WorldMaps: Wow!

I've seen a huge spike lately in WorldMaps traffic -- no doubt in part thanks to Andrew for talking about it in his blog!  Thanks Andrew!

As the hits and new users are pouring in, I've noticed two trends that I need to consider.    First:  there are a few commercial sites out there using WorldMaps.  I hadn't really given this much thought (and by commercial, I mean a site that seems to be advertiser-driven and/or apparently subsidized somehow).   There's nothing wrong with commercial traffic, but on the other hand, it wasn't developed with that in mind.  I really wanted to focus on community.  Since these sites are often have heavy traffic, a single "commercial" user could equate to potentially hundreds of solo/blog users.

Let me share some stats with you, though:  right now, I've got about 450k hits in the database consuming only about 6 MB ... there are some support tables, though, specifically holding IP Latitude/Longitude data, that are much larger, but the growth of these support tables are either static or linear, at worst. 

The other trend I've noticed is the use of the invisible tracking pixel method on most of these sites.  By invisible tracking pixel, I mean not displaying a "teaser" thumbnail map and instead pinging the map URL with a 1x1 pixel to record the activity.

This was developed as a feature (that I still believe in), but I'm worried about the trend.  Other similar WorldMap providers that I know of actually prohibit this, since not displaying an image means a user consumes the service (and bandwidth/resources of the provider), but the service in turn isn't able to "spread the word" about itself in the viral sense.  So it goes from a more symbiotic to a parasitic relationship.

The original idea of the invisible pixel was to allow sites to build a little content to test it out without having to go live with it and not drawing the user's attention to the thumbnail.  Or, as future functionality is baked in (like the subsite key) there would be a mechanism for pinging traffic without having to display the map.  I still believe in this idea and the flexibility it provides. 

But, I'm now left wondering where this will go.  If you are using WorldMaps and have thoughts, let's keep the conversation going and let me know.  Many of you have e-mailed me directly (which is a-ok) but if we can, let's do this online! :)  Sound off on your thoughts or suggestions.

Comments (1) -

G. Andrew Duthie
G. Andrew Duthie
8/13/2007 1:55:36 PM #

I like the idea of the invisible pixel, particularly if one wanted to track views of posts and/or RSS hits, rather than just of the main blog page.

One way you could possibly do it is require a link back to worldmaps.structuretoobig.com as part of the terms of service for using it, and provide a variety of predefined links/badges/flair that people could use, depending on whether they wanted to use the badge as the tracking image, or just display the badge, or just link back to worldmaps.

That way, users have the flexibility to link back to you in the way that works best for them, making it easier for them to give you credit/traffic.

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