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Counting More Than Hits
by William R. Eubank

counter Soon after starting to do web pages, way back in late '95, I desired a "hit counter" on my page like all the cool sites had. In those days, it was all the rage and you could get one that ran off of some remote server for free (if you could follow the instructions for getting it set up).

After making it through the set up instructions (I probably spent two solid days on that!!), this is what I learned.

It is best to locate the web counter at the bottom of the page.

The reason for this was that as the remote counter server host becomes more and more busy (as people kept adding FREE counters), the loading of the page would be stopped for seconds as the program called for the digits from the remote host. If the counter was near the top of the page, the loading of the page would get hung up where the counter was located. At times, the remote server would be so busy (or out of service) that the "broken image" icon would eventually show up on the page.

Counters can be disappointing

Especially when I discovered that the whole world wasn't flocking to my pages. I started keeping a written log on a piece of scratch page, jotting down the day, time, and count of my visual visit to my page, and soon discovered that I was about the only person visiting.

Counters can give a false reading

Like the odometer reading on a used car, counters can be set at any starting number, and they can be set higher and higher each day, week, or month to give the appearance of "traffic."

After arriving at these conclusions, I start concentrating on my website content and stopped worrying about my hit count. Later, I found a webcount.exe program that I could install on the server that hosted my website. I did this to learn about cgi (Common Gate Interface), and the webcounter seemed like an easy way to begin. At this point I discovered the counter.ini file and its contents. Here is what the content of a typical counter.ini file might look like:

william=2186 01/26/98 18:08:52 web1.access2.net

The first string of information tells me that on the page tagged "william" a count of 2,186 was recorded on 01/26/98 at 18:08:52 (6:08 PM local time). The visitor was coming through a service using the quad number of, identified as web1.access2.net

So far, all addresses end with one of the following: .net (Network), .com (Commercial), .edu (Educational), .org (Organization), .gov (Government), or a country code.

When I had access to counter.ini information, my interest in counters was rekindled. Since I could go to public records and find out where web1.access2.net was located--its in Independence, Missouri--I could get a general idea of where people were coming from to visit my site and, in some cases, who they worked for or were associated with.

Fishing has always been of great interest to me. I am also a collector, so now I have a collection of domain names that I have "caught" on my own web pages.

Here are some of the domain names I have collected:

william=1305 04/30/97 22:16:58 anc-p23-121.alaska.net
(anc=Anchorage; Alaska - probably my brother)

william=1315 05/05/97 12:44:34 CITA
(CITA = China International Travel Agency - several of my pages are about
the time I lived in China)

william=1317 05/05/97 17:04:03 MVR03.CIT.CORNELL.EDU
william=1347 05/15/97 16:27:58 PALOMAR

william=1367 05/21/97 14:49:29 vcba29-136.ucsd.edu
(ucsd = University of California San Diago)

william=1459 06/16/97 04:50:07 va09.am.put.poznan.pl
(probably a friend from my China days that now teaches in Poznan, Poland)

My index (top) page has only averaged about 3 visits per day since May 1997, but my collection of pages is now averaging about 600 unique visitors/25,000 "hits" per month.

You can find a listing of country codes at:

* This webcounter is a graphic that is not run by a cgi program - it is a "fake". It is not recording your IP domain name BUT your visit to this page has been recorded in the infoZine log file on the server, as we said last month, "You do leave bits of information about your visit to every page you visit".

William R. Eubank: Educational experience includes teaching in Alaska, China, Hong Kong, Texas, Mexico and Argentina as well as service on local and state school boards. At this time he is living in the Kansas City area to assist in elder care with a parent and to further his education with computers. He is a contributor to infoZine Digital Magazine, Webmaster for Consensus National Futures And Financial Weekly (http://www.consensus-inc.com/) and Web Librarian for the Gibson Digital Library. He has developed fifty web sites and posted more than 8,000 pages to the World Wide Web since December 1995.
Copyright 1998 William R. Eubank

William R. Eubank Jr.

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