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I'm writing a web application that will allow people to create accounts, edit stuff, send stuff to people, &c. I plan on recording things like when things were created and sent and stuff.

Is there a list of usage information that one should collect in a web application? I'd like to see whether I'm missing something.

Also, is there a list of usage information that I shouldn't collect (Like maybe information that people find private)?

EDIT: I was thinking about information that is collected automatically (like timestamps and ip addresses) rather than information that is entered manually.

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Depending on where you live there may be local privacy laws which say what you can and can't collect. However it's always best to tell people what you're going to do.

The usage information you collect depends on what your aims for the site are. You should collect information which tells you how you're achieving that aim. So for example, if you want people to log in often, then record when they log in. If it's that you want them to spend a lot of time there, record the times they did things and look for the things that are close in time so you can spot a single session on your site and measure the length.

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Collect as little information as possible.

The website is for your customers/users not for you to create a data mart of their personal information.

It always annoys me when websites have required fields for things they do not need to know about me. If all you need is my email address, don't make me provide a Full name, phone number, address, etc.

"The mark of good design is not when there's nothing left to add, but when there's nothing left to remove."

One of the keys to getting people to sign up to your website is to remove as many barriers as possible.

If you absolutely still want this personal information about users then consider allowing them to sign up quickly with just and email and password plus and other absolutely necessary information you need for your website to function. Then at a later date as them if they would like to enter additional details like ‘signing up to newsletters’ etc

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I see now that I was unclear; I was thinking about information that I wouldn't need to ask people for. –  Thomas Levine Jul 1 '11 at 10:52

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