Free Stuff

Written by Richard Lowe

For a long time it was a complete mystery to me. Why on earth would anyone devote an entire site to giving away free things? Even more perplexing wasrepparttar vast quantity of sites which did exactly and only that - allow people to get something for nothing. To add torepparttar 113283 mystery wasrepparttar 113284 fact that these sites tend to be heavy purchasers of internet advertising and they promote using every means possible. This strongly implies that they have money to spend. How are they making money if they give away stuff for free?

As I exploredrepparttar 113285 internet more and more I began to gain an understanding of how it all worked. There are a number of ways that money can be made by giving away things for free.

The first thing that must be understood isrepparttar 113286 relationship between producers and affiliates. A producer produces a product or service of some kind. In order to sellrepparttar 113287 products (and dramatically expand their ability to reach potential buyers) a producer will allow others to sell on their behalf in return for monetary compensation. Since, as you will see, free stuff is intended to or actually does produce income forrepparttar 113288 producer, it is quite common for an affiliate to get a small fee for giving things away.

Some ofrepparttar 113289 ways that giving away free things actually makes money are explained below.

Advertising supported products - Many products are "free" because they display one or more advertisements at a time. You haverepparttar 113290 dubious honor of getting to view these ads as you userepparttar 113291 product. The advertisers pay to display those advertisements.

Upon closer examination it turns out that these products are not as free as they appear. In general they load advertising banners and text from a central server on a periodic basis. This results in increased bandwidth utilization, which makes your connection slower while usingrepparttar 113292 product.

In addition, it is very common for advertising based software (and some hardware, believe it or not) to covertly send data about your system and surfing habits back to that same server. These products are becoming known as spyware, and, in my humble opinion, they should be avoided at all costs.

Why? Think of it this way: in return for a free newspaper, would you allow someone to sit behind you as you flipped throughrepparttar 113293 pages, recording every single thing that you read or looked at? Would you allow someone to record every television program that you watched, every video that you rented, or perhaps every item you purchased from a store? I surely would not ... and I'll bet you would think twice about this kind of behavior if you knew it was happening.

Free Stuff: Counters

Written by Richard Lowe

If you are a webmaster and you are not examiningrepparttar statistics of your site regularly, then you are running blind. If you are serious, then you must be examining your site statistics regularly to find out which pages are being visited, whererepparttar 113282 people are coming from and what they are doing while they are on your site. You have two ways to do this: log files (the recommended and far superior method) and counter scripts.

Log Files

The absolute best option is to place your site with a web host which gives you complete access to your log files. Most web servers keep (atrepparttar 113283 system managers discretion) a detailed record (called a log file) of every single thing that happens onrepparttar 113284 site. Every page visit, every image load and even every single error is recorded.

Since log files are already created automatically for you, why not take advantage of them and getrepparttar 113285 detailed statistics they provide? This hasrepparttar 113286 added advantage that you are not addingrepparttar 113287 additional overhead of recording statistics that are already being recorded by your web server. Log files are also invisible to your visitors (it's really none of their business how many hits you are getting) and require no setup of any kind.

A number of options exist to analyze your log files. Virtually all web hosts that allow you to access these logs also provide some online tools to view them in an organized manner. Usually these tools consist of some routine thatruns each night and creates graphics and charts which you can examine at your leisure.

You can also find a number of programs (shareware and professional) which will help you determine exactly what is happening on your site. These programs generally cost money, which is beyondrepparttar 113288 scope of this article.

Local Scripts

Personally, I am not sure why anyone would want to include a locally hosted counter script on their pages. I mean ifrepparttar 113289 web host allows CGI (or ASP, PHP or similar technology) scripts to be executed he almost certainly gives you access torepparttar 113290 log files. So why addrepparttar 113291 additional overhead and complexity of a local script? The only reason that I can think of is to include a counter onrepparttar 113292 page - which I would not recommend anyway since I do not see how a hit counter improves a site. The way I look at it, if you are gettingrepparttar 113293 hits you don't need to brag (and your visitors may not believe you if you told them what you were getting anyway). If you are not, why would you want to tell you visitors that no one is visiting your site?

Frontpage Extensions

Frontpage is a product sold by Microsoft which does a reasonably good job of web site editing. This product includes a number of extensions, and one of those allows for hit counting. I must take just a minute to explain my feelings on this counter: it's one ofrepparttar 113294 worst counter implementations that has ever been created. Don't use it. If you do, you will regret it.

Remote Scripts

If you cannot get access to your server log files (which is generally true for sites on free hosts such as GeoCities and FortuneCity), then your best option is to use remotely hosted counter and statistics scripts. If your site is hosted on a free host, they will most likely provide access to a counter script of some kind. You can use that script if you desire, or you can use one ofrepparttar 113295 scripts listed later in this article.

Remotely hosted scripts are extremely inferior to examiningrepparttar 113296 server log files forrepparttar 113297 following reasons:

1) Sincerepparttar 113298 script is on a remote server, it tends to slow your page load. Sometimes this slowdown can be very significant.

2) The scripts usually require an image load fromrepparttar 113299 remote host, which introducesrepparttar 113300 possibility that your site statistics are being used for marketing and advertising purposes. In this case,repparttar 113301 script and associated image load are acting as web bugs, with all ofrepparttar 113302 associated privacy issues.

3) The counters may cause cookies to be placed on your visitors computer systems. Many people now simply do not want cookies, so you are introducing additional reasons for people to leave your site.

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