What is a visitor?

So the last time I wrote in this occasional series about Internet jargon, I wrote about [page views](http://heisel.org/blog/2008/11/13/what-is-a-page-view/).

Who’s generating all those page views? That would be a **visitor**.

**So what is a visitor?**

At a high level, it’s very easy to explain. It’s a person who visits your site.

But it’s not that easy (things on the Internet almost never are). There’s no inherit identity on the Internet. That’s why you have to create a login on almost every site you visit — they don’t “know” who you are.

*Aside:* The anonymity on the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. Spam: bad. Being able to protest authoritarian governments: good. As we all know, [you take the good, you take the bad…](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_GxXRbSFDg)

Anyway, sites that don’t have registration, i.e. the cool ones, don’t have an easy way to identity a single person. The best we can do is identify the address your computer or phone has on the Internet.

That address, called an [IP Address](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_address), isn’t terribly unique. Some offices share one address for the whole building. Folks in the know can easily get a new IP address at will.

If you’ve got a wireless router at home, and you and your spouse surf the Internet on a laptop and iPhone separately then that’s an example of two people sharing the same IP address.

There are other ways of identifying visitors, but the key thing to remember is that it’s an **imperfect number**.

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
This entry was posted in Journalism, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What is a visitor?

  1. Sherise-ford says:

    I still did not get the answer to what is a visitor

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