Especially in the early stages, blogging can be like crack. You know you should get out and get a life, but there is always that one new plug-in to install and test that will FINALLY make you the new Dooce. For me, the blogging drugs of choice are stat counters and traffic analyzers. Last month, I thought I’d died and gone to Digital Heaven when I installed TraceMyIP. Remember this was the electronic version of the old Romper Room Magic Mirror that let me see (with the help of Google Maps, avatars and live tracking) an almost stalker-level of information about my blog visitors.

But TraceMyIP has just been trumped — at least in the flash department. A few days ago, I received two emails from Woopra saying I’d been approved to beta test their web tracking and analysis program. Don’t know where they got my name from. I’d never heard of them before. But from Googling around, apparently invitations to beta test Woopra are about as sought after and hard to come by as backstage passes to a Rolling Stones concert. Sign me up.

After installing Woopra and running it for a few days, I’m still waiting to get my jaw off the keyboard. This program is AMAZING. It brings flash and dazzle to the normally pedestrian world of stat counters and analysis. Instead of boring bar charts, there’s a snazzy colorful interface with icons and flags to identify visitors countries and lots of bling. There’s even a live scrolling ticker that gives you updates of visits, time on site and compares them to your average traffic levels. For that I’ll forgive them for naming this thing as if it were a joint development of Oprah and Woopie Goldberg.

This is not your mother's statistics program.

This is not your mother's statistics program!

But the real difference is the Live Tracking feature that lets you look over your viewers’ shoulders right as they are browsing. Even better, you can send them a real-time chat request. Can you imagine the implications? Can you see how that will FREAK OUT your readers? It’s as if someone was reading Hustler in the privacy of his bathroom and you could send the centerfold to knock on the door. (Although I’m not sure my chat request would be as welcome as my analogy.)

Besides the Internet stalking fun, the depth of information and the ease of viewing it in Woopra are just amazing. At a glance, you can see where your visitor is surfing from, what browser and computer he’s on, what keywords he typed, how many clicks he made,  and how long he stayed. Even better, if he or she leaves a comment (and you have spam protection on that requires a sign in) that viewer is tagged by name and email. And Woopra remembers them by ID every time they come back. So instead of facing a long list of IP addresses, your viewer list for the day lists “Herbie and Hieronymous and Heloise”. And I didn’t even have to say “Romper, Stomper, Bomper, Boo” to active the Magic Mirror.

Only one small issue. There doesn’t seem to be any logical, easy path to excluding my own IP from this mix. So as I clicked through my own site gathering links and double checking that my posts were displaying correctly on all browsers, my own computer was driving traffic up into the stratosphere. Then I left a Safari window open for an hour with my latest post on it and skewed my stats all to hell.


That sent me back to my solid, homely, reliable boyfriend, TraceMyIP. Yes, my relationship with Woopra is like a yearning for the bad boy when you are already dating the President of the Math Club. Woopra is flashy and dangerous, but it never quite tells me the truth and I can’t really trust it. TraceMyIP wears plaid shirts and has a pocket protector, but I can always count on him.

Until Woopra decides to straighten up and fly right, I’ll just have to sneak out to see him on the side. Knowing that good old TraceMyIP will always be there.