Tuesday, September 09, 2008

IR Rumor Mill Discussion (September 2008)

This is the new official thread for discussion of the IR Rumor Mill itself.

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IR Rumor Mill said...

Anonymous said...

Any reason you have a google analytics tracker that enables you to see where people are coming from on this site?

12:24 PM, October 16, 2008

Blogger IR Rumor Mill said...

We do? Can you tell us how to get rid of it?

... The original team wanted, we understand, to know how many hits they were getting and hadn't even considered trying to backwards induce commentators from the IP addresses. When this issue flared up, we killed off the two trackers that we knew about.

1:10 PM, October 16, 2008
Blogger IR Rumor Mill said...

One of the team members here:

Are you positive? I'm not seeing the google analytics URL when navigating to or around the website.

1:12 PM, October 16, 2008

Blogger IR Rumor Mill said...

I've just confirmed that the IRRumormill google account is not signed up for google analytics.

1:16 PM, October 16, 2008

Anonymous said...

I can't seem to get Blogger to let me post the offending code, but if you go View > Source and scroll to the bottom you will see the Google Analytics script. So someone put it there at some point. Unless Google is putting them in by default now. And it could be reporting to ANY google account. All someone needed was administrator rights to add the code and have it report to whatever account they used to set up the script.

1:27 PM, October 16, 2008

Blogger IR Rumor Mill said...

What should I be looking for? All I see at the bottom are the widget scripts.

1:30 PM, October 16, 2008

Blogger IR Rumor Mill said...

Never mind. I see it.

1:32 PM, October 16, 2008

Blogger IR Rumor Mill said...

This is almost certainly google. The script only shows up in the "post a comment" screen and does not appear when we look at the HTML/CSS template for the blog itself.

1:38 PM, October 16, 2008

Anonymous said...

Can you please translate for us "civilians" out there? Does this mean someone knows where people are posting from?

IR Rumor Mill said...

If this site had a tracker, like sitemeter or google analytics, then that tracker would display IP addresses for each page view. Based on those IP addresses, we could tell if someone from, for example, Ohio State University, Duke, or a service provider such as Comcast, had looked at the site. With enough work and deduction, it might be possible to tell the originating IP of a particular comment, e.g., that someone from Duke had posted a rumor about interviews at UNT. We would not be able to tell, without an "in" at the University, which computer the rumor actually came from.

The Rumor Mill had a tracker when we took over, which was being used to see how many hits the site was getting. When someone pointed out that it was possible to induce specific commentators, we removed it.

This was also in our self interest, as access to the tracker was public and it would have been pretty easy to figure out the team's home institutions and/or service providers by assuming that extremely frequent and concentrated hits were coming from members of the team.

There does seem to be a tracking script on the comment page. The original poster thought we might have put it there, but it turns out to be a google script that exists on *every* blogger comment page. So, in theory, someone from google could figure out who you are. But if you want to worry about what google knows about you, this should be the least of your concerns, particularly if you use google aps like gmail or docs.

So, on balance, nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Given there is no accountability in who is posting these messages, and in who is administering this site, what confidence do we have? For all we know, this site could be administered by a 14-year old whiz-kid in Mongolia.

IR Rumor Mill said...

Oh, noes. You've found us out.