Monday, August 04, 2008

Web Of Deception

When it comes to deception and falsehoods, blogger Bil Browning has just about everyone in the Indiana blogosphere beat. Under the guise of a friendly conversation with fellow blogger Josh Gillespie of Hoosier Access, Bil Browning posted data on blog rankings of several Indiana blogs. Of course, being the consummate self-promoter that he is, the blog statistics naturally put his blog on top. To deceive his readers into believing that Advance Indiana ranks near the bottom in web traffic, Browning published traffic statistics from Alexa for the url,, knowing that blog statistics for this blog are tracked under (Note: A link to his blog is intentionally omitted because that would simply reward a bad actor with attention he craves). That allowed him to place this blog's ranking in dead last on his list of ten Indiana blogs. If he could have avoided his propensity to deceive his readers, the blog ranking for this blog would have placed third behind his blog and the Indiana Law Blog.

Personally, I place very little credibility in these entities which supposedly provide accurate blog traffic data, including Alexa. You may think Alexa is offering an accurate ranking for your blog one day, only to see your blog inexplicably fall off the radar the next day, wiping out your entire blog history on the site. There are developer tips all over the Internet explaining how you can manipulate the web traffic data gathered by web traffic sites like Alexa. At one point, you could purchase an Alexa traffic ranking in the top 10,000 by paying $300 a month for Alexa booster. The most reliable way to monitor traffic on your blog is through Site Meter. I've used this tool since I first started blogging, and it has provided a constant reassurance to me that old readers are returning daily and new readers are arriving, boosting annual web traffic significantly in each of the more than three years of existence.

It is interesting to note that when I first started blogging, Bil Browning repeatedly pestered me to fold up my blog and become a part of his blog. He seems obsessed with what other bloggers are doing, and when he is unable to control or manipulate them, he engages in incessant personal attacks against them. It seems a rather odd approach for someone to deliberately disseminate misleading information to his readers on his blog the same day he decided to go begging to his readers to finance his trip to the Democratic National Convention in Denver ala Larry Sinclair.

While I'm on the subject of bad actors, the campaign website of Barack Obama has been busted for spamming anti-Obama blogs in an effort to squelch free speech. Macsmind explains:

On July 22-25 Macsmind was DOS’d (Denial of Service) that originated from three IP addresses that are assigned to Barack Obama’s website. This isn’t a theory but was confirmed via law enforcement through an inspection of the site logs from those dates. The IP address in question;, are all registered via “Go Daddy” under the name

On those dates, beginning at At 5:48PM Central on the 22nd, the hosted server that contained our site was hit by a 1.6 gigabyte flood of illegitimate traffic. The attacks never abated and only stopped when our host provider took us off line.

Speculation is one thing, but facts are another. This time however we’ve taken protective measures to prevent this from happening again. Additionally the investigation will continue and appropriate interstate authorities have been notified.


Jacob Perry said...

What's interesting to me is that based on discussions I've had with Bil and Josh myself, our traffic at CCP is pretty close (within 10's of visitors) to that of HoosierAccess, yet that site is "ranked" #1 consistently by BNN, while we rarely are ever ranked (as far as I know, I stopped paying attention last fall). Not that HA doesn't deserve it's ranking...

Now, that's not intended to be a slight of HA, or any site whatsoever. It's just an interesting commentary that there really is no accurate way to compare traffic, influence etc (though BNN has done a decent job, it can be rigged if you figure the formula out. Just take a peak at a fairly new local blog that mixes baseball and conservative politics...). In other words, one way to increase your "influence rating" on BNN is to have multiple links to your stories, and a great way to do that is to have a bunch of contributers who cross-post everything they write on your blog with theirs. VOILA! Instant links in every post. Hence why I'm against cross-posting (and only allow it from one of my contributers, and that under a special agreement).

I recall an email exchange last fall with Dave Mastio (BNN editor) where he mentioned that actual traffic was one of the least-important factors in their rating, and it had much more to do with links within posts, blogroll, who links to you, etc.

I also know what Bil's numbers are, having seen them with my own eyes...

