[thelist] [horribly OT] ridingzone.com site

Liz Lawson lizlawson at charitycards.co.uk
Mon Jan 29 05:46:31 CST 2001

Hi Stef

Saw your post about this site last week...just wondered whether / when the
shopping side is open for UK orders?

And for that shockingly off-topic post

<tip type = 'user tracking, sessions and Apache logs'>

If you're using cookie-based sessions and Apache, you can use LogFormat to
record cookie data in your log files. Then you have a lot of the advantages
of a user-tracking script almost* for free, such as:

Mark all your staff machines with a special cookie and filter staff sessions
out of the raw logs before you generate reports.

If a user reports a problem and they know roughly when they were on the
site, you can often pick up their session in the logs and identify what

When your scripts report errors, include the session Id and again you can
pick up the exact session to help identify the problem.

Pass a session Id down with each order and you have the potential to
cross-reference any customer who placed an order with their behaviour on the
site, and even subdivide this to see if customers who order different things
behave in significantly different ways.

Use the session Id to determine unique sessions when counting users, which
excludes robot requests without having to filter on IP numbers.

Keep an eye on what proportion of visitors do not have cookies enabled
(excluding robots, for us that's less than 1%).

*Caveat: The cookie data is returned with EVERY request to the server:
that's images etc as well as pages. Logging all that places an extra load on
your server, increase the size of your logs, and means that some log
analysers won't be able to handle the files. (We use Webtrends, not my
favourite but it can handle the format, and you can set it to use any cookie
value as a session id for counting user sessions). Logging the whole
cookie's not practical if you use it to store more than just a session Id.


Liz Lawson
Web Designer, The Greetings Card Company Limited

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