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Ask DN: Can we please get rid of the utm_source from links?

almost 4 years ago from , Señor Designer

If you haven't noticed, all links on DN have ?utm_source=designernews attached.

I don't think forcing utm_source into other sites' own analytics is the right thing to do. The utm_source is reserved for site owners being able to identify specific campaigns. Sometimes, some sites won't load because of the ? mark: Here's an example

And at the very least, it annoys me to have to cut out the utm_source from the address bar if I'm ever sharing a link with anyone.

So, can we kill it?

17 comments

  • M. AppelmanM. Appelman, over 3 years ago

    Agreed, never sure why this is even utilized. Interesting to hear a valid reason.

    18 points
    • Clay MacTavishClay MacTavish, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

      In PHP the $_GET superglobal will look something like

      $mytrafficsource = $GET('utmsource').

      It will grab whatever comes after the "?" in the URL - So in this case, the value of utm_source will be "designer news". From here you can run logic against this and do whatever you want.

      It could be anything really. ?pancakes=fantastic?vote=true?debug=true

      This obviously isn't clean/correct but hopefully you get the point.

      This is just one way websites pass data around. There is, for the most part nothing nefarious going on.

      Many of the campaigns the marketing team runs at my non-profit wants to know where the site traffic came from so we can assess more accurately if we are targeting the correct crowd. Or if an expensive vendor we are using is even worth the investment.

      Maybe this was too much info.

      4 points
    • Connor NorvellConnor Norvell, over 3 years ago

      I personally like it when I post a site to get data on how many people came from DN. But there is probably a cleaner way to do it

      0 points
  • Clay MacTavishClay MacTavish, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    If the site crashed because of a utm_source query string then it is the site's fault for not appropriately validating the data entering in the headers.

    utm_source is just a convention from, I think, google analytics/doubleclick studio. Whoever 's site is getting traffic from DN is pulling down and caching the value and storing it. It isn't always for analytics traffic - they could be serving you different content also.

    Why would you cut out the utm_source? If anything it is helping DN by allowing site administrators and marking teams understand where their traffic is coming.

    12 points
  • Dan CoatesDan Coates, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    Agreed, it has always bothered me but not quite enough to make a post about it.

    I don't think it serves any purpose because analytic tools like google analytics will use the referrer header to determine where the user came from.

    Referer: https://www.designernews.co/

    The utm_source is more used for site owners to run specific campaigns that need to follow traffic from print or digital media. The google analytics docs specify that utm_source should always be accompanied by utm_campaign and utm_medium.

    When adding parameters to a URL, you should always use utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign. utm_term and utm_content are optional and can be used for tracking additional information:

    So I don't think utm_source is much use on its own.

    It definitely isn't a major problem but if it is easy to remove and isn't serving any purpose then I wouldn't be unhappy to see it gone.

    6 points
    • Zarino ZappiaZarino Zappia, over 3 years ago

      I don't think it serves any purpose because analytic tools like google analytics will use the referrer header to determine where the user came from.

      Not strictly true. Google Analytics is unable to record the Referer of a hit if the source site (ie: Designer News) was accessed over HTTPS, but the destination site is being accessed over HTTP. In cases like this, I think Google Analytics reports the "Source" of the hit as "Direct".

      This isn't a limitation in Google Analytics, it's part of the HTTP spec (RFC2616 section 15, I think).

      2 points
  • Tyce Clee, almost 4 years ago

    I always strip that from links and it's always annoying. HN doesn't bother with this, not sure why we do.

    5 points
  • Jody HeavenerJody Heavener, over 3 years ago

    Interesting, didn't realize it was causing issues. I put this there so folks could more easily track incoming traffic. Product Hunt uses ?ref=producthunt – would you prefer that, or would removing it altogether be the best option?

    5 points
    • Tony Gines, over 3 years ago

      I would vote for removing it altogether. I think website owners will still be able to see referral traffic in their analytics and it cleans up urls for the DN users.

      5 points
  • Per VPer V, over 3 years ago

    I'm going to hijack this thread. Can we please have an option in our account settings to hide all Medium links from the feed? That's all, carry on with your utm_source discussion.

    3 points
    • Connor NorvellConnor Norvell, over 3 years ago

      There are way too many medium threads, and 99% of them are just copying books I read. But, every once in a while there is a good one so I doubt they will allow this. Plus, you can see the link, so you don't have to click it.

      2 points
  • James GreigJames Greig, over 3 years ago

    +100 for this

    Another problem is that if you bookmark a link, it has the utm crud in it :-/

    3 points
  • Jody HeavenerJody Heavener, over 3 years ago

    Update: it's gone!

    1 point
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, over 3 years ago

    Agree 100%.

    1 point
  • Jason EtcovitchJason Etcovitch, over 3 years ago

    I did once see a site that display a different message to Product Hunt viewers; similar thing could be done with DN viewers as well.

    1 point
  • Tim CheadleTim Cheadle, over 3 years ago

    Indeed, site owners can see the Referer: header in their analytics. utm_source is redundant.

    1 point