Thursday, January 17, 2008

Drudge's Rank: Misleading and Malodorous

I read the Drudge Report every day because it's a delicious slushpile of all things evil and conservative. Today, Matt Drudge released his periodic "I'm so damned awesome!" rankings by Hitwise Media Weekly Report:

The Rankings

Drudge Report's Misleading Hitwise Rankings

And if this blog were #9 on a media list, on par with FOX News for internet traffic, I'd be peeing my pants and shouting from the mountaintops too. But Matt Drudge is fiddling in trickery and blindly fooling millions.

Here's a logic puzzle: How does Matt Drudge, with one single web page (and the occasional all-caps DEVELOPING page), gain parity with the FOX News website, which has thousands of pages of varying news?

What Is Actually Being Measured

What are being measured are "hits," and that means that any time you or any person goes to Matt Drudge's front page, it registers a hit. If you visit again later that day, another hit, etc. It does not measure each individual visitor, which is a viable and available statistic, but every time the page is accessed.

The Trickery

The trickery occurs in two ways:
  1. The Back Button: When you go to Drudge's site and click on a link, instead of opening another window or tab, you are taken to that page. Read the story and want to see another one? Back button to Drudge's site, log another hit. Rinse and repeat. This can easily ring up 10-20+ hits by just one person in a matter of minutes.

  2. Refresh Code: I won't go into the techie details, but Drudge's site has a javascript code built into the page that will automatically refresh the page every three minutes, each time accessing the page again, each time clocking another hit. Basically, this means that if you go to Drudge's site and just leave the page open in a browser window or tab, you will tally 20 hits/hour for the site by doing nothing at all.
But How Do I Fight Such Kung Fu?

Like a ninja, of course. Here's what I do to avoid giving Mr. Drudge hits he does not deserve:
  1. Go to the Drudge Report.

  2. Hold down the CTRL key.

  3. Quickly scan and click the stories you would like to read - using Firefox, this opens the stories in new tabs while keeping Drudge in the current window. I believe Internet Explorer works the same way.

  4. As soon as you're done, close the Drudge window.

  5. Leisurely browse the other stories.
If you're a quick reader/clicker, you can probably get this done without a single refresh, only logging one hit for Mr. Drudge.

Happy browsing!

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