Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Website Wednesday: Visitor Tracking

Every Wednesday I write about websites that I visit often.

To get some idea of who visits our blog and home website, I use a service called StatCounter,

A free yet reliable invisible web tracker, highly configurable hit counter and real-time detailed web stats.

StatCounter tells me quite a bit about our visitors, but not so much that you need to be nervous. For instance, I know that approximately 140 folks have us bookmarked to make it easy to visit us daily. I know that a user who works for Boeing checks our blog regularly, but the person who works for Poplar Bluff’s municipal services department has just started reading.

I know that we have readers from several educational institutes, including hardcore regulars from Emory University and Texas A&M, and newcomers from Washtenaw Community College and the Halston school district. The person from the Association For The Advancement Of Mexican Americans didn’t read much, probably because they were searching for the answer to the question, “What can it be when our a/c from our vehicle sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t?” I’m sure the detailed description of Odyssey’s fuel system woes was not what they were looking for. Or maybe their boss walked into the room while they were surfing the web instead of working; their visit was right in the middle of the workday.

I also know that we attract at least one regular visitor from the Department of Defense in Washington, DC. I’m hoping they are just dreaming of early retirement so they can go full-timing and not that the DOD is tracking our suspicious travel patterns.

StatCounter can also tell me what web page you were looking at before coming to our pages. Were you reading a discussion on one of the bus conversion boards and clicked on Sean’s signature? Did a friend send you the link to our blog in an email? Did you look at all the fulltimer’s pages on Did you type “klamath falls walmart boondock” into Google and happen to find us?

StatCounter also knows some really boring things like whether you are using Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari as your browser. Whether you have a Mac or a PC. And how many different pages on our website that you looked at. This sort of data is really important to commercial websites, but I just ignore it.

Does it sound like Big Brother is watching you? It is true that there are tools available to learn quite a bit about your website browsing habits. But while StatCounter can track the ISP (Internet Service Provider) of our visitors, it cannot tell me your individual email address, your name, age or shoe size. For most people, the ISP is a large telecommunications company like Verizon, Bellsouth or Comcast. We have dozens of folks from each of those. You only stand out if you are browsing from an unusual location, like your work-provided email account. (Psi Energy? Burrtec Waste? FedEx? I like to picture these folks taking a break from their busy work days to tune into Our Odyssey!)

In the long run, what matters is that our readers are enjoying our adventures enough to want to return and read more. You folks are special to us and we appreciate all of you. Thanks for dropping by! Now get back to work before you get caught.


  1. And as you well know, while my IP addy might tell you "Maryland" I'm actually in Quintana Roo Mexico. That was really helpful last year when Skype was free to the US and Canada. We could be in Mexico as long as we wanted and Skype thought we were in Maryland.

    I'm really enjoying your postings lately!

  2. As a lurker (or so I thought), it is interesting to know what you can tell about readers. We are retired, so no worries about reading at work. We have completed Red Cross DSHR training but have not been deployed yet. Maybe we will see you down the road. I enjoy both of your posts and have been reading for a while. I don't remember where I found your site. Keep up the good w-o-r-k.

  3. ok, now we might seriously have to start messing with you guys. Perhaps a contest to see who can surf into your page from the wildest previous website.

  4. Neat. You got me from two IP's. Home and work. WOW and an un-named large "Healthcare Supply Company". "Hello" from the mid-west. ej

  5. I'm looking forward to finding surprising link leads in the future. I promise not to rat you out at work!


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!