Posts by David Fischer

Do Not Track at Read the Docs

Today, we are pleased to announce that Read the Docs honors Do Not Track (DNT). DNT is a browser preference that requests that a user not be tracked across the internet while browsing the web.

While there isn’t a consensus on precisely what DNT should mean, we are following the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) guidelines for Do Not Track as we believe that gives a good balance between the privacy expectations of users and the reality of running a business and keeping Read the Docs sustainable.

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GDPR: What it means for Read the Docs

Your email inbox has probably been bombarded over the last few days and weeks with “Updates to our Privacy Policy”. These emails pertain to an EU law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect today.

The goal of the GDPR is to put users back in control of their data. It is an important step toward respecting users’ privacy. The days of collecting as much data on as many people as possible without consent and sharing it with anyone willing to pay for it are over.

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Update on Ad Blocking and Acceptable Ads

A few weeks ago, we shared about the challenge ad blocking presented to our sustainability and what we were doing about it. On May 4th, Read the Docs was added to the Acceptable Ads list meaning that our visitors running ad blockers who choose to allow unintrusive advertising will see our ads again. The impact to our ad views, clicks, and revenue was immediate.

Estimates around the web vary regarding what percentage of people run ad blockers and it varies heavily by industry. We discussed this figure a bit in our previous post.

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Social Version Control Log in

Today we are announcing the ability to log in or sign up to Read the Docs with your favorite version control hosting services like GitHub, BitBucket, or GitLab. This was one of our most requested features and it has been something we’ve been meaning to launch for a long time.

For new users, the sign up process is significantly streamlined. There’s no new password to remember and when you’re ready to start building your docs, Read the Docs will be ready with a list of your repositories to get started.

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Ads and Ad blockers

Last time, we shared how ethical advertising works to keep Read the Docs sustainable without creepy ad targeting. This time, we will share about one of our biggest challenges with advertising. At the beginning of April, Read the Docs was added to one of the most popular ad block lists: the Easylist.

Getting added to the EasyList had a significant and immediate impact on the bottom line at Read the Docs. Right around April 1, 32% of our ad views simply vanished. At first, we thought we had done something horribly wrong but then we discovered that this was due entirely to ad blocking. Our actual traffic wasn’t down at all.

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