• pastullo 314 days ago

    Why do you need this? Is it because you are paranoid of being tracked?

    UTMs offer a transparent, honest way of tracking where a user is coming from. This is super important for any company that runs multiple channel marketing.

    Making impossible for company to track their marketing effort doesn't protect your privacy. It just makes it tougher for companies to manage their marketing spending.

    Marketing is not evil. It's how the world works. You need to market something to be able to sell it.

    I feel there is a paranoia about being tracked and privacy, where anything that is somehow tracking, is evil and must be stopped.

    UTMs parameters are absolutely harmless and stripping them away offer no privacy benefit whatsoever.

    • annabellish 314 days ago

      >Marketing is not evil. It's how the world works. You need to market something to be able to sell it.

      Tracking of all kinds aren't inherently evil. If companies didn't abuse the various ways they tell us are "how the world works", then nobody would ever have needed tracking or ad blockers.

      Reality is that no matter how often marketing departments tell us that marketing is vital to the future of the species, people are generally running pretty short on goodwill in these areas. The responsible actors, if there are any, are swimming in a poisoned pond.

      • _jal 314 days ago


        Just to pile on a bit, folks who honestly believe in this line of thought should embrace that cliche about marketing being a conversation.

        Think about how you reacted to the last intrusive, nosey person you had to deal with. "No, I don't discuss my sex life or my wallet with someone I met in line at the coffee shop."

        I totally understand that metrics are needed to evaluate your plans. Problem is, there is a gradient of behavior your team as a whole gets up to, you don't like to talk about the things you do, and the far end of that gradient is some really smelly, nasty behavior.

        So in turn, my problem is I'd be fine with a certain degree of tracking, but I don't know exactly where the bad behavior starts. Once data leaks, it doesn't go away. So all of my decent moves involve overshooting and suppressing tracking I'd be OK with, just to be sure.

        I don't know a way out of this trap, sorry.

        Getting back to marketing-as-conversation, remember the rebellion over ad-popups? Yeah, that was a big moment of going so far the browser makers slapped you down. We heard all the same wailing, and yet somehow civilization survived. I'm pretty sure you can survive me refusing to allow you canvas-fingerprinting, or unlimited rights to run JS on my machine. Or even Urchin-tag-strippers.

        • annabellish 313 days ago

          >I don't know a way out of this trap, sorry.

          I don't think there is one, personally. All the goodwill is gone, and that's extremely difficult to get back.

          I think what's important at this stage is that we pay attention to what has happened, with users completely losing trust and faith in advertising, marketing, tracking - heck, even _diagnostic analytics_ - and recognise what caused this.

          Then, maybe, we can try and avoid it in future.

          Alternatively: Move everything to locked down mobile platforms and keep driving straight towards the latest stage capitalism we can see, and just keep finding new ways to keep users locked in to a platform they despise more and more until something _snaps_ - but that'd be tomorrow's problem, right?

          • true_religion 313 days ago

            Rather than popups or popunders, ad companies just open a new tab for their ad. It's the same thing and pays the same. Civilization survived because nothing changed.

            • michaelmrose 313 days ago

              I'm not sure we are browsing the same web. On firefox with ublock I only see pages open in response to explicit actions like clicking on a link. Popups of the style seen in the 90s just aren't a thing anymore for me.

            • _o_ 313 days ago

              This one strips more tracking tags and you can use your own list in configuration: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/neat-url/

              "utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content, utm_campaign, utm_reader, utm_place, utm_userid, utm_cid, utm_name, utm_pubreferrer, utm_swu, utm_viz_id, ga_source, ga_medium, ga_term, ga_content, ga_campaign, ga_place, yclid, _openstat, fb_action_ids, fb_action_types, fb_ref, fb_source, action_object_map, action_type_map, action_ref_map, gs_l, pd_rd_r@amazon., pd_rd_w@amazon., pd_rd_wg@amazon., _encoding@amazon., psc@amazon., ved@google., ei@google., sei@google., gws_rd@google., cvid@bing.com, form@bing.com, sk@bing.com, sp@bing.com, sc@bing.com, qs@bing.com, pq@bing.com, feature@youtube.com, gclid@youtube.com, kw@youtube.com, $/ref@amazon., _hsenc, mkt_tok, hmb_campaign, hmb_medium, hmb_source"

              Regarding overshooting, try with this: https://adnauseam.io/

              "As online advertising becomes ever more ubiquitous and unsanctioned, AdNauseam works to complete the cycle by automating Ad clicks universally and blindly on behalf of its users. Built atop uBlock Origin, AdNauseam quietly clicks on every blocked ad, registering a visit on ad networks' databases. As the collected data gathered shows an omnivorous click-stream, user tracking, targeting and surveillance become futile."

              • jagthebeetle 313 days ago

                Missing, among possibly others, coremetrics tracking tags (cm_mmc)

                • redbluething 313 days ago

                  Also gclid and dclid. Not that I think this is a great idea.


                  • underlines 313 days ago

                    also missing google analytics cross-domain parameter _ga=xxxx

            • gregknicholson 313 days ago

              I'm not the one selling something. Maybe you need marketing, but I don't.

              On the other hand, if I'm actively trying to buy something, then I'll appreciate you telling me what you're selling.

              If I'm in a bike shop, it's because I want to buy a bike. The shop doesn't need to know where I was earlier. If you as a seller want to know more about your (potential) customers, maybe… ask them?

              • emgee_1 314 days ago

                Marketing is evil.

                It is lying on a massive scale.

                If I want something I’ m go to look for it not the other way around.

                If you track me I will dispise you and will root you out. Sort of /r

                • kbenson 313 days ago

                  > Marketing is evil. ... It is lying on a massive scale.

                  "Marketing" spans a very large area of activity. At one end, it's the signage in front of a store, or even on the door, that tells you what the place is.

                  You probably aren't trying to insinuate that store signage (or the online equivalent, a domain name), is evil, but that's essentially what you're saying by being so broad. That doesn't help the argument, doesn't help you, and doesn't result in useful discussion, so it's probably worth being a bit more concise.

                  • annabellish 313 days ago

                    Marketing isn't _intrinsically_ evil. If you buy widget A from FooCorp, but wish it had some piece of functionality it didn't and make a post on their feature request tracker saying you wished it had that functionality and then, upon the release of widget B they email you telling you they've released that and it does that thing you wanted, then that's a) marketing, and b) not evil.

                    Not only is it not evil, it's a targeted ad! You were _tracked_ to produce that ad!

                    In reality, that isn't how a good 90% of marketing really works. Instead, you got an unsolicited letter about widget 1 from a different company who bought your data from FooCorp, and widget 1 doesn't even do what you want, and because you don't buy it they sell your data to even more unscrupulous companies to get some return from their purchase.

                    I think it's important to recognise, though, that this didn't happen because marketing is evil. If everybody had just stuck to ethical forms of marketing then everyone would be better off, and we wouldn't need extensions like this which do screw things up for the people trying to be ethical.

                    It's just like ads: You can do ads well, and we _didn't_, and now good ads need to be thrown in the trash alongside everything else. The next thing we try and do we should _remember_ these common stories, and maybe next time we can be a bit more ethical and not poison our own well.

                    • ouid 313 days ago

                      I suppose it depends on your definition of intrinsic. Marketing is certainly ubiquitously evil because the people that produce it are strongly incentivized to con you, and there are no penalties for doing so.

                      • kbenson 313 days ago

                        That depends on the business selling the items. If they are stable, known and looking for any sort of repeat business, they are strongly incentivized to not con you, at least not in a way that leaves you upset with them later (if they trick you into buying something you like, I doubt that generally has negative consequences for them regardless of those other factors).

