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Alexa add Dubious Feature

Alexa has just added a new ‘feature’ to it’s service that show ‘other sites owned’ by the same people as the site being featured.

So for ProBlogger it shows two other sitesgambling watch and idolblog (see screen cap below).

I see two problems with this.

Firstly some might argue that there are privacy issues at stake here. I don’t have a massive issue with it on this front as I don’t have any sites I’m ashamed of – but interestingly I’ve just used this feature on a few other blogs that I read and have found other blogs that I’d not heard of that do seem to be written by those bloggers (on one occasion it was a blog on a topic I don’t think that they’d like to be known publicly as the owner of).

Secondly (and more importantly) – I don’t own either of the two blogs that it says I own. I know for a fact that idolblog is hosted on the same server as mine – but gambling watch is a site I’m not really familiar with. I suspect it could also be hosted on the same server – but it’s definitely not one that I ‘own’.

I wonder how many others are being associated with sites that they have no connection to? What do you think of this feature?

Found via an email from Derrick who feels pretty passionately about the issue as you’ll see from his site. For more reading on this see Webmaster World’s forums.

Alexa-2

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. AndyC says:

    The worst thing is to see an implemented feature that has not been well tested before launching. This thing appears to bening at first sight, but what if on one of those blogs that you “own” is posted something that is bad for someone and you find yourself draged to court for calomny? Try explain than that you don’t really own that blog and it isn’t you the one who wrote those things! Awfull….I really hope that it will not come to this but, you never know…

  2. mark says:

    What a coicidence! I was just looking out for something like this today.

    Unfortunately, this feature isn’t tested out properly as it is leading inaccurate results. If it works like it should, I like this feature.

  3. Clyde Smith says:

    Most of Alexa’s information that goes beyond that gathered from people with
    Alexa’s toolbar (I don’t know any of them) is nonsense.

    People who visit this page also visit:
    is a list of the sites that are in the same category as dmoz.com. That’s not the same as documented visits. I don’t see clicks coming from those sites to mine nor do I link to most of the sites described as also visited.

    Online Since:
    is the date the domain was registered with absolutely no relationship to when the site actually went online. All my dates match my registration which often occurred a year or two before I launched a site using the domain.

    I think other sites owned is based on Whois data for sites that are live, but I’m not sure. Mine lista three domains I own, one of which, problogging.com, I rent to the current site owners but I don’t own the site.

    Basically Alexa is a partially fraudulent service that should honestly describe what they do rather than making up nifty claims that people rarely seem to evaluate.

  4. Stuart says:

    Clyde – it’s obviously NOT the whois data – how can it be if Darren says he doesn’t own either site that Alexa claims he owns.

    It’s certainly not IP addresses either because some of our sites that were listed as owned by us were not on the same IP address as the rest of them either.

    Webmaster World has quite a long thread about it but the last time I looked over there they hadn’t been able to ascertain just how Alexa decided who owned other sites.

    And as for being a feature that people like – how would you feel if you ran a serious business type site and someone looked you up on Alexa intending to do business with you and also found that you owned a Pokemon site or played trains in your spare time and that caused you to lose that potential business?

    Nope – while Alexa is using public information – although somewhat old public information – this is a service we don’t need and really shouldn’t have waste our time getting Alexa to remove the information.

    By the way – no I don’t own a Pokemon site but I do enjoy model trains in my spare time – a hobby that’s a far cry from what many people think of as playing trains.

  5. Clay Cook says:

    Totally agree with you Darren. This is a concern… *especially* when it doesn’t give accurate data. Alexa certainly has no clue as to what sites I own (just tested it). They should have thought a lot harder about this, and secondly tested it far more as AndyC suggests.

  6. Shaun Carter says:

    This is so wrong… I already have to deal with Alexa allowing some crap sites to be listed as “People who visit this site also visit…” when I know it was the owners of those sites submitting their own through Alexa’s suggest a site form. The thing that bothers me is that my professional website has “Clan of Drunks” and “Chunky Pig” listed as those sites. What a shame…

  7. Dave says:

    If they had implemented it proporly as mentioned already it wouldn’t be too bad. For a company as large as alexa they shouldn’t be making cock ups like this…it’s just irritating and it wont gain them any more viewers.

    Seems like a bad idea to me anyway.

  8. jj says:

    We checked our site and we apparently own 8 other sites that we’ve never seen. How can we get the adsense revenue from our “new sites”?

  9. Hi,

    For us it’s the opposite, it didn’t pick up any other sites period. None that I or my company owns, and none that we don’t own either. Very interesting…

    Regards,
    Steph
    FollowSteph.com
    LandlordMax.com

  10. hatem says:

    The only things I didn’t like about alexa is that sone of their data is not updated specially the owner information. And seeing a new service launched based on these data, it could result only to nothing. The service is absolutely meaningless for me.

