"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Friday, December 10, 2010

HOW do spambots evade my site meter?

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I occasionally get anonymous comments of the type that neo-neocon has posted about as "Spambot of The Day", when a new or somewhat original example came through her spam filters.

Often whimsical, with wonderfully loose language, and sometimes no other apparent purpose than to show that it could  be done.
(Updated - With an answer)

Examples...

Anonymous said...
Clearly, many thanks for the information.
   July 13, 2010 6:28 AM

Anonymous said...
The excellent and duly answer.
   September 13, 2010 3:47 AM

Anonymous said...
You have quickly thought up such matchless phrase?
   September 13, 2010 11:42 PM

Anonymous said...
In my opinion you are mistaken. I can defend the position. Write to me in PM, we will discuss.
   September 16, 2010 10:41 PM

What I notice is that there is never any indication on my site meter (StatCounter) of any visit at the time of the comment.

This is an example of the info that StatCounter collects of visits
(I DO know how to set the cookie so my own visits are not recorded.  I turn it off for tests now and then. I altered the format so it would more easily fit in the space available.)...

  Number of Entries:  3
  Entry Page Time:    10th December 2010 10:57:13
  Visit Length:       2 mins 35 secs
  Browser             Firefox 3.0
  OS                  WinXP
  Resolution          1024x768

  Returning Visits:   8
  Location:           Houston, Texas, United States
  IP Address:         Pac-west Managed Modem Nas Pool (66.52.225.48)
  Entry Page:         Paul In Houston
  Exit Page:          Paul In Houston: A Boy and his Vampire
  Referring URL:      No referring link


Does this mean I know who you are when you visit?  Well, -- it depends.

"Location:" refers to the location of the ISP's server; which might be close to you, and then again it might not. The example above is for me. I'm in Houston, but sometimes it shows my location as San Antonio, meaning that my session got routed though a server there.

"IP Address:" shows the name of the network that is handling the traffic. Mostly, it shows the actual name of the local ISP, but again, sometimes not  (Mine is Internet America and my email server is on airmail.net)

"Referring URL:" shows the link on a web page or webmail, that was clicked on to get to my site.  If it shows "No referring link", that visitor went directly to my site by typing in a URL, clicking on a bookmark, or clicking on a link in an email in an outside program (Outlook for example).

Put all that together and I can sometimes surmise if the visitor is someone I Know, and yet again,  sometimes not.

But, the bottom line with these spambots is that they try to put anonymous comments to my posts without leaving any trace on the site meter.

How do they manage that?  I'd sure love to know.
(And, YES, I am raising the question with StatCounter support.)

Update - 11 Dec 2010 -  I sent this to StatCounter support...
------------------------------------------------------------------
Spambots evading your site meter
This is more curiosity than anything. Although I'd think you would want to know.

http://paulinhouston.blogspot.com/2010/12/how-do-spambots-evade-my-site-meter.html 

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And got this reply today...
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re: Spambots evading your site meter
Hi Paul,

My apologies for the inconvenience and confusion. We actually setup our service like this on purpose, we only want to show you the real traffic. If we showed you all the bogus traffic your site got it would inflate the stats and you'd lose the real and useful info in the static.

I hope this helps clear things up. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

We greatly appreciate your business.

Thank you,
Rory
StatCounter


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So, apparently there is no magic way the spambot creators have found to bypass detection by the site meter. It does detect the visit, recognizes the spam for what it is (probably by a number of methods, perhaps including a list of known offenders), and simply omits that visitor from the reports.

So, basically, the answer to the question in the title of this post is, "They don't!".

I'm cool with that, and my curiosity is satisfied.
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. In Houston,

Clearly, the premise under which tree you have your made blog posting is incorrectly developed. It is wondrous how succinct your thoughts are within this spambot matter. Take me to your site meter.

-- Anon E. Mouse

Paul_In_Houston said...

Thanks, Tom.

I knew I could count on your help.

Email me sometime; I'd love to hear from you.

:-)
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