                        There's a big difference between the random online e-shop and the downtown storefront, or even big names like McDonalds. Many places are only successful because they've established a good, or at least reliable, reputation and people know what to expect.

                    • gk1 314 days ago

                      > If I want something I’ m go to look for it not the other way around.

                      And how are you going to find it? And how will you know that it's the right solution to what you need? And how will you compare it against other alternatives?

                      Marketing is about all these things--not just advertising.

                      • mrguyorama 313 days ago

                        >And how will you know that it's the right solution to what you need? And how will you compare it against other alternatives?

                        Since when has marketing EVER given you an honest outlook of these two questions? If you listen to the marketing of a product or service and make your judgement solely on that, then I have a bridge to sell

                        • axlprose 313 days ago

                          Do you get angry at small brick-and-mortar businesses that print their logos on their walls/windows so you can quickly identify them as well? What if they have small signs on the sidewalk listing their specials so you know what they offer? Or if they give you brochures with information about their company and what products they offer? Are you saying you'd rather them not do all that, and tediously go around window shopping for yourself, or force independent 3rd parties to go around cataloging everything just so you know what the options are for whatever it is you're shopping for? Because all of those conveniences businesses currently provide count as marketing.

                          I'm no fan of invasive tracking or obnoxious sales techniques either, but marketing does serve an objectively useful purpose, as any small business owner will tell you. Demanding to do away with it entirely is just throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

                          • mrguyorama 313 days ago

                            If a mom and pop shop paid someone to follow me around all day and suggest their products/services for every little thing, and constantly remind me that they exist and what they do, and even recruit other mom and pop shops to do the same and share the info about where I was, I would ABSOLUTELY hate them.

                            I'm not asking independent third parties to do anything. I'm asking companies to let me do what a Free market is supposed to let me do: Let me make my own educated choices about what I purchase/use, untarnished by psychological tricks and manipulation and tracking.

                            • axlprose 313 days ago

                              The free market is also supposed to let businesses do just about anything legal they want to get more customers. So basically kinda like how it is now already. And just as you would expect in a free market, the consumers are reacting to these business practices with ad/tracking blockers.

                              I'm not defending shady tactics here, I'm being realistic about the functionality marketing provides despite the bad stuff. I get the annoyance, but there's no need to be calling all of marketing "evil" when the free market seems to still be working as it should. When a critical mass of consumers begin blocking all tracking utilities, businesses are going be forced to innovate around it one way or another anyway, and you'll get what you want. It may take a while for that to happen, but that's not a reason to be angry at marketing as a whole. Just continue voting with your wallet (or browser extensions in this case).

                              EDIT: really, downvotes? I don't even think we disagree, but whatever man. I wish I could be surprised at HN downvoting people trying to be calm and rational instead of emotional and hyperbolic, but that's just cliche at this point. I try to avoid commenting on controversial topics for this reason, but I guess I'll have to add "marketing" to my blacklist of topics as well now.

                              • gk1 313 days ago

                                FYI - HN does not allow users to downvote direct replies their posts. So it's not the person you're responding to who downvoted.

                        • psetq 313 days ago

                          All three of your questions can be answered by either using my own judgement, or reaching out to people more familiar with what I'm trying to accomplish with the product/purchase.

                          I'd trust a mechanic's opinion on what tools to buy much more than a tool company marketing department. I'd expect this type of thinking (being sceptical of "marketing") is pretty much common sense these days.

                          • gowld 313 days ago

                            How will that mechanic learn about the options?

                            • psetq 313 days ago

                              Can you really not imagine any way to learn about things existing without some marketing department telling you so, or do you just want me to say that not all marketing is bad or unnecessary, which I have no problem doing.

                              • ksk 312 days ago

                                Well, the only entity who knows about a product's existence is the product creator. Without them marketing it (organic or otherwise) nobody else would ever know.

                          • musage 313 days ago

                            > how will you compare it against other alternatives?

                            Before marketing made that a pain in the ass, I might have looked up reviews. I'm going to look at anything BUT the marketing to evaluate a product.

                            If you want to lump in shop signs with manipulative, needy stuff, like telemarketing to borderline mentally handicapped people, then do that. I'm not onboard, and if it takes foregoing shop signs to be allowed to root out the vampires once and for all, let's do that yesterday. Let the marketing retreat and secede from the creepy line, or lose it altogether.

                          • jklinger410 313 days ago

                            >It is lying on a massive scale.

                            What is marketing? Your local farmer's co-op overproduced corn and is having a sale, they want everyone to know.

                            How do they tell you? Run an ad! But ads are marketing. This means they are lying?

                            Your perception of marketing seems really narrow and confused.

                            • psetq 313 days ago

                              You're cherry-picking examples here. The "local farmer's co-op" is not a good representation of the advertising industry in general, and not likely to be very interested in utm tracking like that discussed in this thread.

                              Using "evil" like the upstream comments is a bit strong imo, but it's certainly not known for being a particularly "honest" industry.

                              • nailer 313 days ago

                                The upstream comment said marketing is evil - a broad ranging statement. The comment you're responding to picked an example of marketing - not an unusual instance, just a common example of the thing the parent called evil. This seems like a reasonable response.

                                • WaxProlix 313 days ago

                                  "Everyone passed the test" is generally understood, in the context of a classroom, to mean "the members of the salient set [students in class] passed the test".

                                  Saying "marketing is evil" in the context of a comment thread about GA stripping, replying to someone defending a specific brand of tracking-marketing, can reasonably be taken to refer to that variety of marketing: the contextually salient variety of marketing, which this submission and the current thread are about.

                                  • nerfhammer 313 days ago

                                    this is the motte and bailey argument technique: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Motte_and_bailey

                                    • WaxProlix 313 days ago

                                      Interesting in this case that you could maybe apply it to both situations:

                                      Motte 1: Marketing is valuable and helps people spread information. Bailey 1: Tracking your every move against your will is fine and also profitable.

                                      Motte 2: Tracking my every move is unacceptable and evil. Bailey 2: All marketing - even writing a blog post or website copy about products or approaches to problem solving - is inherently evil.

                                      I don't know which you were referring to, and I kind of like it this way.

                                    • nailer 313 days ago

                                      'Everyone' in a classroom meaning 'everyone in the class' is reasonable.

                                      'marketing is evil' meaning 'tracking based retargeting is evil' is not.

                                      • WaxProlix 313 days ago

                                        You can feel that way if you want, but moving the goalposts when OP was talking about tracking tokens and cookies so that you can interpret their responder as being opposed to eg graphic design on webpages or post-conference conversations is dishonest in my mind. The kinds of 'marketing' you would try to defend are probably not the kinds of things they were calling evil.

                                        • nailer 313 days ago

                                          You can feel that interpreting

                                          > 'marketing is evil'


                                          > 'marketing, in general, is evil'

                                          is "moving the goalposts".

                                          But I'd suggest you're putting a spin of your own on things here.

                                          • WaxProlix 313 days ago

                                            Well, what did GP say? It was a post entirely devoted to tracking-related modern marketing techniques. This post was a comment on a link entirely about defeating tracking-related modern marketing techniques. I'm not saying you're being intentionally disingenuous, just that my initial understanding of their post was apparently quite different from yours.

                                            Maybe that's worth reflecting on? To me, it seemed pretty straightforward that they were referring to marketing as it was being referred to in the post, comments, and link that we're ostensibly discussing.

                                            • nailer 313 days ago

                                              Sure, but if I wanted to make the point that tracking is evil, I'd say that. Obviously (due to the other reply that interpreted 'marketing as evil' as meaning exactly that) I'm not alone.

