How do I know that my page stats aren’t all mainly bots?
SCRIBD revised their website (over-simplifying it and removing a lot of options, I now appreciate the simple, unfrilled underlined link lists in Author’s Den), and in the process they upgraded their bot-algorithms. What this means is that they can now discern more clearly between bots and “real people” readers.
As an html writer I’m of course curious how they did this; how do you determine that a click (or a download of a pdf) comes from a real human source rather than a bot? Especially, how do you do that in retro? There are certain things that identify bots; the most obvious in their name (“crawler”, “spider”, “bot” as part of the name) or their behaviour of clicking on a file that is especially created for bots, called “robots.txt”. Normal readers wouldn’t even find this file as no website links to it. But bots look for it and read it, because it contains instructions for them.
Those are the simple bots, and the well-behaved ones. But what about the rest? If one of our “Almost Dead in Suburbia” previews (a PDF file) gets clicked and downloaded, how do I know it was a bot or a human?
99 downloads of “Donegal Trouble” on P’kaboo this month. Anything that is more than 14 is beginning to look suspicious; why would a bot click more often on one link than another? Why would “Someone laid a Cuckoo’s Egg in my Web Domain” get 12 000 + views on Scribd over a 3-year period – consistently by bots? Ah, it contains the words “web domain”, that might be it. But, “Donegal Trouble”?
There is a level of logic I don’t follow.
I now suspect my Author’s Den stats, my blog stats and our P’kaboo stats, to all be bot-infested, crawling with pests for which one would really want to rip out the can of Doom and spray liberally. Why? Because they all move in the same range as my SCRIBD stats did – before the “clean-up”.
So when faced with such an unsolvable conundrum what does gipsika do?
I load up the caravan and move on!
Real feedback from real readers
For this reason, while I made “Mercury Silver” available for free on P’kaboo, it has to be ordered from me by email. Yes, that is an interim step that will filter out shy web visitors; scared of claiming something that is offered for free, because they have to yield that marvellous web shield, their invisibility.
But what does it help me if all you invisible viewers and visitors are so invisible that you might be bots? I want to know that it’s real people claiming these free copies, because the offer is limited and bots don’t read short-stories. (My. If you, reading this, happen to be a bot and you feel offended, please correct me on this! I would love to meet my AI clients, and I’d happily send you a copy of the book PLUS ask you for a review. I’d be very, very, VERY excited to get in touch with this wholly new and untapped kind of person and I’d like to be among the first to fight for your voting rights.)
I’m going to put Donegal Trouble behind such a “click here” wall too; I want to know that you 99 who downloaded it this month are REAL.
An advertising company is trying to convince me that clicks on my website that come from their ad are definitely people not bots. How do they prove this?
P’kaboo’s page stats look good
…but in the face of “bot-gate” what does this mean?
Therefore I’ll be checking the page stats less, and building more little mechanisms in which people need to do just one more click…
Remember the web rule that people want three clicks maximum before they buy or leave the page? Apparently, so do bots, and 100% of those don’t buy. I’m thinking I could perhaps filter them out by means of “squeeze pages”.
No, I won’t filter with that. Amazon doesn’t push a Recaptcha into your face while you’re browsing, and only when you buy and fill out the shopping basket etc, do they implement one. So does Paypal, and seeing that we use Paypal on P’kaboo, I feel that one Recaptcha per buying transaction is aplenty for the average person.
So the strategy is now:
You can have free stories. There will be occasional offers on certain books; and permanent offers on others such as “Donegal Trouble”.
But I want something in return. I want to know that you, dear reader, are a reader. If this means you need to click an extra link or order something from an email address, so be it. No recaptcha. If you feel exposed, feel free to create a free web email at gmail or AOL, “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and use a freak name – I mean, a pseudonym (“big man-eating spider crab”), and I will not be able to trace you to your home address. That’s okay. As long as “big man-eating spider crab” enjoys the stories!
I’m not the NSA. Don’t worry!
Free copies of “Mercury Silver” are now available at P’kaboo, for a limited time.
Click the image below to get there: