Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote in suggestions,
Azure Jane Lunatic
azurelunatic
suggestions

A LiveJournal-based tool for tracking anonymous guests by IP address

(repost on account of original poster's deletion, cleaned up some and with points from comments added in)

Title
A LiveJournal-based tool for tracking anonymous guests by IP address


Short, concise description of the idea
A LiveJournal-based way to track otherwise-anonymous visitors by IP address.


Full description of the idea
Some LiveJournal users choose to hide themselves from the 'My Guests' feature (or choose not to use it themselves) and thus show up as anonymous visitors on the journals of people who do use it. Some visitors are not LiveJournal users, or not logged in, and thus cannot be reported by their usernames on the My Guests report.

The only way to make sure that only authorized users can read one's entries is to friends-lock, filter, or make private all entries, but some users would still like to know more about people who visit.

Anonymous visitors are unnerving to some users, even when the visitors have no ill intent, or have done nothing wrong.

LiveJournal could make available a tracker that reported the IP addresses of only visitors who would be reported as anonymous in the My Guests report. This tracker could also be available to users who do not have My Guests enabled.

LiveJournal could also look into making a custom thing saying whether any given visitor was a user named in My Guests, a logged-in user (who was anonymous in My Guests, or any logged-in user for people who have not turned on My Guests), or someone not logged in, when giving statistics to Google Analytics.

A tracker reporting specific IP addresses should only report visits to the journal or profile (as opposed to on the friends page), and would not report number of hits per day, or specific journal pages visited.


An ordered list of benefits
  • Could be a source of revenue if only available to paid users.
  • The journal owner would get IP addresses of anonymous visitors, which can identify the internet service provider or anonymous proxy that visitors are using.
  • Less technical knowledge needed to track visitors.
  • If implemented via a tracking image or specific script, one single thing (in addition to Google Analytics) that users with concern for privacy could block in their browsers, rather than worrying about multiple tracking services.
  • Someone who has logging for comment IP addresses turned on could look through the IP addresses on the comments, and see if any matched.


An ordered list of problems/issues involved
  • This is unlikely to be implemented.
  • When trying to match comment IP addresses to visitor IP addresses, this does not guarantee that it's the same person (just someone using the same IP address), nor that if there is no match, that the person isn't connected with a different IP address.
  • This is potentially invasive to the privacy of people who have done nothing wrong, and whose only interaction with the journal is a visit to the profile or public entries.
  • Offsite trackers are easier to block.
  • Certain tracking services such as Google Analytics (which LiveJournal has made available to paid users) consider IP addresses too identifiable, especially in connection with which pages a visitor has viewed, and do not share visitors' IP addresses with site owners.
  • Would not fill the needs of people who want to know the actual identity of their visitor, because an IP address can be shared by hundreds of people, or one person can use several.
  • LiveJournal needs to balance the privacy needs of all its users (both people who would like to know more about their anonymous readers, and readers who would like to remain anonymous), and this might tip the balance too far in favor of the nosy.
  • If anonymous commenters are causing a problem, the journal owner would still have to disable anonymous comments, or make anonymous comments screened before they are reviewed and made visible if not spam or abusive.


Edit: Disadvantages:
Would increase Abuse's caseload, especially from the users who do not understand that banning does not prevent someone from reading public content.
One's IP address can be considered more identifiable than one's username.
Might lead to more use of anonymous proxies and sockpuppets.
Tags: anonymous users, ip addresses, privacy, visitor counter and my guests, § no status
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