                                  • jklinger410 313 days ago

                                    >not likely to be very interested in utm tracking like that discussed in this thread.

                                    I am a digital advertiser that works direct with large and small clients. I use UTMs on every ad campaign I run.

                                    Everything we do to hurt these big companies in online advertising also hurts the small ones. They all use the same technologies.

                                  • AlexandrB 313 days ago

                                    This is so disingenuous. It’s like comparing an organic family farm to stuff like industrial hog production[1]. At some point a difference in scale becomes a difference in kind. For example - no farming coop in the world employs psychologists to help them better manipulate human weaknesses[2].

                                    [1] https://boingboing.net/2007/01/20/big-factory-pig-farm.html

                                    [2] http://www.psychologist-license.com/articles/marketing-psych...

                                    • mediocrejoker 313 days ago

                                      The comment you're replying to was, in turn, replying to a comment with the blanket statement that all marketing is evil, with no further explanation. Why do you say it's disingenuous?

                                      • systoll 313 days ago

                                        You added 'all' — he didn't say that. It was a generalisation, but not a universal statement.

                                        And there was further explanation.

                                      • 313 days ago
                                      • throwaway2048 313 days ago

                                        Many marketing people want to pretend the vast majority of ads are pure statements of factual information like that, when the vast majority of ads are about targeted surveylance, manipulation, factual misrepresentation, omission, or just outright lying and trying to make people feel inadequate so they buy some crap, especially online.

                                      • AdamM12 313 days ago

                                        I wasn't aware anyone from the marketing department of any company was putting a gun to my head. Power of the purse. Don't like it. Don't buy it.

                                        • zentiggr 313 days ago

                                          It's easy to decide how to vote with your wallet when the marketing efforts are visible and aboveboard.

                                          Not so easy when it's a company selling their CRM DB to another company with no notice and no recourse. Or the spammers and call spoofers and... and...

                                          Do we stop buying everything everywhere until backdoor data brokers are all revealed and shut down? All the tracking shops too? How do we get control of the rest of the iceberg?

                                          • altern8tif 313 days ago

                                            I don't think that's the point. Sure you can vote with your wallet, but it is still pretty annoying to have an insurance salesperson or a telemarketer make an irrelevant sales pitch to you every few minutes.

                                            While targetted ads should technically alleviate this annoyance, in reality it doesn't really work as well as advertised (pardon the pun).

                                      • noahth 314 days ago

                                        "makes it tougher for companies to manage their marketing spending" ok but... so what? It's absolutely not my responsibility to make it easy for companies to manage their marketing spending. If companies don't like how difficult it is to track or manage their marketing spending, I, for one, won't be losing sleep over their hardship.

                                        • lucideer 314 days ago

                                          > Marketing is not evil.

                                          This may be true in theory, but in practice countless examples are showing us—in news story after news story about company behaviours—that this is just not true in practice. Which is what counts.

                                          If you can come up with a way to regulate and/or discern those doing "evil" marketing from those doing benign marketing, please do. Until then, unless we can discern, marketing is effectively "evil".

                                          • stochastic_monk 314 days ago

                                            Oh, the industry as it stands is absolutely evil. Marketing isn't inherently evil, but this instantion is.

                                            Also, it's not "paranoia" when you are being tracked. And while there's not much you can do, there's no reason to not do little things you can.

                                          • DINKDINK 314 days ago

                                            >stripping them away offer no privacy benefit whatsoever.

                                            If marketing company derive value off of tracking a user then yes there clearly is a privacy value of stripping UTM from a url. You needn't be that creative to think of an example.

                                            client: "Hi I'd like to see what sort of flights you have available."

                                            "Hmm ok I see that you're linked to us from WealthyPeople.com, guess I'll mark up your ticket price"

                                            There are certainly are markets that open up when users allow themselves to be tracked but allowing users to consent to being surveilled is a fundamental right.

                                            The right to privacy is the right to be left alone.

                                            • nkrisc 313 days ago

                                              > It just makes it tougher for companies to manage their marketing spending.

                                              Frankly, that's not my problem. I don't know what they're tracking and why, but I'll err on the side of not being tracked, however harmless it may appear.

                                              • NelsonMinar 313 days ago

                                                You know, I tried politely setting Do-Not-Track in my headers to express my preferences. The marketers and publishers laughed and ignored my expressed preferences. So now all I can do is fight back any way I know how.

                                                What I really want is an extension that somehow corrupts the UTM data so that the trackers have bad data.

                                                • greglindahl 313 days ago

                                                  Hm, I could supply a list of utm parameters observed in the wild. Then you could substitute a randomly picked but valid set of parameters...

                                                  • virtzzz 313 days ago

                                                    The only problem with that is that they'd have no idea the data would be bad. Even if they did, there's nothing stopping the marketers from taking the bad data as proof one or the other campaign was actually working.

                                                    • greglindahl 313 days ago

                                                      I'm OK with both of those "problems".

                                                • tinus_hn 314 days ago

                                                  If I buy a product and they ask where I heard about it, I make a decision whether I want to tell them or not and if not, I will tell them nothing or if they insist on something, a lie.

                                                  These parameters make the choice for me. They have no benefit for me but block my right to determine what I want to give away.

                                                  You do not have a right to track me. As for these parameters being harmless to my privacy, I will be the judge of that. In my opinion everything that allows you to see something about me harms my privacy, so not allowing you to see it benefits my privacy. It’s just a matter of how much I allow you to harm my privacy.

                                                  • millstone 313 days ago

                                                    Podcasts are great at this. Sponsors create podcast-specific URLs which are advertised on the show. It's completely up to the listeners, and I find I'm happy to support my favorite podcasts by telling the sponsors where I heard about them by visiting the custom landing pages.

                                                    Podcasting's zero-telemetry "just an audio file" nature makes the ads feel harmless too. Podcasts are an anachronism, but they're way less user-hostile than the web.

                                                  • SeoxyS 313 days ago

                                                    Because the user experience sucks. I hate copying a URL and have a bunch of meaningless garbage included in wherever I paste it, as happens with pages that leaves UTM artifacts in the query string.

                                                    I don't care at all about the tracking aspect of removing UTM, I care about how it makes the internet shittier to use.

                                                    • harry-wood 313 days ago

                                                      Exactly. But not just when copying a URL. Short, simple URLs look nicer and feel better. This is basic web design, but somewhere along the line we've allowed salesy/marketing nonsense to infest our web.

                                                      This spells out the issues really well (with a funny video) https://wistia.com/blog/fresh-url The suggested solution on there "Fresh URL" is interesting, although it's throwing more javascript at the problem.

                                                    • phyzome 313 days ago

                                                      "This is super important for any company that runs multiple channel marketing."

                                                      World's tiniest violin, dude.

                                                      • gowld 313 days ago

                                                        Do you have a job that pays you with funds generated by marketed goods and services?

                                                        • russh 313 days ago

                                                          Yes, as a matter fact I do. I work for an ISP and we don't track shit except whether you paid your bill or not.

                                                          • Trundle 313 days ago

                                                            Irrelevant. That's like asking why someone is moving a tiny car around a board while playing monopoly just because they had suggested poker for games night.

                                                            Someone can prefer the world be a different way while still participating in it as is.

                                                            • phyzome 309 days ago

                                                              Sure! But that's neither here nor there.

                                                              1) I don't have a choice, since everyone does it; 2) many types of marketing are just fine; 3) if everyone stopped doing this kind of tracking, it's not like the businesses would fail.

                                                              • zentiggr 313 days ago

                                                                Would employees still get paid if their company didn't sell their information, or buy others'?

