Over the last few months we’ve been seeing some strange behavior on our site. For instance, records in my running log would disappear regularly, but Shane’s records would not. The lists in the wishlist pages would also disappear regularly. For a while we suspected that there was something wrong with the code used to record new entries — maybe new data was being written incorrectly, which resulted in old data being corrupted.

Finally, on Anna’s suggestion, we took a look at the web site logs that our hosting provider gives us. The logs list each web page requested, the ip address of the requester, the name of the web page used to reach our page, and finally information about the software used to access our site.

To our surprise, we found entries that looked like this: - - [08/Oct/2004:06:42:10 -0500]
"GET /potpourri/marathon/deleteitem.php?id=9&name_id=1 HTTP/1.0"
302 0 "-" "msnbot/0.3 (+http://search.msn.com/msnbot.htm)"

Basically, this entry says that MSN’s search bot requested a web page to delete item 9 from our marathon running logs. There were a number of such entries, which resulted in all of my running log entries being deleted whenever the MSN search bot would come by. Shane’s log entries were unaffected because there is no direct link starting from our home page to the delete links for his log entries. One would need to select his name in a dropdown list in order to reach those links. The addition of a “/robots.txt” file was all that was needed to keep search bots from hitting the wrong pages.

Curious about what else we could learn by looking at our web site logs, we downloaded the logs for the first half of October and looked through them. We found that someone is using a goldfish cracker picture we took as the background for her personal web page: Palindrome85’s Profile

We also found, to our surprise, that a number of requests for our site came from search engines. People have been reaching our site through Google, MSN Search, Yahoo! and other search engines. We thought we would list some of them here:

Yahoo! Search


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MSN Search


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