sitemeter = malware

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Apologies to anyone (and it must be lots of you) who tried to reach a LLOG page yesterday and got redirected to

This was the result of the latest malfunction in the tool for counting visits and referrals, which we've been using for the past decade. Increasingly often over the past year or so, the sitemeter tracking code has been non-deterministically routing visitors to unwanted advertising sites, playing strange background music, etc. At about the same time, the company stopped responding to any support queries or complaints. Because its tracking statistics are useful, and because the unwanted redirections were rare and intermittent (and arguably due to mistakes rather than malice), I've stuck with them.

But as of yesterday evening, for a significant period of time, every single attempt to access a LLOG page resulted in a glimpse of the desired page followed quickly by redirection to, which is apparently some sort of passive DNS replicator or something. As far as I can tell, no virus or worm attack was involved, but the redirection alone is unacceptable, even if this is just another bug in sitemeter's counting software rather than anything malicious.

It seems that a lot of other people had the same problem with sitemeter (see also here, and many other comments over the past couple of years). So I've removed the sitemeter code from our WordPress installation. Now I can look forward to wasting a few hours trying to get sitemeter to stop charging me for their "service".


  1. Victor Mair said,

    December 10, 2014 @ 8:19 am


    I don't think he'll take it on pro bono, but if he can figure out a way to make money out of getting to cease and desist, I'm sure that Harvard Business School professor, Web Sheriff Ben Edelman, would be more than happy to go after them. On the other hand, he might charge you triple for trying to get to stop billing you even after you stopped using their services.

    "Harvard's Ben Edelman, Web Sheriff, May Have a Conflict or Two"

    "Miserly Harvard Professor Harasses Chinese Restaurant Over $4"

  2. Brett said,

    December 10, 2014 @ 9:26 am

    There was a period about a year ago when one of the computers I use (the oldest one, naturally) was quite consistently redirected to a blank page when I tried to view Language Log. I got a brief shot of what I wanted, then a rapid redirect. After a few weeks though, the problem went away. At around the same time, somebody else with an old computer (Marie-Lucie?) complained about the same problem accessing this site, on a comment thread over at Language Hat.

  3. Fernando Colina said,

    December 10, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

    You should be using Google Analytics instead.

    [(myl) I signed up for Google Analytics shortly after it became available. Sitemeter offers worthwhile different information, but mostly there's issue of continuity over time. Plus inertia…]

  4. Michael Leddy said,

    December 10, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

    StatCounter is an excellent service whose developers respond quickly and courteously to questions and reports of trouble. My only connection is as a happy user.

  5. Keith said,

    December 10, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

    How about you just stop paying for a service that is no longer what you contracted for?

    If you have allowed VindictiveSuite to simply charge your bank account an arbitrary amount (as I allow the gas, electricity or telephone company to do), then you should be able to issue a notice to your bank instructing the bank to no longer pay any charges.

    At the same time, you instruct VindictiveSuite that its failure to deliver the contracted service is in effect a breach of contract and that VindictiveSuite's failure to uphold its end of the contract liberates you from being required to pay for the service which was not supplied.

  6. David J. Littleboy said,

    December 10, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

    How about you just stop paying for a service that is no longer what you contracted for?

    My experience with AOL was that the only way to get away from them was to cancel my credit card and get a new card.

  7. Martin J Ball said,

    December 11, 2014 @ 12:56 am

    Flagcounter is okay – and you get a load of cool flags to display too! :)

  8. JQ said,

    December 11, 2014 @ 2:26 am

    @DJL, I don't know about the US (if that's where you are), but in the UK cancelling a card does not mean that it can no longer be charged. In fact sometimes your card will be reopened without your knowledge!

  9. Marc Cenedella said,

    December 11, 2014 @ 10:48 am

    You should use Google Analytics, it's really very, very full featured and the widely used standard in the field.

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