                                                                Unethical marketing behavior is never going to be the make or break point for a company, it's just plain greed showing through.

                                                            • falcon620 314 days ago

                                                              In my case: no privacy paranoia (I just assume everything is being tracked and there's very little I can do about it).

                                                              I just hate

                                                              a) having ugly URLs

                                                              b) having to manually edit the URLS before copy/pasting them somewhere else.

                                                              Many sites nowadays actually have thoughtfully designed URL schemes. But then there's so often this GA crap that destroys the esthetics.

                                                              As an example, the URL that triggered me to go find this particular extension was:


                                                              (hex chars randomly manipulated for paranoid reasons, hehe.)

                                                              • matheusmoreira 313 days ago

                                                                Nobody felt the need to justify tracking the personal information of billions of people for their own benefits. Nobody asked if we were OK with it; they just did it. Nobody offered us any compensation for this supposedly valuable data they were gathering about us and our daily lives. Nobody offered us so much as an explanation or made any effort at being transparent about data gathering; they just put up a cryptic terms of service document at the footer of the page that say "we reserve the right to collect this data because reasons". If people hadn't become "paranoid" about user tracking, we wouldn't even have found out about how extensive it is and how much companies share with governments in the first place.

                                                                So why do we have to justify anything to corporations? Why should we care if they lose some millions marketing to the wrong people? Not our problem. Honestly, it's the company's own fault for trusting user input so blindly. Tracking users is not a right, it is a privilege and it can be revoked.

                                                                • sugarpile 314 days ago

                                                                  (Modern) Advertising is a fundamental betrayal of human trust. Anything to hinder it is a step in the right direction, imo

                                                                  • rosser 313 days ago

                                                                    I don't "owe" a business I interact with "clean" data on how well their marketing campaigns are working.

                                                                    The extent of my obligation to J. Random Web Business, vis à vis my interactions with them, is to give them their asking price in exchange for their product or service offerings which I consume.

                                                                    • hinkley 313 days ago

                                                                      The tool at the hardware store should cost $30 no matter how badly I need it. Capitalism doesn’t agree with this but Society does. It’s considered predatory to use “too much data” when negotiating with a customer. This is literally a movie trope.

                                                                      Ad absurdum: imagine if a restaurant could charge you more for food if they knew how hungry you were, or how badly you needed to go to the bathroom. This is not information they need to possess.

                                                                    • monochromatic 313 days ago

                                                                      I never consented to being tracked, and it provides me no benefits whatsoever. The number of times I’ve made a purchase based on internet advertising can be counted on one hand—probably on a hand without any fingers.

                                                                      I don’t give a damn if stripping garbage out of urls makes it harder for a company to track me. Why should I?

                                                                      • dpedu 314 days ago

                                                                        I strip these when manually sharing a URL for the sake of readability.

                                                                        • partiallypro 313 days ago

                                                                          I do the same thing, I would actually like a browser extension that strips the UTM code from my clipboard or from any sharing dialogue box. Sometimes this interferes (I have no idea why?) with link previews on social media, which is highly annoying.

                                                                        • krageon 313 days ago

                                                                          There's a whole slew of arguments that could be made here, but let's keep it simple: Providing anyone with information about me should be a voluntary act. If I choose not to do so, it is none of your or anyone else's business why I do not want to.

                                                                          This choice is not available in the case of UTM's, at least not in a transparent way that doesn't involve manually stripping them from every URL you click (which is sensitive to user error).

                                                                          • Moru 314 days ago

                                                                            I understand that most people on hackernews sees advertising as something important and that the world would be a worse place without it. But not everyone are able to cope with the modern overload of information competing with our attention so you will have to excuse me for blocking out everything not needed.

                                                                            Its not all about privacy and conspiracy, some of us are just trying to avoid burnout.

                                                                            • noer 314 days ago

                                                                              >But not everyone are able to cope with the modern overload of information competing with our attention so you will have to excuse me for blocking out everything not needed

                                                                              I'm not sure how UTM Tags contribute to the modern overload of information competing for your attention.

                                                                              • Moru 313 days ago

                                                                                Im sure you realize that the tags are used for ads sooner or later.

                                                                              • gk1 314 days ago

                                                                                > ...some of us are just trying to avoid burnout.

                                                                                ... from UTM tags?

                                                                              • gwbas1c 313 days ago

                                                                                Marketing worked without this kind of tracking for the entire 20th century.

                                                                                • creatonez 313 days ago


                                                                                  Reddit immediately redirects to hide these parameters. Definitely not transparent.

                                                                                  Transparent would be: you're aware about the tracking before it can happen

                                                                                  • ouid 313 days ago

                                                                                    >Marketing is not evil. It's how the world works. You need to market something to be able to sell it.

                                                                                    I can request information about products that I might be interested in. The nice thing about this is that I can request it from a source that I consider to be objective, in the context of alternatives.

                                                                                    Moreover, I think you would probably consider it evil if a tech review service were receiving money under the table from say, Intel, to say that their products were better than their competition. Why should I be forced to allow Intel to make those claims directly through injected javascript or whatever?

                                                                                    Advertising from the source is intrinsically dishonest.

                                                                                    • danmg 313 days ago

                                                                                      The fact this elicits such a strong response is proof that it's needed.

                                                                                      • textmode 313 days ago

                                                                                        According to Github the author is affiliated with Pinterest.

                                                                                        Perhaps he or Pinterest has a need for this.

                                                                                        Outside of the browser, I routinely work with urls in bulk and strip them of unnecessary cruft to make them as short as possible and thus easier for me to store and manage. Cruft attached to urls for tracking purposes serves me no purpose and makes for longer urls and potentially more special characters like ampersands to worry about escaping or encoding. This add-on cruft is not necessary to retrieve the resource identified by the url.

                                                                                        • ordu 313 days ago

                                                                                          > UTMs offer a transparent, honest way of tracking where a user is coming from.

                                                                                          Thank you for the offer, but I need no tracking of my movements.

                                                                                          > Marketing is not evil.

                                                                                          It is evil. Every time I search for info, I need to filter out all the marketing bullshit from google results. All marketing is a lie or at least a manipulation with one goal to make me buy something that I wouldn't buy otherwise.

                                                                                          So I will do all I can to make life of marketers harder. I just hate them for all their informational white noise in the Internet.

                                                                                          • fwdpropaganda 314 days ago

                                                                                            > Making impossible for company to track their marketing effort doesn't protect your privacy.

                                                                                            Yes it does.

                                                                                            • ChoGGi 313 days ago

                                                                                              I read an article a while ago about some scientist who decided that he wanted to go around investigating a certain species of leech that lives inside a hippo's butt, like attached directly to the colon. He suggested that, as big as the hippo is, it probably wasn't really all that aware that the leeches are even in its butt, but that's where the leech likes to be because there's a good source of blood there for the leech to feed on.

                                                                                              Now, the scientist is probably right, the hippo probably goes its whole life not really knowing that it has all these leeches in its butt. It might feel a little pain in the butt, but the hippo probably isn't concerned with why that pain is there, much less how or even if it can get rid of it, it's just something that the hippo has always lived with. The hippo accepts that one of the facts of daily life is that you just need to live with some pain in your butt.

                                                                                              Now, imagine (and believe me, this is a hypothetical), if the hippo let someone root around inside its butt and remove every one of the leeches, and even stop any others from attaching. It might take a day or two to get used to and get back to normal, but the hippo would wake up one day and realize that it no longer has a pain in its butt. It can still do everything it used to do, it can frolic in the water, it can roam around and find the tender little pieces of grass, it can do that thing where it poops and swishes its tail around to spread it all over its neighbors, and it realizes that it can do all of those things it likes without having that pain in its butt.

