Curious and curiouser

by Yule Heibel on July 10, 2004

Can anyone explain the weirdness of referer stats to me? When, as has lately been the case, I don’t post anything for a long time (and let’s leave the why of that status quo out of the equation for now), my referer page shows porn site linkage after porn site linkage. Toying with the idea of writing something, I took a look just now to see if anyone is still visiting in the first place. Surpise (again): there are 20 hits from a site called “gay twinks gallery” (which features gay incest porn …lovely, guys: just the kind of father-son bonding that therapists live for), 16 from “zoo porn” (didn’t bother to check what they offer, but I imagine it involves hooves and tails), 15 from “7 gay”, 10 from “x d r o w,” 8 from “live cam sex,” and 8 from “adult non stop.” I only typed in the url from the first one and didn’t bother checking the others. But all I saw was a title page with lurid teasers, without a single reference to my blog. So how come this shows up as a “referer”?

My paranoid theory is that porn sites somehow manage to “hijack” non-porn sites for …what? Redirecting possibly illegal porn traffic to make it look to outsiders as though only vanilla transactions have taken place?

Is that technically feasible? Or am I being totally paranoid?

What happens when I stop blogging completely? Can I ever get anyone at Harvard to take my blog off the server so that I don’t find it acting as a “host” or “conduit” for unwanted parasites? Am I worrying needlessly? Can someone explain this strange state of my referer stats?

addendum: to see my referer page, just add “stats/referers” to the end of my url (after the /). I only get these weird stats, btw, when I don’t use my site myself for an extended period of time. That’s when the bizarre referers take over, and since I just posted an entry, these stats will change very much in the next 24 hours (it’s currently around 1900 Pacific Daylight Saving Time). During periods when I blog regularly, I get the occasional porn referer, but nothing like a total of 80+ hits I’ve had in the past 24 hours from hardcore sites….


Stu Savory July 11, 2004 at 1:07 pm

Nice to see you blogging again Yule 🙂

This effect MAY be due to chance, just because the words occur individually and separately on your website somewhere. I blogged about a similar occurence happening to my blog too. The permalink is


vernica July 12, 2004 at 2:40 pm

Hi, Yule. I am glad to see that you are blogging again. I think the Harvard weblog server has been having problems. Several people have reported not getting comments forwarded to their e-mail accounts.

The referer log spammers have been an ongoing problem; supposedly, they create false referrals to increase their page rank in search engines like Google and to get click-through traffic. If you check the logs for any of the weblogs on the Harvard server, you will see the same set of porn sites. My log is filled with that garbage, for example, and all language and content on my blog is strictly PG. Annoying and very frustrating.

Stu Savory July 12, 2004 at 2:44 pm

I’m going to try an experiment tomorrow by blogging an innocent photo with a potentially ‘double entendre’ title. Then I’ll see who refers to it. I’ll link to you too, so that we can see if the spammers cross feed from it.


Yule Heibel July 12, 2004 at 9:44 pm

Vernica, thanks! You are living proof that librarians are superior
beings! While I had heard of comment spam, I had no idea there was such
a thing as referer spam, which is what this clearly is. Thanks for
giving me an answer that makes sense! I am soothed that the
underlying explanation involves a market rationale, since your answer
suggests that the spam is fueled by a strict logarithm which is
supposed to pay off in google standing and/ or financial return, vs.
having anything to do with a blog’s content. I am, however, completely
awed by the ways that people figure out how to turn a buck… I guess I
have a gene deficiency in that area (unfortunately).Stu, as for
your idea re. attracting more of this stuff, I dunno… But I suppose
one should test it out, in the name of advancing knowledge etc etc…

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