Stat trackers

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Stat trackers

Postby Bobadventures on Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:50 am

Hi all. I know Google Analytics is the most popular stat tracker, but what others would you recommend?

My copy of Analytics keeps getting hit with robots, so one day I'll get 400 "visitors" from some random city like Kalamazoo, Michigan or someplace in India, each with 1 page per visit and 0 time on the site, and these robots get counted toward my daily totals. I can go through, pick out the really outlandish numbers, and manually subtract them from the totals, but it's a pain and I shouldn't have to.

I will leave Google Analytics in place, but I'd like to install another tracker on top of it. What ones do people recommend?
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Dr Neo Lao on Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:09 pm

At the moment, there isn't a "good" answer.

There's a bit of adiscussion about the three main ones here, though it is interesting that one of the discussed options (Awstats) is the one that was running here on CG but was dropped because it couldn't handle large log files.

It's a bit of an ongoing discussion because most of the "good" site tracking and reporting options available are geared towards conversions (ie: visitors buying stuff) and it is difficult to gear something towards webcomics specifically (where someone visiting the site, looking at the index page for less than 20 seconds and then leaving is cnsidered a positive hit). Until someone sits down and writes a webcomic specific webtracker then it's all a bit of a guess. And that isn't going to happen anytime soon since there is very little money out there.
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Bobadventures on Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:21 pm

Ah! Thank you, Doctor! That's exactly what I've been looking for!

According to the article, Webalyzer can be set up specifically to ignore robots and spiders, so I'd say that's clearly the one I should try out to correct my current problem.

The article also appears to explain why my Google Analytics numbers are so much lower than I expected them to be, compared to what I was getting on the old ComicGenesis tracker--it's because Analytics often doesn't count visitors who are only on the page for only a few seconds, and those with JavaScript disabled on their browsers.

All that said, I'd actually prefer to have both running at once, so I could compare their numbers--since, according to the article, neither is really that accurate, it makes sense to take a look at both, and maybe Awstats as well.

Question: So far as you know, would having two or all three of these running at once cause them to interfere with each other? I assume they would not, but I really have no idea. Or cause my site to load slowly or anything?

Thanks again.
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Dr Neo Lao on Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:07 am

Well, the main problem is that of the ones that were discussed, two of them (specifically Awstats and Webalizer) are both server-side systems. Great if you are on your own host and can instal back-end software, but useless if your comic is still hosted here on CG. If you do have your comic on your own host, then I would recommend Webalizer over Awstats as it is maintained better and there are newer versions availble.

Getting a good statistics program that will tell you what you need to know is pretty hard, especially for webcomics. I've been running searches since I replied to your first post trying to find good, informed discussions on what type of programs work best for webcomics but the one I linked to is still the only decent one I have found. Most of the others that are around are either too old and recommend programs that are no longer available, just say "use Google Analytics" or "use your host's stats programs".

By and large, a server-side system will give you much more acurate results. As far as I know, there is no reason to limit yourself to just one. If you had a good trifecta of systems (first, the host's or your server-side software, the second a full-feature javascript-based system like GA and the third a basic "use a 1x1 image" page hit counter) then that ought to give you a decent set of results on who and what is visiting your site.

If your comic is still on CG, then I think GA is still pretty much the only one that is recommended, even though it gives less than desirable results for webcomics.
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Bobadventures on Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:44 pm

Oh well. It's more info than I had before, so thank you. Yes, my strip is still on CG. Please let me know if you come across any new information on this subject.

I'm frankly amazed that I haven't seen more people complain about having the same problem with Analytics. I can't be unique in getting all these annoying robot hits.
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Bobadventures on Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:57 am

If trackers run from the server are the only relatively reliable ones... I don't suppose there's any possibility the ComicGenesis one might be made operational again? The argument at the time was that it was superfluous, but that seems not to be be the case.

I also assume the tracker was taking up space on the server and possibly contributing to the periodic outages. I suppose keeping that fixed is legitimately more important.

But I would really like a working tracker again...
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Dr Neo Lao on Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:47 am

The Awstats was shut down because it was consuming too much server resources to not acheive what it was meant to be acheiving.

Kisai posted a longer explanation which I can't find at the moment but the short version is this:

The old tracking program worked by generating data (files of results). These files tended to get big, really big. It was taking so long to generate these files that it was time to start again before it was finished with the previous file.

Awstats works great for an individual comic - but for a site like CG which has thousands of comics runing on a single server, it was just not practical to use. GA, being an external solution takes a large load off the server. If there was a lighter version that could be made to work for individual comics (rather than generating aggregate feeds of all comics then sorting them to the individual user) then that would be ideal.

The current rumour is that CG wil upgrade to multiple servers at some (unspecified) time. This would mean that there would be fewer comics on a given server which would give each comic greater access to resources. However, with Autogenesis on the horizon and the ubiquitous permiation of WordPress on free hosts, there is a decline in demand for webcomic accounts on CG,

Just what the future of CG is will be anybodies guess. But anyone with access to a credit card or bPay facilities and ten dollars a week to spare can set up really top-level, independent hosting for a comic with minimal effort and code knowledge.
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Bobadventures on Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:42 pm

Hi. Well, it's been several months, and I'm still unhappy with Google Analytics. Month after month of ambiguous, unreliable data is very frustrating. The size of my audience is important to me.

(As far as "having ten dollars a week" to start a new comic site... Heck, it would be great if I had an extra $520 a year to devote to this, but I don't.)

You had mentioned that CG might be going to multiple servers at some point, which might herald the return of a stat tracker (one that would be relatively accurate because it would be on the host server, as opposed to Google Analytics which is not). Um, not to seem impatient, but do you have any word when or if that might happen? It will make me very, very, very happy if that happens.

(Btw, you mentioned "Autogenesis is on the horizon." I suppose I should have asked at the time, but what is that?)

Thank you!
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Forsakenstars on Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:43 pm

I use Statcounter.com and it's free, if that helps at all.
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Bobadventures on Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:10 pm

Well, I don't think I've heard about Statcounter.com yet. Does it seem to give you reliable numbers? At the very least I suppose I could install it and compare the results from both, as long as they wouldn't interfere with each other.

And to reiterate, is there any news on when/if the multiple servers thing may happen?
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby [geoduck] on Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:29 pm

I use Statcounter as well. I can't say how reliable the numbers are, but you don't get flooded with spambots, and it's not difficult to set up
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Re: Stat trackers

Postby Dr Neo Lao on Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:05 am

And to reiterate, is there any news on when/if the multiple servers thing may happen?


No new news.

As far as I am aware, the multi-server thing was more of a potential than a definite thing - though I'll be the first to admit that I am not in the loop (or even in the same hemisphere). Odds are that there will be no new information until just prior or just after it happens.
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