                                                                                              Now, maybe the leeches could talk. Maybe the leeches talk to the hippos and they say things like, listen, hippo, my life cycle depends on you letting me get into your butt when you're in the water. I need to drink your blood and drop out some eggs, so that other leeches can be born and start the cycle all over again. It's not really a big price you pay, I mean sure, there's a little pain in your butt, but I need you to do this. If you want to get in the water, it's just something you have to deal with. It's the price of admission. If you get in the water without letting me in your butt, it's like you're stealing the water.

                                                                                              I bet that the hippo would hear that, and would still want to continue going about its day without any pain in its butt. I don't think the hippo would feel very sorry for the butt leech. Sure, maybe the butt leech contributes to the aquatic ecosystem, maybe its eggs or the dead leeches get eaten by other things and fertilize the grass that the hippo likes to eat. But, if the leeches weren't there, the grass would just find other nutrients. Even though the leech is trying to argue that it's a necessary part of this ecosystem, it's actually just a pain in the butt. In reality, despite what it tells everyone else, the major beneficiary of anything that the butt leech does is the actual butt leech.

                                                                                              Anyway, I just had a thought that advertisers kind of sound like hippo butt leeches.

                                                                                              • jessaustin 313 days ago

                                                                                                When I read something like this, it makes me wonder if the marketing industry has some sort of "branding" problem. Maybe they could get some real experts to work on that?

                                                                                              • jasonkostempski 314 days ago

                                                                                                Marketing isn't evil, the marketing industry is.

                                                                                                • zentiggr 313 days ago

                                                                                                  Seconded - marketing that sticks to "how can we put the most compelling description of <product> on our own site so that it is easily searchable" is absolutely cool.

                                                                                                  It's the other 99% that tries to suck all the information they can out of anyone they come in contact with, they need to go.

                                                                                                • deviationblue 313 days ago

                                                                                                  Pay me for my information. That's how the world works- no free lunches. But apparently there are.

                                                                                                  • 313 days ago
                                                                                                    • ggg9990 313 days ago

                                                                                                      How did poor advertisers manage when advertising was on TV and billboards and couldn’t be tracked?

                                                                                                      • zentiggr 313 days ago

                                                                                                        How did poor advertisers manage when advertising was hiring hawkers to stand on street corners and holler out the ad messages?

                                                                                                      • vladus2000 313 days ago

                                                                                                        Bill Hicks does a good job of explaining my thoughts on the matter:


                                                                                                        But on a more serious note, while I somewhat agree that not all marketing is evil, some absolutely is. I do not consider the marketing that cigarette companies did to knowingly hook kids on an addictive, cancer causing substance a good thing; I find it rather evil. Since it can be used for evil, I would rather make it as difficult as possible for them to use it against me. It might be a mostly pointless exercise, but it makes me feel better about it.

                                                                                                        • dingaling 313 days ago

                                                                                                          Even Bill Hicks relied on marketing to advertise his shows.

                                                                                                          • zentiggr 313 days ago

                                                                                                            Once again someone fails to separate passive marketing that provides knowledge about a product and allows customers to decide, from active marketing that seeks to manipulate and deceive.

                                                                                                            • ionised 313 days ago

                                                                                                              Was he tracking all of his fans?

                                                                                                          • zippitydoodah68 313 days ago

                                                                                                            Let's see. 1. They get my browser transmitted information as corollary to my browsing habits which they then resell, pester me with, and analyze in order to create a dialectic which is flawed, impersonal and does not necessarily profit me. 2. Ergo: since when should I care about a random companies spend when they (indirectly) determine what I am spending in the first place? 3. If you really believe that tracking and an open society are good things make them available to all and offer them to everyone. I predict that will go badly. Self interest being what it is whether corporate or individual.

                                                                                                            • nialv7 313 days ago

                                                                                                              How does making company impossible to track me not protecting my privacy?

                                                                                                              And I think there is a cognitive gap in your argument: I am a user, I am not a company, I am not trying to sell anything to anyone. So why should I be empathic towards marketing? Ads, marketing and tracking does zero, if not negative, good to me. And that is why I will have ad blockers enabled at all time.

                                                                                                              > Marketing is not evil

                                                                                                              Whether it's evil or not doesn't concern me. I just really don't like them.

                                                                                                              > UTMs parameters are absolutely harmless and stripping them away offer no privacy benefit whatsoever.

                                                                                                              Again, care to explain why is there not privacy benefit?

                                                                                                              • jlarocco 314 days ago

                                                                                                                Honestly, I don't care. I just don't trust that companies won't covertly use them for tracking.

                                                                                                                I don't plan on using this extension, though, because I block all of the Google Analytics javascript files.

                                                                                                                • fredsanford 313 days ago

                                                                                                                  In that case, they can parse the data from the referrer logs.

                                                                                                                • tzahola 313 days ago

                                                                                                                  I don’t care about their marketing campaigns. I consider marketing inherently harmful, as it uses up resources that would have been spent on improving the actual product.

                                                                                                                  • LandoCalrissian 314 days ago

                                                                                                                    I'll pour one out for the poor marketing companies.

                                                                                                                    • pvg 313 days ago

                                                                                                                      This is super important for any company that runs multiple channel marketing.

                                                                                                                      It is totally not important to me or anyone I want to give a URL to.

                                                                                                                      • andrei_says_ 313 days ago

                                                                                                                        Exactly, stripping UTM just screws with the results of (often small) businesses using google analytics trying to figure what campaigns/content efforts work.

                                                                                                                        GA does not provide any individually identifiable info to its users.

                                                                                                                        Stripping the params does not prevent google from tracking you internally.

                                                                                                                        So I am not sure what this is trying to accomplish.

                                                                                                                        • Traubenfuchs 313 days ago

                                                                                                                          I don't want to participate in your multiple channel marketing, thank you very much.

                                                                                                                          • magissima 314 days ago

                                                                                                                            UTMs are aesthetically unpleasing to me and that's all the reason I need to get rid of them.

                                                                                                                            • 313 days ago
                                                                                                                              • Trundle 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                I don't see what the sentence "its how the world works" has to do with "marketing is not evil". At least not for your argument.

                                                                                                                                • denzil_correa 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                  The paranoia comes from the lack of transparency and "Informed Consent" about tracking.

                                                                                                                                  • _o_ 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                    It is not harmless. As far I am concerned, it is no problem if you track it with your own analytics like piwik. For that part I don't care (unless you are having urls like aliexpress). But giving those information to 3rd party is something else.

                                                                                                                                    • draw_down 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                      Who said they need it?

                                                                                                                                      Changing query strings is also not evil. It’s something that can happen on the web and marketers need to deal with that. I can’t believe the sanctimony of this comment.

                                                                                                                                      • taf2 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                        This issue will get worse... As people choose to remove transparent forms of tracking... utm parameters, cookies, etc... we find "better" ways that aren't as obvious. Really it's a choice... we can have clear tracking or we can have hidden tracking... blanket blocking is going to lead to a much harder to block and aware form of tracking. As the saying goes... "be careful what you wish for"

                                                                                                                                        • zentiggr 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                          That reads like "we are going to do this somehow, we refuse to give up and we don't give a rat's ass how shitty we have to be to accomplish our goals"

                                                                                                                                          That makes it an absolute priority to cut "you" off at the knees and make your goal impossible, as you have just told us you are scum and need to be cleansed from the world.

                                                                                                                                          Prove otherwise and we can consider allowing you back in the pool with the people who know how to respect others.

                                                                                                                                          • michaelmrose 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                            Alternatively we could just regulate matters until the only way for them to make money is to stand in front of a frier and make french fries.

