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From Eric>
Subject Re: [users@httpd] What is unique? Access stats and IP's
Date Fri, 05 Sep 2003 17:56:23 GMT
At 09:03 AM 2003-09-05, you wrote:
>Ditto to the points Joshua and Bill made.  I've seen the problem of trying
>to identify unique visitors from the perspective of a shopping cart
>application.  The application programmer lost many nights sleep working out
>the intricacies of a home-brew solution, which in the end was maybe 95% at
>best.  You've got to try cookies, server-side credentials (i.e. logins), URL
>tokens (but they can be bookmarked or linked URLs), IPs, server-side session
>timeouts (all imposed in the application), client-side session timeouts
>(cookies, expires, etc.).  There were even more intricate checks going on
>which I was not privvy to.  The case of a shopping cart being able to
>uniquely identify a new, or returning visitor is in some regards more
>critical than generating stats.  The problem that occured sometimes was the
>case of incorrect recognition, and revealing of private data to the wrong
>party or parties.

Well for me 95% is not bad at all.  I get the idea that shopping card mod 
you were talking about was trying way too hard.
But I can see why the attempt was made, if you keep a person's info from 
last visit, they might go ahead and order on a second visit. On the other 
had they may have done that anyway having made a decision by buy something. 
And they also might get freaked about privacy, and they certainly would if 
they saw someone else's info! :) It seems to me the smart thing to do would 
be to make it VERY easy to register, I see these very intrusive forms many 
times and there is just no way in hell I would fill out all of the info 
required just to make that one website like me. Name + login info, even 
forget email, if a person can sign up in 10 seconds with very little risk, 
they they are much more likely to actually do it and then give the site the 
benefit of having a real user to track. Once they sign up then periodically 
ask about siging up to email lists, new product, sale, special offer 
warnings etc.

I am thinking for now, I will start reading cookies from our banner 
tracking/clickthroughs and not counting IPs that have those cookies more 
than once a day. It also seems that there are quite a few browser id 
differences even though IE is dominant now. So that could be another 
correcting factor.  I have been making a custom pixel tracking solution for 
our customer's websites. We found that there wasn't really much in the way 
of stats programs that were not way overblown, overpriced, and didn't pay 
enough attention to what Internet marketing people care about, which is 
mainly from where, from whom, and how many. There also wasn't much 
provision for modifications in any of the products I found, otherwise I 
would have bought something and changed it to our needs. This result kind 
of amazed me considering how long people have been writing these things. At 
some point we hope to launch this as a service, something like Extreme 
Tracking, only that works a lot faster :) So any suggestions would go to 
making this a more useful service. Anyway, I chose the pixel method because 
no matter how I looked at it cutting up log files when you have 20 websites 
is just insane.



Lead Programmer
D.M. Contact Management

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