AVG 8.0 Link Scanning Threatens Web Analytics [Best of June '08 #2]

This week was relatively slow, must have to do with all iPhone 2.0 chatter. A few interesting posts this week though (June 9-15 2008):

  • I've been using the free anti-virus software AVG for a year or so now and found it lightweight and non-intrusive. The last month, however, a message keeps popping up requesting me to upgrade to the new version 8.0. Apparently, some 20 million people world-wide have made the upgrade, to much annoyance to web site owners. As it turns out, the new version contains a link scanner, that pre-visits the search results from Google and Yahoo searches, masquerading as a real user. The Register reports that last month the number of visits had doubled on certain pages, thanks to the link-scanner robot. At first thought, this might seem as a good thing for site owners, but actually it is not. The fake traffic jeopardizes the web statistics, increases the bandwidth cost, and slows down all other legitimate internet traffic. As the Register writes: "[It] could destroy web analytics as we know it."
    Imagine a scenario where the top ten results of all web searches were pre-scanned. This would theoretically lead to an overall ten-fold increase in web traffic. One cannot help but think that it is up to the search provider, Google or Yahoo for example, to provide safe search results, instead of relying on an external service scanning all results. The link scanning can be disabled by disabling a browser plugin, but that's probably to advanced for the average user.
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  • The Swedish blog search engine Twingly went public this week after a couple of months in private beta. Bravely, they claim to be spam free, though I think it will be hard to maintain in the long run.
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  • Reblogging own comments made on other blogs has become popular since my own comment on comments piece. Both Tim O'Reilly and Fred Wilson have recently done the same. In a follow-up post Fred concludes that there is no difference between a great comment and a great blog post, and as he says: "Comments are often way more insightful than blog posts."
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  • Google Reader has an easter egg in the form of a Konami Code (Hit ↑↑↓↓←→←→ba). All software should have an easter egg.
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