Web logs and web analytics

Web logs are logs from your website turned into useful statistics. More commonly people use web analytics these days which provide more detailed information on who is actually visiting your site. Traditionally people used web logs which are derived from the server logs (in most cases Apache) and converted into graphs by programs like Analog. However in 2005 Google launched Google Analytics which relies upon tracking code being inserted into the web pages to register the visitor with the tracking system (this isn’t the same as a cookie, which is left on your machine). This allowed much more sophisticated, including real time, analysis of what visitors were doing on your website. As a result it was a massive success and some estimates suggest that half of all web sites use Google Analytics.

A variety of open source alternatives now exist which attempt to compete with Google Analytics, one of which is called Piwik. This is what we use to track web site stats and because it relies upon code being embedded into web page in question you can use it to track any website you want and not just ones hosted on mtheory.

Why not just use Google Analytics? Well there are potentially good reasons not to use Google especially when it comes to privacy concerns. See the Wikipedia page on Google Analytics for an explanation of potential concerns. Personally we like having control over data we generate.

What about web logs? We also run a traditional stats system using Analog and the server logs for domains hosted on mtheory. Generally these will be made available to anyone who wants to look at them, they are much harder to derive useful information from however.

You can login to our Piwik install at https://mtheory.co.uk/logs. (Note you’ll need to request a username and password first).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *