I'm operating the http://gcc-melt.org/ website (a static website on MELT, a domain specific language to customize the GCC compiler), which should be of interest only to software developers. It is a Linux VPS (which I am renting from OVH in France) with lighttpd as the web server.

In the access.log file (which is not accessible thru HTTP), I have lines like gcc-melt.org - [27/Dec/2015:09:10:13 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 21170
               "http://gardena.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows XP)" gcc-melt.org - [26/Dec/2015:18:53:05 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 21170 
               "http://brendbutik.ru/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)" gcc-melt.org - [27/Dec/2015:09:18:11 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 7226 
               "http://burger-imperia.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/37.0.2062.120 Safari/537.36"

(Of course I am splitting the lines in two to show easily the refering site, such as "http://gardenia.ru/" for the first one)

I quickly checked, and the referring URL above "http://gardenia.ru/", "http://brendbutik.ru/", "http://burger-imperia.com/" are completely unrelated to software development, so I don't understand why would unrelated websites refer to my web site?

I do know that it is quite easy to fake such a referrer by putting a bogus HTTP Referer header field in the HTTP request, but I don't understand why people (or perhaps bots) are doing so...

PS. It is on purpose that I am leaving the real Referer URL. They might useful to others, so please don't edit my question to hide them. Of course, be cautious if browsing them!

NB. I have manually "migrated" (by copy/pasting) this question from Unix&Linux. And that question on webmasters is close to mine.

  • I'm observing 2-3 "referrals" a day from burger-imperia on one of my sites.
    – alexw
    Mar 18, 2016 at 6:12

1 Answer 1


This is just referer spam, from Wikipedia:

Referrer spam (also known as log spam or referrer bombing) is a kind of spamdexing (spamming aimed at search engines). The technique involves making repeated web site requests using a fake referer URL to the site the spammer wishes to advertise. Sites that publish their access logs, including referer statistics, will then inadvertently link back to the spammer's site. These links will be indexed by search engines as they crawl the access logs. This technique does not harm the affected sites, just pollutes their statistics.

This benefits the spammer because the free link improves the spammer site's search engine ranking owing to link-counting algorithms that search engines use.

I'm sure the benefits to the spammers are decreasing (as Google improves its algorithms), however, that does not stop them.

  • But if the access log file is not visible thru HTTP, there is no benefit to the spammer. Dec 27, 2015 at 12:00
  • 1
    Yes. Although it has been a popular feature (at least in the past) for unsuspecting site owners (particularly blogs) to publish an unvalidated list of their "Top Referers" on their homepage - this sort of thing has no doubt aggravated the issue.
    – MrWhite
    Dec 27, 2015 at 12:38

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