January 07, 2003
Referrer Spamming

Just to make that clear - I will permanently ignore any site that tries to sneak into my referrer list by means of an automatic PHP script. And I don't care if yours is the best flash blog ever. If you want to have attention - how about sending me an email? If your topic fits there is a real chance you might get some coverage.
And IF you do referrer spamming don't be so stupid to forget to place a link to quasimondo.com on your site - at least that would make me think that your visitors are for real...

Posted at January 07, 2003 10:09 AM | Further reading
Comments

Could you, please, ellaborate on "referrer spamming"? I've been trying to find information on the subject, but can't get more than a bunch of "I hate referrer spamming", without a mention on how it works...

Posted by: a!e on January 17, 2003 10:15 PM

In short referrer spamming is the use of the HTTP_REFERRER tag to promote your services.

The long version: normally the only people who see this kind of "advertising" are webmasters or blog owners who use to check their log files. Under normal circumstances the REFERRER tag tells you from which sites your visitors came. The usual behavior of a webmaster is to check out an URL if it looks unknown or new - well it might be another fan out there or some harsh critique.

Spammers know this kind of behaviour and suddenly you'll find links among your logs to "Free Domain-Parking", "Exclusive Hosting Services", "More Exclusive Escort Services" or whatever. Of course you will not find any real link from these sites to your site. To accomplish this is pretty easy if you have your own server and now a scripting language.

But the problem is not a webmaster-only anymore: Now as many blogs have a list in their sidebars which shows for example the referrers of their last 10 visitors this becomes an interesting target for referrer spammers, as they get direct exposure on the front page. And sometimes it might even happen that google drops by just in the time when the spammer had shown his ugly face - that might even add a point on the pageRank of the spammer site.

Oh yes I forgot another kind of referrer spamming - I would call it "social" referrer spamming and it is not really evil. It is a technique to establish a new blog: in order to get seen and hopefully read by other bloggers you have to add links to these blogs on your site. Then you should click them a few times. Now your blog's url is permanently burned into the log files of the others and you can expect at least a short visit by their webmasters... Hopefully your content can live up to their expectations.

Posted by: coma2mario on January 17, 2003 10:37 PM

cool, thanks... brilliantly explained... I knew about curl being able to "fake" the HTTP_REFERRER, but didn't know exactly why or how it was bad.
Your last point on "social" referrer spamming is quite interesting, and makes me think... isn't it easier to just drop an email to the site owner to let him/her know about your blog? (yes, a rather naive question, but think about it and you'll find some reasons why people might not approach site owners by email in the belief that they/we might not reply or even read them... )

Posted by: a!e on January 17, 2003 11:31 PM

Of course the email approach sounds more logical and straightforward, but there is a psychological aspect to the "social" referrer technique which might make it more effective:

Instead of asking a site owner to link to you or write some article about your site, you give that person the feeling that he has "discovered" your site on his own. That might make it more valuable in his eyes. Perhaps he feels flattered that there is a link to his site on yours. And like this he might feel like giving something back and put up a link himself.

Posted by: coma2mario on January 17, 2003 11:49 PM

Wouldn't it be easier to make a interesting contribution to an active blog-entry? I think that this would be more effective than logfile spamming - at least in relation to the social variant. But it's more laborious ;-)

Posted by: Gerald on February 15, 2003 08:55 PM

Wouldn't it be easier to make a interesting contribution to an active blog-entry? I think that this would be more effective than logfile spamming - at least in relation to the social variant. But it's more laborious ;-)

Posted by: Gerald on February 15, 2003 08:57 PM

One method to get a higher pagerank is to place not only one link, but two or three. In this case the double content was not intended - sorry.

Posted by: Gerald on February 15, 2003 09:01 PM
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