Does the Fathom code get injected into already published pages?

Product: Narrative

Hello Team,

I've entered a Fathom ID but inspecting the source of some of the articles on the NEO publication, I'm seeing the "siteId" string has a value of "" (emptystring).

I'm not seeing any analytics come up on my Fathom dashboard.

I'm not supremely confident that I've installed the open source version of Fathom correctly on my server because their guide doesn't really explain everything.  So there's a chance I've simply done something wrong or missed a step.

That said, the empty string in the source code of those post pages makes me suspect that perhaps the siteId only gets injected into posts made AFTER the Publication owner inserts a siteId code?

If that's the case, it would be nice for you to have your code inject that id into all published articles.

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Hi @Malkazoid,

Narrative's Fathom integration requires you to subscribe to the hosted version on usefathom.com. Once you sign up, you will get a Fathom ID to enter into your Publication. The self-hosted version of Fathom would require a custom configuration in Narrative, which isn't supported.

Where are you seeing the siteId? Narrative will definitely apply it properly to all pages and posts in your Publication once it's been set in your Publication's settings...

Ah, ok - well knowing this would have saved a fair bit of wasted time setting up a Linux VM and installing the open source version.  Probably a good idea to place a note about this on the Publications Management page?

I really think you should support Google Analytics for now.  I'm not going to pay 168 USD per year for analytics when the cost of a Basic publication is considerably less than that... and I don't think my perspective is all that exceptional.

Until Publications have solid market appeal, Narrative needs to remove all the hurdles to adoption that it can.  I'm an early adopter of Narrative and much more committed to using it than most, but this is throwing a bucket of cold water on even me.  I just can't picture how it seemed like a good idea to build this hurdle into Publications.

I can use the trial version of the hosted Fathom, but that only lasts one week.  After that I'll be flying blind while trying to make a Publication thrive, unless I start paying for Fathom.  This reduces the ability for Narrative to showcase thriving Publications when it comes time to get people to pay the top dollar prices for them...

Thanks for the feedback! We don't have plans to integrate Google Analytics right now, but I definitely understand where you're coming from. The problem with Google Analytics is that Google doesn't care about privacy, which flies in the face of Narrative's values, as I'm sure you can understand. We had the best interests of Narrative's members in mind when electing to not use GA.

We'll continue to evaluate analytics options in the future, but for now, the hosted Fathom solution is the only option. I know this isn't the answer you were hoping for, so I'm sorry I don't have a different option for you...

Brian Lenz posted:

Thanks for the feedback! We don't have plans to integrate Google Analytics right now, but I definitely understand where you're coming from. The problem with Google Analytics is that Google doesn't care about privacy, which flies in the face of Narrative's values, as I'm sure you can understand. We had the best interests of Narrative's members in mind when electing to not use GA.

We'll continue to evaluate analytics options in the future, but for now, the hosted Fathom solution is the only option. I know this isn't the answer you were hoping for, so I'm sorry I don't have a different option for you...

Its fine - I'm more concerned about what this does to the chances of success for the platform.

Ideals are something it is ok to work towards, especially if trying to be saintly right from the get go can jeopardise the chances of Narrative even surviving.  And I think the majority of Narrators would agree.  After all, we're all used to being tracked by Google.  The promise that Narrative will one day choose a more private option is going to be enough for most people, and that's of the people who even care... some don't.

I think I'm reacting strongly to this because it is part of a bigger pattern of idealism winning out over pragmatism with Narrative - we see it in the approach to niche definitions and descriptions as well.  The site understandably is missing a lot of functionality that could help those niche processes, so in the meantime, pragmatism would suggest there be a degree of centralised quality control as a last resort.  But there is none, because, decentralisation.  An ideal on a pedestal.  The survival prerogative should allow the Narrative Company to negotiate between idealism and pragmatism.  I know you are capable of it: after all the Tribunal was only made of Company members for over a year because that was the only pragmatic way forwards.  Everyone understood that, and when we blew past the originally deadline for electing Community members for the Tribunal by a full 6 months... people were still able to accept that.  We want Narrative to survive more than we want it to be a 100% pure representation of its ideal potential from day one.

I agree with @Malkazoid  on this, and I believe @Christina Gleason raised this issue before.  I have not pursued owning a Publication mainly because I cannot afford to spend the money on both the pub AND a separate analytical app.  It was a stretch to buy/rent the niches I have. Those of us on budgets and those in weak economies will gladly trade ideals for practicality. Thanks!

Serroc posted:

I agree with @Malkazoid  on this, and I believe @Christina Gleason raised this issue before.  I have not pursued owning a Publication mainly because I cannot afford to spend the money on both the pub AND a separate analytical app.  It was a stretch to buy/rent the niches I have. Those of us on budgets and those in weak economies will gladly trade ideals for practicality. Thanks!

Yes - the situation is more dire for those in weak economies, or on a budget.

But my concern does go even further: even those for who money is no object will be challenged by this.  Just because people have money, it does not follow that they are willing to spend it on a low value proposition.

