68Caliber.com. Still Causing Drama.

About a month ago, someone alerted me to a usenet posting from some fed up advertiser. I was going to write about it, but never finished the post. Then someone emailed with the same post from rec.sport.paintball, whose named happened to be “Paintball Truth.” So screw it, here’s the post:

Is 68caliber misleading it’s advertisers?

As a prospective advertiser in the paintball world, we’ve been looking for high quality paintball sites to advertise on and promote our products. Advertising budgets are tight, to say the least, and we actively seek to get the most out of our dollar from a value added standpoint. In short, we want to get the biggest bang out of our buck. So we do research on all our potential sites we might advertise on.

While we found some fantastic places to start our new ventures, I want to warn other advertisers about one in particular: 68caliber.com
Do not, I repeat, do not advertise there.

Bold statement from an anonymous source right? I better have some facts to back it up right? Well, I do.

First, let’s go over what we are shown. This is what I see when looking for potential places to advertise. We first see their background logo:
http://www.68caliber.com/logo2.gif

“The best advertising deal in the industry
Seen up to a half million times per day!”

Wow. Sounds impressive. I would love to get my ad shown to that many people. That means that my ad will be viewed 15 million times in 30 days. That’s great exposure. Of course it only says “up to”, so it might be a little bit less. So even 10 million times in a month would be fantastic if the price is right. So what is the price? With prices ranging anywhere from $150 to $500 and up per month (depending on a 1 month or 12 month contract, the prices vary). But let’s say I just wanted 1 month, and it was $500 for that month. It might be worth my while if I’m getting that many views.

So being interested still, I looked into it further. What I found out, is that these statistics where no where near the truth.
After seeing the pbnation report on other paintball sites, and seeing 68caliber on the bottom of the list, and not even showing in some cases; In the Top 20 Total Monthly Unique Visitors, 68caliber doesn’t even show up.

So I dove into this deeper. I didn’t see their site using any qualified programs to gather web traffic usage. Google Analytics is a very popular one, and is free. Most people use this. But I did not see the javascript code for it, or any other code for that fact. I assumed they must have just been using the server stats (which is a poor measure, and why no one uses it).

Sure enough, the page existed: http://www.68caliber.com/plesk-stat/webstat/

Upon seeing their true stats, from their own server, only then did I realize I was trying to be taken.

Using their May statistics as a bellwether, as it was the last full month as of this writing, we can plainly see that a half million visits can not be true. On the contrary, for the entire month of May, their total visits was only 289,086 – a far cry from the half million a day I was lead to believe from their own background image. It took an entire month, just to get half way to what I was sold on for a day! Tsk, tsk.

Even if we use the hits as a method of tracking (no one uses hits, as a hit just means a request to the server. So one person with one visit can be dozens of hits), we don’t come close to their self-proclaimed stats.

So of those 289,086 visits, how many were unique? We dive in deeper to find a bigger conspiracy. We look at the top 30 referrers to this site in their own stats and find:
http://www.68caliber.com/plesk-stat/webstat/usage_200805.html#TOPSITES

The top referrer? The top referrer is the website http://www.default-domain.com , with 156,425 of the total visits. That’s over 50% of their stats coming from one person. So who is default-domain?

Default-domain.com is a web hosting service. When you go to their link, it brings you to http://www.1and1.com , it’s the same page, just a different name.
Now you look up 68caliber.com in whois – http://www.whois.sc/68caliber.com

Who is 68caliber’s web hosting company / name server ? It is also 1and1.com

What does all this technical information mean? It means that as of last month, over half of their hits and visits came from themselves. Now whether that means was on purpose to bolster their stats, or by accident due to a coding method to create their RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds, the end result is the same.
While I have nothing against Dale, and the fine job he does reporting the news, I just can’t see doing business with them, and foresee the eventual demise of the site. Even their forums and site is outdated. More than half their forum sections were last updated back in 2007 and some last done in 2006, and one of their front page bold and highlighted features: E-Money Show ( http://www.68caliber.com/emoney.php )was last updated in 2006. I don’t see a reason to keep that section highlighted anymore.

In short, I will not be advertising with 68caliber.com Their statistics don’t even come close to those we are led to believe, even when bolstered by their own servers, this month alone, 68caliber’s stats from their own server is over 66 percent from their own domain.

Of course, if I’m wrong here, and I can’t read the numbers correctly, I’d be happy for 68caliber.com to correct [email protected].uk

He mentions that most of the views come from 68caliber themselves. Pretty sure that this is due to the fact that for portions of their front page make HTTP request to their own server to display parts like Top Stories and News. I guess just doing SQL queries in the page is complicated, but whatever.

Also, I don’t believe they have RSS feeds. They have “syndicate” things, which are just javascript widgets that you put on your site. In order to do that though, they do use JSON feeds. If there are RSS feeds, please enlighten me.

And our traffic? It’s more like a few hundred a day.

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