Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship With Sitemeter

The Love Part

Sitemeter has a visit detail page that looks like this:

[This is an image so the links don't work]

Google Analytics gives me charts which aggregate information in different categories, so I can see, for example, a list of each place people came from and how often, or a list of pages people looked at and how often.  But I haven't been able to see, with those reports, the correlation between where people are, how they link to the site, and what page they look at.

But Sitemeter also gives me an individual, detailed report (above) about each individual visitor.  This can show me how an individual (and I almost never know who the individual is) behaves.  For instance, I have been able to see that someone from the Department of Justice or FBI was using google (or an email link) to look at what I'd written about a trial DOJ was involved in.  Or that the Congressional Information office was looking at my post on the number of black Congress Members.   I don't know how I could get that sort of information from google or other stat counters.  That doesn't mean they don't offer it, I just don't know how to see it.  

For instance, in the one above, I can tell that someone in San Bernadino, California linked from facebook to my post  "Tina Delgado is Alive, Alive." The time spent is misleading though.  If they only looked at one page, the time is always "0 seconds."  They calculate the time between links used by the visitor.  But if the visitor doesn't use a link, they don't catch the time.  So the time on last page viewed isn't captured.  

I think they should be able to capture that.  If I look at the "Who's On?" option, it shows me the current time and the time the visitor began.  I can't believe that some smart techie couldn't figure out how to use that information to figure out the real time for each visitor.  

The Hate Part

Sitemeter is so frustratingly slow at times.  Often, I can click on a link on Sitemeter and I get the next page immediately, but far too often it takes 20 seconds, even minutes.  Today was so frustrating that I checked Is It Down Right Now?  a site that lets you know if a website is down for everyone or just you.  Here are some of their charts:

 Actually, Sitemeter was available for me, but it was taking minutes to download a page, which I guess counts as unavailable.

This chart gives a sense of how long the wait times are.  

And this last chart shows me some other similar websites - in this case other stat counters - that I can check out to see if I can find an alternative that does what I like at Sitemeter, but doesn't do what I don't like. 

When I first started using Sitemeter, I got emails back from "" and they were signed by David Smith addressing my question quickly.

But he sold the company and the new owners don't care about it the way he did.

Now I get unresponsive emails from like this:

Your request has been received and a member of our support staff will
review it and reply as soon as possible. Listed below are details of this
request. Please make sure the Ticket ID remains in the subject at all

        Ticket ID: ZMU-187705
        Category: Technical Issue
        Priority: Normal
        Status: Open

Please let us know if we can assist you any further,

Site Meter Support
And I've stopped asking for help because there never is any follow up.   I found this comment on "Is It Down Right Now?" that says Sitemeter was bought by My Space.

Ellen Meister · 5 August 2013 - 05:46

United States · Optimum Online
Doesn't matter if you send a hundred report to Sitemeter. No one reads them. No one is minding the store. They don't even monitor the site to see if it's working. FYI, Sitemeter owned by MySpace, so if you want to reach an actual person, file a report there.That's the only way to even let them know the site is down. It's quite unbelievable.
I'd note that I eventually decided to pay the annual fee for Sitemeter which gives me a lot more data and apparently saves me from other problems that other people report - like horrible pop-up ads.


  1. Interesting that you post about visitor information like this when this is what used to be called 'snooping'. When I dove for a piece of discarded mail in a trash can after seeing a person I was trying to send a fund-raising letter to (many years ago) I was seen as a bit 'over the top' by fellow fund-raising professionals.

    Today, the scene is quite different with bots following site searches, perpetual analysis of content by our friendly tech hosts, and so forth, I have to say I've gotten used to giving up on what used to be my admitedly small zone of privacy in growing 'public' spaces.

    Retrieving that thrown-away postal piece years ago gave me the address for a potential donor I was trying to reach and I used it. I didn't honestly question my decision because I held a higher purpose of raising money for an organisation that did good work -- it wasn't for 'personal' gain, after all.

    How many of the tech world's good intentions have led us to the same result in erasing the line between what used to be ours to know and 'them' to find out?

    This is the new world I see your grandchildren learning and using. It is change.

    1. By the way, yes, I know it's an imperfect analogy so no argument is won here. I want to question our distracted acceptance toward personal information released without specific consent (unless we refer to our user agreements, of course).

    2. Jacob, one reason I posted the visitor information page was to alert readers to what all is collected. I used this page because I thought it was pretty innocuous (as most are).
      On the other hand, people come to visit - otherwise unseen and anonymous - and it only seems reasonable that I get a little information about what pages they go to, what cities they are from, etc. And, while I don't get individual names, there is enough info that I can tell if the three anonymous comments come from the same person.
      And there are people - you, for example - who come from distinct locations and webservers, that I can often tell that you've been here.

      When I show the individual visitor detail page to people, they tend to be shocked by all the info. And that's why I posted it. To let people know what sort of tracks they leave.

      My question about your story is whether the letter you retrieved was one to your organization and in your own trash, or was it in someone else's trash? I think there is a difference, though I don't know that either is crossing the line.

  2. Steve, it did it again. I spent 30 minutes writing a reply, I slected my Google profile and then hit 'publish' and the captcha code box didn't come up. My text was gone.

    I really don't want to draft in Word (or save to Word) to import here every time I reply. Is there anything that can be done about this?

    1. Ah, maybe it times out when you keep the box open for drafting to long, even though it lets you set profile to upload. Let me know if you find out anything. Thanks.

    2. Well, you could copy what you wrote before hitting publish . . . I know it's frustrating. It happens to me sometimes too. If I spend a lot of time on something now, I copy it before hitting publish.

    3. I know, I know... so do you know if it's a time-out matter or something like intergalactic denizens scooping up precious human thought to publish without attribution?

  3. Hi, Steve. I wonder what you make of this accusation that sitemeter is hacking our sites?

    1. Ellen, first, are you the same Ellen (Ellen Meister) quoted in this article?
      Second, the last paragraph links to a site that gives the same sort of information you refer to.

    2. Yes, I'm the same Ellen quoted in your article. That's actually how I found your post.

      And I share your love/hate for Sitemeter!

    3. Thanks for completing the loop there Ellen.


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