It's Not You, It's Me: Breaking Up with Analytics and Comments11 Feb 2018
A few days before Christmas I deleted Google Analtyics and Disqus Comments from this website. This choice pretty much affects me alone. I’m the only one looking at the analytics page, and I think I got a total of 10 comments ever. Still, removing them was a personal choice, that I hope has lasting effects.
There are two main reasons I decided to get rid of them. Neither was necessarily the driving factor, but since both motivations led toward the same outcome, I decided to do it.
Truly for Me
I have never been one to make New Years Resolutions. Even my goal this year is “do more for myself because I want to, and less because I feel like have to.” It’s not a very concrete, measurable goal, but it gets me thinking about the motivations for why I do things, do more things that I enjoy, and feel less stress overall.
I like writing. I like producing things that I can look back on. But look at this blog. The first post on this site was on April 8, 2015. This will be the 16th post. That comes out to be roughly 5 posts per year, with only 1 post in 2017. If I enjoy writing, then why are these numbers so low?
When thinking about that, I came to the conclusion that it’s because it was stressing me out. Every time I put out a new post, I would worry about the content, the analytics, and the comments. How many people are looking at it? Is it good enough? What if people don’t like it and leave bad comments?
I would hesitate to write, because I wanted to write something good, but it just resulted in me writing nothing. Almost all the posts are a result of me deciding “it’s been too long, even if it’s not good, I need to write something!” That’s not a good state to be in when writing.
Without analytics or comments, the stress isn’t there. Whether people are reading it or not doesn’t matter, because there’s no analytics data to look at anyway. There aren’t any comments, so that’s not an issue either. Although if you do want to reach out, I encourage you to check me out on Twitter!
This page is truly just for me now.
Privacy has become a big deal in recent years. Companies Facebook and Google often show up online for being creepy in how accurate and specific their ads are. There was that rumor that Facebook was listening to your spoken conversations through your phone – I don’t think that’s actually true, but I find it even creepier that they already have that information without needing to record you.
I understand the need for businesses to learn about and understand their userbase. Some targeted ads may even be permissible if the user data is limited and properly anonymized. At this point, though, Google, Facebook, and other companies are tracking you nearly everywhere you go online. There are other solutions out there, though. Matomo looks pretty good, and is under the GPL. If I did want to have analytics on this site, I would probably use something like that, rather than continue feeding behemoths like Google Analytics.
At some point, I came to the realization that Disqus is likely doing something similar. They must be offering their comment service for free, which is an attractive service to add onto a website. Discus then gets the benefit of coming up with profiles for the users of those websites. I don’t have any sources or confirmation of this, but I decided that whatever is on this site should be from me, and not fetched from elsewhere.
I still need to change the fonts. I’m currently using some fonts hosted by Google. They claim that they don’t gather any data from font requests, but better to serve it all myself.
Plus if I’m going to be a privacy advocate in the real world, I would feel pretty hypocritical to leave these on my own personal site.
So far, it’s felt pretty liberating to have these two features gone. It doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve found myself more willing to post about a wider range of topics. I opened the “blog” section, so I could post about random things, and not feel pressured to have a “tech blog.” I don’t think about metrics or comments.
The effects have been good so far. The more I write, the more I think about things that I would like to write about! If I do run out of things to write about, then that’s fine too. It’s not about the content. It’s about me.