Automattic has a poor record of respecting its users’ privacy, insofar as the company has gradually added additional surveillance mechanisms into their products without effectively notifying users. Several months ago when I updated the WordPress Stats plugin I discovered that Automattic had, without warning, integrated Quantcast tracking into their Stats plugin. Specifically, there was no notice in the update, no clear statement that data would be sent to Quantcast, nor any justification for the additional tracking other than in a web forum where their CEO stated it would let Automattic “provide some cool features around uniques and people counting.” This constituted a reprehensible decision, but one that can fortunately be mediated with a great third-party plugin.
In this post, I’m going to do a few things. First, I’m going to recount why Automattic is not respecting user privacy by including Quantcast in its Stats plugin. This will include a discussion about why reasonable users are unlikely to realize that third-party tracking is appended to the Stats plugin. I’ll conclude by discussing how you can protect your web visitors’ own privacy and security by installing a terrific plugin developed by Frank Goossens.
I’ve been testing different ways to present the content of this website for about 9 months now, testing about 50 different themes, hundreds of plugins, and learning more about the loop than I though possible. For some time the iNove theme that I used has caused me a lot of headaches: it is slow, has regularly crashed the publishing functions of my WordPress install, and hadn’t been updated by the developer in years. This last item was particularly annoying, given that these lack of updates have prevented me from taking advantage of many new features in WordPress 3.0.
After spending (literally) countless hours trying to get iNove to work and find an alternate theme, I finally decided to take the plunge on switching themes on Sunday evening. The site came down for about twenty hours (two more than initially scheduled) and has since come back. I’m using the TwentyTen theme as the underbelly of the site, with many of the CSS changes courtesy of the TwentyTen – Blogging Inside Edition child theme. The changes in the child theme have been supplemented with my own modifications. I want to quickly catalogue what I did, in case there are features that someone else wants to incorporate some of these changes into their own TwentyTen installation.