Upworthy Wants You To Play By Its Rules

You can pay Upworthy's friends or take the code for free.

Upworthy is hoping you'll take the bait to follow its vision of the future — or at least pay its friends to join the game.

One of the biggest complaints from publishers is that the easiest way of measuring time spent — simply timing how long the page is open — is an extremely flawed metric. Upworthy and the analytics company Chartbeat have countered that by developing their own more precise methods that include looking at telling signals like a user's mouse movements and making sure the browser tab being measured is actually open.

Chris Thorman, who handles audience development at Vox Media, told BuzzFeed last week that not having a universally accepted way of tracking time on site is "the biggest hurdle" that the metric is currently facing.

And in an effort to counter that problem, the site has just released the source code for its custom "attention minutes" metric. The code — which uses a script called "bacon.js" — is now available as a free download on Github, but it takes "a bit of engineering and a data processing system" to implement.

For publishers without the know-how to implement the new metrics, Upworthy suggests signing up for Chartbeat, citing the analytics company as "a great out-of-the-box solution." The company also suggests Parse.ly, a content-measurement platform that just announced that it will be using Upworthy's code to show "attention minutes" to its subscribers, which include Conde Nast, Fox News, Atlantic Media, and The Cheezburger Network.

Naturally, Upworthy has skin in the game here. According to the publisher's own internal data, the "attention minutes" metric vaults Upworthy above the mighty Facebook in terms of attracting and keeping readers on site. And, of course, the more sites that play by Upworthy's rules — no matter how they get there — the greater amount of comparative data there will be to show to advertisers.