Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Democrat candidate referal spam?

According to my logs, I’ve had four referrals from so far this year. Evidently, Al Sharpton isn’t linking to me – why would his campaign site want to? After all, I’m just a teenager with an insignificant blog in another country.
So, I assumed it was referral spam, and, it looks like I might be right, having found similar entries from J-Walk Blog, Wyome, Doc Searls and even MetaFilter. Apparently it’s not just Sharpton – Joe Lieberman and – gasp – Howard Dean are apparently doing it. If like me, you dispise this practice, add this to your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine on
Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} StarProse [OR] # Democrat Candidate referral spammer
RewriteRule .* - [F]

That should block the bot – instead of getting your site, they’ll get an Apache 403 (Forbidden) page. You can see how I implemented this in my newly-updated .htaccess file, which also blocks a number of formmail attackers and most email collectors.
Still, if the campaigns really are doing this (and not being framed by someone with an anti-democrat agenda), then someone needs to come around and sort them out. This puts them on a par with viagra merchants, porn peddlers, and fake blogs which allegedly have that sex tape.
Update: as well as those that have trackbacked me, there’s some comments to be found at It’s looking perhaps like Starprose, the company which makes the bot responsible, is doing this for all candidates. However, Lieberman’s campaign team have already denied they have anything to do with it so it may well just be Starprose using the presidential campaign to attract attention to their software. In which case, they desperately need their heads examining.


  1. Go Away Starprose Script!

    Remember me complaining about there being something fishy in the referrals? It was back before Christmas. Seems the Starprose problem is getting bigger. I know…

  2. I was getting Starprose related spam prior to Christmas!

  3. Actually I may well have been too – this is the first time I’ve actually noticed. Thanks for the ping, by the way :).

  4. Great Goddess, Let This Be a Browser Bug!

    UPDATE: Looks like StarProse has done this on behalf of all of the major Democratic presidential candidates. I’ve emailed the Gephardt campaign and asked them to place pressure on StarProse to cease-and-desist. Apparently, the Lieberman campaign has al…

  5. No problem trackbacking. Glad to see other sites are following the case on Starprose.
    I’d e-mail you but I can’t find an e-mail link.
    Seems like someone using this software is peddling for something else.
    If you want to see my new gem, e-mail me. It’s not something I want to post at the moment

  6. Joe Lieberman Refer Log Spam

    This is extremely odd. I was looking in my refer logs for the new rugby site I’m starting, when I saw an odd referal. It said, now this was extremely odd to me, becuase a refer is generated when someone comes to your site from another site …

  7. “StarProse Corporation” does not exist, nor does “Jeffrey Kowalski”, the named head of the company. This is a front for some other company who appears to still be testing their software.
    Oddly enough, if you type in “Hemlock, MI” (where Whois says “StarProse” is located) into Google, the first result is for a Internet political campaign site…

  8. Democratic referrer spam

    Not only are Dean and Sharpton using blog referrer spamming, but I also have referrer entries for John Kerry, Richard…

  9. I tried adding this:
    RewriteEngine on
    Options +FollowSymlinks
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} StarProse [OR] # Democrat Candidate referral spammer
    RewriteRule .* – [F]
    To my .htaccess file and it blocked myself from my own domain.

  10. StarProse

    Anyone getting TONS of hits from StarProse? I just checked my referral log and they’ve been going to town! Then I went to their site, like an idiot and apparently they are spamming people’s referrers to get hits to their…

  11. False Refering

    The following sites use fraudulant (I know that’s spelled wrong, but fuck I’m tired) information to promote their sites, by tricking sites (such as mine) into thinking that someone has linked to my site from theirs, thus fucking up any way of telling w…

  12. Further to your referral problems in the space of an hour I have had 2300 referrals from Clark and 3600 from Dean.
    I’m in Ireland and wouldn’t vote if I could.
    Here are my logs…
    I don’t mind a few but this is beyond a joke.