Browser Statistics reaction



OK – someone has a sense of humor. In the hour after the browser statistics article where I said that on this site, Internet Explorer was being used by less than 50% of the viewers I saw an interesting thing happen. In the span of 2 minutes, 1 single IP address pulled EVERY link on the site, claiming to be browsing with IE 5.5 for a total of about 450 hits. Initially I thought, OK it’s either a search crawler masquerading as IE in the “User Agent” field, or somebody wanted to play with my stats.

I found the IP in the logs and the time span though (2-3 minutes) and it’s obvious they weren’t a legitimate, sitting, reading the screen, visitor. I checked the IP address and, although I won’t publish it here, it appears to be from a machine in Optimum Online (Cablevision Systems) network (They seem to be based in Hicksville, NY.) The location seems to rule out a web spider. I don’t know of any addons for IE that will suck all links like that, so I suspect it’s probably come from a script designed to do exactly that (like a web-spider for a search engine) and to give a false User Agent in the request. I haven’t seen any search engine spiders that are quite THAT aggressive in their scanning, but it did look like it got a pretty good spidering of the site.

I thought it might be worth a post to point out that browser usage stats could be incorrect ANYWAY, because many (most) alternative browsers allow you to set the “user agent” as a version of Internet Explorer and leave it. Unfortunately this is necessary because many sites use that “user agent” string to allow or deny access. “We’re sorry but this site is only designed for Internet Explorer 6.0 and newer”. It’s not that hard to write pages that look reasonably similar in multiple browsers, unfortunately not everyone does so. Of course, I once had a customer who said that she didn’t want to fool with anyone that didn’t have Microsoft. I’ve never understood that attitude and tried to design things to be as widely compatible as possible. But, I digress….

Just thought I’d acknowledge the prankster out there.

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