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Lackluster visitor numbers

One of the aspects of doing a webcomic that I like the least (no, make that loathe with a passion) is the need to constantly mind the websites it appears on. Current status: rocr.keenprime.com (aka rocr.reinderdijkhuis.com) is dead, and unless and until I sit down for a few hours and get my file permissions in order, it won't be revived. Not sure if I can be bothered right now.
rocr.xepher.net is chugging along nicely but few people seem to know about it and it should be seen as strictly a mirror site and home for this blog.
rocr.net has been fairly stable lately, but visitor numbers are slowly slipping. I can think of two reasons (beyond the obvious confusion factor):
1. That damned stroboscopic green card ad that has been showing up in the host's ad system!
2. Keenspace's "no Hotlinking" measure which disallows display of the images to browsers when the referrer string isn't a Keenspace-hosted site. Because some Firewalls (Norton especially) strip the referrer string altogether), many people visiting the site for the first time see a broken site.
I understand the need on Keenspace's part to limit bandwidth theft and protect their ad revenues, but I really don't think this is the way to go about it. It causes the sites hosted by them to make a bad first impression to new readers, and it puts the onus of explaining the problem to readers (those that bother to stick around long enough to look for an explanation, and if you know anything about the habits of web users you'll know that that's a vanishingly small minority) on the site owners, many of whom don't understand the problem themselves. This is a serious problem: like I said, most users will not bother to look for an explanation, and from the point of view of those that will, it's not at all obvious where they should look.
Most users do not, and should not, know who hosts the website they're visiting. There is no reason whatsoever to assume that they will look beyond the site they're already on, or at best the forum or blog for the site they're already on, and make the mental connection that "the answer may be on the Keenspace forums" (which I think it is, but by now it has become pretty hard to find). I have answered queries about this in email, on IRC, on third-party forums that were completely unrelated to Keenspace and in person. I only have a vague idea (unless I can look it up) how to solve it. I can (and really, I should) devote real estate on the website to explain the problem, but really would you accept it if CNN.com said "if you can't see the images, dig into the bowels of your computer and make changes whose effect on your privacy you may not really understand"? You'd have to be pretty fanatically devoted to CNN over ABCNews.com to bother with that crap.
There is another solution which I oughtta implement, which is to create a replacement image that will show up in case of an image block (Keenspace's approach does allow for that), and use that to show the explanation. Still doesn't alter the fact that the host has imposed a solution that other parties have to pick up the slack for.

Comments (1)

You could always make a little javascript function that checks the referer string & forwards you to the same page again :-)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 15, 2004 1:29 PM.

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