Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Cloudflare Web Analytics for Everyone

Jon Levine (Hacker News):

In September, we announced that we’re building a new, free Web Analytics product for the whole web. Today, I’m excited to announce that anyone can now sign up to use our new Web Analytics — even without changing your DNS settings. In other words, Cloudflare Web Analytics can now be deployed by adding an HTML snippet (in the same way many other popular web analytics tools are) making it easier than ever to use privacy-first tools to understand visitor behavior.


The new Web Analytics works like most other measurement tools: by tracking visitors on the client.


Being privacy-first means we don’t track individual users for the purposes of serving analytics. We don’t use any client-side state (like cookies or localStorage) for analytics purposes. Cloudflare also doesn’t track users over time via their IP address, User Agent string, or any other immutable attributes for the purposes of displaying analytics — we consider “fingerprinting” even more intrusive than cookies, because users have no way to opt out.

The concept of a “visit” is key to this approach. Rather than count unique IP addresses, which would require storing state about what each visitor does, we can simply count the number of page views that come from a different site. This provides a perfectly usable metric that doesn’t compromise on privacy.

Sergi Isasi (Hacker News):

Cloudflare is deprecating the __cfduid cookie. Starting on 10 May 2021, we will stop adding a “Set-Cookie” header on all HTTP responses. The last __cfduid cookies will expire 30 days after that.

We never used the __cfduid cookie for any purpose other than providing critical performance and security services on behalf of our customers. Although, we must admit, calling it something with “uid” in it really made it sound like it was some sort of user ID. It wasn’t. Cloudflare never tracks end users across sites or sells their personal data. However, we didn’t want there to be any questions about our cookie use, and we don’t want any customer to think they need a cookie banner because of what we do.

Update (2020-12-16): Matt Birchler:

The first problem I ran into was that I needed to update my nameservers with my registrar to get anything at all from Cloudflare.


Well, thanks to Marko Saric for pointing this out, these “visitors” count bots that hit your site for indexing and the like. Cloudflare explains this decision like so[…]


That is…not a lot of information. I don’t get to see what pages are getting the most traffic, or where that traffic is coming from. I don’t need a ton of stuff, and I personally use maybe 2% of Google Analytics’ suite of information, but this is incredibly sparse.

Jon Alper:

This is a potentially useful alternative for devs wanting analytics w/out Google:

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