On knowing who reads me

It used to be that Google Analytics was pretty much the state-of-the-art when it comes to learning about who comes to the blog.  But now, there’s a service called “Woopra” that, to me at least, is blowing Google out of the water, just in terms of total cool-ness.

Woopra has an Android app, and is on my desktop, and at any moment, I can see exactly who’s on my blog.  Right now, for instance, it’s a bit of a dry spell – it’s been about twenty minutes since my last visitor (long for me – on average, I get a visitor every 5-7 minutes).  This person is in Bangkok, and just finished her/his 23rd visit to the blog (on this cookie, I presume).  This person’s first visit was 81 days ago, and he or she has clicked on 56 pages.  His or her first visit was following a link from Liza’s blog, and the person surfs on an iPad.  (For what it’s worth, I’d give a nickel that I know who this is.)

Forty-one minutes ago, I had a visitor from Estacada, Oregon, who arrived by following an RSS subscription to my blog.  This person, too, originally came by way of Liza’s blog, and this one too, I think I know….

Woopra does all sorts of other cool things.  Like, if I want, I can tell it to e-mail me whenever someone fitting a certain description – from a certain country, or state, or city, or IP address – visits.  Or when they visit a certain page.  At least, it looks like I can.  I confess – I haven’t reached that level of anal geekiness.

But it is the case that, if I go to the trouble, I can pretty much figure out who you are (or at least, how you got to me, when you come by, and which pages you visit while here), especially if you comment.  Or so I think, most of the time.  But not always. Today, I tried to surprise P by describing with eerie precision what she had done when on my web site.  Except, I was wrong.  So either Woopra was wrong, or I had the wrong visitor. Kinda embarrassing.  It’s bad enough to be a geeky stalker.  It’s so much worse to be a bad geeky stalker.

I discussed this all with L the other day, and she pointed out that my interest in this level of granular detail is entirely a function of my having external genitalia, that no woman ever would bother with such trivial matters.  “Because,” she said, “women have lives.”

This may be (almost certainly is) true.

But Woopra is still cool.

(I’m finishing this post about an hour after having started it – real life intervened – and I see that 29 minutes ago, my date of Monday stopped by.  Hey!)

I know, it’s spooky, right?  The good news is, I’m not a stalker, I’m just a geek.  But still….

Now – go to Frisky Friday and post something, wouldja?


  1. For the record, I HATE this. I like to think I am an unknown from nowhere trawling blogs all secret-like *even though I know that’s a complete lie!*

    If someone has one of those ‘here’s who’s on and here’s where they’re from’ things at the top of their blog that show me visiting, my instinct is to click away quick quick QUICK!! And when people *talk* about who visits their blog (ref: this post), it somehow feels invasive.

    This *despite* the fact that I have a map thing on my own blog and *despite* the fact that I randomly look at ‘who’s on’ also.

    I don’t know why I feel that way, but it makes me want to use an IP hider thingie. Weird, right?


    1. I totally agree. My main point, though I didn’t make it, is if I can do this for free in my spare time, imagine what every business worth its salt knows about us.

      And, of course, I like the sort of personal frisson that comes from knowing exactly when YOU are reading my blog, which pages you’re on, how long you stay….

  2. A little creepy but also pretty funny.

    But I don’t think I could stand having all that info for my blog. I’d rather just be happily ignorant.

      1. True. But to be honest I think if I had access to that info I would spend a hellofalot of time checking it out too – which is something I really don’t want to be tempted to spend my time doing.

        And I agree with a lot of what you mention in the comment right below mine – regarding visiting habits and commenting habits on other blogs. I have hundreds of blogs in a huge variety of topics in my reader and tend to go through phases in reading them. So even if there is a particular blog that I am very interested in at one point, I may not even click on the blogs posts for weeks, but then the mood will strike me again and I might read all of their posts for another few weeks and then the cycle continues. And sometimes I actually feel bad about that too – which is silly cause, like you said, I don’t owe them anything (and up until this point I was under the impression that I had a lot more anonymity!). And I generally don’t ever comment unless I am genuinely driven to for some reason. I’ve never been one for small talk and a lot of commenting and tweeting seems like just that to me. Only more inane.

  3. Well, honestly…I just keep one of your pages open on my iPhone 24/7 so obviously I don’t give a shit if you know(well at least sort of). Plus you know I comment so that’s not shocking. But I saw you too on my blog and for what it’s worth…I was more than a little irritated that you didn’t stay very long at all. But that’s okay it’ll teach me to stop looking, which I hadn’t done in ages till you started talking about it. Laughed at L’s comment btw…she’s a smart cookie.

    1. I was talking about a permutation of this the other day with another blogger. I feel bad that you were “more than a little irritated” about my visit to your blog. But here’s the thing: I read very few blogs. There’s a sort of a truism among commenters, bloggers, readers, that “being a good blog citizen” entails a sort of reciprocal obligation among readers/writers of blogs, that we bloggers really should comment on the blogs of those who comment on our blogs, read the blogs of those who read ours. But I don’t really buy this. It’s not a “rejection” of you that I don’t read your blog. I read very few blogs, and zero “personal journal” type blogs. What’s more, as a blog with some broad appeal grows – gets more readers, ages, etc. – it becomes more and more difficult (and ultimately, impossible) to keep up with everyone who reads, writes, comments. Best I can tell, there are more than 200 people who read this blog regularly – who read most posts. I’d guess that a quarter have blogs, with another quarter or so having Tumblrs (and some overlap). I don’t read people’s blogs based on my relationships with them – I read them based on my interest in what they write. (Liza’s blog is a great example – I am crazy about Liza. I think she writes really well about sex – and about fucking – but my appetite for reading about the sex she and D have was, for a while, less than her appetite to write about it. As I’ve written, I’m not a huge reader of erotica. So even though she and I maintain a close writers’ relationship, I found myself not visiting her blog nearly as often as she was writing for some time.)

      I’m flattered when people choose to read my blog, to comment on my blog, to establish a relationship with me either via the comments to posts or e-mail or Twitter or some combination of them. But I don’t demand that, or feel entitled to it. Even among those whose blogs I do read religiously, or comment on frequently. I think I have a somewhat more relaxed view about all this: I trust that people will read what interests them, comment when so moved, and interact with me organically, as they and I together establish. As an example, last month, I wrote about a couple of blogs that I do read (or have read) religiously – Remittance Girl, Happy Endingz, The Honest Courtesan, One Life Take Two. Though I read, or did read, each of those blogs religiously – and I think I’ve commented on all of them as well – I believe that Remittance Girl is the only one who’s ever commented on my blog. (Apologies if I’m wrong.) That’s just fine with me: they don’t owe me anything.

      It’s an unfortunate fact that if I were to try to keep up with the blogs of everyone who comments on my blog, I’d have a full-time job. In addition to the nearly full-time job that I seem to make simply writing this blog.

      Early in Liza’s and my correspondence, she and I got into a discussion about what makes a blog truly compelling, what makes it both interesting to read, and interesting to keep reading. I think very few blogs hit that mark (and certainly make no claims that mine does). The “confessional” or “journal” blog just isn’t something I especially hunger to read. Which contributes to the sense of gratitude I feel when people nonetheless seem compelled to read this blog, because so much of it is confessional, so much does read like a journal.

      One final point: one reason I think people fear an app like Woopra is for precisely the reason you demonstrate – it exposes to the keeper of the blog information a reader, honestly, has every reason not to imagine will enter into a relationship with the blogger – namely, her or his web-surfing habits. I don’t want to have to “manage” your perception of my visits to your blog in order to have whatever relationship I have with you. I don’t want either to visit more often than I might otherwise be inclined to in order to avoid hurting your feelings, or visit less than I otherwise might in order to keep from you the information about how interested I am in what you write, how much it affects me. All this seems to me rightly private – except to the extent I don’t wish it to be so. No one wants to face either the complaint of a writer – “You don’t read me enough!” or alternately, “Hey, maybe you should, um, not read me so much. It’s feeling a little stalker-y.” We want just to read, to write.

