[wp-hackers] Feed stats in WordPress or a plugin [off-topic]

Callum Macdonald lists.automattic.com at callum-macdonald.com
Tue Sep 25 21:44:06 GMT 2007

I agree, the replies are getting way off topic. This will be my last 
post on the subject.

I don't think Google _is_ doing anything dangerous with the data right 
now. They're open about wanting to map users behaviours more and more 
accurately to deliver "targetted" services like advertising, products, 
entertainment, etc. That's not evil per se, however, the lack of ability 
to opt-out is critical.

The average user doesn't read Google's privacy policy. You don't need to 
agree to Ts&Cs before you use their service. So if you use their site 
for 6 months, then decide you're not happy with the way they collect 
data on you, I believe you should have the right to have that data deleted.

Anyway, to avoid a flamewar, I realise that it's a little tin-foil-hat 
behaviour, but hey, that's the beauty of freedom right, we can each 
choose our own path! :)

Here's to buying shares in tin mines! - Callum.

Otto wrote:
> On 9/25/07, Callum Macdonald <lists.automattic.com at callum-macdonald.com> wrote:
>> Personally, I object to the amount and scope of data they collect.
>> They use one cookie to track you across all services. So they can link
>> your google searching to your mail, calendar, homepage (feeds, etc).
>> Then they provide google analytics, thus they can track you across lots
>> of other sites.
>> Collecting all that data is not evil per se, the part that I dislike is
>> that you can't opt-out. If you use their services, they'll track you. I
>> can't ask them to delete my data, nor do they publish a policy on when
>> (or if ever) data will be deleted.
>> Thus I block google-analytics.com, use a Scroogle (a google scraper) and
>> run all my google traffic proxied through a single IP. My tinfoil hat
>> gets a good workout! :)
> Okay, I get you here, but... is there anything specifically evil that
> they could do with that data that you object to? Because this sort of
> paranoia just seems very, very theoretical to me.
> I mean, I'm trying to understand here, but I never have gotten this
> sort of thing. I remember when I used to be big on the Tivo forums,
> and a lot of people objected to Tivo collecting statistics on
> everything everybody watched (anonymous stats, as I went to great
> effort to prove).They did have an opt-out, but it was somewhat
> cumbersome, but nevertheless, I failed to see then, and am failing to
> see now, why anybody would care?
> In the case of Tivo, it knew what everybody watched and when, more or
> less. Their idea was to sell this information to TV networks (like
> Neilsen data). Now, to me, that seemed like a damn good idea that
> could only benefit me. I don't care if anybody knows what television I
> watch, and in fact I'd like the TV networks to make more of the types
> of shows I watch.
> So... why the paranoia on that data collection? A lot of people were
> really up in arms about it, and I never did find out why from any of
> them.
> -Stupid crap like "they're collecting this data and using it to make
> money!" Well, yeah, so what? I was not aware that making money by
> selling useful information to people who want it was wrong.
> -Or something equally stupid like "we should be reimbursed for our
> data!" The problem with that idea is that your data is worthless. It's
> only useful in aggregate, as statistical information. Expecting to get
> so much as a penny for your data is overestimating its worth. Also,
> you weren't getting paid for it before, why should you get paid for it
> now? You're not doing anything to earn money, you're watching TV, same
> as you did before.
> -Sometimes I saw "They can figure out what shows I watch!" Well, no,
> it was actually anonymous, however in theory, yes, it would be
> possible. But here's the thing: They don't care what *you* watch. Get
> over yourself, nobody is interested in you, you're not a high profile
> target. They're interested in trends among large groups. A salesman
> who tries to sell to one person is an idiot, because the salesman who
> tries to sell to large groups of people makes the real money.
> Anyway, this is another case of that same kind of thing. What does
> Google *actually* do that's harmful to you in particular? Nothing that
> I can see. The data they collect is data that can't hurt me. I don't
> care who knows what websites I view. Hey, quite a lot of them are
> porn. :)
>> You can find out more at http://www.google-watch.org/
> I just read quite a lot of that. Sorry, but I'm just unable to achieve
> that level of paranoia without some kind of pharmaceutical
> intervention. ;-)
> -Otto
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