Sitemeter can shove their spyware up their hole

A question for you. Has this blog been slow to load for you over the past, say, couple of weeks? I had noticed it, but I just put it down to something loading slowly in the sidebar. These things happen from time to time and usually they get fixed eventually.

But I had also noticed big problems accessing my Sitemeter account. The results pages were extremely slow to load, and often they didn’t even load at all. I thought maybe they were just having some temporary issues. These things happen from time to time and usually they get fixed eventually.

On Saturday evening I was putting the finishing touches to Scottish Roundup. I was wondering what I should use for tracking stats. I had used Sitemeter on my blog for years, but I was tempted by StatCounter. I had used it before on an old, long-forgotten blog, and it does the job fairly well.

When I was browsing the StatCounter site, I spotted this little ‘news item’ in the top corner of the page: “StatCounter Says NO!” No to what? I was intrigued. I clicked through, and read the post.

A few months back, StatCounter was approached by an advertiser, offered lots of $$$, and asked to include a spyware cookie on all of our member sites…we refused on the spot.

We were shocked to discover just today that another well known stats provider is allowing up to 9 cookies to be installed in the browser of every visitor that hits one of their member websites. This means that the provider is making money by transmitting data on you and your visitors to a third party advertiser. Not only that, but to add insult to injury, the cookies are causing the member websites to load very slowly too.

Oh, a familiar story. The blog post written by StatCounter did not name the provider involved, but this was clearly what I had been experiencing recently. But I couldn’t find confirmation. Although I had an inkling that they were talking about Sitemeter, I couldn’t be certain.

I opted to give Sitemeter the benefit of the doubt. I was, after all, used to their service and it had never caused any major problems for me before. I decided to keep the Sitemeter code on my blog. But the commitment from StatCounter was encouraging, so I chose to use StatCounter for Scottish Roundup.

Today I have read this post on Troubled Diva. Well it pretty much seems as though Sitemeter has been using dodgy spyware cookies which not only invades your privacy but — to add insult to injury — also makes your web pages as slow as hell to load.

It’s funny. Sitemeter always had a funny whiff about it. The pages were ugly, and unlike most websites there didn’t seem to be much of a human voice about them. It did feel like it was being run by either robots or secretive people. That had changed when they introduced their blog, but posts on that have dried up. And the fact that they haven’t replied to any emails or made any statement about this news speaks volumes.

Mike at Troubled Diva says that the problem hasn’t affected Firefox, but I use Firefox 2.0 and I noticed the chronic slowdown. Needless to say, I removed Sitemeter from this blog immediately and I have replaced it with StatCounter.

It’s madness for Sitemeter to do this though. Users of the internet despise spyware and anybody who assists in this kind of behaviour is portrayed as the some kind of spamming e-Hitler. It’s especially bad news on the internet, where blogs and the like allow this kind of news to spread like wildfire. Sitemeter’s reputation will be irreparably tarnished, and they won’t be able to make much more dirty money again. Certainly not by using me anyway.

6 comments

  1. When I was looking into stats for NLE, I was warned off Sitemeter by someone (NM I think, not sure), and I always did find them incredibly ugly.

    But, although I’ve not tried it, why not use one of the WP plugins that does the job for you?

    Do we suspect Sitemeter may be about to die horribly? I’ve had load time issues on a few sites recently, normally incomplete loads from 3rd party javascript, not sure if oyurs was one, could have been.

  2. Popular web businesses get approached by spammy companies a lot. I’m sure that Google receives a ton of seedy requests. I’ve never heard Google make an announcement about it. http://GoStats.com (a web stats counter provider) was approached in the same way and quietly declined to allow spyware. It’s such an obvious decision to make that I’m wary of those who had to tell the world about their spam purity.

  3. Horrified by this, Doctor Vee. You and I have been a little out of touch but my readers know the troubles I’ve been having of this kind. Sitemeter was one of the main offenders and IE. I switched to Firefox but that’s another story. Many fellow bloggers have reported slow loading and sometimes non-loading Sitemeter. Many sites which I know have Sitemeter take ages to come up and comment on. This might not be down to sitemeter but Blogger itself. What do you feel?

  4. God that’s awful. I haven’t used any of those stats services because I’m fairy happy with what my host provides but I’d hate to think I was inadvertently putting spyware on readers computers through no fault of my own.