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It seems every major app platform from Android to iOS has great stats for developers. However, if you publish a plugin via WordPress.org you are not allowed to include any 3rd Party tracking code (for good reasons).

So what can I do to track Active users by day / week / month ?
and ...
How can get the raw data behind the graphs for downloads by day ?

I also have plugins using the plugin update checker via Janis / w-shadow because they are not hosted on WordPress.org ... so how do other plugin developers track downloads and active users?

Currently .. the only way I've found to track active users is via Google Campaign Tracking tool. I create tags which mean anyone clicking a link from a plugin settings page to my website is tracked in GA as 'plugin-installed' and anyone clicking a link from a Readme.txt has a different tag. This is not reliable as many people may install the plugin and never click back to my website ...

So what can be done? Will WordPress.org offer a Developers Console?

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Your edit changed the meaning too much. You could add that to the question. I rolled it back. –  toscho Oct 17 '12 at 20:39
    
hmmm well I'll leave the question title alone but the question is about active users of any plugin (not active visitors or end users). Does that help? –  Damien Oct 17 '12 at 21:09
    
You changed users to sites in your edit making the answers confusing. Change it to users or sites and it is okay. –  toscho Oct 17 '12 at 21:57

2 Answers 2

So, you're asking why WordPress.org doesn't allow you to violate the privacy of the users of WordPress?

Maybe you want to rethink your question a bit.

WordPress is open-source, free software. Android and iOS and App Stores and things like that are not. We care about privacy.

Download counts we do have, and you can see them on the plugin stats page, and if you examine the source of that page, you'll find an API call to return that data in JSON format (used to build that graph on the stats page).

But data as to how many sites, or which sites, are running a particular plugin is considered private. We will not release it. We may aggregate it better in the future, so as to give version percentages and such, but that's as far as it will go. You will never get a raw count of "active users".

Besides, why do you want this data? Vanity? Raw counts of users don't help you produce better code. Aggregated statistics and download counts might help you decide where to focus your efforts, but raw numbers are pretty meaningless overall.

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I believe we would all find that those App Stores probably have a EULA which allows the tracking of user data such as installed apps active users. As a developer (with lots of Marketing & Product Management experience), Active Users is critical for measuring success. Imagine Facebook saying they had 1 billion downloads. A raw count of active users for a plugin or a theme which is updated daily is crucial to measuring customer 'likes' - as in I like this plugin so much I'll use it. No one would fund a business based on downloads & Active Users is the one KPI measure across businesses today. –  Damien Oct 16 '12 at 16:32
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@Damien Then distribute your plugin on your own website and build out what you want there. Don't fault WP.org for not wanting to invade its user's privacy. You can't have your cake and eat it too on this issue. If you want the powerful reach of the WP repos, then you need to pare down your expectations. If you want intricate metrics, find another avenue of distribution. –  Brian Fegter Oct 16 '12 at 16:53
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@Damien The WordPress.org plugin directory is not an advertising platform for your business model, nor a distribution center for your plugin to support your development scheme. The plugin directory is a service WordPress.org provides to its users for them to obtain free plugins (free as in both speech and beer), and to provide developers a place to get tools and resources to help them develop their skills, connect with their users, and become better at their craft. The plugin and theme directories are NOT an "App Store". If you want to sell something, do it on your own site. –  Otto Oct 16 '12 at 16:59
    
Guys .. I never said I wanted private user data. In fact the anonymous stat I want is already being collected by Wordpress but displayed as a pie chat. That said, from your experience have you seen any examples of how to track an active plugin? –  Damien Oct 16 '12 at 17:46
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@Damien Yes, you could, which is why we prevent such things from being in the WordPress.org repository. Who says you're allowed to surreptitiously track your users? Code like that gives all plugin developers a bad name, and you should not be using it. I do not track who uses my plugin, nor am I at all interested. I read support forums and listen to feedback from people who use my plugins instead. Much more reliable. –  Otto Oct 16 '12 at 22:00

You cannot get these data.

There are several issues with plugin usage tracking:

  • No clear definition of a user: Think multi-site, local installations, intranets …
  • Privacy: You would have to ask the user before you can activate tracking. There are many good reasons not to send any data to an unknown entity without consent (traffic, sensitive information).
  • Different laws: In Germany I need a double opt-in just to send comment notifications. Other countries require different procedures. And you need a privacy policy that every user can understand (good luck translating that!) and that doesn’t break any law. Even Google Analytics cannot do that.

A unified API in WordPress itself is almost impossible and very hard to support. Don’t expect that to happen.

And finally: You don’t need that information. Write good code, ask for feedback, but get used to the fact that most users just don’t care about your curiosity. Use your bug tracker or other feedback to improve the plugin, not statistical data.

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While I agree with everything you say here ... consider the whole WordPress Eco-System ... .. every plugin already has a download stat and active site stats is possible as each site pings WP.Org at least 1x per day. Its an old argument that WordPress can't do this when Apple, Android, etc already provide the same stats and better. –  Damien Oct 16 '12 at 12:12

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