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    I submitted it as I see this relevant and anti-pitchfork enough to spread it.

    Nice to see them self-hosting it and correcting the misunderstandings. I’m wonder why people are against opt-in usage statistics.

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      Nice to see them self-hosting it and correcting the misunderstandings. I’m wonder why people are against opt-in usage statistics.

      There is a cultural element in software that can never be meaningfully separated from the strictly technical aspects, and this is just one of them. I don’t necesarily agree with this position (i.e. opposition to usage statistics, even opt-in) but I can sort of see where it’s coming from.

      First, there’s a general, and probably at this point well-deserved opposition to tracking technologies in general, because usage statistics have been misused often enough, and for long enough, that it’s hard to trust anyone gathering stats anymore, even if it’s done in good faith, and even if it’s done by trustworthy parties.

      One way to look at it is that Google, Facebook & friends have ruined stat collection for all of us, I guess? The fact that it’s opt-in isn’t really relevant . The idea is that there’s a high chance that you are eventually going to get screwed because that’s what the tracking industry does. It’s a shady industry that attracts shady people and that results in shady business decisions even in matters that are not related to data collection because that’s how things run in a shady industry. It’s sort of like why some people don’t want to do business with oil & gas companies. Spilling oil into baby dolphin teritory is opt-in and you might think that if that’s a legitimate concern, you just opt out – but even if you do, you’re still going to have to deal with a lot of shady crap because that’s what that industry is like. It rarely happens that the same people who do shady crap drilling for oil (or misusing private data) are okay the rest of the time.

      In other words, there’s a concern that a) you are going to be affected even if you opt out of data collection, and b) that if you do opt in, there’s a high chance that you are going to get screwed over, no matter what the fine print says today.

      Second, there’s a more subtle effect involved, where analytics are opt-in, but a lot of development decisions are based only on collected data. There was an article on the frontpage here a while back about how Mozilla used that to deprecate the ALSA interface, leaving only the PulseAudio interface in, and thus proceeded to piss off orders of magnitude more people than their tracking showed. The general feeling in this case is that analytics, sure, is technically opt-in, but if you depend on that piece of software for anything important, then buddy you’d better opt in or the deprecation hammer will fall right on top of the features you use.

      And third, which is an important thing to remember: Audacity is open source software. It contains contributions from lots of volunteers all over the world, some of whom might have never chosen to contribute to a piece of software that uses analytics, even if they’re opt-in. I can see why some of them would be pissed.

      Edit: all that aside, there’s still the matter of the cultural element i mentioned above. It’s just that the tide is turning against data collection in general. It doesn’t have to be a rational thing, people don’t have to logically justify their choice of software or hardware. Whether they’re justified in their belief is irrelevant after a point. Lots of things in our culture can’t be logically justified and we still do them.

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        The general feeling in this case is that analytics, sure, is technically opt-in, but if you depend on that piece of software for anything important, then buddy you’d better opt in or the deprecation hammer will fall right on top of the features you use.

        Yes!

        This is why I generally (though still selectively) opt-in on many cross-platform desktop applications: to represent my presence as a Linux desktop user, on behalf of the thousands who I know won’t. If a company doesn’t know you (i.e. people with your use patterns) use their thing, eventually a report to this-or-that a VP of Product is going to have metrics showing that you don’t exist, and don’t deserve support our further effort. In the case where you actually do exist, this can be inconvenient.

        I participate in even more time-consuming tasks, like responding to Lenovo’s customer research surveys (and others). In free-form responses, I drop in upbeat excitement on behalf of whatever niche or minority usage that I honestly represent (features, industry focus, you name it: I want to be heard).

        That said, I am under no illusion that folks will change on this, and do as I do. Least of all those persnickety Linux users.

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        Usage statistics are a side channel. They’re explicitly a way to exfiltrate data.

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          Usage statistics are valuable only for the maintainers, not to the users, at least not in a manner that’s direct enough to be observed. For example, recently someone who collects nothing didn’t notice that very few users completed a certain task, then made that task mandatory. The result was quite unpleasant.

          Usage statistics can be said to be the best, cheapest, most effective ways to notice user problems. Much less skewed than problem reports, much less effort than running focus groups.

          For someone who gets the software for free, there’s little reason to consider whether a particular feature makes developing the software simpler. Really, if you don’t pay for the software or its development, if you don’t even know the names of the developers, why would you accept something that might be a security risk, just to simplify some unknown people’s work? And it may be a security risk, because as Corbin notes, those statistics are a way to exfiltrate data from your system.

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          It’s most probably super expensive in comparison, and may appear less effective, however there’s still the possibility of contacting people for doing “old school” User Experience Sessions. Notably, they’re not a long forgotten practice, which I can say if only based on the fact that my current employer does use them.