On another note, why does Bil need contributions to travel to Denver to report for his blog? It's strange, considering that his blog generates a decent monthly revenue (again, I've seen it) and he charges campaigns like Obama's and the disastrous Orentlicher campaign monthly consulting fees to blog for them. Not trying to knock the guy, just find it curious.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Jacob, Thanks for sharing your observations. The linking to boost the ranking is interesting. I know one local blog who nobody admits reading which generates higher rankings than anyone. Her posts typically amount to nothing more than links to other blogs. Orentlicher, like Scott Keller, really made a mistake getting mixed up with Bil. He provided zero benefit to David's campaign, and I know a number of prominent members of the gay community who were livid with David for giving him money. Keller did himself in with his misguided votes for the COIT increase and the smoking ban (people in his district love to smoke, he should know his constituents). Bil says he is limited in what he can earn since he's drawing a social security disability check. Who knows how much he's really earning from the blog. I would point out the vast majority of Bil's traffic comes from out-of-state. Most of the blogs on that list of 10 he provided easily top his local traffic.

Nick said...

Gary, you are correct in stating Browning specializes in spreading falsehoods and deceiving people.

I am one of the unfortunate ones who have crossed paths with him.

During the 2007 elections, things between us went downhill when he spread outright lies and spewed invective about a female Democrat council member who viewed Mr. Browning as her friend.

He falsely claimed she was using campaign funds for a personal vacation to S. America. He also divulged her personal medical information which she had confided to him with the understanding it would not be shared with anyone else. He also falsely claimed other Democrat councillors were pissed at her and were hoping she would lose.

Although a Republican, I am personal friends with this council member and quickly informed her and other people on her campaign. All of us were enraged at this betrayal and a bit confused since he was active in Democrat politics. This was right before the November elections and she spent a good amount of time before and after Election Day trying to clear her name and to ensure everyone knew these allegations were outright lies. Thankfully she was re-elected.

At the same time, he was spreading lies about Keller's campaign and how secret polling showed Keller way ahead. As a veteran of many a campaign, I knew this was B.S.

Browning also claimed that the aforementioned Democrat councilwoman was behind her Republican opponent by 2 points "according to secret polls." I suspect he spread this venom because his partner was relieved as campaign manager for her re-election campaign. Perhaps his claims about Keller's polling was a way of trying to prove his superiority.

I doubt Keller would have won, but he could have done a lot better having someone besides that creep run his campaign.

Oh, and during this tirade, he did manage to tell me how he gets more hits on his site than you do! No lie.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Nick, Thanks for sharing. That's standard fare for how Bil operates.

Alex said...

Are you just trying to start a blog war for attention? Bil brought up most of the problems with the numbers and statistics that you did in his post on the numbers (I just went to go read it). Of course he couldn't put up the blogspot address's statistics from Technorati - it's hasn't been claimed there. Seriously, go check it out. It's not up on Technorati.

Why didn't you cite Bil as the source of most of the problems with the numbers that you posted? You seem to have found many of the same criticisms as he posted, and you admit that you read his post before you posted here. So?

I've worked with Bil Browning for almost two years now in the blogosphere. He's always been honest with me and I don't see anything in this post other than seething jealousy. He's doing something completely different than you are and people are reacting to it differently. I don't even see how it's a criticism that you declare (with no proof, mind you) that you have more Indiana traffic. TBP isn't an Indiana focused site. No one said it was. So, um, what's the issue there?

All I see in this post is a case of the green-eyed gozangas, mixed with using the analysis of another blogger without citing him as the source.

And, Nick, "Democrat council member"? Karl Rove stole your "ic"? Jeez, I guess I could start referring to GOP members as "Republishams," but I thought this blog was geared to the 8+ crowd.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Alex, I'm not the least bit jealous of Bil. I like going to bed at night with my conscience in tact, unlike Bil. The purpose of his post wasn't about the reliability and my post says nothing about Technorati. The point is Bil intentionally used a false statistic to make it appear that this blog has no traffic. I know who reads my blog and I know who doesn't read his blog. That's what has him all worked up. Speaking of that honesty, Alex, what about that $10,000 Bil claimed to be raising for a poll during the debate over the gay marriage amendment. Didn't someone have to slap his hand and tell him he couldn't use such ploys to raise money?

Nick said...

Alex, I'm not surprised you'd bring Karl Rove into this. You liberals are obsessed with him. Strange you didn't speak to the invective Bill spewed towards this councilwoman. Probably because you know it's true and there's no defense for his actions.