What Do I Collect?
I use a free open source tool called Shynet to learn about who's visiting my site. Describing itself as "Modern, privacy-friendly, and cookie-free web analytics," here's what their documentation says they can measure:
- Hits — how many pages on your site were opened/viewed
- Sessions — how many times your site was visited (essentially a collection of hits)
- Page load time — how long the pages on your site look to load
- Bounce rate — the percentage of visitors who left after just one page
- Duration — how long visitors stayed on the site
- Referrers — the links visitors followed to get to your site
- Locations — the relative popularity of all the pages on your site
- Operating system — your visitors' OS (from user agent)
- Browser — your visitors' browser (from user agent)
- Geographic location & network — general location of your visitors (from IP)
- Device type — whether your visitors are using a desktop, tablet, or phone (from user agent)
Why Use Analytics?
If you want to be a better writer, the most common advice is: know your audience. For a personal site like this one, that might mean knowing how many people are coming from Google vs from Twitter, understanding what kinds of articles are the most popular, learning how long they spent reading an article, or seeing what countries visitors' requests come from. I can use that information to build a more engaging website. As far as sharing that data with third parties goes, the closest I get is when I test my friends' and family's patience by talking about my website traffic.
Why Have a Privacy Statement?
Maintaining your privacy online should be a normal topic of conversation, not something only crazy people and neckbeards talk about. You absolutely have the right to not care about your privacy online, and most people don't. But you should know what information you're volunteering and when you're volunteering it. In that spirit, I'm happy to explain what information I collect on this website and why.