Commission Junction wants me to block Google

This is a follow-up in regards to my advertising links being hijacked article. One day after posting that I received a very stern warning letter from Commission Junction basically stating I was about to be banned from their network. Keep in mind I had been trying to find a source of activity I thought might be suspicious for about a week by then. It also needs to be pointed out that Commission Junction offers no easy way to contact them to open a dialogue when site owners have concerns or problems needing support. I do not feel all situations warrant being discussed within a public forum. Only after I could not determine a source of any problem did I then write my original article.

That was written to hopefully have someone provide help through a comment. I had done a ton of searching for others who may have had similar problems. I’d done as much research on my end as I could think of to look for anything causing an issue that could be resulting in excessive non legitimate affiliate clicks. Originally I wasn’t even sure there was a problem. Let alone anything coming from my end.

After receiving the less than pleasant email I was made aware there was in fact a problem needing addressed. What I still didn’t know – what the actual problem was. Google was mentioned but no explanation as to what was taking place or how to resolve it. I was expected to detect a problem I wasn’t seeing on my end. And I was expected to resolve a problem that I had no idea existed or how to even go about fixing.

After an email exchange that left me feeling like I was being accused of wrongdoing and being a criminal – my logic circuits clicked. I had recently re-enabled the advertising component within the JW Player for WordPress plugin. I did this around the same time I published the money saving coupon article. Seeing an increase in clicks after publishing content – especially related to savings is not unusual. So originally seeing an increase in advertising clicks and impressions wasn’t a red flag. I had honestly forgotten about re-enabling the advertising component within the player plugin.

As soon as it dawned on me this could be the problem I disabled that option within the player plugin menu. The advertising component for that player is ran by LongTail Ad Solutions. There are several reasons I felt this had to be the source of the problem. The issue was only being reported by Commission Junction – no other affiliate program provider. I had only tried setting up CJ links within LongTail Ad Solutions. Basically I was wanting to run CJ advertisers before the start of video content. The problem reported by Commission Junction had started right around the time I enabled the advertising option within JW Player.

After disabling the advertising component my Commission Junction stats seemed to go back to normal. Especially considering I hadn’t done any new articles. After making the plugin change I continued to keep an eye on my CJ advertising stats. I mistakenly thought the issue had been resolved. Not until a few days later after receiving an email telling me I had been temporarily removed from their program – was I aware that my solution hadn’t resolved the problem.

Per a previous email – Commission Junction’s solution to the issue was to block Google and the IP range of Google servers. This seems like a really bad idea. Anyone with a bit of brain power knows that blocking Google would be an online death sentence for any website. It is not in my best interest to basically kill all the hard work I’ve done since 1999 to obtain really good search engine rankings. I have done this without SEO plugins, stupid SEO gimmicks and other less than honest or illegal methods. Blocking Google or any other search engine bot from spidering this site would make it pointless to even have a website. Why? Because it wouldn’t exist within search engines anymore – where the majority of people find their way around the Internet.

So I was basically being told to choose between Google & Commission Junction. CJ was providing no other options. Either block Google or you will dropped from our advertising program. I find it interesting that CJ hasn’t opened a dialogue with Google about one or more of it’s bots causing DOS attack behavior or at the very least click fraud. Something neither company would allow publishers to engage in within their advertising programs. I’d venture a guess that Commission Junction would have a much easier time contacting Google and getting a permanent resolution in place to the problem. Granted I do know a few people I could probably beg for a contact at Google. But I doubt it would do me much good in the end. I still find it interesting that this issue is only being seen with my Commission Junction links. Which is why I thought the problem was with the LongTail Ad Solutions option. Also keep in mind it looked to me that the CJ links being used came from only one article. That of course has been taken offline and purged from my website cache.

The Commission Junction email did offer one bit of helpful information. The IP range that was supposedly the problem source. Using that information within a Google search offered up some useful information. What I found is the source of the issue may be Google DOTS project. Others have reported similar behavior to what CJ is telling me from Google bots under that programs control. Why all of a sudden this would somehow start hijacking my CJ links is beyond me. One major piece of information I read is that this bot or bots does not acknowledge robots.txt. Commission Junction had sent me a link to Google crawlers Webmaster Tools Help. Which gives you a list of Google bots and information on robots.txt. Again I’d ask how is it in my best interest blocking any of those legitimate bots? I run Google AdSense in some newer and older articles. I’ve got no issue with Google spidering my photos. Blocking any of those bots would just reduce my fairly decent search results to nothing. I’d have access to Commission Junction advertising again if that solution worked – but I’d have no readers to click those ads. Doesn’t seem like a logical solution to the problem.

I still can’t wrap my mind around why Google or Google AdSense would be attacking Commission Junction affiliate links on any website. If Google AdSense bots are somehow being tested as an anti-competitive measure against the competition – then this is a legal matter that should be addressed. As far as I’m aware both are doing well enough they should not need to resort to illegal below the belt tactics. So I’m left wondering why only CJ links have been “attacked”?

