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Do easy scripts like this which generate can traffic massive amounts of traffic in a way that seems 'natural' make site traffic meaningless? Essentially we are getting better and better at faking site traffic, at what point does a metric like 'visits' lose it's meaning?

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closed as not a real question by John Conde Jun 27 '12 at 11:29

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Maybe this is just right place to ask but one thing you should remember: posting question that has no meaning if links broke down is bad thing. You should edit your question until your question is really here. –  Sampo Sarrala Jun 26 '12 at 19:55
    
@Sampo are you saying I should copy over all the text from that blog post into my question? –  fakeid Jun 26 '12 at 20:04
    
No, I'm saying that your question is not here. Copying blog post and asking if it is meaningless is ot here (and I think it's ot in whole stack) . If you read your question and it makes sense without clicking any links then it is good. I'm not saying that linking is bad, I'm saying that you should not rely on links. –  Sampo Sarrala Jun 26 '12 at 20:19
    
@Sampo that's a fair point. I've edited, hopefully this will make the question more useful though the first answer was already very good. –  fakeid Jun 26 '12 at 20:27
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3 Answers 3

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Anagio, The code shown in that post it's obviously an improvised proof the concept. But it I guess it can be easily improved to forge a more realistic interaction (the author even suggests some approaches). Don't forget that the advertising industry pays per visit and amount of content delivered, so more traffic can in fact mean more money.

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What you're suggesting is because some advertisers are paying per impression for their display ads, a webmaster may run a script like this and fake the impressions charging their advertiser. If the script can't render Javascript on it's own it wouldn't work on most ad networks. –  Anagio Jun 26 '12 at 23:46
    
I if didn't get the author wrong, he is suggesting browser automation scripting, not a script that generates web requests. So Javascript rendering would be fully supported effectively forging impressions.. –  suchm Jun 26 '12 at 23:56
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Site traffic is a useful metric under some circumstances, but scripts like the one discussed in your link, along with the many other ways of drawing links to sites (posting a link in a prominent forum on a busy social website along with a suitably alluring description, for example -- I do not recommend doing this!), mean that more thought has to go into analysing the results than just counting the number of hits on the site.

Advertisement agencies have become very good at detecting 'clickthrough fraud' - hits generated by bots or human agencies that do not really represent a genuine hit, where genuine is loosely defined as 1) a human being is involved, 2) this site/page was reached intentionally and 3) the site/page was accessed in good faith. In the case of this tor example, the target site would see a fairly uniform succession of hits (random pause between 40 and 60 secs), which would not ordinarily be generated by human activity, I don't see any HTTP_REFERER, and there does not seem to be any mechanism for the script to progress through the site (e.g. simulating clickthroughs from one page to the next). This sort of activity could probably be detected as anomalous/non-human in origin. As an incidental aside, it's quite likely that analytics sites already hold lists of Tor exit nodes, since that information is tracked.

More generally, this sort of thing is one reason why those looking to demonstrate site reach, audience or impact should look beyond the raw number of frontpage hits, since there are many ways of generating hits that do not result in any real interaction with the site.

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I know a few companies who purchased services to get more visits they soon realized the traffic they were getting was fake and from a program because people are monitoring the time visitors spend on a page, they monitor click streams to see if visitors have gone from one page to another. They monitor where the traffic has come from and with Analytics programs that monitor IP along with all other details it's quite easy to see if traffic is fake.

I feel bad for the people who don't know any better and purchase visits from companies that send fake traffic.

To answer your question. Yes it's meaningless. Why would someone want to have fake traffic to their website? If a visitor isn't buying a product, signing up for a service, or contacting the website owner. 1,000,000 visits wouldn't mean anything. They would be essentially worthless and a waste of bandwidth.

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