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Google Analytics now on forums.FreeBSD.org

Google Analytics, leave it on or turn it off? (read entire thread before posting, please)

  • Leave Google Analytics On

    Votes: 6 16.2%
  • Turn Google Analytics Off

    Votes: 21 56.8%
  • See if I care

    Votes: 10 27.0%

  • Total voters
    37
  • Poll closed .

getopt

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 297
Messages: 498

#1
forums.FreeBSD.org was once free of any such pests. This has changed now as this snippet made its way into the site's code:
Code:
<script>

    (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
    (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
    })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');
   
    ga('create', 'UA-63201036-1', 'auto');
    ga('send', 'pageview');

</script>
What I cannot find is the legal notice to the user, that forums.FreeBSD.org is using it.
If someone still does not know how to block it, just ask in the forums.
 

OJ

Daemon

Thanks: 253
Messages: 1,038

#2
Ah yes. Now that you mention it, I see a little number one on my Ghostscript logo.

I try to minimize surveillance, particularly by Google, but perhaps I should unblock this one if there's a significant advantage to FreeBSD. Is there?
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

Thanks: 816
Messages: 2,606

#3
The purpose of the code is to provide a web site information about its visitors to serve you better. Every web site I create for my customers uses Google Analytics along with that code so we can tell what pages our visitors visit, where they came from, how long they visited, etc. I find it incredibly useful and enlightening to see what we are wasting time on and what is working.

Useful information includes the browser used, screen sizes, operating system, etc. It can, indirectly, give age and sex of the user, along with anonymous user information in general, aggragated, but I am not aware if it gives any indication about users beyond that. iow, I doubt we know who the visitor is and, the closest we can get, would be the town you're in. It's nice to know that one of my client's site is visited by 50% mobile phone users but another has virtually no mobile visitors.

I am not aware of any web site that doesn't collect this information in some form or other. If not through GA, then they use a different service. Just like your credit card company, department store, pharmacy, newspaper, etc., since time immemorial. Google does nothing different than all those other places did when I started making purchases in the 1960s as a young kid.

As far as its use on this forum, it can help the moderators learn what countries the visitors are from, what browser and screen sizes, what languages they probably speak. From that they can glean services they can offer or remove as unnecessary.
 

obsigna

Aspiring Daemon

Thanks: 403
Messages: 731

#5
getopt, I share your disappointment, however, I figure, fighting here is neither expedient nor quite effective since this specific battle is lost already in a much broader scale. People need to be aware of this and install their counter measures.

Remember the thread that you started some days ago DNS blacklisting by wildcard? I got a zones include file for my local Unbound /var/unbound/local-void.zones with 15708 entries, and among these are the following:
Code:
# grep google /var/unbound/local-void.zones
local-zone: "googlesyndication.com" static
local-zone: "google.tucows.com" static
local-zone: "partnerad.l.google.com" static
local-zone: "www.e-googles.com" static
local-zone: "google-analytics.com" static
local-zone: "wintricksbanner.googlepages.com" static
local-zone: "video-stats.video.google.com" static
local-zone: "www-google-analytics.l.google.com" static
local-zone: "affiliate.googleusercontent.com" static
local-zone: "adwords.google.lloymlincs.com" static
local-zone: "adservices.google.com" static
local-zone: "googletagservices.com" static
local-zone: "googlenews.xorg.pl" static
local-zone: "pagead.l.google.com" static
local-zone: "analytics-api-samples.googlecode.com" static
local-zone: "router.googlecom.biz" static
local-zone: "googletagmanager.com" static
local-zone: "googleadservices.com" static
AdBlock and Ghostscript are other possibilities.

Anyway, it is quite easy to pull the Google Analytics plug. IMHO, the much more problematic story is, that most of these WordPress blogs all over the world serve their web fonts and jQuery scripts by the way of Google APIs, and blocking this would deteriorate the common web experience.
 

obsigna

Aspiring Daemon

Thanks: 403
Messages: 731

#6
https://www.FreeBSD.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/committers-guide/google-analytics.html

There are some strict guidelines the project follows regarding Google Analytics outlined in the link above.

