I Would Rather Not Think About This Website

Written On Day: 399

These words are written in hesitation, almost agony.  For more then a month I have not had to think about this website.  It was a month of total bliss.  My mind was clean.  I ignored my traffic stats, I did not read other blogs, I did not add new content.  It was back to the good old days – before I had this website.  My mind was free to roam about anything and everything.

Time was my own.  Reading,  I was able to concentrate on what the donkey was saying to the turtle.  When I had a shower I was able to sing.  I ate slow and chewed all my food.  No rush and nothing pressing me.  No pressure to be at the computer doing something to the website.

I did not care about this website or about the online world.  It was great; but like the courting phase of a relationship, it must come to a end.  The fun stops and work begins – kisses and hugs become obligations and commitments.

So here I am, back at it.  Writing about the website.  Oh God, the agony.  With these words come all the attachments:  HTML, visitors, traffic, Adsense, comments, backups and that is just the technical aspect.  There is also the physiological damage – mental strain, sense of failure,  syphilis pushing a rock up a hill only to have it roll back again,  a slave to the website.  Back at it, back to having the website as a constant companion while I walk the streets, take a shower and sip my coffee.

Why do this?  Why put one self through it?  What is it all for?  The same reason destitute and repressed people left their homes, traveled the stormy seas, and landed on the beaches of the unknown called America.   A dream.  I do it in pursuit of a dream.  Pilgrims came to America to avoid suppression and start a new life on their own terms.  This website is in pursuit of a dream of living on my own terms.  To be free from the terms of my employee contract.  To be free from my 1 hour lunch break.  To be free from my boss’s mood swings.  Free to call time my own.  I have a dream.

Lots of people died on the journey to America.  And a lot more when they got there.  In their case failure turned the dream chaser to fertilizer.  Fortunately for me the worst that can happen is I spend a lot of time and money and end up with 20 megabytes of useless HTML.

I have spent a year on this website.  In terms of making money it was a complete waste.  I could of made a lot more with a lemonade stand setup beside a water fountain.  During the year I spent a lot of time thinking about the website – mental time that I will never get back.  Was it worth it?  Maybe if I spent that time thinking about something else, like building a perpetual motion machine, I would be a lot better off now.

But that was last year.  Who knows if it was for the best.  But I am not a crazed nut that pursues an impossible dream of turning dung into gold.  One more year is all that I will allow this website to suck out of me.  If nothing drastic happens within a year I will release myself from its grasp and be free to sing in the shower again.

How Spammers Prevent This Website From Being Better

Written On Day: 354
Missionaries in Africa

This website’s primary function is to provide accurate statistics for its visitors.  How many visitors a day, how many page views per visitor, how much revenue it has accumulated.  My task as a webmaster should be an easy one – get the stats and put them on the website for all to see.  Simple.  What could go wrong?

I am trying to do good in this world.  To bring accurate information to my visitors.  My intentions are pure and well spirited.  The world lacked knowledge about what a new website must go through at the beginning.  I saw the need and made it my purpose to educate.  With my sword of honesty and truth in hand my quest to educate began.

But there are evil forces in this world.  There are people whose pursuit is not good.  Whose intent is to destroy rather then create, misinform rather then education, to take rather then give.  It is these types of people that are my enemies.  Everyday my pursuit of truth and good information is being hindered by these villains.  Instead of focusing on bringing more and better information, I must spend time fighting vermin.

I am talking about spammers.

If I was a catholic missionary in Africa trying to educate the natives about all-mighty God’s preference towards a single sexual position, spammers would be there handing out copies of the Karma Sutra.

Everything I do in effort to better educate and help my visitors is hindered and exploited by spammers.

The Contact Page And How I Must Fight Spammers

The contact page use to have a captcha.  To send me an email visitors had to decipher distorted numbers and letters.  This is a common method used to differentiate between humans and machines.  Humans can read the disfigured characters but machines cannot (yet). Although it prevents spammers from sending me emails it has disadvantages.  The contact page takes longer to load because a unique catchpa image needs to be produced.  And sometimes the image is so distorted that even a human cannot read it.  So my good intentioned visitors must squint and move their head at different angles to figure out the characters – sometimes getting it wrong and having to try again.

Example of Confusing Captcha

To do some good and make it easier for my visitors I removed the catcpcha and replaced it with a simple question: What is 1+1.  Most humans can easily answer this question but machines cannot.  Now the page loads fast and my visitors do not need to decipher a captcha image.

I did good – but what does the universal rule state?  You do good and spammers will take advantage of it.  And they do.  Now I constantly get spam emails about pharmaceutical products.  Because answering the question what is 1+1 is easy, spammers find it worth their time to answer it for an opportunity to spam.  Captcha is too much work for spammers – but 1+1 is easy.  Easy for visitors but also easy for spammers.

I teach the villagers to read and the spammers hand out copies of “Teach Yourself 28 Different Positions in 28 Days”.

How Spammers Bring Traffic To Websites (Thousands Of Unique Visitors For Only $9.99)

At the beginning of every month my server side stats are cleared and begin at zero.  For the first few days I clearly see who is visiting my site.  Here is what my server side traffic stats looked like at the very beginning of the month:

Traffic From Spammers

There are 25 unique traffic sources to this website.  Only 7 of them are from legitimate sources.  The rest are spammers.  The most visits from a single source is also a spammer.

How do I know they are spammers?  Because I click on them to find out who they are and why they have a link to my website.  What do I find?  There is no link to my website.  These website are sending traffic to my website without having a link to my website.  How?  Why?

How they do it I do not know.  But because these are server side stats, all it would take is for these websites to ‘ping’ my website for it to show up in my stats.  A ‘ping’ is simply a knock on the door.  These websites come to my server and say – ‘hello, I am here’.  That’s all – they do not come inside and they do not read any of the pages.  They just knock and leave.  This is verifiable because these visitors do not show up on my client side statistics; if they were viewing the pages then Google Analytics would show it, but it does not.  According to Google Analytics these visitors where never at my website – they do not exist.

Why do these websites do it?  Why do these website’s just knock on the door and leave?  The answer is deviously simple.  They do it for traffic.

These websites paid for traffic.  They hired a company that promises 1000’s of unique visitors for $9.99.  As soon as this company receives its $9.99 it presses a button and a program runs that pings thousands of websites.  This creates thousands of webmasters that now have a new traffic source.  These thousands of webmasters click on the new traffic source to see who is linking to them.  Bingo – traffic.  Thousands of webmasters are now visiting the website to checkout the new traffic source.  1000’s of unique visitors for $9.99.

Of course these webmaster are not ideal visitors.  They click on the traffic source, see that it is a spammer, and leave the site in disgust.  But the company selling the traffic does not care – it delivered what it promised – 1000’s of unique visitors for $9.99.

Not only are these traffic selling companies ripping off naive webmasters by sending them useless traffic, but more importantly, they are hindering my ability to do good in this world.

They have rendered my server stats useless.  If I was to report my statistics according to my server side stats alone then it would be misleading information because most of my visitors are spammers.  Instead of showing how many visitors this website receives, I would be showing how many spammers it receives.

Because of these bastards, every morning I need to look at both the client side stats and the server side stats and figure out the actual number of real visitors to this website.

If only there was no evil in this world.  If only I could be left in peace to perform my good works and provide great information.  Instead of spending my time informing and giving, I am forced to hack away at demons who are always trying to undermine my efforts.

I know how the missionary must feel when during the middle of Sunday school one of the students raises their hand and asks, “Why does the Lord disapprove of the Reverse Cowgirl position?”