Those of you who were interested saw the preliminary data from Tracer. Well, the longer-term data didn't change significantly and I've decided to remove Tracer from the site.
Even I found the "read more at" links added to any text I copied in to be a pain in the butt after a while. Most of the time I just had to remove it because it wasn't appropriate to the e-mail or document I was composing. So that was the downside.
As for the upside... the very limited reporting and inability to mine the data with any depth limited its utility. The utility was further limited by the severe lack of documentation to help you interpret and understand even the "just scratching the surface" information that Tracer provides. And based on their linkback data for the top 20 pages, the "read more at" addition to the clipboard on copies wasn't providing me with any extra backlinks.
Do I see a potential benefit in it if they were to document it better and beef up the "drill down" functionality of their reporting? Yes. Do I see it getting wider adoption if they make the "read more at" clipboard insert optional based on the site owner's preferences? Yes.
Mainly Tracer just confirmed some suspicions but didn't provide many surprises. Overall, it's promising, but it needs a round or two of upgrades to both its interface and its documentation before it's really a prime time tool for webmasters.
So, while up on baby-watching duty, I decided to drop by the Tracer site and check out my stats for the first day and a half or so. Mostly my expectations were in line with the results.
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I've been using Twitter for a few weeks now. Following a few friends and a few favorite artists has been fun, but one useful follow was Step Forth Web Marketing (suggested by my good friend, web diva Cathie Walker). They try to limit their tweets mostly to useful links about web design, site building, and marketing/SEO.
I'll quote their technical FAQ here...
Q. What user actions does Tracer measure?
A. Tracer is designed to measure user engagement in a completely new way. Currently, Tracer measures when a user:
1. Copies text
2. Copies an image
3. Highlights content while reading
Read more: "FAQ - Technical topics « Tynt Blog" - http://blog.tynt.com/?page_id=130#ixzz09f8QfCOp
Notice that "Read More" line at the bottom of the quote. That wasn't on the page. That was added by the Tracer script when I highlighted and copied if from their FAQ. Now, in general, it's really very easy for someone to just delete that line when they paste your content to something, but it also sort of acts as a reminder that they should credit the source and gives them a direct link for doing it.
Overall, though, I'm really interested to see what kind of stats they generate and how those stats break down. Understanding what bits are being highlighted and/or copied on my pages is an interesting insight as to how people are engaging with my content. Are all the highlight/copy actions going to be the bits of PHP code I post occasionally, or am I going to be finding people copying favorite quotes from the novel I've been publishing here?
If you've got a blog and you host it yourself (installing their code in the footer.php file within WordPress was a buh-reeze), you might want to consider signing up for their beta and trying it for yourself.
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