  11. I think I used Alexa toolbar in year 2000 .. and haven’t been there since, before today. It seems that they have some of my related sites and associated my business name, phone, fax, and private email with all of them (all though only published on two of them) … I guess that solves part of the equation why I’m being spammed on that email address… to quote Kyle from SouthParlk .. “Those Bastards!”

  12. Jason Nelson says:

    I’ve got a similar problem with Alexa. It shows in addition to our site (GuerrillaAudio.com), that we also own 3 other sites, which we do not. We own none of those other sites. It is strange because the address Alexa used to show for us was wrong (we asked for and did receive an address change). However, that ‘old address’ is the same address that Alexa now shows for the other companies.

    I do not recognize the address listed, nor have I ever used that address. I don’t know if that tidbit helps, but maybe you can extrapolate some ideas from it.

    Alexa has been helpful in gathering information about our competitors, and for that use it is very functional…I guess you just have to take it all ‘with a grain of salt’.

  13. brem says:

    I would never trust alexa’s data.

  14. Derrick says:

    I’m not really sure how Alexa gathers it’s data. That is part of what scares me (and others). It’s more than just a simple whois, and it’s more than doing a simple reverse-ip search. I’m not really sure what their algorithm is. But there are def. some negatives that go with this.

    Say you have a business site: your-consulting-company.com; this is the site that you refer clients to, etc. What if you also own your-crazy-personal-life.com; something your ‘clients’ have no business knowing.

    Things like this, besides the fact that Alexa seems to be woefully inaccurate, is just a bad idea.

  15. Carl Lapsburg says:

    OK,

    Everybody needs to calm down a bit here, calling Alexa fraudulent and what not.

    It appears that YES, the information is based on WHOIS data. After all, you need to legally claim yourself as an owner of a domain when you register it, and in most cases that is public data. Unless you use a cloaker or similar which has only recently become popular, must be registered with ICANN and only applies to some domain extensions.

    In the case of Darren, yes, the WHOIS registrant contact for problogger.net is the SAME as the registrant contact for gamblingwatchglobal.com

    The big question is, why isn’t Darren listed as the registrant for his domain? Something he may want to take up with “Optimum Internet Ltd.” or “RegisterFly.”

  16. NetMeeting says:

    It’s very disgusting. Not expected from Alexa. Definitely I would say a malpractice by Alexa.

  17. Carl Lapsburg says:

    NetMeeting,

    If you would say DEINITELY a malpractice by Alexa then you would be straight wrong.

    If I look up your name in a phone and record your details, then lookup somone else’s name in the phone book and they had the same details as yours, which would be wrong?

    We don’t know, right? Same with Alexa. Using any WHOIS lookup on the Internet punch in Darren’s domain and the one’s Alexa says he owns. The public WHOIS data, not affiliated with Alexa, shows them owned by the same person.

    This is either a wakeup call for people to get their domain name administration in order before someone steals your domain, or your chance to report your registrar to ICANN for reporting (not recording) false domain registrant data.

    As far as the domains listed by Darren, Alexa is reporting the correct info. Public record states the same registrant, and it isn’t Darren by the way. As for the other domains, no one left them so I couldn’t check.

  18. Carl Lapsburg says:

    Here’s the info for those of you concerned…..

    Domain name: problogger.net

    Registrant Contact:
    Optimum Internet Ltd
    Regan Cunliffe ([email protected])
    +64.98378120
    Fax: none
    PO Box 12-1102
    Henderson
    Auckland, – 1008
    NZ

  19. They are matching addresses from the domain registration information.

  20. Carl Lapsburg says:

    Bob,

    Correct. In which case, from the limited supply I’ve seen, Alexa is correctly reporting the legal owner of the domains as reported in the public record.

    I’m not sure why that upset sp many people on here? I suppose this whole issue could be compounded if you are using a known proxy service. My understanding is that those guys have to be registered with the corresponding registry, as does the domain reseller themselves, meaning Alexa probably has a list to make sure proxied domains don’t make it into the list. Don’t quote me on that one but it would seem logical because Alexa has taken appropriate steps here to get the correct registrant data as it is reported showing that the certainly are not engaging in shady business practices or malpractice as it was suggested here earlier.

    Now, as far as Alexa’s traffic data, wouldn’t trust it as far as I could throw it :)

  21. I think it is a bad idea for Alexa to have the feature. No matter what data it is based on, it is a false assumption to connect registration data with “other sites owned.” Also, there is no need for another place on the Internet where personal information is revealed, regardless of whether or not it is easily and legally available.