Automattic Stats, Day One

In its first twenty hours or so, Automattic Stats was blogged more than 50 times and downloaded more than 1,500 times. That’s not bad for a Saturday night launch!

I heard it from a number of users that they couldn’t see their stats due to a “403” message. I’ve replaced that message with something more helpful. Victims of the 403 should try again now.

While reading the many blog posts about Automattic Stats, I found the most common complaints to be about the way we serve the stats reports on your WordPress.com dashboard rather than your self-hosted dashboard. I’m still pretty sure we made the right decision for the following reasons:

  • It’s central. You can check the stats for all of your blogs in one place.
  • It’s easy on your host. Your server doesn’t have to ask our server for raw data each time you browse the reports.
  • It’s faster for you. Our servers can talk directly to the stats database and display the results unaffected by the loads and limits of your server. Sometimes handling all that data requires more system resources than shared hosting setups allow.
  • It’s quite reliable. See Barry’s latest post about our infrastructure.
  • It’s future-proof. Whenever we update the reporting interface, add features, improve graphs, fix bugs, etc., you don’t have to upgrade your plugin.
  • It’s ready now. We already spent a lot of time developing one reporting interface. It wouldn’t make sense to make you wait while we develop another one.
  • It’s not always going to be this way. We’re planning to expose API’s to let plugin developers query the stats database. This will open the field for anyone to create and share new reporting tools, even ones that live in your own dashboard.

I think that’s enough justification. A few users have suggested ways to make the reporting more convenient. The most common suggestion, and the easiest to implement, was to add a link back to the blog’s own dashboard. You’ll find this new link near the top of every report page.

Some folks have asked whether Automattic Stats can be used with WordPress versions prior to 2.1 or WordPress MU. Broad compatibility would be nice but it is not my goal.

Use of the Automattic Stats plugin with WordPress 2.0.x is untested and strongly discouraged. I have not tested the plugin against any versions in the 2.0 branch because the plugin relies on some things that were not implemented in 2.0. Off the top of my head, $wp_the_query is required and admin_notices is recommended.

Use of the Automattic Stats plugin with WordPress MU is untested and strongly discouraged. Of course, nothing prevents hard-core hackers from testing and updating the plugin for use with MU. I just don’t support it.

Either of these causes could see a champion appear, in which case I may be interested in seeing the results of your research. I will not answer questions about the source code. If you can’t read it, you are not the champion.

Now let’s give this stats thing a few more days and then we’ll see where it stands.

20 Comments

  1. Andy, I have zero complaints about this. The only improvement I could think of while looking through my first day’s stas was that when I look at the traffic report/graph for individual posts, it would be nice to have sub panels under the graph showing me:

    – referrers for this item (not from my blog)
    – search engine keywords for entries to this item
    – exit clicks for this item (external to my blog)
    – next page clicks for this item (internal to my blog)

    That would tell me how each item is performing in terms of search engine optimization and conversion as well as whether others are linking to individual posts.

    All in all, a fine, fine tool. Thank you so much for providing it!

    BTW: I have blogged on it at my site.

    Blog Stats: Get your info-jones on with weblog traffic metrics

    Regards,

    Rich
    BlogRodent

  2. I like them a lot! Thanks!

  3. it is a strange objection, since most stats providers require you to visit their sites to view stats. it is, i suppose, atypical for a wordpress-only plugin to require it, though.

  4. nursers

     /  May 7, 2007

    A superb plugin – thanks!

  5. I’m glad you chose to serve the stats on the WordPress.com dashboard. Having the stats of all my blogs located in one central location is a bonus. I only have two suggestions that would kick this stats plugin to the “uber” level:
    1. On our local dashboard along with the link to the global dashboard, display a minimal list of stats (such as total visits, total pages viewed etc.)
    2. Any chance of a feed tracker coming online in the future?

  6. lasertargeted

     /  May 7, 2007

    For what it’s worth, stats seems to work perfectly fine in WPMU. Of course I only have a half dozen blogs under it right now, and there’s not any traffic yet to speak of, but it does appear to work fine from a technical perspective at least.

  7. Great work and a great launch, I am using it on a few of my blogs and very much enjoying it.

    Less work for my server, more nice graphs :)

    Any thoughts about adding in feed stats data?
    Thanks

  8. Actually, it won’t work with any theme that doesn’t have the

    I found my blog didn’t have that. I added it and now I can see the stats

  9. HvI

     /  May 8, 2007

    Centralized collecting and reporting is a deal breaker for me. I have quite reliable and very well connected servers myself. I never use wordpress.com, so wordpress.com it is not that central for me. Most of all, just like I prefer to use WP on my own servers and not wordpress.com, I prefer to collect and report my own stats. – Free as in free speech. – Plus I don’t want the (visitor) data of my site been collected somewhere else.

    Why not give people the freedom to choose?

  10. thanks Andy, very nice plugin.

    any idea of when the API will be made public. Would be nice to have “top posts” etc. listings in my sidebar based on these stats.

  11. Thanks a lot for this, Andy. While I used Google Analytics for a while now, I’m finding that the WordPress.com stats are more relevant for blogs. I look forward to an API!

  12. Seemed to work fine on WPMu. Removed it though as I had hardcoding in my own API for testing and didn’t want to leave it in there due to lisencing issues. If we had, folks would have to log in to wp.com under my own account.

  13. Why not give people the freedom to choose?

    Folks have freedom to choose. Just use another stats system. Urchin/ Google Analytics is the same way. All the data resides on Google’s servers. I just use out own stats program.

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