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Re: Evil Referrer.org

  • Subject: Re: Evil Referrer.org
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@schestowitz.com>
  • Date: Sun, 31 Jul 2005 06:56:22 +0100
  • Newsgroups: alt.internet.search-engines
  • Organization: schestowitz.com / Manchester University
  • References: <1122389311.854180.115230@g47g2000cwa.googlegroups.com> <dc5kkf$2d89$1@godfrey.mcc.ac.uk> <1122404551.139933.267780@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com> <dc6um0$2on8$1@godfrey.mcc.ac.uk> <1122750616.841018.70650@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>
  • Reply-to: newsgroups@schestowitz.com
  • User-agent: KNode/0.7.2
Dr. Paula E. Burch wrote:

> Roy Schestowitz wrote:
>> Don't necessarily blame referrer.org. It is hard to identify the
>> culprit, yet.
> I now believe that Referer.org was indeed the cause of my trouble. The
> reason is unexpected, however, at least to me.
> I had noticed that some of my pages, and some pages at other sites,
> seemed to finish loading very slowly; an item on the page never loaded
> correctly. I did not happen to notice this before I added the links to
> referer.org. It happened only when I ran Safari, not when I used
> Firefox or Internet Explorer.  When I checked my 'Activity' window in
> Safari, it described the item which had failed to load with the
> following URL:
> <https://addons.mozilla.org/core/install.php?uri=http://ftp.mo....

After continuous use of the browser, it tends to become less verbose,
especially if you tick some boxes and hit some 'get out of my way' buttons.
It is worth having a status icon somewhere in the window. It at least
reflects on the state of the page, which is important if you use your
browser not as an errant tourist on the Net, but as a Web developer.

> None of my pages ever had any reference in them to this
> 'customizegoogle' thing in them, even when I doublechecked the page
> source to see if a link to it was being inserted. Since I had no
> problems in the other two browsers, I thought I had some sort of
> browser problem, rather than a problem with my site.
> The referer.org script looked quite innocent. However, after I removed
> all of my referer.org links, I immediately saw that my browser was no
> longer attempting to download 'customizegoogle'. I do not understand
> how their link caused it to do this, but the evidence is strong.

I don't like it when missing plug-ins beg to be installed, but... [see

> Just now, I attempted to find any site with referer.org still in it,
> using google, which used to list many. There are no hits to pages
> containing "referer.org", although there were many only a few days ago!
> I tried searching using link:www.referer.org, and the first one I
> found, <http://flightpundit.com/>, caused my Safari to attempt to
> download that customizegoogle. Same thing with all the others I check,
> if they still have the referer.org link. (In every case I've seen,
> Safari notes that 0 bytes have been downloaded by the link.)

...xpi's are harmless, at least after the recent browser fixes that prevent
chrome permissions. I am not too sure how Internet Explorer handles xpi's
and Safari (code nicked from KDE's Konqueror) possibly has little or no
interest in xpi files.

Google might attempt to prevent its users from reaching pages that are not
secure. There are some really dangerous turfs on the Net, especially if one
uses Internet Explorer.

> Google might not much like a script that automatically keeps a list of
> links, but they have reason to really hate customizegoogle, since it
> blocks out their ads. Moreover, trying to force viewers to download
> anything they have not asked for is certainly unethical, regardless of
> what it is. I very much regret ever trying referer.org.
> Paula

I'm glad to hear that you pin-pointed the culprit. You can now have the
solace that it is a matter of time until traffic reverts to its older

Changes, in particular when done in /batch mode/, are always risky and are
worth considering twice, three times or even asking the groups. They can
easily sway you off the point of equilibrium and it's rarely worth it. I am
saying this because I made several such mistakes in the past as I can
operate upon hundreds or thousands of my pages in a matter of minutes. It's
a win-all or lose-all situation.

Remember: search engines hate unhelpful content, aggresive sites, spying on
users/engines and browser/O/S discrimination.


Roy S. Schestowitz

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