Tracking and analytics have become a common trend on the web. Almost every site you visit every day uses Google analytics to track visitors and get some interesting data about them. By default, anyone who's configured Google analytics on their website can get the following information
- The page you visit and if you've visited before
- Where you arrived from (if you clicked a link on some website, the URL of that website)
- Browser & computer data (technical info about your computer/tablet/phone, the version of your OS, the version of your browser, size of your screen, etc)
- Data about you (the country or even the city you're visiting from, if you've ever visited the site before, the time you stay on the page, etc)
While in some cases I can understand why some people need these statistics (for example, the size of your screen can be useful when deciding what devices you should optimize your website for), I was not comfortable with "stealing" this information from anyone who visits my website. Even worse, all this data lives on Google's servers, and who knows what they're using it for.
So I started searching for an alternative to Google Analytics. My two requisites were not recording useless info and privacy for my visitors. That's when I found Fathom.
Fathom Analytics provides simple, useful websites stats without tracking or storing personal data of your users. - usefathom.com
While Fathom provides a hosted service with affordable pricing, I decided to go the self-hosted route (did I mention it's open-source?) and installed it in my droplet.
That's when I discovered a not-really-documented feature I absolutely loved: if you delete your users from the database, your analytics page will be public.
While it's nice to say "I'm not tracking you", saying "Here's a public dashboard showing the (anonymized) data I'm collecting" is even better. It's also neat to be able to share your progress and achievements with everyone.