01/07 2005 – The referral spammers have been on to this site in a storm today, even though I keep adding them to the list of sites that get nothing but a null space in replay when tracked as the referring site.
Update 2005-01-08: If you want to find a few hundred of the sites doing this strange kind of referral spam, do a Google search for miss-proper use of the hosting account. That displays over 200 sites that you most likely will find in the referral field of your logs. I did anyway.
Today about seven sites from the same IP range (in a netblock owned by Covad Communications) have been among the most active. The strangest thing about them is that they all show variations of the same ”terminated account” error page on the actual sites. Of course the accounts can be terminated, but to me it looks more as if these sites are building up links before they are actually launched. The main reason for this theory being that all these alleged ”termination pages” have slightly different wording.
I think that the referral spammer who owns these sites have planned to
- quickly build links to a handful of sites that are to be converted into scaper sites, stealing content from other sites and displaying nothing but contextual ads. But for now they want tons of incoming links, and have carefully worded the text on their pages to
- not to look like under-construction pages
- include a few of the words that are meant to become the sites main keywords
- not have any outgoing links (thereby sharing the PageRank or link popularity earned from public referral logs)
Of course, this is purely speculation from my side, but I’m trying hard to figure out reasons for doing referral spamming. Pop-ups and pr0n marketing (as described in this Wired article) just doesn’t seem to be reason enough.
Ways to fight back
I’m also trying hard to find ways to fight back referral spammers. Shuting them out from my site (as described here) isn’t enough. I would love to send them something that would just stop these spambots cold without waisting my own bandwidth. A huge block of text or links to nothing but other referral spammers maybe… But it doesn’t feel like enough. I want to scare them off somehow.
Got any ideas? Contact me. The address is at the bottom of the page.