I gave up using Jetpack a while ago on my blog because I couldn't control where it sent information. I wish it was more modular in nature because it is helpful. But, I don't want visitor (read, your) information sent off to unknown folks to do unknown things. So, I turned it off.
I've slowly added functionality back since turning it off one plugin at a time. Plugins are nice because all of the data is hosted right with the blog - there's no sending things to third parties. At the same time, it's a little more upkeep on my part to make sure a plugin doesn't break and send the site all wonky.
Right now, I'm using the following:
- Akismet - Essential for spam blocking. As of right now, it's blocked 17,000+ spam comments since I installed it way back when.
- Email Subscribers - Some folks still like ye olde notifications via email when a new post is published. This plugin lets me set up custom emails for those notifications, which is nice.
- Send email only on Reply to My Comment - I love how straight to the point these guys are. "What does this plugin do?", "Read the name." This adds comment notifications back in but allows users to choose when they want those emails. These are also personalized in the settings.
- WP Power Stats - I write for me. But sometimes, it is nice to scratch the "how many people visited this week?" itch. It's also nice because it shows browsers people visit on, which helps me make decisions about updates.
- Typewriter - This lets me write in Markdown because I like Markdown. Do I need a more valid reason?
- WP-Gistpen - I've been posting more and more code lately and this little guy lets me grab snippets from Gist, which is a super-handy snippet repo from GitHub.
Nothing fancy. And only what I want. All managed by me, on this site, with no third party reaching in for that information.
This is the third anniversary of Aaron Swartz's suicide. He was a champion for data privacy and the idea of a free and open internet where ideas are shared. I didn't hear about him until two years ago, on the first anniversary.
Maybe his story stands out because he did things like co-author RSS (yes, that RSS which syndicates just about everything on the web), start a non-profit (Demand Progress) which successfully, among others, beat the cable lobby for substantial Net Neutrality rules, or maybe it's because he was my age.
Whatever the reason, data is important, and it's not something I take lightly any more. Yeah, it would be easier to just use Jetpack, but at what cost? Information is a commodity, but it's not one that benefits you or me.
The fact of the matter is that we are all responsible for the health of the Internet each day. This is my little part.