Referrer spam: connected to the Tor Commenters and the Tepido Oort Cloud?

As I mentioned on Twitter, my website within WordPress is being hit by a bot, creating “referrer spam”. You know, just the other day I was showing off the new WordPress World Stats, as I call them, and surprised that Japan still ranked so very high. My own country was there, too, of course. But second was Japan.

Well, this is still true in a way.

At first, I was really alarmed by this. But then I did some online reading, and it’s a rather common thing. WordPress, in fact, said not to give the specific domain; but that they would, in short order, deal with the nuisance. (This is why it’s blanked out in the screen shot above.) I suppose it’s because, while it affects my little world greatly, it is a gnat on the rear end of WordPress, which is getting tens of millions of hits a day. The blog address’ middle name, after all, is “WordPress”. So it’s not so much an attack at me, as one directed to the WordPress site, which is #18 worldwide. They are probably using it to figure out who the original instigator(s) was/were.

I can give them a clue: it’s probably the same source as the five e-mails (that landed in the Akismet spam bucket) that were sent to me via the Tor Anonymity Network, which is not as anonymous as people think.

Those e-mails, in turn, probably came out of the Tepido Oort Cloud, the band of bullies and misfits who frequent Ken Yasumoto-Nicholson’s attack site on Debito Arudou / Dave Aldwinckle, and anyone who defends Debito’s right to say, and anyone who is associated with anyone who defends Debito’s right to say, etc. (You see where this is going.)

I wouldn’t rely on computer and internet “tricks” to do things that are totally stupid. As the recent bust of some of the larger hacktivists showed, the people doing the watching over these systems never let on what they know. In that Blogger Kei federal court case, who is to say what IPs Google will be presenting? Who is to say that the Japanese don’t track every computer connection or IP that logs on to an anonymizing network? (Doesn’t it seem like that’s the kind of thing the Japanese would do, ne?)

My own approach is to look at circumstantial evidence. When suddenly it looks like someone is screwing with you, you need to go back to the ultimate source. It’s like what the U.S. government allegedly told the late dictator of North Korea, when he was still around: “if any loose nuke goes off, it’s you.”

[Update PM: Wow!

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2 comments

  1. Dr. Kuipers Garterbelt · March 15, 2012

    Does anyone in the Oort Cloud care about this anymore?

  2. Cameron · March 15, 2012

    Akismet deals with blog comments, not e-mail, as far as I know. Is that what you meant?

    Referrer spam is where a robot imitates a person clicking through to your website from a link.

    In the case of a real person clicking through, your server would generally be sent a referrer link to let you know whose site the person came from, so you could track your traffic sources. But with referrer spam, the supposed link is the website of the person doing the spam, or the client of the person doing the spam. There is no originating website link. It’s just a robot pretending to come in from a link.

    The point of referrer spam is not so much that a blog or website owner will click through to the website. The point is that a small percentage of website owners publish their referrers or recent visitors using scripts or plug-ins, and the links thus published are there for Google to see and count as inbound links for calculation of PageRank for the spammer’s website. The more links, the higher the PageRank, and the higher the spammer’s website will show in Google rankings. The number of sites that publish referrers is very small, but like any spam, the benefit is in doing extremely large numbers of spams, so that even a small percentage of successes will benefit the website owner.

    There’s one other use for “referrer spam,” although it’s not really spam in this case. If you want to contact a website owner who has no contact information, for instance to make an offer to buy a website that is dormant but has value for SEO or other purposes. For example, you can make a page with your purchase offer on it, put a link on it saying “Contact me – I will pay you $1,000 for Yoursite.com,” and hope the owner is looking at his analytics and could use an extra grand. It’s a longshot, but sometimes it’s worth a try. This can also be done with Twitter accounts (although the implementation details are different).

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