WordPress Stats and Quantcast Connection

I have been using WordPress.com Stats plugin on my site, along with other sites that I install and manage. Lately, I have noticed sluggish page loads and tried to find the source of it. The FireBug add-on to Firefox has facilities to show what loads and how fast. Among the scripts that load was one from quantserve.com and I knew I had removed the Quantcast script with which I experimented for a while. By trial and error, turning the plugins off and on, I was able to trace the source to WordPress.com Stats. I could not find a reasonable answer by thinking about it, so I posted a forum question on WordPress.org about the matter. In several days no answer came from any source. Then I decided to do a more careful search on the WordPress forum and, sure enough, I found the answer. In a forum thread Matt Mullenweg confirmed that they have been collaborating with Quantcast and some undisclosed features would be coming soon.

This practice disappointed me. WordPress.org and its founder Matt have been the promoters of open-source code under the GPL, and stood on the side of openness and transparency. The inclusion of Quantcast script, which collects traffic information and accumulates it on Quantcast databases, with no disclosure to the users both surprised and disappointed me. What was even more disappointing was Matt’s nonchalant response “…turn off the stats plugin? :)” (his smiley)

There is a noticeable slowdown despite Matt’s claim to the contrary, I validated this on several sites I manage and all showed visible performance increase without the WordPress.com Stats plugin. Needless to say, i disabled and deleted the plugin on this site as well as several others. There are quite a few other options that provide the same or even better data. Until WordPress.com and Matt come clean on this issue, I will not use this plugin nor will I recommend it to my clients.

My recommendation to you, the reader, if you use self-hosted WordPress you should test this on your site and then decide based on performance issues as well as ethical dimensions. I learned a lesson, even the most trustworthy appearing organizations and individuals may unexpectedly behave in unexpected ways. Caveat emptor!

Comments

  1. Jj says

    They get paid by quantcast who is trying to build more stats of all sites on the web without browser toolbar like Alexa.

    • A. Cemal Ekin says

      That is perfectly fine and their prerogative, but do it above the table; that’s all I ask. I have, unwittingly, provided much visitor data to Quantcast. It is certainly a form of “spyware” on my site as far as I’m concerned.

  2. dk70 says

    Nice work. This will not shock you but all those promoting open licenses and such are also human and so prone to the mighty dollar. Licensing has nothing to do with how they do business or behave in general. It is your expectations that are “wrong”. They can run after the money for own gain or on behalf of their company/organization. Typically in GPL and similar circles you will find much understanding as long as “community” benefits. The second bobble bursts hell breaks lose though ;) Recently that can be seen to some degree with Ubuntu which not starts to act like a real company! The horror.

    There is only 1 world and licenses does not change the fact people needs to make money. I agree the major problem here is the attitude from WP. I am not surprised actually but that is where they fail for sure. Pretty much unnecessary since my feeling is there is no end to understanding from the little people as long as they are informed. Too much success too fast is good?

    • A. Cemal Ekin says

      Yes, indeed, the main issue is WordPress and Matt’s attitude. I wish all these companies make money, lots of money so that they keep providing us with the services we enjoy. I am now using a donottrack plugin. I will add its link to this posts soon.

  3. says

    How easy would it be to hack the plug-in and remove the call to Quantcast?

    I’m not a programmer, but I took a quick look and decided the task is beyond me. I’m sure others reading this would be able to deal with it.

    • A. Cemal Ekin says

      There is a plugin that will specifically disable Quantcast component in JetPack{

      I decided to remove WordPress Stats myself, there are many others that provide this kind of information while keeping the data on your servers. I am using SlimStats and ShortStats that do slightly different things for me.

  4. lernest says

    Thank you for the alert, and even more for the mention of what alternatives you came up with in the comments.

  5. Bruh says

    I’m glad you saw the problem and wrote this post. I’m trying to optimize my weblog (as a hobbie) and I was getting crazy because of this “quant alert” in my Yslow. I couldn’t agree more with you and I’m deleting WP Stats right now.

    Thank you very much for this. :]

  6. says

    Using Lightbeam for Firefox I discovered the same fact today: that my self-hosted WordPress blog with the Jetpack plug-in is serving Quantserve in the ever increasing data collection process. The plug-in is now gone and I’m now down to using the elements that I expected.

    • says

      Yes, JetPack also incorporates Quantcast data collection. My main objection originally was to the fact that they were doing it without letting users know about it. Since then, they came clean and openly admitted that JetPack includes ties to Quantcast. The utility of JetPack is quite rich and I decided to put up with the data collection. But, I fully sympathize with you.

      One can also install WP DoNotTrack plugin and let it handle the Quantcast injection. I had that installed but it disappeared for a while. I have just learned that it is alive and well, and is now running on my site. (12/13/13)

  7. Mike says

    Noticed quantcast tracking cookies while checking cookies served from one of my WordPress sites today. The Jetpack WordPress.com stats function loads the links to the tracking cookies from JS file – stats.wordpress.com/e-201327.js

    The JetPack plugin does mention the use of Quantcast “to enhance the stats”. It’s just a bit strange that JetPack devs chose to load the script from WordPpress.com, instead of a local JavaScript like the other .js files JP uses. Maybe the idea is preventing the file getting modded to remove the Quantcast links.

    I don’t see any difference in stats results when quantcast is disabled.

    The DoNotTrack Plugin referred by A. Cemal Ekin still works with WordPress 3.8

    As I only ever use JetPack for the convenience of the stats function – with everything else turned off, having tracking scripts is a high price to pay for this convenience.

    While I’ll continue to use the stats function for now, in the new year will likely switch to a self-hosted Piwik installation to monitor my sites from a central point.

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