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Håkan Nylén
Håkan Nylén

Posted on • Originally published at kindmetrics.io

Why open source matter for privacy analytics

Open source has existed for some time now. It is also starting to become mainstream, which is great. But it has even started becoming a bit of a gray area, with services going in different directions to feel they have the right to call themselves privacy-friendly. As a founder of the new privacy-focused analytics service, Kindmetrics, I know from own experience.

Auditing

You should not have to take someone on their word that they will take good care of your data. It will like in a movie—how often does everything end up fine when a character says that they should be trusted? You should have the right to see for yourself if they stand by privacy norms and handle data, both yours and your visitors', as safely as is possible.

Trust only yourself.

Push the project in the right direction

If you have audited the project and seen some mistakes or have ideas to do things better, or if you can't code, you can have a feature request. Feel free to join and help push the project forward in the direction you want. That is part of open source. If you need something and know how to code, you can always build it and ask to add it to the project. They should align with the idealogy and plans of the project; those usually exist in the description or the issues.

Take Kindmetrics as an example. Kindmetrics probably has bugs or some miscalculations on the fundamentals, and I am always open to a bug report or a fix by some Kindmetrics user. I cannot be perfect, and open-source help makes the project better for you and your visitors.

But if they can self-host it, then we won't get the money.

That rationale is typically what most companies or people use to justify their decision not to open source. Take Fathom, a competitor to Kindmetrics, as an example. They have an episode on their podcast where they explain why they decided not to make the new version of their service open source because "paid users have to come first."1

Of course, I agree with them, but I don't see this as a valid point to not do open source. Support handles well in open source as well. You can easily handle small issues and support without taking a lot of time. If someone needs more significant help, say, setting up the service, I can offer a support package with time-based or fixed pricing. I value my time, and many open-source services also do this.

If it is the same code base, paid users and open-source users will most likely touch the same bugs, so you will prioritize those that have the most impact. So indirectly you will help both. Kindmetrics is also using docker for deployment and for publishing the service, making it easy to have straightforward releases and deployments.

You won't lose customers as well. Those who self-host would most likely not pay for your service anyway. If they won't, let them use Kindmetrics anyway to build a relationship and make them happy with Kindmetrics instead. They could become ambassadors for Kindmetrics that way.

Thanks for reading. You can check Kindmetrics, simple privacy website analytics. The GitHub repo is github.com/kindmetrics/kindmetrics.

Top comments (2)

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preslavrachev profile image
Preslav Rachev • Edited on

I have started using Kindmetrics shortly after the Beta was announced. With time, I started migrating my projects to it one by one. I like how easy it is to get started, when compared to Google Analytics and the rest of the bunch. It was made to be fast and simple, and you can feel it from the first glance.

Besides my "happy customer" review, I have to say that I find this model quite interesting. In fact, I have had these exact same thoughts for my own core product - linqable. I can't say that the fears of enterprises with regards to open source are always grounded. Yes, I can technically take Kindmetrics' source code, compile and self-host at some point. I'd probably do, but I will always get back to Håkan as a trusted source for support. I can also help him co-build the next version of kindmetrics, which would fit better to my use cases as well (or to those of any other contributor).

What we often fail to realize is that software, sadly as it sounds, is transient. It was built to solve a particular problem; with time it evolves and may help solve other problems as well. Yet, ultimately, something new will get born on the basis of the original idea. Something made by people, for other people. This is where open source really hits the sweet spot. It helps others build trust with the individual, and potentially collaborate on new ventures.

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Håkan Nylén Author

Thank you so much Preslav. Needed some emotional boost so that was really appreciated!

This message is just what is needed when you put hours on coding something that just came out.

On self-hosting; That is exactly my reason why I want to open source it. One part of me wants to be able to live on this. But I also want to help so many as I can to have more privacy. Those who like self-hosting and feel better that way will also make me feel better :) A way to solve both of this is maybe some donation or sponsorship for those who self-hosting to sponsor me with some yearly, monthly or one-time donation. But that's something I will decide later when Kindmetrics is in full-version and bigger.

As all developers, I recognize what you mean. I am trying to solve a problem, and trying to do the right thing at the same time. That is probably every developer want to do. I also think open source give that feedback and boost you need when you are building something alone. You won't be alone anymore and that feels nice.

And lastly, I will be waiting and would lovely review your contribution to the code when it comes Preslav!

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