About Web Analytics

So there was a discssion going on around ‘user tracking’ and such over in the Tomcat Forum. I was going to reply, but decided to breakout that out here for those interested, as I happen to be a web data analyst for a living, and I figured:

And before you get worried, know I have cratered significantly fewer powerpoint presentations than I have virtual airplanes :slight_smile:

That said:

Our resident courageous amphibian is half correct, MudSpikes Analytics package is Google Analytics (GA), so says Ghoestry:

To be clear, I don’t have access to the Mudspike GA profile, but I’ve worked with this tool across various clients for the past 10 years, so the high level points are the same for every instance

And GA tracks Pageviews, Sessions, and Users. This is done via cookies. Basically GA tags your machines cookie so it knows you’ve been here, and uses that to determine all the server calls you’re making came from the same machine. If more than a half hour goes by betwixt calls from a given machine, GA considers you to be a “new session”, but still 1 unique user. If you clear your cookies and come back, GA thinks you’re a new user.
(Half hour is the default, this time range can be adjusted)

IP addresses are tracked by GA, but only googles server sees them, there is no way for anyone using GA to see the IP address of their users . GA’s back end uses IP mainly to:

  1. Determine your rough geographic location (in US, down to zip code)
  2. Help filter against a list of known IPs the administrator of the analytics package can setup (eg. a web developer wanting to filter themselves our of traffic measurement, so site tests don’t artificially increase traffic).
  3. Google maintains a list of know bots/spider IPs (malignant or otherwise), and actively filters this from reported data if you opt into this service. It’s not perfect, but on sites where I’ve see run without this opt-in filtering, the data looks way wonkier.

Also, as a note on ad blocker: ad blocker usage is at about 15-30% of internet users. Source: :https://www.adweek.com/digital/iab-study-says-26-desktop-users-turn-ad-blockers-172665/

As far as disabling user Tracking, @fearlessfrog, are you saying you did this in GA, or did this for the site proper? Asking because GA doesn’t really ‘care’ about a user logging into the forum/website when it tracks sessions/uses, it only ‘cares’ about cookies, unless there’s some plugin you’re using to connect the two on adeeper level.

That all being said, GA isn’t collecting any User Identifiable info (eg. your username, posts, password, etc). You are just an anonymous machine, located in a given zip code, with a collection of pageviews and sessions against it.


I’m tracking all of you to direct market to you. Expect mailers next month. I just have to figure out what I’m selling.


DM campaigns are expensive. I’m impressed!

As the official and self proclaimed marketing consultant for MudSpike, I have some ideas (My secretary will send you my bill):

-Mudspike branded RWR alarm clock. Nothing like waking up to an SA-6 trying to give you a sky hug!

-“Pull for Power” boxer briefs.

-Rights to choose the next xmas flight destination. See you all in sunny, tropical Milwaukee!

-DCS Screenshot thread coffee table book


Pull For Power gear is a brand I can get behind. (Not pushing from behind, I’d actually have to walk around and pull…errr…)


I’m deaf. Can I get one of these with an attached “SAM HIT” vibrator?

Fantastic idea. That’s one of those million dollar things that don’t come around often! :dollar::dollar::joy:

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Ssshhhh! Careful @BeachAV8R, if you’re rude to the customers they won’t keep clicking on our ads or buying our sponsored products - let’s not forget what we owe them, and tone is important. We’re obviously a high growth hockey-stick profile start-up that is on a slow burning 10 year plan to monetize eyeballs. This ‘pay for and do stuff for free because we like the hobby’ yokel shtick is the perfect cover as a single slide pitch deck entitled ‘The Long Con of the Very Lucrative Sim Market’. We’ll close a massive Series A round in no time, with a preferred equity class issued between us and a pre-money valuation stellar enough to get us a personal MiG each. See you in the skies brother! [*]

@aggressorblue on our GA we disabled the ‘Demographics and Interest Reports’ features and turned off both the Advertising Features, Enhanced Link Attribution and ‘Enable User Metric in Reporting’ options on both the forum and main site properties. I would think this puts us as probably the most unusual website you’ll use today that actually has the GA cookie, but then I’ve only been appealing to authority for about 30 years in this game, so what do I know. :slight_smile:

We use the client-side analytics to work out what is popular in content (as it is nice for the author to know when something works) and, on my end as the smuck keeping the site going, to get an idea of what load our infrastructure is under, so we can plan our tiny budget/resources accordingly. It’s more out of convenience with GA, as server-side we could gather more if we were the usual scum internet marketers with ill intent.

We’ll be transitioning keeping the site going to @Fridge as a way forward. If people have concerns about what @aggressorblue is saying then I’d recommend uBlock as a good blocker, or even https://brave.com/ as a nice webkit privacy first browser. Beyond that there’s always that cool dinosaur jumping game in Chrome.

[*] This might get cut up and bits quoted back to me later, so I feel compelled to put the disclaimer formally that none of this entire paragraph is true, and it to be read satirically. More information here.


Wow, never seen someone shut down the user metric! That is some silent running! Just curious, that kill sessions too?

And you are correct, that is indeed the most usual site I’ve seen in those regards. :slight_smile: then again if I’m working for a client, it’s because they want to know ‘all the things.’ I spend most of my time telling people they don’t need 90% of the crap they track as it is.

But, while it’s an odd choice, it’s one I definitely can respect.

Also, to expand on your recommendations for the privacy conscious, I recco the Ghoestry plugin as a good blocker as well. Think of it as joint RWR/Jammer for the web. It can run passive and allow said trackers to track, or active let you shut them down It tells you what’s tracking you, and gives you the option to shut down the tracking. What I like most about it, is you can click directly on the tracker in question, and it takes you to a quick description of what that tool is. It Won’t block ads, but a nice ancillary little bit of web kit.

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We don’t want to anything about our users…



I can’t believe you don’t want to know more about the Mobile Infantry.

Especially the co-ed parts.

Is that when one person gets selected to dress up?



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I want to know the Web Analytics on how much my gifs are costing me in AWS Storage. I wonder if we can make them self destruct after a year.


Until you start getting notices about bandwidth usage like we did when we open sourced the AH-64, you’re probably just fine. Keeping in mind we’re also talking about a ~200MB file…

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Our disaster recovery plan covers this, in that we don’t have one. Problem solved, no more gifs.

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I’d buy that.

I hired this guy to watch over our server and douse any flames…

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Clearly the problem is solved by simply linking to YouTube and using their bandwidth instead!

And to think, 11 years ago it was in vogue to block all YouTube traffic…