nobody on the street
stray dog stops to bite
its wagging tail
of George Swede (Brooks Books, 2000)
No, I haven’t been chasing my own tail or smoking wacky tabaccy. But,
I have been feeling slightly out of control ever since I discovered this weblog’s
Referers Page a couple weeks ago. I keep going back to it and clicking to see
the [purported] sources of page hits or visitors to f/k/a . ., especially, when the
referer URL is a search engine.
Sure, I could chalk this up to playful curiosity, or the haiku-lover’s penchant
for surprise and juxtaposition. But, it feels obsessive — as if it is taking up
far too many of each days scarce minutes.
It’s not as if I’m alone in this practice:
So, she wasn’t fazed that Bag and Baggage came in first on a search for
LinkMaster Evan Schaeffer has been known to use his Referer page to spy on
his European lurker.
George M. Wallace, in his Fool guise, has traced back seekers of the Goddess of Folly,
and tried to discover obscure clues behind record-setting hit tallies.
The currently underemployed Scheherazade Fowler finds and defines her audience, with
the help of her Referer list, while bemoaning yukky queries [e.g., for "executed women" and
"arm pits"] that might bring unsavory types to her genteel forum.
j baumgart, the scratchpad cyber-librarian, playfully checks out the competition’s referer lists,
in search of irregularities that might explain spikes in their hit totals.
And, while cranky poet/critic Mike Snyder, finds fools, fans, and fiends by scouring his Referer
page, NY Civil Lawyer Matthew Lerner has been known to cry “eureka!” when his Referer list
leads to treasure troves for legal research, and Steve Minor‘s watching his Hamdi hits.
I guess this Referer Madness might not be too dangerous an addiction, and it can
be fun. Showing up on the first page of results for <Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro>,
“bar advocate boycott,” or even “consumer discontent pdf”, means my placement
is excellent on many search engine. And, it’s amusing to discover that Jeeves brings
up f/k/a near the top of its results, when asked how to remove moth ball odors [thanks
to a haiku that mentions the smell -- but not the solution!].
While some webloggers seem spooked when their Referers stem from macabre or
salacious search engine queries, I’ve concluded that such findings do not mean the
searchers actually reached the referee site. Instead, it appears that our Referer pages
list so-called referals even when there has been no click-through to our sites — the
Referer listing only means that something on our site has been included in the search
engine’s query results.
If any techies know differently, please tell us. However, today’s Referer listings
for this weblog seem to confirm my conclusion: I have had 13 “referer hits” at f/k/a today
stemming from a search — apparently at an Arabic-language Google site — for <k>. That’s
right, the letter “k.” I don’t know if the searcher hit the Search button too soon, or was really
looking for “k”, but there were 203 million resulting links, with f/k/a showing up on the
37th page. It doesn’t seem logical that that particular search resulted in 13 click-throughs
(or even one) to this weblog.
So, weirdos and errant searchers are probably not finding us as often as it may appear from
our Referer Lists. And, those lists are just one more over-inflated measure of visitors to our
weblogs. Should keep us feeling safe and humble. Meanwhile, I hope my weblogging
colleagues will reassure me that the initial obsession with my referer page will soon subside,
and let me get on to my next cyber addiction.
For updated results of interest from our Referer Listings, click The Inadvertant Searchee.
Update (Aug. 22, 2004, 1 AM): Just had to share this Referer factoid: f/k/a showed up as
the 3rd result (out of only 7) for <swim fan +”associated press”> in an msn search on
Friday. Talk about disappointing a searcher. Explanation: at the bottom of every page
of this weblog, you’ll find “This site is using the Swim Fan theme.” Which reminds
me: stop using my colors, Bloglines!
P.S. Related Blessing in Disguise: After receiving “a few complaints” about the way
Page Hits were being counted on the Harvard Weblog Server, the program’s executive
While irked that we live in a world where whiny-squeaky wheels can so easily spur
such overkill, it’s been rather nice not wasting my time with yet another meaningless
measuring device. [no, j, you didn't cause the decision to disable]