Referral spam?

It’s so à la Cambrian Era fashion. Nature seems to be trying all possible forms of survival, while the selection make sure that only the stable niches will be occupied (in fact, the stable niches will be defined by the process). What elicited this not-so-neat consideration of mine? A growing trend I’ve observed in the last weeks, maybe some time after the announcements about comment spam countermeasures: I call it referrer’s spam.
When I narcistically check from where my entries were referred (BTW: there’s really many of you reading me! I would not have guessed, judging from the low number of comments. Thnx), I often find strange websites which  do not actually have a link to the post they seem to be referring to. Cyrillic DJ websites, religious newsletters, exhausted toner recyclers, the list is growing both in sheer number and in “biodiversity”; the strategy, however, seems to be pretty stable. I wonder if somebody else is “enjoying” the same? It would seem reasonable. My bet is that the phenomenon won’t last as is, or it will stay at an amateur level: 1) spam can have a reasonable success only with big numbers, and despite of the blogs explosion we are still orders of magnitude away from the number of mailboxes out there 2) I’m not exceptionally bright, but even I eventually realized that those strange URLs had little to do with web services aficionados/tabletPC with kinetopatia and the rest of my typical entourage. They could enjoy extended lifetime by developing some form of URL camouflage [NdR: ma in Inglese “mimetismo” come si dirà?], but that would be costly and hard to automate. 3) Cliking on a referrer’s URL is pretty much a deliberate act, while getting a glance of the body of an email can happen by accident. Quite inefficient.

We’ll see how it evolves 😉

Comments (3)

  1. I don’t think referral spam is looking for clicks as much as it’s looking for pagerank juice.

    Some sites publish referral information, linking back to the referral site. As google’s page rank is influenced by the number of links to a site referral spamming increases page rank. The posibility of an accidental click is a bonus.

    In fact newsgator last week managed to end up with a referral spammer site in their buzz list, sites that are linked to the most from blogs.

    As I’m on of the people that does display referrals I’m slowly building up a filtering list. Once a week I go the domains that have been listed in referrals and cull out the spams. My filter list is at

  2. Ahh, pagerank as the tropism changes the scenario completely! That, together with the fact that there are bloggers showing their referrals, gives to that practice the chance to thrive. The newsgator episode Barry reports is a clear symptom.

    The Wired article is dated 2002! That is indeed an old problem: anyway, I started feeling it on my skin only recently (and Russel’s post, referenced by Chris, is barely one month old as well: however the emotional emphasis level seems to suggest he’s being bugged by the problem for long).