics. But I have been troubled by the ethics of tracking people. I worry about the extent that all of these great software tools infringe on privacy. Right now I'm leaning towards not tracking.

Has anyone else worried about this? Any thoughts? As a new blogger I am always looking for advice on these matters. Thanks.


elf's DH said...

A key idea here, IMO, is the expectation of privacy. With the exception of postings that are password-locked or otherwise have restricted access, the web is (and should always be considered) a public place. It is almost a given that every click will be tracked by someone, somewhere.

The information you get from trackers are: how many visitors you've had, what and how many pages they view, how they got to your blog, how long they stayed around on your pages, once they get there, what path they take in viewing, and how they exited your blog. This is all quite valuable to someone putting up a website. You know what content people are reading, even if they don't give you feedback. You also get the IP addresses and locations of your visitors. Occasionally, you can place who wrote something. However, only you see that information.

Your responsibility with that information is essentially to keep it private to the extent that the poster did. Always refer to posters by the names or pseudonyms they choose.

(Also, "BF" is a degenerate acronym. While you meant it as "best friend," it can also mean "boyfriend." I admit this usage did not come anywhere near the level of confusion when I tried to figure out what "girlfriend food" is. Later, I realized that "GF" also meant "gluten free." Oops.)

katrina said...

I'm glad you and elf aren't both dudes. That would have left a lot of explaining to do. Seriously, though, wouldn't Google analytics also track my website traffic? It's not my own tracking I am worried about.

frum single female said...

another way of seeing if you have actual readers is by putting up a poll. if people respond to it you will know if people are reading in an anonymous way. site meters arent bad though. they do help you see how your readers got to your blog and that can help you see what interests people about your blog. alot of people might read your blog, but they may not comment on it, so a site meter helps you know if you have actual readers.