Additionally, https://www.FreeBSD.org/privacy.html
Well, I read a nice intention:
21.1. Google Analytics General Policy said:
The FreeBSD Project takes visitor privacy very seriously. As such, the FreeBSD Project website honors the “Do Not Track” header before fetching the tracking code from Google. For more information, please see the FreeBSD Privacy Policy.
I use the latest Safari on the latest Mac OS X, and its DNT flag is set:

Bildschirmfoto 2015-08-26 um 21.42.59.png

The failure to load the google-analytics script is caused by the fact that google-anlaytics.com is listed in my local void zones file. Without that, it would have been loaded even with DNT active. I see and honour the good intention, however, mere intention is not sufficient, if it does not work out.
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

Thanks: 816
Messages: 2,606

#7
drhowarddrfine
That is what Google advocates are spreading to their customers. But the coin has two sides:
That is presuming there is a problem. Why do people think that Google is watching their every move and using that information for nefarious uses? Why do people think Google is doing anything differently that Bing does? How long does Bing keep your search requests? Or any of the companies mentioned in my list before? You would get mailings based on where you shopped long before Google ever came around.

Why are people afraid of an advertising company but not their ISP or cable TV provider who also tracks your cable box? Your credit card company knows everything you purchase, when and where. I own a few fast food restaurants and, if you purchase one of our gift cards, I can tell when and what you bought from me. So does my national franchisor. Are you afraid of them, too? And don't forget the cameras that record you when you visit.

I also said, earlier, I use GA heavily in all my client sites. Are you now afraid of me?

Of course, almost anyone on this board could write a little javascript and read your log files and find out almost as much information as Google provides. Google does have an advantage that they are a central repository for the sites you visit but that's a cooperative thing. It doesn't work without the cooperation of the sites you visit!

The purpose of GA is to optimize advertising and content, not catch you cheating on your spouse or pick your pocket.
 

OJ

Daemon

Thanks: 253
Messages: 1,038

#8
Why do people think . . .
With all due respect, I'm not sure that in this case you are picking up on what people actually think. It sounds more like you have your own ideas. :)

The purpose of GA is to optimize advertising and content, . . .
And that is a purpose at which I see it being a complete failure. That however is not directly my business. What is my business is how it devalues web searches when used in that realm. As for it's use on this site I can see some value but note that some of the things you mentioned in your first post in this thread are not likely to work. I did a few checks just now and screen resolution is wrong on all sites that check that. Geolocation fails by thousands of miles and puts me in the wrong country, (but I would hope that no one on this board would actually believe that an IP ties to a user or location anyway). What does come off clearly from this computer is my browser and operating system, and that's something that might be nice to collect. Had I used another computer next to me that information would have been greatly distorted. For accuracy it's really best to just ask me. Trying to get information by sneaking is not wise.
 

DutchDaemon

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Developer

Thanks: 2,584
Messages: 11,210

#9
I switched on Google Analytics a couple of months ago, because the option is simply there in XenForo, and it is very easy to do so. I was interested to see how the audience of the forums breaks down geographically and demographically, and I was also interested in gauging how the forums perform on different browsers, especially on mobile platforms. We've had a couple of Tapatalk discussions here, and one of the reasons why we have not gone ahead and implemented Tapatalk was that mobile users were using the forums in droves, and none of them were complaining. Google Analytics was not turned on for any other reason than having an extra set of graphics and tables to base future decisions about forums design and policy on. We will never have any advertising on the forums, so we're not interested in "showing you ads that might be of interest to you" (retch), now or in the future. We are also not interested in tracking or profiling users, and I can assure you that whatever GA produces in terms of statistics is in no way linked to a user's identity. So, there are no nefarious motives behind switching it on, and I will not lose a great deal of insight by switching it off again.
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

Thanks: 816
Messages: 2,606

#10
You got it! But you are still failing to recognize that it is all about privacy and what that legally means.
I don't know what expectations of privacy there are. Search engines can't see anything more than what you put on the wire yourself. You can't complain about privacy as you walk down the street.

With all due respect, I'm not sure that in this case you are picking up on what people actually think. It sounds more like you have your own ideas. :)
Well, I'm paid handsomely for those ideas cause it's kinda my job though, frankly, I now pay someone else to do that. GA can be a full time job for a busy web company web site and I've got tens of them.
OJ said:
For accuracy it's really best to just ask me. Trying to get information by sneaking is not wise.
When you have thousands of unique visitors on a daily basis, that's hard to do, and you may not get an answer.

Note this, as I said earlier:

DutchDaemon said:
I can assure you that whatever GA produces in terms of statistics is in no way linked to a user's identity.
So, again, why people think Google is watching you, I don't know.
 

obsigna

Aspiring Daemon

Thanks: 403
Messages: 731

#14
...
So, again, why people think Google is watching you, I don't know.
I can't remember anybody except you called the practice of Google merging and analysing all available traffic meta data of all their services (GSearch, GAnalytics, GCode, GMail, GMaps, GDrive, GApps, GAPI, GAds, GTranslator, ...) "watching you". I call this "tracking & stalking me", well in my eyes this doesn't make it better. Lonely people may like this, though.

