Sunday, 24 April 2005

Statcounter: key to cryptic referring URLs

I'm listing for reference the main mystery referrers (or referers) I get against "Referring URLs" on my page at Statcounter - the free Website traffic tracker which I use for monitoring and analysing the web stats for my blog, i.e. the statistics about visits and visitors to my blog:

The link is to and when I click on it I get:
"Not Found
The requested URL /blockedReferrer was not found on this server."
Answer: The visitor's browser has been set to block the sending of info about where they've come from, e.g. they've used an anonymiser.

No referring link
Answer: the visitor has come to the blog direct (not via clicking a link), e.g. typing the URL in their address bar or via a bookmark/favorite or newsfeed link.

Weird referers that look like a path to a folder on a computer e.g. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/somethingorother
Answer: the visitor previously saved the blog post (including the Statcounter tracking code) to their own computer, and they've just opened it on their computer to read.

Referring links that end ""
Answer: I'd linked to someone else's site or blog from one of my blog posts. A visitor to my blog clicks my link to visit the other blog. The other blog is also using Statcounter to track its stats so the "Referring URL" shows up on that blog's Statcounter page as my blog post, and the owner, in checking their statistics, has clicked that Referring URL link to see where their visitor came from, and landed back at my blog.

Referring links that point to another blog at which contains no links whatsoever to my blog
Answer: the other blog is on Blogger, and publishing to Blogger's free Blogspot hosting service. Sadly for me they've not linked to my blog, they probably haven't even heard of it. But a visitor to their blog has clicked on the 'Next Blog' link button in that blog's standard Blogger navbar - and it happens to be my blog's turn to be the target of these random clicks. (It seems to go in fits and starts! Suddenly I'll get loads of these for an hour or two, then nothing for ages. They must be doing something to try to give every Blogger blog a fair crack at the random traffic).

Referring URL is
Answer: this is a mystery. That link is to Statcounter's script which is incorporated when someone includes Statcounter code on their website or blog. There shouldn't be clickable links in the javascript so it shouldn't be possible to get that as a referer. Spammers, perhaps? [Edited 30 August 2005:] Mystery solved. Not spammers, but hackers trying to get your Statcounter user/password details. See this post.

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ChickyBabe said...

Great post! And thanks for demystefying the codes.

I often wondered if file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/somethingorother also meant the user has come through a feed eg using Sage through Firefox browser as I have done now.

TaB said...

Just wait till you can play with server side stats, very interesting. You wont see the bots visit your page. They spoof referring headers and user agents, even good mannered google bot does this, I have no idea why? Mozilla spelt “Mozira” huh? LOL

Someone brought to my attention the other day using work WAP points will brand a header no matter where I click through, that’s alarming! Probably an effort to stop spam on our proxy servers and see where traffic is going.

That local link typically means someone has jacked your page, because offline reading wont keep a store st click through, they die fast them .js clicks and you will set a local host 127.xx.xx ip on the cookie,so they are online in a review mode of your page not just its content. I use to get them a lot when people would pull my page into an editor and take things from it, we may see a lot of it asking Q’s at the forum, people trying to help often dl your code to re-work.

Try and get you into our place Improb, you would have so much fun with the bots! I watch them in real time sometimes LOL

Unknown said...

Good post. Very helpful.

Improbulus said...

Thanks for your comments, CB, Tab and satishtalim.

Tab - what did you mean by "jacked", and online in a review mode of my page? I got that "offline reading" answer from Statcounter's own site... Got to admit I still don't follow a lot of that. Yes I'd love to get into your place sometime, play with the server side stats and watch the bots! Sounds like fun!

Anonymous said...

SC team Aren’t very proficient in explaining, and interpreting their own results sometimes. I come in from some closed proxies and I have indicated to them that they paint the wrong geo location, they still say im not in Dubai when I am, honest I am, and would you like me to ring you? Hehe..

The funky uri you displayed I also brought to their attention, off line readers wont keep the cookie – I have detailed stats so I can tell when someone looks at my site in jack mode, i.e. cutting my source out and pasting it into an editor, I can see the editor used if its an identifiable signature like “Dreamweaver”.

Improbulus said...

Tab, I have to say I'm still mystified... will quiz you more about those uris & cookies & jacking sometime!

hassan said...

Hi :)

You have a great blog! I'll make sure to visit regularly. Keep blogging!

I have a website on Website Traffic which you might be interested in. Please check it out if you get some time :)

Improbulus said...

Thanks hassan! Will indeed add checking out your blog to my list...

Anonymous said...


I typed proxy list on blogger and got your blog.
I use proxy list to get fresh proxy.

Here is my lastest list :

Anonymous said...

Can I ask you for an question? My blog's statistics keep showing my friend's blog URL, which she has never came to my blog, how did this happen? It looks very weird to me....

Improbulus said...

Anon, your friend has probably linked to your blog from hers. If someone goes to her blog and clicks that link to go to your blog, your statistics will show your friend's blog URL as the referer even if your friend herself doesn't go to your blog. At least, I think that's what you mean - your friend doesn't need to have visited your blog, just linked to it. If that's not what you mean perhaps you could elaborate?

Anonymous said...

Bravo! I think that is exactly what I mean. I asked my friend to delete the link from hers. Thank you!

Improbulus said...

Glad it answered your question anon. But most people positively want to have links to their blogs from other people's blogs, and get more visitors that way! Unless of course you want to keep your blog as private as possible.