Referring to…

Tim Bray writes about Referral Information Loss as it relates to links from Twitter clients (and in the comments, other pieces of software) and in the end says:

If someone follows a link in one of my tweets, I think whoever owns that URL is owed the information that they came from

As a person who uses the web, I don’t think Tim is “owed” that information at all. I think it’s my choice. When using a browser, I make no efforts to hide the referer when I browse the web (and there are many ways to do so, and many reasons to do so) because I tend to believe that it should be a personal choice. If you don’t want your browser to share that information, you have the power to control it.

The main issue he’s interested in, is that with Twitter clients that send a URL to a browser to display, there perhaps should be referer information, but isn’t. I agree that it would be nice to have, but it should also be controllable, the same way it is in a browser. In fact, I can see that Twitter might even find it useful (maybe even “monetizable” if that’s a word) to somehow pass on that referer info, as well as user agent, and other relevant info.

Of course Tim, much like myself, is a publisher on the web. A single person, a blogger, probably just looking for data for data’s sake. Neither of us are larger corporations looking to market to you and sell you the latest piece of crap (besides our ideas.) For me it’s more of a “wow, someone followed that link to get to my site!” rather than “wow, how can I make money off of this person who followed that link to get to my site!”

So I’m marking referer data as NICE TO HAVE but not REQUIRED.