... You can't complain about privacy as you walk down the street. ...
Not everything that is lagging, is a comparison. Not everybody would like the idea of having a stalker in the back, following her/him on every street and every room at home on 365 d/a 24 h/d. And, this all only to constantly drive us up the wall with some crappy advertising.
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

Thanks: 816
Messages: 2,606

#15
Stalking is not the same as tracking user behavior and, as I said, everyone complains about Google while ignoring that everyone does it.
 

protocelt

Daemon

Thanks: 404
Messages: 1,253

#16
Google Analytics is neither a good or a bad thing. I allow it on a few trusted websites, while on most, I do not. The issue for me is choice. I want(and many other people) the choice to opt in or out of tracking and have that choice honored by each and every website that implements tracking. The choice to be tracked or not is increasingly being taken away across the internet except to the technically affluent which saddens me. DutchDaemon has given the option of choice here, so I really don't see an issue.
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

Thanks: 816
Messages: 2,606

#17
The issue of choice defeats the purpose. If a large number decide to opt out, then the information on your users is lost if, for example, that same group just happens to be from the same country, and the only thing that suffers is this web site because, once the user leaves the site, no further information is known about your activities. Not that this web site would care but if you prefer a document to be published in your native language, but GA shows there are no visitors from your country, such an idea could be shot down based on that. With GA, the idea could be promoted!

Now some apparently are complaining that Google would know. Yes, if you then visit another web site that also uses GA, then Google takes that information and aggragates it and analyzes it in order to provide advertising buyers better information to target ads at you. Just like your television and radio stations and newspapers and magazines do (and my restaurant does). I don't understand why that is a bad thing cause I'm sure male users aren't that interested in women's clothing (generally speaking).

I can also find out that most of the visitors to my client's theatre web site are also interested in visiting dog food web sites or search for dog food often. That's useful knowledge because I can advise them to buy ads on other web sites for dog food. Again, I don't understand how this is a bad thing.
 

protocelt

Daemon

Thanks: 404
Messages: 1,253

#18
The issue of choice defeats the purpose.
Yes it does, but that's not a problem for anyone except websites or advertising companies. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with Google Analytics per se. The information collected is certainly useful as you say. What I have a problem with is in a capitalist society this kind of information can and will be used for nefarious purposes at some point by a 3rd party whether legally or not, and I'd rather not be a part of that if at all possible. While chances of that happening to any given individual are quite slim, it does happen.
 

OJ

Daemon

Thanks: 253
Messages: 1,038

#19
The issue of choice defeats the purpose.
What are you saying? Are you telling me what and how to run my computers? For your information I will do what I want here, and like many people I block tracking just as a matter of principle. I suspect that most people with a passing familiarity with the internet will do the same.

In any case, if it turns out that this forum can use the information to be gathered then I will gladly unblock. In fact I did so just now.
 

cpm@

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Developer

Thanks: 890
Messages: 2,100

#20
I'm not trying to be sarcastic here but...



...we need to deal with it everyday.
 

gkontos

Daemon

Thanks: 454
Messages: 2,094

#22
I also don't like the way google tries to manipulate all the data that they collect for their own advertising benefit. Regarding analytics, I honestly don't care since I know that most websites use them. If you decide to remove them, then maybe you could turn on other platforms that provide alternative means of tracking, like piwik. That is assuming that you have the hardware to run it.
 

freethread

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 31
Messages: 359

#23
all google sh!t is in my DNS sinkhole (primarily, and it's not alone). I suggest to turn it off, but I know it's useful for someone and perhaps for this forum too. This sort of things is falling to an end soon.
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

Thanks: 816
Messages: 2,606

#24
I'm not trying to be sarcastic here but...

...we need to deal with it everyday.
Not exactly true. They see what you're searching for and follow what you link to, just like Bing does, but they aren't watching everything you do.

Encrypt all the things!
What's funny is, Google is the leading advocate for this.



I also don't like the way google tries to manipulate all the data that they collect for their own advertising benefit.
They don't manipulate the data. They provide the data for advertisers and web sites trying to attract advertisers. While Google uses their own data to advertise their own products, it does them no good to manipulate it in any other fashion. Data is data.
 
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