While working on a blog there should be time for little frivolities. Small additions that are not necessarily important but are fun to implement. Not too long ago I remembered something about extracting stats from Google Analytics and I figured it'd be pretty cool to do just that and add them to my articles pages when logged in. This would give me more direct feedback when I was browsing older articles rather than sniffing everything out in Google Analytics.
developing the idea
Google Analytics has been spreading talk about an API for some time but there is nothing usable yet. Still, it is possible to log in and extract the data in xml or csv format, then process it and show it on the article page. No manual labor required, updates will be made once per day. So with that figured out, the only thing left to do was add the stats to the page. The whole process grinded to a sudden stop when I was asked whether or not it would show up only in logged-in mode.
transparency vs privacy
Blog users can be rather sensitive when it comes to their site stats and as a blog owner and blog reader myself, I can relate. Everyone knows that content isn't all that matters. Sometimes you run into a pretty cool article, which has no comments at all and has received a staggering amount of 0 Diggs, all in plain view. It makes the content of the article a little less reliable, and even though we all realize this is probably just bollocks based on preconceptions, we also know that some people might be put off by it.
So we often prefer to stay vague about how many readers we have (unless we have a lot of course) and we try to keep the focus on our content, forcing readers to read the actual article. After that they can make up their own mind about the quality of the article. From that point of view, adding real user stats on an article page sounds like a pretty dumb thing to do.
On the other hand, I as a blog owner have nothing to hide. So what if one of my articles only had 50 people reading it? If people take that as an argument not to check it out for themselves I don't really need them on my blog anyway, right? And above all, the idea is still pretty cool as it makes your blog more transparent to your audience, it creates a certain level of trust and most importantly, it's a cute feature you don't see on most other blogs.
I know many of you own a blog of your own (take three web design guys and at least one of them owns a blog), that's why I'm curious what you would do when you had the possibility to add user statistics to a page. Would you stay far away from it or would you add them to your article pages to create a more transparent blog for your audience. And what would be your reasons to do so? Alternative, what kind of stats would you add and which ones would you hide? All input is appreciated.