I know we all know the situation, but it bears recapping: the platform won't be bringing a large audience to the table in the short-mid term.  It is selling Publications at a heavy premium when comparable functionality on other platforms is FREE.  And if you want to get analytics that you would get for free elsewhere, you have to pay even more than the heavy premium for the Publication...  Most people, regardless of their means, will want to know why that's a good value proposition.

We also want Publications to drive site growth, rather than hope site audience size will help sweeten the value proposition of Publications.  Uptake of Publications early on is a real opportunity for Narrative to move into focused markets.  If we offer discounted Publications to onboard our first universities, we'll be completely shooting ourselves in the foot if in the next breath we inform them that though they are getting the Publication discounted by 50%, their analytics will put them out of pocket for more than the cost of the Publication.  There is no scenario in which that factor is going to play well.  People still think of analytics as something you don't have to pay for until you're ready to be a privacy evangelist, and even if everyone accepts rapidly, over the next few months, that you have to pay for them in a world of increased privacy concerns, it will still be really difficult to stomach that the price tag more than doubles the cost of having a Publication on Narrative.  

Native statistics - even if simple - should really be there, especially if the only other option is a high-cost service. Any blogging platform provides at least some "included" option, or the possibility to use Google Analytics. Narrative may have reasons for not supporting Google, but I don't see reasons not to give native statistics. Maybe it's in the roadmap, and I hope so.

Let's remember that not only publication owners would like native statistics. Any narrator wants them and expects them.

My note on privacy. We all know that privacy is always a compromise. Total privacy = no  customized service (included anything that requires a login or a just name, a Narrative account included). Just that. Of course, we all have a different idea of that compromise. Personally, I'm perfectly fine with the compromises given to me by Google. And I know that millions of other readers are okay with that and that readers already daily visit websites where statistics are tracked with Google Analytics. Is no statistics a compromise that Narrators appreciate? Anyway, Narrative has different plans and that can be okay, but this doesn't change that native - or free - statistics are a basic service for any blogging platform. Special care of privacy can be a merit, but if it comes at the expense of a common and basic feature, I'm not sure that most Narrators will appreciate it.

I paid for the premium version of Fathom only because I'd rather be out $14/month than to be in the dark about critical readership statistics. The service is woefully lacking. It provides bare bones data, and even that can't be relied upon. There is no way to block my IP address so that I'm not tracked, which means that my numbers are skewed by the fact that I show up to comment on posts after they've been published, sometimes multiple times a day.

Another thing, the service is tracking my admin visits. Even if I can accept that IP blocking isn't a feature of the service, there is something dreadfully wrong with a service that tracks backend activity. It should only be tracking actual visits to public-facing pages.

That aside, I agree with @Malkazoid's concerns, and @Vico Biscotti's point about native statistics is right on. It would be nice is analytics and reader statistics were available for all Narrators to see for all articles. Even if there was a cost associated with that service, it would be beneficial. Doesn't Fathom have a site-wide service that would allow Narrative to provide statistics to all Narrators? It could then charge Narrators a few dollars or NRVE each month to activate that feature for their articles. I'd gladly pay $5/month in NRVE for analytics on my personal journal articles and $7/month in NRVE for analytics on my publication. 

Garden Gnome Publications posted:

I paid for the premium version of Fathom only because I'd rather be out $14/month than to be in the dark about critical readership statistics. The service is woefully lacking. It provides bare bones data, and even that can't be relied upon. There is no way to block my IP address so that I'm not tracked, which means that my numbers are skewed by the fact that I show up to comment on posts after they've been published, sometimes multiple times a day.

Another thing, the service is tracking my admin visits. Even if I can accept that IP blocking isn't a feature of the service, there is something dreadfully wrong with a service that tracks backend activity. It should only be tracking actual visits to public-facing pages.

That aside, I agree with @Malkazoid's concerns, and @Vico Biscotti's point about native statistics is right on. It would be nice is analytics and reader statistics were available for all Narrators to see for all articles. Even if there was a cost associated with that service, it would be beneficial. Doesn't Fathom have a site-wide service that would allow Narrative to provide statistics to all Narrators? It could then charge Narrators a few dollars or NRVE each month to activate that feature for their articles. I'd gladly pay $5/month in NRVE for analytics on my personal journal articles and $7/month in NRVE for analytics on my publication. 

Yes @Garden Gnome Publications - Fathom does have such a package.

I wrote to them and received an enlightening answer within 20 minutes.

I'll be writing up a proposal in terms of ways forward to improve the situation, later this week.  I'll post a ticket on the CS site as well as open it up for Community discussion on the platform.

I will chime in here, as I have elsewhere, that statistics is an absolute basic, needed utility on any platform. It is unfathomable that any platform survives without them. There needs to be a simple metric to check the opens, reads, interactions, and hopefully active read time of each story, everywhere on Narrative, full stop.

I used the free trial and saw the abysmally low statistics for articles that made it to the discovery front page and sidebar, and realized that the overall audience is just too tiny at this point to pay for the stats. Instead I will just continue to post and wait for changes from the company. 

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