Adding `utm_source` parameter for website analysis

Hi SocialHub people! I got some idea that I’d like to discuss with more people.

Although many people are enjoying the fediverse, there are still skepticism outside the space about how much their voice can reach in this space. Those people argue that the portion of people in the fediverse is just negligible and it’s much more worth being active on existing Big Tech social spaces, as they simply have more people. As the result, there are still a lot of activists and non-profits that are active exclusively outside of the fediverse. (But does having many people always mean your voice can be more reachable? That depends a lot on their complex algorithms…)

Having been unable to convince them as an individual, what if we could tell them and remind them we exist here, by inserting some data into their traffic analyzer (if they have one)? utm_source is frequently a URL parameter read by such analyzer, so I wonder whether we can add utm_source=fediverse when serving URL links so that opening the page would tell the website owners that the traffic is from the fediverse users.

Suggested behavior: When a URL in a post has no utm_source parameter, add utm_source=fediverse when rendering the link. would become

So what I want here is:

  1. Gather some consensus about whether this is a good idea or no-go
  2. If we agree, multiple implementations can support fediverse as the common utm_source value
  3. Discuss whether this should be opt-in/out

What do you think?

Welcome to SocialHub!

Eugen commented on this topic last fall.

FWIW, these are the codes I currently see in my database:


Fun fact… UTM is an acronym for “Urchin Tracking Module”. [reference]

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Interesting that you already got some utm_source/medium/channel/campaign=mastodon, I guess there already are some implementations, perhaps Mastodon share buttons?

While only having an utm_source isn’t too bad, I find the tight relationship of this mechanism to tracking, marketing and ads and plenty related ad-tech tools (in particular privacy-infringing Google Analytics) to be problematic.

My preference is not to encourage bringing ad-tech to the Fediverse. I am not naive and know this will happen eventually. Adding this param will not just attract activists and non-profits, it will have most effect on folks that use tracking tools the most, i.e. marketeers in commercial entities.

In any case imho such feature should certainly be opt-in. For any feature on the Fediverse that affects privacy that should be the default.

In the past I used a token stripper extension in Firefox to auto-remove this stuff. There’s Tracking Token Stripper and ClearURLs among others, see delightful-humane-design list.

I witness people using UTM on the Fediverse more and more often, and I both avoid clicking these links and boosting the toots that contain them. So, I am on the opposite spectrum wrt using this, and may consider reinstalling a stripping extension and also might well integrate a UTM stripper in a fedi app.


Good point! Hmm, if implementations ever add utm, it should also be easy to remove utm, so maybe it should be recommended to provide three options:

  1. Add utm_source=fediverse (and override existing utm_source? :thinking:)
  2. Remove utm (and potentially also all well-known tracking parameters, as Firefox does with Copy Link without Site Tracking)
  3. Leave them intact