Coming to Understand Telemetry

by Paul Reinheimer on

It's increasingly common for software to ask for permission to send some sort of data back to headquarters:

Popularity Contests

Debian asking for permission to send details about which packages are installed

Usage & Interaction Data

Firefox asking permission to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla

Analytics and Crash Reports

Apple asking permission to send analytics data to Apple or App Developers data

I've opted out of these as a matter of course for years. The less data other people have on me, the better. It was a simple decision really, barely worth a moment's consideration (well, possibly a moment of frustration that they want my data), then I'd move on.

Seeing the value

We released the WonderProxy Switcher late last year to help our customers quickly and easily test their website localization from around the world. We're happy with it, our customers seem happy with it, and we've received a few feature requests. It now supports things like inclusion/exclusion lists, and setting custom headers. We could invest more effort into these features, making them possibly easier to use and understand. Better UI, more documentation, maybe even tutorials with dedicated servers to report in real time what they’re seeing to ensure that people understand exactly what the WonderProxy Switcher is doing. But is it worth it? There are a million things we could be working on next. If only we knew how many people were using those features, then we could prioritize what people actually use!

oh.

wait.

that's why companies want telemetry data.

crap.

Now I want telemetry data!

I'm going to need to go hat in hand to all our users and ask them to start giving me more data about them.

Telemetry Data: the easiest way for you to vote on how the software you're using should improve. You're still welcome to opt-out (or not opt-in), but it is actually worth your consideration.