Blog Pile

Aggregators as Referrers?

There are people, likely those trying to make a buck off of RSS, who would like to measure how much “hit” there is from information syndicated as RSS Feeds, consumed, and hopefully clicked at. Checking your web server log for access of the RSS URL do not mean much, as they are continually hit by aggregators, and give no indication if the content is accessed.

Not being a server dude, I have no idea to the answer to this question, but I was just wondering what the web server logs indicate fora referrer when a link is generated from a desktop aggregator? (the web server log records every server request, and is able to record the URL a visitor was before they clicked a link to end of on your site).

I believe there is something recorded when a refer comes from a browser bookmark, but what does a click from an RSS aggregator report to the web server? If there is nothing recorded, what would it take to develop a “standard” that could share this tidbit? And then there is an unknown factor of referrers from web-based aggregators such as BlogLines, which would have have the standard web referrer recorded??

it is just a half baked thought that came while I am waiting here for my car to get fixed– I am not fixated on gathering stats like those, but can see how it would be useful in, not just the business context, to know where your web audiences are coming from.

It’s been a contention of mine that the majority of people who access and use web sites are largely invisible, they rarely enter form the “front door”, and they use, ignore, disagree, share your content, and you never know they are there. The number of people who leave comments, or contact the webmaster email is likely tiny compared to the total users. It is a strange lesson to realize you are trying to design information for this unknown, silent audience… Analyzing your web server log reveals some surprising information on visitor page views, time spent on the site, what search terms brought them to your site, what their web browser and operating systems are (and the useless details like a majority of your visitors are from a town in Virginia)

If you are serious about your audience and designing content, you ought to be a student of your web server log (not to confused with weblog). There are great, free tools for webmasters to provide this, such as AWstats (we use it) and the venerable Analog (which I think I used back in 1995!).

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I know that NetNewsWire at least puts itself as referrer. I am sure other aggregators do was well. Web-based aggregators would show as referrer automatically.

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