Letting friends know you read their stuff

With various social tools and gadgets there are tons of opportunities to publically or privately show that you follow your friends. I can digg my friends’ articles, or bookmark them at delicious, I can link to their posts via sharing in Google Reader, or after reading their posts in my preferred feed reader, I can click the link too just to push my red crab image to the top of their MBL and BUMPzee widgets.

All that comes with common hassles. I want to use these social gadgets and services without jumps thru unintended hoops, that is I consider all the above mentioned methods to tell friends that I still love them diverting those services from their intended use. Also, not every friend of mine makes use of all these geeky tools, so I need to digg posts of A., to delicious articles by B., to share posts of C., and to visit the blogs of D., E. and F. just to show that I’ve read their stuff in my feed reader.

I can’t do that, at least not in a reliable manner, especially not when I’m swamped and just try to catch up after 12 or more hours of dealing with legacy applications or other painful tasks like meetings with wannabe-geeks (unexperienced controllers or chiefs of whichever-useless-service-center) respectively anti-geeks (know-it-all but utterly-clueless and dangerous-to-the-company’s-safety IT managers). Doh!

So when I’m not able to send my friends a twitter-great-job-message or IM, and don’t have the time to link to their stuff, should I feel bad? Probably. Penalties are well deserved. Actually, the consequence is that nice guys like Nick Wilson @Metaversed unfriend me (among other well-meaning followers) at Twitter coz “I didn’t provide useful input for a while”, not knowing that I follow them with interest, read their posts and all that, but just can’t contribute at the moment because their actual field of interest doesn’t match my time schedule respectively my todays-hot-topic-list, nor my current centre of gravity, so to say. That does not mean I’m not interested in whatever they do and output, I just can’t process it ATM but I know that’ll change at some point in the future. Hey, geeks usually hop from today’s hot thing to tomorrow’s hot thing, and flashbacks are rather natural, so why expect continuousness?

Bugger, I wrote four paragraphs and didn’t come to the point expectable from the post’s title. And I bored you dear readers with lots of title bait recently. Sorry, but I did enjoy it. Ok, here’s the message:

Everybody monitors referrer stats. Don’t say you don’t do it because that’s first a lie and second a natural thing to do. That applies to ego searches too by the way. So why don’t we make use of referrer spoofing to send a signal to our friends? It’s that easy. Just add the referrer-spoofing widget to your PrefBar, enter your URL, and surf on. Well, technically that’s referrer spamming, so if you wear a tinfoil hat use a non-indexable server like example.com. I’m currently surfing with the HTTP_REFERER “http://www.example.com/gofuckyourself” but I’m going to change that to this blog’s URL. Funny folks visiting my blog provide bogus referrers like “http://spamteam.google.com/” and “http://corp.google.com:8080/webspam/watchlist.py”, so why the fuck shouldn’t I use my actual address? This will tell my friends that I still love them. And real geeks shouldn’t expect unforged referrer stats, since many nice guys surf without spamming the server logs with a referrer.

What do you think?

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8 Comments to "Letting friends know you read their stuff"

  1. JLH on 4 July, 2007  #link

    Spamteam.google.com would sure freak some people out though. Wonder who would do such a thing? :)

  2. Sebastian on 5 July, 2007  #link

    I know who did that :=)

  3. JLH on 5 July, 2007  #link

    I bet you do! I guess he should have gone through a proxy when trying to be a smart a$$, the IP always gives it away. he he.

  4. Sebastian on 5 July, 2007  #link

    Actually, I found that quite funny.

    I assume you’ve spotted the other faked Google-Webspam referrer under a Google-IP in your logs. As for those “proxies”, look at the second entry.

    I invented this port 8080 URL while testing the PrefBar update. After having fun with some spammers I got distracted and forgot to change the static referrer. So for a while I’ve vistited your blog and others with that fake referrer. Well, I turned it off eventually, but now I see the revenge in my logs :)

  5. Yuri on 12 August, 2007  #link

    That explains why there are no links to my blog on this page and I have still seen a couple of referrers.

    You see, people stalk places that link to them with referrers and very loyal readers (that link to them). If every blog reader starts using a referrer, it’ll be as much spam as everywhere (in the previously spam-free territory, mind you) and the linkers won’t get noticed.

    By using this plugin, you ruin someone’s chance to get noticed with a link, if such spoofing stuff becomes wide-spread.

    Likewise, I noticed that using GA on links tracks sends referrers from RSS feeds, so the bloggers need to use something themselves. You can see the example in action at seoish.com.


  6. Sebastian on 13 August, 2007  #link

    Yuri, good point, that’s why my faked referrer points to this post. The URI should make clear that my intent is not spamming. However, I try to use it only when I surf my regular schedule, but maybe I did it following sphinned stories too.

    I guess my single visit with a faked referrer shouldn’t be more annoying than visits from folks who switched referrer passing off. In both cases you don’t spot a new link, but this kind of ego surfing is better done with blog search or technorati anyway.

    Also, you get clicks from the blogbar and the GoogleReader links.

    However, you made me rethink it, thanks! Perhaps it was not my brightest idea.

  7. Yuri on 19 August, 2007  #link

    Christian, you can always comment on one post on the blog to get attention. This should be much more effective than referrer hacking, since:
    - comments are more visible
    - if you comment, you get a response from the author and he is more likely to comment on your blog
    - you get a linkYou can also link to the author from your post (send real referrers) as well as a trackback (not sure if Blogger supports this, though).

  8. Sebastian on 19 August, 2007  #link

    Dear Yuri,

    I think that you’ve missed the point. I do know that I can comment and all that, but when I surf with a referrer pointing to this post I’m not chasing links.

    I just want to show my friends that I read their stuff. If I by accident land on a blog of a not-yet-my-friend sort of person, you can call that collateral damage. ;)

    However, I do try not to referrer-spam anyone not yet on my buddy list.

    Thanks for stopping by to comment, and have a nice weekend!


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