Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sitemeter Bites The Dust

A few days back Peter commented that he was having problems with Sitemeter (Sitemeter is a widget that keeps track of blog statistics, such as number of visitors, where they're from, etc.). I had Sitemeter installed on this blog, but it had never given me any trouble, so I shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

Then last night and today I discovered that anyone trying to access this blog was redirected to an advertising site. I did some google-fu and found out I wasn't the only one.
... Increasingly often over the past year or so, the sitemeter tracking code has been non-deterministically routing visitors to unwanted advertising sites, playing strange background music, etc. At about the same time, the company stopped responding to any support queries or complaints. Because its tracking statistics are useful, and because the unwanted redirections were rare and intermittent (and arguably due to mistakes rather than malice), I've stuck with them.

But as of yesterday evening, for a significant period of time, every single attempt to access (this blog) resulted in a glimpse of the desired page followed quickly by redirection to x.vindicosuite.com, which is apparently some sort of passive DNS replicator or something. As far as I can tell, no virus or worm attack was involved, but the redirection alone is unacceptable...
The cause?
... Sitemeter has been bought by the same ad-ware intensive company that bought MySpace.  And, now the script that you embed on your web site for the Sitemeter is also going out and establishing connections and setting cookies for all of these other sites.

I not only found it is setting this cookies and establishing these connections, but it is also REDIRECTING my site to an "ad" page...
Many others have reported the same problem. Thankfully, much like the federal government, Sitemeter appears to be mindlessly incompetent as opposed to deliberately evil. Nevertheless, it can still cause great harm.

I get that much of the 'free' content on the Interweb is supported by advertising. But the pop-ups are getting more and more intrusive - especially those damn auto-start videos. When they cross the line from annoying to manipulative, it's time to get rid of them. Life is too short (and this blog doesn't pay enough) to put with crap like that.

So adios, Sitemeter.

If you encountered any problems here in the last day or so, I apologize.

BTW, I've also noticed that when I reply to comments I have to do that Captcha thing where you enter numbers to prove you're human. I don't know where that came from. I've double-checked the blog settings and Word Verification is turned off, Anonymous Commenting is enabled, and I can't find anything else that would require that. I'll keep looking, but in the meantime I hope it isn't too much of a deterrence to comments.

5 comments:

jeff said...

Tim I wondered what was going on. I thought it was a browser glitch because other blogs were doing the same redirect. Thanks for the info.

Bruce P said...

Hey Tim - just trying to get in touch. Couldn't find your contact info, could you send me a message when you get a chance? Thanks
Bruce
bluegrassbruce at gmail

Harper said...

FYI, the Captcha thing has been in your comment box for quite awhile. NBD, keeps the bots out.

Mel said...

I started coming across the virus about 6:30 last night mostly affecting right wing and gun blogs.
Captcha is okay on numbers but the crammed together letters are hard on my old eyes.
I'll take this time to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

CenTexTim said...

Jeff - sorry for the confusion. Glad I could help clear it up.

Bruce - there's an email link at my profile. It's centextim at yahoo dot com

Harper - really? I just noticed it a few days ago. Nice to know that blogger knows what's good for me (/sarc)

Mel - oh great. Now you've got me thinking in terms of a conspiracy... :-)

Thanks for the Christmas wishes, and the same right back at you!