Is WebTrends Senile, Or Am I?
April 13, 2006 9:19 AM   Subscribe

WebTrends: Does it, like, sometimes just completely not record a lot of hits?

Because I think that's happening on a site for which I have some responsibility.

The site was designed and built by my company; we maintain the site, but we do not do the log analysis. That lives with the client's IT department, who are using WebTrends. I've added the WebTrends tracking code to the pages in a way that seems to work (I'll describe in thread) -- meaning, we see page hits -- but it seems to be missing any hits that I make against the site using my Mac.

Disclaimer: I can't be absolutely certain that the data I'm looking at includes Safari hits, but definitely it includes full manual site-crawls using Firefox on the Mac. Thing is, I'm not seeing all the pages on the site in the reports, and I should be. And I'm also not seeing the "platform" report any hits from a Mac, at all, and the "screen resolution" hits don't include any for the screen res I always use.

All of this could be explained if WT were simply not recording the hits from my workstation.

Any insight? Anybody see anything like this before? Especially, anybody have any idea why it might happen, or whether I'm just imagining things? (Though, at this stage, it would be on the order of having taken the blue pill...)
posted by lodurr to Technology (11 answers total)
Here's what I did to include the tracking code:

WebTrends distributes their code as one file with about four SCRIPT containers in it, totalling something over 350 lines of code. Two of the containers were mostly variable or function declarations; I put those into linked files and included a link in the HEAD on every page. Two of the containers and some code in one of the declaration containers were function calls; I put those, in the order of occurrence, into SCRIP containers in the HEAD. Then I took the nifty NOSCRIPT failsafe and pasted it at the bottom of the document, to prevent it from messing with my vertical placement.

I also made two test pages, which I then made sure got some hits. For one, I simply put everything into one linked JavaScript file (after stripping out the SCRIP tags, of course). For the other, I simply pasted all 350+ lines of code into the HEAD, as given. I figure, that one should definitely work.
posted by lodurr at 9:24 AM on April 13, 2006

skallas: webtrends doesn't parse logfiles. It adds a bunch of javascript magic to each page.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:52 AM on April 13, 2006

skallas: That would have been my preferred solution, but mostly for resource-constraint reasons, they decided to go with an application service provider solution. The client is taking care of the web analytics function -- they run the server, they own the data. I think that's appropriate.

I'm concerned with why it doesn't seem to be working. We're still maintaining the site, and we're trying to help them drive their marketing effort. The site's not getting a lot of traffic right now, but if things go the way we expect them to, they'll be getting a lot of traffic soon. (Well, not MeFi "a lot", but still many thousands of hits.)

There's also an element of CYA involved. I want to know if this might have to do with implementation (though I've tried to eliminate that as a possibility with my brain-dead implementation test).

So, this is information I want to be able to make available to their IT people, to help them understand their situation. They're still in the evaluation phase, though truthfully they planned to start using the numbers right away.

Is it possible that it's a configuration issue on WebTrends? I only have access to a reports panel, so I can't get that info, but maybe someone would know...
posted by lodurr at 10:02 AM on April 13, 2006

Are they using Webtrends Enterprise? What version? Windows or Linux?

We have 2 Linux boxes that do nothing but run the Webtrends SmartSource Data Collector. Webtrends (on a separate Windows box) will grab those logs and crunch the data. (I Love Tacos isn't entirely correct when he says that it doesn't parse logfiles, unless he's referring to the actual Apache/IIS logfiles)

I'll email our web guys and see if they've seen that. We're a very large Mac shop, and I believe that they mentioned some funkyness with Webtrends.
posted by drstein at 10:11 AM on April 13, 2006

Does Webtrends depend on cookies? (WEBTRENDS_ID, etc.) Are those being blocked?
posted by kurumi at 10:24 AM on April 13, 2006

Webtrends reports on cookies, but I don't believe it relies on them.

They're using the remotely-hosted version of WebTrends, not their own install.
posted by lodurr at 10:42 AM on April 13, 2006

Download the LiveHTTPHeaders extension to Firefox and use that to verify that your browser is actually making the desired requests to WebTrends. At least that way you can check whether it is a client or server side issue.

Does WebTrends provide browser compatibility info about their scripts? Or is it possible that the WebTrends admin is excluding your IP (deliberately), as they know that you aren't "real" traffic?
posted by sad_otter at 11:20 AM on April 13, 2006

Hrm. Our Webtrends guys just got back to me and said "We're seeing what we'd expect with Safari."

So maybe it's something funky with he ISP's setup. I'd have them start bugging Webtrends about it.
posted by drstein at 11:36 AM on April 13, 2006

Sadly, otter, you beat me to the punch and pre-empted my answer to my own question: I am the one that is senile, not WebTrends.

The admin had indeed excluded my IP. We had even talked about it, and I'd either forgotten or remapped that onto something else. I basically have no data about anything, at this point. So this question is immediately moot. I'd say it should be deleted, except that it can be used as an object lesson in troubleshooting. ("First question: Is it plugged in?")
posted by lodurr at 11:38 AM on April 13, 2006

Thanks for the help, guys; sorry to send you on a wild goose chase. I haven't had to do analytics in....several ... years, so I'm having to dredge up a bunch of stuff from memory and deal with all the little fires that start around here on a daily basis.

Which is not to say that I'm not actually senile...
posted by lodurr at 11:40 AM on April 13, 2006

Lodurr - we've all done it, and you never forget it. If it helps, my last big one was thinking I had a broken remote control - it only worked when right up next to the device. The remote was RF, and I didn't install the antenna. The ensuing tech support phone call was very humbling.
posted by bh at 3:24 PM on April 13, 2006

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