Ecosystem Suspensions Pending

Effective immediately, six weblogs are being put on notice that they are about to be suspended from the Ecosystem. If suspended, their entries will not be displayed on any Ecosystem pages (either by traffic ranking or by links); their links will not count to other weblogs, and their votes will not count in the New Weblog Showcase.
The reason for these suspensions is that it has come to my attention via the Commissar that some weblogs are posting multiple SiteMeter counters on their pages which point to other weblogs. The result is that when a visitor lands on their main page, the visit is not just counted for their own blog, but is also double-, triple-, or in some cases quadruple-counted as a visit to the other blogs.
What this means is that the SiteMeter counters for the blogs in question are flatly inaccurate: they are being inflated by visits which didn’t really happen on their pages. This also makes the Ecosystem Traffic Rankings inaccurate, defeating the whole purpose of the rankings, and is therefore intolerable.
I don’t think it will surprise anybody who is paying attention to learn the source of these weblogs. Here’s the listing of the top-ranked weblogs in the League of Liberals (by SiteMeter traffic ranking):
League of Liberals Member Details:
Rush Limbaughtomy (381 links) – 2311 visits/day V
Treason Online (76 links) – 2170 visits/day V
Savage Cruel Bigots (61 links) – 2170 visits/day V
The Mahablog (253 links) – 2170 visits/day
Hell on Halliburton (86 links) – 1645 visits/day V
League of Liberals (116 links) – 1486 visits/day V
And here’s the list of weblogs with multiple SiteMeter counters:
Treason Online: Counters for Hell on Halliburton, Treason Online, and MahaBlog. Update: And a hidden one for Rush Limbaughtomy.
Savage Cruel Bigots: Counters for Savage Cruel Bigots, Hell on Halliburton, and Treason Online. Update: And a hidden one for Rush Limbaughtomy.
Rush Limbaughtomy: Counters for Hell on Halliburton, Treason Online, Savage Cruel Bigots, The League of Liberals, and Rush Limbaughtomy (hidden).
The Mahablog: Counters for Mahablog, The League of Liberals, and Treason Online. Update: And a hidden one for Rush Limbaughtomy.
Hell for Halliburton: Counters for Treason Online, Savage Cruel Bigots, and Hell for Halliburton. Update: And a hidden one for Rush Limbaughtomy.
So: the five weblogs above and The League of Liberals weblog itself are therefore on notice of their pending suspension. (Although the League weblog does not have multiple counters, it is clearly benefiting from having its counter cross-posted on other blogs). (Correction: Actually, on a second look, the League weblog does have multiple counters: it has a hidden one for Rush Limbaughtomy — as do all of the other blogs above.)
If in 24 hours (let’s call it 10am PST Sunday), the counters have not been removed, these weblogs will be suspended. This notice is also being sent via email to each blog’s owner where it could be identified (although most of them don’t seem to have contact information).
To be clear: if the owners of these blogs have a legitimate reason why they’d like to keep those multiple counters, that is their right, and that’s fine with me. But it is my right to conclude that they are not generating valid statistics and therefore screwing up my rankings, and to remove them based on that conclusion.
Folks, if you can’t tell, my patience for these games is running thin. I had intended to spend my weblog time this morning focusing on the effort to turn the Ecosystem into an open-source, distributed effort. Instead, I’ve spent it chasing down this nonsense. I’m tired of wasting my time on this type of thing: from here on out, consider notice given: if I think somebody is trying to game the Ecosystem, it’s going to be suspend-first, and ask-questions-later. I wish it hadn’t gotten to this point, but obviously it has.
Update: Barry has responded on Savage Cruel Bigots. His explanation of why his blogs were set up with these counters also completely fails to explain how a counter for his own personal blog — Rush Limbaughtomy — ended up on the League of Liberals’ main blog page — a question I would think League members would be rather curious about themselves. Bottom line: I believe his explanation of SiteMeter is wrong, and his proposed ‘solution’ is unacceptable, as it will still result in overcounting the visits that his blogs receive in the League’s listings.
Further clarification: My last update was made in a rush, so probably wasn’t as clear as it could be. Strictly speaking, parts of Barry’s explanation of SiteMeter are correct. He quotes my explanation of what he has done, and says: “This is not how sitemeters work and by limiting the group to one common sitemeter cumulative visits will increase NOT decrease.”
Well, it is how SiteMeter works. But his second part — where he says limiting the group to “one common sitemeter” would increase the cumulative visits — might well be right. But it’s not what I was asking for. I thought it was obvious that was I was asking was for the individual SiteMeter accounts that actually correspond to each blog in question to remain on that blog (and only that blog). That will provide accurate statistics, both at the individual blog level, and in summary when rolled up for the League as a whole. (Remember: the Alliance details page shows summary stats for each alliance for inbound links and traffic). Instead, what Barry is doing is putting his own main blog counter (Rush Limbaughtomy) on every one of his family of blogs — all of which are individually registered separately for the League.
Bottom line: Barry’s current approach of spreading a common SiteMeter account across four blogs, all of which are registered separately as League members, is going to quadruple-count each visit to any one of those blogs for the League.
Update 11/30: Barry has provided a counterproposal, to which I respond here.
Update 11/30 pm: Latest here.
Update 12/1/03:Kynn Bartlett has an excellent roundup of these events, including an extraordinarily revealing email from Barry himself.