Tobias T–

Get back to Notes nobody reads

Comment Things got a little…

Things got a little bit out of hand after I wrote about how Homebrew is sending data to Google Analytics. There are three things I want to add to my previous writing.

Mike McQuaid, the lead developer of Homebrew contacted me through Twitter:

That's not true. Please correct your tweet and blog post: analytics.sh

First of all, he is right. By looking into the source code you clearly see that  they don’t send all commands . They skip non-official ones and internal ones. I assume this is some kind of Datensparsamkeit.

He also wrote

Additionally, we don't do anything "behind the scenes" because all our analytics code is open-source.

Also a fair point. When I posted the note I was upset that everyone tracks anything these days. Not just Homebrew. Homebrew provides the huge advantage that you can actually look into the code and see what’s happening. The only problem is: nobody does that. Most people don’t even check the code of the dependencies they put into their own projects, let alone the tools they use. I try to do that.

Getting back to Mikes comment: I actually want to apologise for the »behind the scenes«. I should not have mixed my feelings against the tracking insanity in general with a comment to change something in an individual project. Sorry Homebrew.

Last but not least: I really like Homebrew. It does an awesome job on every Mac I own and I don’t want to work without it. I don’t think the Homebrew project and it’s contributors are evil. It’s not about individuals, it’s not about blame and it’s by far not about suing someone. It’s all about a technical decision they made – which I question. We all should try to collect as little data as possible. If you need data to make something better, ask for it. Prominently, not in a single line hidden in an update command or some terms of agreements (first one applies to Homebrew, the later one to many other services I am addressing this to).

Homebrew should have asked me a simple yes or no question and I might have accepted it.

Now excuse me, I will listen to Mike in the Changelog #223 Podcast and hear his arguments about Homebrew’s data collection there.

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