😬 I Now Respect Your Privacy
As I always should have!
When I first set this up, I wanted to have an idea of whether anyone was actually tuning in (spoiler alert: most people aren’t), so I set up Google Analytics on my site. It was easy, free, and the de facto choice for most blogs. My software package even had support for it out of the box.
I should add that this was also before I had my recent adventure into trying to claw back a bit more privacy, so at the time I felt fine about using Google Analytics.
Truthfully, writing 🔏 Privacy for Non-Fanatics made me realise that using Google Analytics on my site was a tad hypocritical for my liking and I wanted to move away from it at my first opportunity - which was now!
Choice of software
There seemed to be a surprising amount of well-made open source self-hosted analytics tools that take user privacy seriously — I want to be able to get some basic analytics and numbers from people visiting my site, but I decidedly do not want to contribute to them being tracked and profiled across the internet!
Honourable mentions go to Matomo and Shynet, but I ended up settling on Plausible, which is super light-weight and provides basic analytics tools while not making any compromises on user privacy.
Plausible has a paid plan where they take care of hosting for you, but given the size of my site and my budget, it wasn’t really an option for me. Fortunately they also offer a neatly dockerized option for free that you can self-host. Initially I didn’t have anywhere to host it, but I recently gave up and bought a cheap 3€/mo VPS, which also hosts the Remark42-based comment section. I chose Remark42 over something like Disqus for much the same reason I ended up with Plausible over something like Google Analytics.
Remark42 is great, but does require some tricky reverse-proxy modifications to get working the way I wanted. There might be a post about that in the future.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that your privacy is (now) safe with me!
Update: I now use Umami!
Perhaps somewhat ironically considering the paragraph praising the light-weight nature of Plausible above, I had to switch to Umami, which I actually like even more!
Unfortunately Plausible is not terribly light-weight behind the scenes and the
database it uses for session storage is extremely resource hungry and would
quickly eat away at the 20 GB of storage I have on my cheap 3€/mo VPS.
Umami is also features a much simpler Docker setup, requiring only two containers (node server and database) compared to the 4 needed by Plausible (server, database, session database, mail server).
In summary: Use Umami if your use-case is similar to mine and you don’t expect crazy visitor numbers. If you’re going for larger scale, Plausible might be a better choice.