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referrer string - how reliable?

P: n/a
Hi,

I often have hits on my homepage with referrer strings that do not link to
my page. Where does this come from? Does it mean that the visitor has been
on the refferer before going to my site?

thanks

Oliver

Jul 20 '05 #1
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8 Replies


P: n/a
Oliver <ol****@email.com> wrote:
I often have hits on my homepage with referrer strings that do not
link to my page. Where does this come from? Does it mean that the
visitor has been on the refferer before going to my site?


Referrer strings can be very unreliable. I once had a rash of referrers that
were just ads for people's blogs. Seems some browsers edit the referring
string, some don't have one, or some block it. Also, some page may briefly
link to your site, and then the link is quickly pushed out with other, more
recent content.
--
Michael Wilcox
mjwilco at yahoo dot com
Essential Tools for the Web Developer - http://mikewilcox.t35.com
Jul 20 '05 #2

P: n/a
Oliver wrote:
I often have hits on my homepage with referrer strings that do not link to
my page. Where does this come from? Does it mean that the visitor has been
on the refferer before going to my site?


The referer header is very unreliable. It is often blocked, more often[1]
munged, and easily faked.

Most likely this is someone hopeing that somewhere you have a list of sites
that sent people to your site (with attached links) that will boost their
Google Pagerank.

[1] I hate you Norton!

--
David Dorward <http://dorward.me.uk/>
Jul 20 '05 #3

P: n/a
On Sun, 15 Feb 2004 21:32:13 +0000, David Dorward <do*****@yahoo.com>
wrote:
Oliver wrote:
I often have hits on my homepage with referrer strings that do not link to
my page. Where does this come from? Does it mean that the visitor has been
on the refferer before going to my site?


The referer header is very unreliable. It is often blocked, more often[1]
munged, and easily faked.

Most likely this is someone hopeing that somewhere you have a list of sites
that sent people to your site (with attached links) that will boost their
Google Pagerank.


Aha! I've always disliked those pages, and now I've got a good reason
for doing so. ;-)

--
Stephen Poley

http://www.xs4all.nl/~sbpoley/webmatters/
Jul 20 '05 #4

P: n/a
Tim
On Sun, 15 Feb 2004 18:52:11 GMT,
Oliver <ol****@email.com> wrote:
I often have hits on my homepage with referrer strings that do not link to
my page. Where does this come from? Does it mean that the visitor has been
on the referrer before going to my site?


It's a completely optional header, and easily modified, so it's
completely unreliable.

It comes from the browser, reporting what URI referred the one being
requested (such as a request for an image refers to the page that
mentions it, or a request for a page refers to the page that linked to
it).

--
My "from" address is totally fake. The reply-to address is real, but
may be only temporary. Reply to usenet postings in the same place as
you read the message you're replying to.

This message was sent without a virus, please delete some files yourself.
Jul 20 '05 #5

P: n/a
In article <8s********************************@4ax.com>,
Tim <se**********@optusnet.com.au> wrote:
On Sun, 15 Feb 2004 18:52:11 GMT,
Oliver <ol****@email.com> wrote:
I often have hits on my homepage with referrer strings that do not link to
my page. Where does this come from? Does it mean that the visitor has been
on the referrer before going to my site?


It's a completely optional header, and easily modified, so it's
completely unreliable.


There's a wide gap between "completely reliable" and "completely
unreliable". Referrer falls between them.

--
John Carr (jf*@mit.edu)
Jul 20 '05 #6

P: n/a
On Sun, 15 Feb 2004 18:52:11 +0000, Oliver wrote:
Hi,

I often have hits on my homepage with referrer strings that do not link to
my page. Where does this come from? Does it mean that the visitor has been
on the refferer before going to my site?


Consider it to be informative, not normative. They may have been there,
or they may not have, or it may not be present at all. Or, in at least
one case, it could be an arbitrary string that isn't a URI.

--
Some say the Wired doesn't have political borders like the real world,
but there are far too many nonsense-spouting anarchists or idiots who
think that pranks are a revolution.

Jul 20 '05 #7

P: n/a
Tim
On 17 Feb 2004 16:42:14 GMT,
jf*@mit.edu (John F. Carr) wrote:
There's a wide gap between "completely reliable" and "completely
unreliable". Referrer falls between them.


Well, since anything can be done to the referrer header (modify it or
not bother to provide it, and you have no way of knowing that what you
get as a referrer is true), it can't be relied on at all. That's what
I'd call a completely unreliable thing.

Now, if you would get it or not, and it always contained the right
information when you got it, then I might agree to say that it's
somewhat reliable. But something that's somewhat reliable isn't
something that you can rely on at all.

I shall refrain from continuing this recursive notion, before we all
disappear down a gravity whirlpool... ;-)

--
My "from" address is totally fake. The reply-to address is real, but
may be only temporary. Reply to usenet postings in the same place as
you read the message you're replying to.

This message was sent without a virus, please delete some files yourself.
Jul 20 '05 #8

P: n/a
Oliver wrote:
I often have hits on my homepage with referrer strings that do not link to
my page. Where does this come from? Does it mean that the visitor has been
on the refferer before going to my site?


The Referer header is not reliable *at all*. It can be forged trivially.

--
Shawn K. Quinn
Jul 20 '05 #9

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