                                                                                                                                            Acting like this is a losing battle makes such a foregone conclusion. Marketing is like 0.0001% of the population its ok for the rest of us to disagree and regulate them to the degree required to ensure our continued wellbeing even if this means regulating them virtually out of existence.

                                                                                                                                            • unpopular42 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                              You, yourself, personally, are about .000000013% of the population.

                                                                                                                                              Is it ok for the rest of us to regulate you out of existence? I feel like this is required to ensure our continued wellbeing, given that you spend time spreading utter idiocy.

                                                                                                                                              • michaelmrose 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                In the united states we hold that people have a right to exist and a right to freely express themselves. Even express yourself like you are right now.

                                                                                                                                                However both commercial speech and collection of personal data may be subject to both regulation and technical limitation without raising a constitutional question unlike you know killing people with inconvenient ideas.

                                                                                                                                                Your industry is odious and if 90% of it dies not much will be lost. You don't have a right to make a living in a certain fashion if the way you make a living is detrimental to the rest of us.

                                                                                                                                                Even if I'm the 0.000000013% I and people like myself who don't work in marketing are the 99.999% Our well being matters more than your paycheck.

                                                                                                                                                Personal data collection has a good chance to effect millions negatively in the coming years and I can't imagine why we who stand to lose wouldn't regard people like yourself as the enemy.

                                                                                                                                                If you don't like making french fries apply whatever useful skills you possess to good ends elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                            • matheusmoreira 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                              So your idea is to enter a technological arms race with the people who physically control the machine your tracking code is going to run on? This approach isn't working very well for the people trying to fight ad blockers.

                                                                                                                                              • AlexandrB 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                We already have tons of hidden tracking and fingerprinting. It’s never enough is it?

                                                                                                                                                • Moru 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  We already have hidden tracking, another reason to blanket block everything.

                                                                                                                                              • skytrue 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                Just going to pile on here and say that GA is pretty benign. I’m very anti-tracking, but GA at least provides a minimally invasive way to verify whether or not you are providing value to a specific audience.

                                                                                                                                                It’s impossible to always create something perfect for the right audience. It’s a lot of guess work. Without having at least a little data, it’s like shooting in the dark.

                                                                                                                                                • fapjacks 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  Okay. But is it benign in the context of all of the other information Google tracks?

                                                                                                                                                  • stephengillie 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    Google already questions me - "Were you at Seward Park from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm on May 10th 2018?"

                                                                                                                                                    They can combine my maps and analytics usage to see when I'm at a PC and when I'm out and about.

                                                                                                                                                    Additionally, they have my login data to a number of sites. And my Youtube history. As well as everything sent back by Android and Chrome. And my Gmail history.

                                                                                                                                                    • Sylos 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                      > As well as everything sent back by Android and Chrome.

                                                                                                                                                      And if you use Chrome Sync, they also have (and legally declare that they will use) your browsing history.

                                                                                                                                                  • gpvos 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    GA is not benign at all, since it allows Google to track you across websites. It is an abomination that needs to be stamped out radically. You can use piwik or something else that you can run from your own domain.

                                                                                                                                                    • falcon620 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                      So, just to repeat my stance: Google already knows everything about me. I have accepted that, sort of.

                                                                                                                                                      However, they have crossed a line: they have made URLs ugly by default.

                                                                                                                                                      • nfoz 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                        Google doesn't know everything about me. I don't use gmail, I don't use google search, and I have an iPhone.

                                                                                                                                                        GA gives them basically all of my browsing habits. It's crazy.

                                                                                                                                                        • harry-wood 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                          I agree. For me tracking is an annoyance, but this particular practice should be regarded as bad web design. It should be roundly denounced by the tech community. Why are so many web developers so willing to mess up their URLs in this way?

                                                                                                                                                          • teej 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            Not sure I totally get this argument. The U in UTM tag stands for Urchin. They set this standard sometime before they were acquired by Google in 2005.

                                                                                                                                                          • fortythirteen 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            GA is a cog in a much more nefarious machine, no matter how "benign" it might be on its own.

                                                                                                                                                            Analytics, maps, recaptcha, and fonts, not to mention all the data siphoned from Android, are pieces of a mass surveillance apparatus, used openly for advertising, but potentially shared with governments around the world.

                                                                                                                                                            • gpvos 311 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              It's bad enough even when it stays inside Google and isn't shared with anyone else.

                                                                                                                                                          • Jerry2 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            There is also this extension that strips tracking parameters from all kinds of trackers and not just from the Google one:



                                                                                                                                                          • f2n 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            I used to use something called UTM Mangler that would replace the referral links with shock sites. I felt that was much better than simply removing them.

                                                                                                                                                            Here's the github, it looks like the chrome extension linked in the README is no longer there: https://github.com/huntwelch/UTM-Mangler

                                                                                                                                                            • madeofpalk 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              Wow, what a horrible, shitting thing to do.

                                                                                                                                                              I use Google Analytics for a side project site I run for the video game Destiny. I like to look at referral URLs so I can see if some publication has linked to me, if a video has been made about my site, or if there's a discussion on reddit going on that would be relevant.

                                                                                                                                                              I know it's popular to think about the only entities using analytics are big faceless organisations and sending them to graphic porn websites is cool, but please remember that a) they're still just humans and b) people run cute little side projects like mine and I don't want to see tubgirl or whatever when going through my referrals.

                                                                                                                                                              Block GA, strip referrals, whatever. I don't care. Just please don't abuse people like this.

                                                                                                                                                              • monochromatic 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                You're not concerned about my rights. Why should I be concerned about yours?

                                                                                                                                                                Seriously--if you're abusing my privacy by tracking me without my consent (without my ACTUAL consent), what makes you think you have any moral claim whatsoever over me?

                                                                                                                                                                • platinumrad 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  Just because someone violates your rights in some way doesn't mean that you can now do literally anything in response.

                                                                                                                                                                  I agree that web tracking is pernicious but responding proportionally is important. The person who ends up clicking on that link very well may have no decision making power in their organization. There's a good chance they're some random minimum wage contractor that found the job through a temp agency. Why is it okay for you to subject them to potentially traumatic content?

                                                                                                                                                                  • jenscow 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                    Two wrongs don't make a right.

                                                                                                                                                                    You really don't want to be sending offensive material out to people. you don't know who the recipient could be. The chances are it's just their job, and the decision to track you wasn't theirs.

                                                                                                                                                                    • sincerely 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                      Remember how we, as a society, pretty much unanimously decided "it's just their job" wasn't a valid excuse...about half a century ago ?

                                                                                                                                                                      • platinumrad 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                        There's a fairly big difference in severity between web tracking and the Holocaust.

                                                                                                                                                                        • sincerely 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          Obviously, but that doesn't change the validity of the argument

                                                                                                                                                                          • platinumrad 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                            The point is that "just doing your job" when your job is web advertising does not warrant a (psychologically) violent response while "just doing your job' when your job is the Holocaust does warrant a violent response.

                                                                                                                                                                      • ionised 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                        Why is that our problem?

                                                                                                                                                                    • politician 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                      (As I asked in the other peer comment, but am curious about your reaction as well) Would it change your mind if the OP were doing it as a form of guerrilla advertising for those sites?

                                                                                                                                                                      • madeofpalk 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                        Okay so sending graphic/abusive porn in place of referrer tags to every website you visit is just such a disgusting, fucked up thing to do. Like, if you do this you're objectively a bad person.

                                                                                                                                                                        If you're doing "guerrilla advertising for those sites" - I just think you're a wanker. It's ineffective and silly.

