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I’ve only once had someone contact me about a broken link on this site, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any. Today I took a little time to go through the referer logs, not just to pick out the weird referers, but mainly to analyze who or what is using this site. I also fixed a few links that had been left broken in the recent changes.

The majority of hits on are from search engines. Not all of them are marked as such, and some supply false or missing browser details (e.g. from the UNIX wget command), but you can easily tell them from the access patterns and timings. The number of direct cracking attempts are small; two in the month of March, attempting to access standard mailing scripts by name. Not gonna work here, folks.

Comments are another story: disabled for the moment, until I can investigate further, perhaps defeat the scripts by renaming the files and links. I can see only one attempt at automated comment spam this month, but I can’t say the same for Referer spam: I can see many hits with the same referer, but since I don’t have the referer logs viewable publicly, it’s pointless – no links up for search engines to jump on.

I’m not the only one being hit by this same spammer, who I’m not going to link to, but search for andrewsaluk spam for many similar reports from others. Sounds like a amateur script kiddie using some crude “search engine optimization” (SEO) methods. If the culprit really is someone named “Andrew Saluk”, he’s doubly a moron for using his real name. I’ve just modified my htaccess file to block any referers with that name, as suggested at candygenius:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} andrewsaluk
RewriteRule .* - [L,F]

Let’s see what effect that has. From Whois I can tell that the Domain is registered to a Florida address, but the server is in St. Petersburg, Russia. It appears to be an online Texas Hold-Em site: abandon hope, all ye who enter credit card details, unless you actually intend to bankroll the Russian Mafia. Other reports suggest it’s hosted in China; perhaps it’s multiple servers, or moving around.

About six months ago I found myself getting interested in playing poker, perhaps even Texas Hold-Em. The game has been the subject of major publicity recently, with high-stakes tournaments in Las Vegas and on board ships, and what appears to be a gentle learning curve through low-stakes games. The idea was that I could round up a few interested people here and play for chips or pennies. Sadly, two things have served to almost kill what interest I had:

  1. the way the game is presented as predatory and antisocial, with a strict hierarchy of predators and prey. There are many people trying to get in, but gaining skill carries a price, and there are enough people skilled at reading your tells, waiting to take your money off you. Hardly the social fun I had in mind;
  2. the rabid commercialism surrounding it, especially online. It seems like everyone has a scheme to make money off the game online, but what’s the point? If you can’t try to read your opponents twitches – the social side of the game I was interested in – it becomes just another card game, as random as Blackjack.

Do you trust a strange server to be programmed to play fair? Who’s to guarantee that one of your fellow players is not also running the server, and can see your cards, or control what you’re dealt? To me, the game only makes sense when you, and you alone, can watch the cards, and the people, in person. Why would you play it online – in the hope you’re going to win money? The money pulled in by the likes of “partypoker” should be enough to discourage anyone from getting involved.

Lastly; for some interesting reading on the relationships between SEOs and online gaming, including (allegedly) some established names, have a read of this.


Written by brian t

March 28, 2005 at 5:15 pm

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