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Q1:When I use the Top Referrers report, some of the pages that show up don't contain any links to my site, and the content of those pages makes me doubt they ever did. What causes this to happen?
A1: The most likely cause is a Web browser that transmits inaccurate referral information to your Web server. A browser is supposed to log a referral only when someone uses a hyperlink to reach your site. If a user visits your site by typing its address in the browser's Address bar, no referral should be reported.

Some Web browsers transmit this information anyway, revealing the last page someone visited before they came to your site. As a result, you'll see some odd things in the Top Referrers report from time to time, such as the main page of popular sites like Yahoo!, CNN.com, and Hotmail.

A good rule of thumb is to ignore any referral that shows up fewer than five times in a month.

Q2:My server's logs don't look anything like the ones listed in this hour. Why are they different?
A2: Each Web server saves log files differently. The ones displayed in this hour use Common Log Format (CLF), the most popular format for logging Web server activities. The Apache Web server, currently the most popular on the Web, uses this format.

Microsoft Internet Information Server, which is frequently used by companies that offer FrontPage hosting, keeps logs in its own format. Most of the same information is contained in these logs—file requests, referrals, and user agents—although there's no error log kept by the server.

Q3:Isn't referer_log misspelled?
A3: It is. The creators of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the standard used by Web browsers and Web servers to exchange information with each other, spelled it as referer instead of referrer in the document that told programmers how to use the protocol. When HTTP quickly became part of hundreds of software programs used by millions of people, there was no way to remove the incorrect spelling, much to the bane of technical writers, copy editors, and grammarians everywhere.



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