You are blogger, you are user

This week, it was a second time I heard about Woopra
First time, it was when Trey Ratcliff reviewed it on his blog last winter. And now, Frederic Van Johnson recorded a podcast where he interviewed John Pozadzides, who distributes Woopra. And yesterday, if you follow @MartinBailey on Twitter, he tweeted about how he installed it and enjoyed. The user pool is apparently growing.
This time, I decided to sit and write this post. To protest. And express my opinion why I will not use it. And why I will make every effort to make it unsuccessful to use it for everybody else.
As a blogger, I do understand importance of statistics. I am using Google Analytics myself. I like checking how many people visit my blog, from which countries or even towns. When I prepare the new web page, I would look which browser they use and what resolution of monitors prevails. I appreciate it. But when I hear about Woopra, I have the impression that they are going too far. It is reaching the point that I do not feel comfortable anymore. I do not want anybody follow me and my preference on any given web page. I do not want to be recognized as returning user, I do not want anybody to see which pages I visited, in which order and how much time I spend on each. Nor the fact that I am using Mac and Mozilla browser. I am fine with those statistics being collected for all anonymous users on the page. But I do not want somebody collecting information which can be used to profile me as a single person. And compiling it in a package, with my home and IP address, system, software, and possibly any other pages I visited, as apparently Woopra keeps the stats for all the pages using its analytics.
And besides, surprising me by starting a chat with me when I visit a page- it is not funny. And not useful. If I want to interact with people, there is Facebook, Twitter or even I can leave a comment. Which I will be careful now. I don’t want anybody solicit me to buy a print for example when I browse through online gallery.
I am really surprise how all the people so concerned about copyrights are so excited by such an invasion of their privacy by other blog users.
I don’t know about you, but I am not installing Woopra on my blog. Moreover, I am going to make sure that my browser will block all its java scripts.
What is a fun toy for you now, can one day result in selling your preferences to highest bidder. Because you are not only a bloger. You are reader of other blogs, you are a user, too.

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  • http://onemansblog.com John Pozadzides

    Izabela,

    I appreciate the fact that you took the time to sit down and express your concerns about Woopra. Issues relating to privacy and data security should always be debated publicly to keep everyone honest. And, although I’m the CEO of Woopra I am also a HUGE advocate of Internet privacy. As evidence I would point you to a post I wrote regarding a project I support called the Freenet Project:
    http://onemansblog.com/2007/05/15/privacy-equals-freedom-support-the-freenet-project/

    Let me just touch on a few key points in response to your concerns:

    – First, and most importantly, by using Google Analytics you already have one of the World’s largest mega-corporations collecting much, much, much more data about you and your Website visitors. But if you ask me, what is far worse is that you have no idea what information they are collecting, and they will never give you access to it. But Google isn’t the only one.

    – MANY companies track every single thing you do on their site. Will you stop using Amazon.com? They know everything that Woopra does, plus much more. And so do almost all of the large sites. The only difference is that Woopra is bringing this capability to small websites who couldn’t otherwise do it themselves.

    – When woopra tracks users individually it’s important to understand that you ONLY get tracked by name if you give your name to that individual Website. So, for example, if you come and leave a comment on OneMansBlog.com and you use your name, that is how you get tagged. Woopra NEVER shares (or even tracks) your details across domains. So, there should be no concern that people are watching you without your knowledge.

    – At the end of the day, if you visit a site that had Woopra running on it, and you left a comment and got tagged, all you have to do is clear your browser’s cookies and you are no longer tracked.

    Now, let’s look at it from another perspective. I understand that you have a strong desire not to be tracked personally. But I don’t! I actually want you to know that I stopped by your blog. And if I come back a few times I want you to know that as well. Becuase if I like you enough to repeatedly visit then maybe you might take a little more personal interest in having me there. Perhaps you’ll respond to my comments more often, and perhaps we will build a bit of a relationship.

    I can tell you that of the thousands of regular readers I have on my site, not one person has ever complained or decided not to come back, and they all know I’ve got Woopra running.

    So, my final advice would be, if you are personally uncomfortable with allowing your data to be collected – by all means take action. Don’t leave your real name in comments, and clear your cookies occasionally. But I would also recommend that you not project that same outlook on your site’s readers because I promise you from YEARS of experience and millions and millions of visitors… they don’t mind.

    Cheers,

    John P.

  • Izabela

    Thanks a lot for your comment on my post. I respect your views. As a blogger, I understand the need of Woopras and Google Analytics and whatever will come next. But as a user, I want other users to be aware of what is happening beneath the surface of blogs and web pages they visit. I want them to make informed decision. There is a difference between “don’t mind” and “don’t realize it was even possible”. People who are not actively blogging and reading technical blogs do not know about those things. I decided to share my views on this blog, hoping to educate and maybe spark a discussion in broader community.

  • Agnieszka

    I totally agree with Iza. I wouldn’t like to be tracked by any anyone, either. I don’t mind the data about me collected by Google Analytics, but Woopra takes more. More I want it know about me. Do I have to remember all the time someone is following me, watching what I am reading, what I am eating, what I am listening to? I don’t want to be observed all the time or being busy of finding ways to outsmart the “Big Eye”. I wish I could have a choice.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    An interesting blog post Izabela.

    I understand your points and can also understand John’s response. As we have seen with the recent Facebook privacy settings changes and the issues ad targeting services like Phorm have generated, there is a lot of concern from the public about this level of tracking. It is a fine line companies will need to tread, but there are potentially benefits as well.

    Something to educate yourself on without a doubt.