                                                                                                                                                                        • harry-wood 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          Not "every website you visit". Every website you visit where the developers chosen to use messy URLs for tracking.

                                                                                                                                                                          • adjkant 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                            Okay I don't think either of these are really that bad but in no world can you justify a bad action by saying "they made URL's ugly". No.

                                                                                                                                                                          • 313 days ago
                                                                                                                                                                        • matheusmoreira 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          The fact of the matter is these referral links are sent to you by the user agent. As the name implies, that program is entirely under the control of the user. Just because the browser makes HTTP requests automatically when loading pages doesn't mean someone can't craft a custom HTTP request with completely made up metadata and send it to your servers.

                                                                                                                                                                          It's not really any different from random people sending you random links over a messaging service. Would you click on any "interesting" links sent to you by people you don't know, much less trust? It's the same thing. Offensive websites might have shock value but they're actually quite harmless after you close the tab. What if it's a malware site that exploits some 0day in your browser?

                                                                                                                                                                        • beager 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          > I felt [sending marketers to shock sites] was much better than simply removing [UTM tags].

                                                                                                                                                                          I can understand wanting to tailor your own online experience for speed or privacy. But this is petty, ugly, and vindictive.

                                                                                                                                                                        • harry-wood 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          To add some contrast to this discussion, let me say that I think it looks quite neat :-) I see some folks here are quite shocked by it. Maybe using these shock site URLs (https://github.com/huntwelch/UTM-Mangler/blob/master/utm-man... ) is a bit over the top.

                                                                                                                                                                          I was casually musing about such an idea myself a while back: https://twitter.com/harry_wood/status/735048026335682561 . This offers a way to more actively fight back against the over-use of messy UTM URLs. Perhaps a gentler thing to do would be to link to a place/places which re-educate web developers on how to design URLs. (It seems there's a few folk round here who need some re-education on this matter!)

                                                                                                                                                                          • portugee 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't see how deliberately providing false data to organization is amusing here. If you don't want your web sessions tracked that's fine, but there are legitimate reasons for websites to want to understand user behavior. Some of it is for digital marketing purposes but also for usability, for example, how are folks getting to our documentation, is this prominent enough?

                                                                                                                                                                            Seems a popular opinion that user tracking = bad but it's more nuanced than that.

                                                                                                                                                                            • nfoz 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                              Browser user-agents are already lies, they already "inject" misleading data as a normal part of your web communications. Frankly, I think the fact that going to example.com means my browser could start sending my personal data to google-analytics.com and several other sites behind-the-scenes is also a "misleading" yet normal standard of web usage.

                                                                                                                                                                              My point here is that, where you see a dishonest human communication, could just as easily have been a different convention in the computer protocol. It's pretty fuzzy where bits of data you send down the wire suddenly have real human-semantic communication impact. The Law has to make those choices, but as hackers we know that it's fundamentally a bit arbitrary, and the Law will only choose to enshrine the conventions that we -- as technologists -- have already set in course anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                              Maybe it feels dishonest to fudge tracking info -- but to me it feels more dishonest for that tracking mechanism to have become part of the convention of how the web works in the first place. The only question maybe is what point in time are we at: do our actions precede the enshrining of the standards, or are we still forging them. Am I "allowed" to save minimal amounts of bandwidth by dropping ugly parts of URLs, or is that violating a human contract we've chosen to interpret from those bits.

                                                                                                                                                                              My voice is to the former. The web is unstable; we've let advertising companies run wild for far too long, with the real danger that it's let bad behaviour become the norm. When this goes from social-convention into law, it's too late. But the more normal it is for software to do things differently -- express digital freedom differently -- the more time we have to build a web-convention that gives more power to users.

                                                                                                                                                                              If they choose to interpret URLs in magical funny ways, so be it, but it's their fault for trusting silly data that silly web browsers are free to do what they want with. Hack the planet.

                                                                                                                                                                              • bassman9000 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                it's more nuanced than that.

                                                                                                                                                                                Well, the trackers have shown none, for a long time. Now they're on the spotlight, it's all complains. Who has to shown restraint, the tracked, or the tracker?

                                                                                                                                                                                • monochromatic 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                  It's not my responsibility to help you with usability or anything else that you consider "legitimate."

                                                                                                                                                                                  • politician 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                    Would it change your mind if the OP were doing it as a form of guerrilla advertising for those sites?

                                                                                                                                                                                    • portugee 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                      No. It's still deliberately injecting misleading data.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • politician 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                        That's how a lot of people feel about the current state of advertising on the web.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • colemickens 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                          So what? Is "portugee" your real name? I have no obligation or contract that I will "not modify URL parameters".

                                                                                                                                                                                          • colemickens 311 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                            Cool that no one responded and I just got downvoted. Let me just say I openly laugh at anyone that thinks I have some implicit responsiblity or obligation to not modify the URL of a website I'm visiting. Actual laughter that someone would get indignant about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                            edit: And somehow this is auto-downvoted within 30 seconds? This website is so fantastic!

                                                                                                                                                                                    • tzahola 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                      Haha! Nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                      We should turn this into an addon that automatically mangles every URL.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • gk1 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                        > Want to mess with SEO people and those marketers trying to optimize another fucking branding tweet? Me too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Why? If you found the link interesting enough to click, why worry about it getting logged?

                                                                                                                                                                                      • nwj 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                        For those on Firefox, NeatURL[1] does this too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        [1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/neat-url/

                                                                                                                                                                                        • laumars 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                          The linked repo does Firefox as well. Not sure why the HN title[1] is Chrome specific because that's not the title on GitHub. But it's still a handy submission regardless.

                                                                                                                                                                                          [1] At time of writing, "chrome-utm-stripper: Chrome extension to strip Google Analytics data from URLs"

                                                                                                                                                                                      • lmkg 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                        This extension is only mildly useful. The UTM parameters are generally pretty coarse-grained. They don't add information that comes close to individually identifying users. Especially compared to the rest of what Google Analytics tracks by default, the additional data from UTM parameters is very small.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Your privacy is much more impacted by the GCLID and DCLID query parameters, which are added by AdWords and DoubleClick campaigns respectively. This are auto-generated by their respective tools and are much more granular.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • ianhawes 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                          IIRC GCLID and DCLID parameters can't be queried except by Google Analytics.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • greglindahl 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                            utm parameters also appear in your web logs, and can totally be used to identify individual users.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • guessmyname 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                            I created another extension with the same functionality [1] but also added functions to fix other type of links, Amazon product pages [2] for example. Unfortunately, I moved to Safari and have had no time to port the code. If anyone is interested, feel free to fork and improve it [3] — (the main purpose of the extension is to mark links as read though).

                                                                                                                                                                                            [1] https://github.com/cixtor/markasread/blob/master/markasread....

                                                                                                                                                                                            [2] https://github.com/cixtor/markasread/blob/master/markasread....

                                                                                                                                                                                            [3] https://github.com/cixtor/markasread

                                                                                                                                                                                            • falcon620 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                              I am not the author. I was just so tired of having to manually strip crap like "?utm_term=.b1e20fe33a88" from the end of URLs before sharing them. This extension solves that problem nicely.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I wonder why Google doesn't build something into Chrome that just hides this crap from the visible URL? I guess they could get some PR pushback from paranoids if they did that though. Better to just hide behind some fictitious UTM Inc.

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Ajedi32 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think the share UI in Chrome mobile already strips that data, provided the site you're on defines a canonical URL in a link tag.

