I know, I know ... these are really questions I anticipate people may want to ask, but they're more based on what I know than on what people want to know.
I discontinued using HitsLink in March, 2006 so you shouldn't see notes at the bottoms of pages referencing this. I had originally intended to track behaviors to eventually entice advertisers, but I have since changed my mind. I might get advertisers someday, but I'll just use the log files to do so.
Here's the original answer to the question:
Anyway, HistLink uses the referrer information in your browser to figure out what link was clicked to get to the JayceLand site and where you go once you get here. It uses the cookie to correlate that information with an individual user. What I get to see is a list of hits to my site, how long people stayed on a particular page, and I can look an individual user's session and see where they went. The HitsLink.com site does a better job explaining what they do.
Now, you may ask, does this mean that I can figure out who you are? Yes. But ... it's not very easy and not very useful. I can look at an individual user's actions—where they went, what pages they viewed and when, and where they came from—and find out the IP address of their computer. From there I'd probably have to contact the company that provides your Internet service (i.e. RoadRunner or AOL) and give them the IP address and the date and time to look up. They might have the information on hand, but they'd probably tell me that I need some kind of court order to find out your name. At this point I'd have to go to a judge and explain why I need to know who you are and they'd probably not let me find out.
In the end, it's a lot like being able to read your license plate. Theoretically anyone could call the DMV or go through a private investigator or something and find out where you live and go and steal stuff, but I don't know anyone to whom this has happened. In the end, I really don't care who visits the site, I just want to know why they come here, how they found the site, and what they do when they're here.
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I guess there's three reasons for this.
The first is that I want to know where I got the information. Most of the time, I'm just curious how much information comes from one source or another—until I did this, I thought the site was dominated by information from Freetime Magazine, but as I've come to find out, it's pretty evenly spread across quite a few different sources. Also, when an erroneous entry appears, it makes it easier for me to research where I got it and if that site is wrong. This lets me characterize the reliability of the information on a site (rather, it lets me note which of the few sites are consistently inaccurate.)
The second reason has to do with the nature of my site and my own integrity. I'd rather have people return to JayceLand because they think it's the best information source for their needs. I welcome them to check out other sites related to Rochester events. At least for now, I have confidence that my site is unique: only Whole Lotta Shakin' seems to cater to a specific audience (rockabilly, rock-and-roll, and some blues) which is different from my audience (basically, things I might want to see, or more generally, outlets for creative expression.) The rest of the sites from which I cull information fall into three categories:
The third reason is simple journalistic integrity. Rarely these days do you see anyone cite their sources. I'd rather not be among the ones who don't.
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As of January, 2004, I see about 50 unique hits a day. Of those, about 5% are people who have returned to the site 6 or more times, and it looks like I've got about 100 regular readers who come back each week.
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Last updated 2004-Jan-15
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