      This is why I wrote about Woopra – because people should know about the information available to us bloggers (and bloggers too should know).

      So again – I’m grateful to have you as a reader, glad that what I write seems to be helpful and interesting to you, and sorry that it feels bad to you that our relationship isn’t more of an authorial two-way street.

  4. *searches meticulously for external genitalia* I guess I’m one of those few women without a life, because I too sometimes find myself fascinated by knowing this level of detai and I do really like “knowing” when certain people visit my blog, what they read. It makes me feel good knowing that they probably like what I wrote or posted and I even admit to feeling bad sometimes when their visits are far inbetween or absent for a while.

    Yes it’s a bit creepy, but it’s also quite hot, knowing that you know what I’m reading right this moment, as if you were watching over my shoulder.. and I do enjoy being covertly watched ^.^

  5. I’m yet another woman “without a life”. Or, better said, it’s not a gender thing. It’s a geek thing. Then again, I don’t really get along with most women. When I had fewer visitors I looked at my stats tracker more often and I’ll still look at it now and then but I’ve found that it’s not exactly accurate on the location. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.
    Although, most people, whether they are readers of sex blogs or writers, prefer to think they’re largely anonymous and don’t like to have the 4th wall broken.

    1. AND, I’d add, most bloggers exist as readers, and, as readers, feel exactly as you say – which makes the imbalance of an app like Woopra all the more… complicated. That said, I love seeing when you stop by, Lilly. 😉

  6. Ummm….I have to confess that I would probably be among the exceptions to L’s deduction because that sounds insanely cool…lol And did you say you do this for free? Dear gawd someone save me from my geeky learned behavior (It’s not a natural inclination, I married a geek and he has effectively trained his sons to follow in his footsteps….Im outnumbered). Having a Dad who is well versed in Eschatological studies….the whole “big brother” stuff doesn’t surprise me at all. I have always known people were watching…and I’m just freaky enough to like it..lol I think your app is awesomesauce and I will probably talk to MasterD about hunting it down for me in the near future.

    1. You should totally check it out. A geek – especially one whose blog has a real flow of traffic – could do nothing other than spend one’s day in the free part of Woopra. And THEN there’s a paid section….

  7. I gotta say, I have been blogging for a very long time, now, and it comes to a point, I honestly don’t fucking care WHO comes to my blog anymore, and I rarely check stats, except for the fun of knowing what fucked up search terms they get to my blog from. Every so often I check the over all hits number, which makes me smile as it is way higher than I thought it could get to, but in general…meh. I have moved on and become seriously twitter obsessed. I rarely blog anymore, except when I have something out of the ordinary to say.

    1. What’s fun for me is to figure out which of the fucked up search terms actually had anything to do with a search for writing, as opposed to for images. Because the image searches are 99% of the fucked up search terms, at least on my blog.

  8. Wee clarification: I never said “no woman *ever* would bother with such trivial matters.” I did say that most wouldn’t take it to the degree that you have… and that the particular level of, um, dedication and, um, interest you exhibit in the analytics of your site tends to be a male trait (of course it may well just be a *you* trait). I compared it to the number ratio of male to female Scrabble champions, and the finding that although the vast majority of champions are men, it is not because men are better Scrabble players, only that they are willing to devote more of their time to learning word lists to the exclusion of other things.. like making peach blueberry pies 😉

    And I find it both creepy and awesome that you can see me here. Stalk me anytime.

  9. Creepy and creepy. I’m getting an IP address blocker soon. I don’t care that *you* can see when I’m on your blog. But others? Uh yeah.

  10. My problem with this? If I install it, I just know I’ll just waste even more time online, looking at all the data this can provide. Still, I’ll probably end up installing it.

    One legitimate reason to have a tool like this? If you’re an anonymous blogger like me and want to make sure some people or places *aren’t* visiting your website. I’d be screwed if there was ever a hit from work!

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