                                                                                                                                                                                                • amelius 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I want my browser to strip UTM from links when I follow them, not just when I share them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • madeofpalk 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Why? Just install a blocker extension to stop all of these analytics and tracking solutions, rather than fairly benign UTM tags.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • MightySCollins 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The site you visit can still use that information with an ad blocker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                • phirschybar 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                  cheers. this was the first appealing thing that came to mind. I am constantly stripping off those query string parameters just to share stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • 314 days ago
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • jpz 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Is it safe to use any of these Chrome extensions? I get quite paranoid about them these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • koolba 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the end comes down to whether you trust the developer, not the current code, as an "evil" update could come down the line. Heck the developer could even sell the extension and let someone else be evil...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Sylos 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Come to Firefox, we have actual human beings that look at the source code of new or updated extensions and a strict no telemetry policy (unless the user opts in).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • jagthebeetle 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately, or not, GA makes it very easy to work around this. By default, it will do its UTM parsing serverside these days based on the page URL the webmaster sends to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        So all I have to do as a webmaster is start using `?aaa_source=foo&aaa_medium=bob`

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Then I do `ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’, location.pathname.replace(/aaa/g, ‘utm’)`

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A more robust implementation would have to modify the web request to GA itself, assuming the goal is to destroy that data.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        EDIT: Upon looking at the actual implementation (`chrome.webRequest.onBeforeRequest`), the points above should be addressable: the key is to strip out potentially URL-encoded utm values in the requets sent to GA [1], which may be either in the query string or the (beacon) POST payload shipped to google-analytics.com).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        i.e. `google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&dp={url-encoded-path-with-utm-values}` should be purged as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        [1]: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • BerislavLopac 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is the bookmarklet I've been using for the same purpose:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • CapacitorSet 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                            A Mozilla extension that covers utm_ and more: https://github.com/idlewan/link_cleaner

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • 314 days ago
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • neovive 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Out of curiosity, do utm tags still offer much value beyond standard Google Analytics? I remember them being popular back in the pre-GA (Urchin) days. Since GA already tracks referrals coming from email, social media, web, mobile, etc.; perhaps the major benefit is tracking a specific campaign that is already a few steps removed from the initial referral.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • cosmie 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are a lot of use cases where they're still quite valuable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - Social sites tend to redirect outbound links to sanitize referral information. So you can get a bunch of traffic from Facebook, and have no idea if it's people viewing your page, going through their news feed, postings in Groups, etc. All of your Facebook traffic will have a referral of (l|lm|m|business|mobile|web).facebook.com/(l.php)? [1]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - Unless someone is using a web client, any clicks from email will show up as direct traffic, just as if someone typed the url in their browser directly. So you can't evaluate email performance in GA without dedicated utm parameters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - The Source field in GA defaults to the referrer, but is overridden by any explicitly provided utm_source data. If you capture the true referral information separately (i.e. put the value of document.referrer into a custom dimension), you can compare the two and glean all kinds of nifty info like traffic from Site B and Site C resulted from a link on Site A.[2]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - The concerted effort to upgrade sites from http -> https has led to increase in traffic marked as direct that's not direct, because of referral header stripping. Note that it's not inherently an issue with https itself, but with the fact that not everyone is using https yet, combined with the cumulative number of pre-existing http links.[3]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are plenty more, but those are some of the bigger things I can think of off the top of my head where standard GA falls short and having utm-tagged links are beneficial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [1] Yes, I'm aware that this regex is lacking escape characters. But having them reduced readability.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [2] If someone takes a utm tagged link from Facebook and shares it on Twitter, by default it'll look like it came from Facebook in GA. Unless you're capturing the document.referrer value manually in a custom dimension, you wouldn't be able to suss out that this was happening and would never know that they're actually coming from Twitter based on a link you shared on Facebook. Or even that they're coming from Twitter at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [3] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP/Headers/Re...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • greglindahl 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    utm tags let you run 10 different social media campaigns and compare them to each other. GA by default will only show you a social media total, not split into the efforts by Alice's botnet, Bob's human retweet club, and so forth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • lzbrc 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Seems like the extension is no longer supported (1 year) also it seems it doesn't work for https.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So, not sure what actually works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • jwineinger 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What are the chances google blacklists the extension? Seems like something outside the browser would be more reliable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • ddtaylor 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Google has a history of policing their extensions to favor themselves, example being YouTube downloading extensions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • adamnemecek 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you build it from source they'll have a hard time stopping you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • ddtaylor 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They can kill usability, like for this the benefit is being is to install and use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • RIMR 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            youtube-dl works better than any of those crappy extensions anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • tzahola 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Or Ad Nauseam: https://adnauseam.io

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • 313 days ago
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • trustfundbaby 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                pinboard does this by default when you save a link and its awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dig1t 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Does this do something that Ghostery does not?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • kapauldo 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Love this and I totally get it. Thx for sharing this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Exuma 314 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This will ruin a lot of legitimate uses that's not paranoia-induced security protection... I would recommend not using that and simply using uBlock Origin, so people can still read where their users are coming from on their campaigns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • sincerely 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What if I, the user, don't want the website I'm visiting to know where I'm coming from? Why does a website deserve to know what other website I was on before??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Exuma 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          See my other answers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • monochromatic 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's not paranoia. Modern advertising/tracking really is awful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Why should I care what uses of my information you believe are legitimate?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Exuma 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well... chances are if you're going to PAY for a service, then you find it useful do you not? They might have found you as a customer from different advertising channels. Better optimization means more customers, means more revenue, which means they can iterate faster, delivering you an even better product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • ionised 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't care what these people consider legitimate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Exuma 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So if you're paying for a useful service, you don't care about helping that SAAS company to optimize their campaigns, to net them more revenue, so they can build a better service that you're using??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • ionised 312 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Exactly, I don't care. Not if if the trade-off is being tracked or advertised to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If that happens with a service I'm already paying for, they get dropped entirely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's not my problem how the company chooses to go forward with its product and I honestly don't care. There are alternatives to most things out there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • 312 days ago
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • unbeli 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Installing this extension basically means trusting a random dude (the author) with all the data passing through the browser just to screw over some random people trying to get coarse-grained stats on where people come to their websites from. Sounds like a rather idiotic idea, but I'm sure even this will have its users.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • zulln 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In general I would agree, but the source code is so short here that you would be able to glance through it first to confirm nothing sketchy is going on there: https://github.com/jparise/chrome-utm-stripper/blob/master/b...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • always_good 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Are you going to notice and reinspect every invisible OTA update?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's a perfectly valid concern when you install a plugin. We just don't care because most people are trustworthy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But for example there's a market for selling your browser addon to someone that wants to do this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • RIMR 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You're basically arguing that open source isn't really open because you don't have the time to inspect every commit...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you build this from source, you'll have proof of any malice by the developer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • zulln 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This of course assumed you installed it directly from Github as that is the code you reviewed. Otherwise, yes, that is a valid concern.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Chisnet 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Except that if you install the add-on from the store it will auto-update with any changes (assuming they pass approval) and you likely wouldn't notice unless permissions are changed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • RussianCow 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The addon is open source (this HN post even links to the GitHub), and the source code is very short, so it's easy to verify that it's doing only what it says. If you are extra paranoid about the addon in the Chrome store not reflecting what's in the repo, you can always install it from source.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • unbeli 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is wishful thinking. How confident are you that you'll spot a well planted backdoor? Hint: the more capable you are, the less confident you should be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • krageon 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you're that paranoid, it's actually not very hard to audit the code in this case. Unless you go so far as to not trust the whole stack it's running on, but in that case you should stop using your browser entirely. For a sane threat model the confidence in your own audit should be reasonably high.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • MightySCollins 313 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Please don't remove these tags. Our system needs them to tie up your orders to where you came from and your personal information. Which we can use to analyse and ensure we spend more money on targeting people like you.