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November 04 2014

What we're using to collect data about you

We are using three tools:

  • quantcast, which we initially began using as a replacement for google analytics
  • google analytics, which we wanted to get rid off, but that effort has been on hold since we came to understand that everything and everyone who does analytics wants to use GA, and historical data would be a good thing to have, just in case
  • piwik, which is a free/libre analyticcs platform that aims to replace google analytics. It's quite mature and we're using it to do analytics on user data - something we do not want to delegate to a 3rd party such as google. Also, piwik is very flexible and can be extended in ways that's simply not possible with google analytics. We host piwik ourselves.
Additionally, ghostery (which I highly recommend to any privacy concerned netizen) will report "Facebook Connect" if you connected with facebook or are using facebook export, and "Doubleclick", which seems to be related to the google analytics integration. The author has the best intentions of getting rid of the google stuff eventually, but can not promise anything, because $business reasons.

About tracking and privacy

We've been using quantcast and google analytics for quite some time (I think since the birth of Soup?) to collect minimal meaningful data about the visitors, where they come from and their approximate demographics.

We've not even been using the extended feature sets of those platforms, because that would've meant putting user data into the hands of a third party.

But what do we know from these solutions? Yes, we have a lot of polish users. And we're very proud of being in the top 30 something polish websites - at least according to quantcast - despite not understanding how we got there.

And that's kinda sorta the point - insight how we got anywhere. And this means metrics.

Now, metrics is a very loaded topic. Everyone does it, but nobody talks about it, except in their Terms Of Service legalese. People immediately think of spying, and it's kinda ... somehow ... well, it's not exactly not spying. But I personally don't think it's really spying either, but that maybe because I'm the one running the platform and have many years of experience what it means to know jack shit about your users and what they're doing.

So my view on things is biased. Thus, I decided to go the pragmatic route and just commit myself and the company to explaining what we're doing - hopefully in a way that people who are not into metrics can get a grasp too. If I can't explain it, or it feels creepy to explain it, well, that should be enough to make me think it over. And I'm taking a huge flaming pile of dung on legalese, because, you know, fuck you - not.

So my take on it is, metrics should be more like a census and what's called "city development data". To be able to plan what areas to develop, a city needs to know where people go to work, when and where they buy things, what the average income is etc.

It's the same with a web platform like Soup, except for jobs and shopping centers we have blogs and groups, and instead of cars and net worth of the individual we have posts and days since registration.

Anyhow, @whatweknow is dedicated from now on to explain what we're collecting, what we're doing with it, and maybe even post some results. If you have an interesting question that we should be able to answer with metrics, don't be afraid to ask @kitchen or reply to a post here! Sometimes we may be unable to give answers or give them not in absolute numbers, but we should be able to crank out at least a percentage or a general vicinity every once in a while. And if not, you may at least get an explanation why :)

Last but not least, a word to the wise: be inquisitive about your privacy on the internets, and use tools such as ghostery or disconnect to understand what sites know about you.

Reposted bycheg00klaaasamurawakanaupdatesovalsilveralinakayaniLonePoProstusmoke11darksideofthemoonslovaFate46radaetykipaketn0gmprmarsjaninzmarsaathalisbrightbytelunaminderleistertishkaslightlyworryingsceenshotscoloredgrayscalepuszczyksoberoopsiaksignofthemothstfun84naciaOgsmoker
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