Since being notified that my previous efforts to resolve the problem seemed to have failed. I have taken several new steps to get this issue under control. I’ve completely uninstalled the JW Player for WordPress plugin. I’m now using another plugin to play video content. Unfortunately that player does have a few shortcomings when compared to the JW Player. I have also installed the Bad Behavior WordPress Plugin. This should in theory resolve many of the issues being seen.

“Bad Behavior is a unique way of blocking link spam and the robots which deliver it to your blog, forum, wiki or CMS.”

With Bad Behavior I have only seen one 209 address being listed within the reporting area. A certain 209 IP segment is what Commission Junction suggested I block to resolve the problem they are seeing with my account. What I have seen are multiple repeat IP’s that are on the Bad Behavior block list being rejected from accessing my website.

Bad Behavior has blocked 449 access attempts in the last 7 days.

Disclaimer – plugin hasn’t been active for a full 7 days – maybe 2 at most.

209.144.30.98

rvd1901e62.static.sprocketnetworks.com

2011-11-13 23:26:32

User-Agent was found on blacklist GET /administrator/index.php HTTP/1.1

Connection: close

Host: iggyz.com

User-Agent: libwww-perl/5.805

209.144.30.98

rvd1901e62.static.sprocketnetworks.com

2011-11-13 23:26:31

User-Agent was found on blacklist GET /administrator/index.php HTTP/1.1

Connection: close

Host: iggyz.com

User-Agent: libwww-perl/5.805

“Note that when using W3 Total Cache, Bad Behavior is unable to protect cached pages; however, Bad Behavior still protects uncached pages and all submission forms.” One negative which could prevent me from seeing the results I want.

Only time will tell if Bad Behavior WordPress plugin resolves this recent problem that has given me one large headache. I still feel like I’ve been blamed for this and hung out to dry. Honestly I don’t feel CJ wants to release me from this “temporary” removal. I’ve acted in good faith being extremely straightforward and honest. For years I was in good standing with this program. Up until 6 days ago I’d never had any contact with their network admins for any type of violation.

I’m concerned that even if I get Commission Junction account access back that any time I see a spike in traffic it’s going to be considered suspect even if completely legitimate.

This is the absolute worst time of year to lose access to any affiliate program. Black Friday is around the corner along with the Christmas holiday. We are in the prime selling season for any website. Without access to some of the top names within the Commission Junction program I’m at a disadvantage in regards to making income this time of year. I actually have articles on hold do to not having access to certain companies I would like to promote within them.

What we have here is a long time one person operation being held hostage by one very large Internet company. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. None of the options I’ve been given up to this point are going to provide me with a positive outcome. Extremely frustrating when I have done nothing wrong and have done my best to resolve the problem.

The Baiduspider needs to chill – been hitting my site left and right past couple of days. You’d think one visit – two tops would get that search engine what they need.

Web hosting Cloud services Domain registration Webdesign

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Increase in pageviews because of google “dots” spider AdSense Help

[google-appengine] Is an APP ENGINE Application Attacking websites? – DOTS user agent / browser

Google crawlers Webmaster Tools Help

Bad Behavior WordPress Plugin

Bad Behavior setup on WordPress

Bad Behaviour Documentation

Bad Behavior rejects Google crawls WordPress Support

Combating Comment Spam/Denying Access WordPress Codex

Block IP’s with .htaccess WordPress Support

Blocking IPs with .htaccess WordPress Support

Web’s Largest Community Tracking Online Fraud & Abuse Project Honey Pot

Inflated click counts

Commission Junction account warning for inflating traffic

Does Google Analytics Attribute data to origination URL for affiliate links

Commission Junction ads hijacking my Google Adsense ones

How to tell if someone is stealing your clicks

CJ tracking

It is not correct, it’s hurt my EPC

Google Admits GoogleBot can Parse and Execute JavaScript Code on-the-fly

Click Bot Wars Google AdSense

Preventing Google Adsense Click Attacks

Crummy Advertising On WordPress.com

Update 11/15/2011 11:20PM

It looks like Commission Junction gave me a reprieve this morning. Of course they will be monitoring any traffic coming from this website for any unusual activity. If something does turn up again – it’s not because I haven’t put in effort to block or shutdown any type of unwanted or illegal activity. In the past I had tried CJ’s encrypted links option. If I remember correctly I felt that clicks and sales weren’t properly reported when using encryption. The other hassle with that option is it adds greatly to the length of advertising code. Using encryption wouldn’t stop excessive non legitimate click behavior from a bot I wouldn’t think. This solution should stop your advertiser identifier from being hijacked by malware, spammers or other unscrupulous tactics.

It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out over the next few weeks with Black Friday right around the corner. I’m still planning on taking part in that yearly event – by posting sales offerings from various companies. My hope is that recent changes I’ve made will keep everything legitimate and that no traffic will be “hijacked”.

Update 11/17/2011 12:30AM

I’m now seeing several hits for at least 2 new 209 IP’s. These were blocked by Bad Behavior.

209.249.53.79

2011-11-16 23:51:08

Bot not fully compliant with RFC 2965

209.249.53.194

2011-11-16 23:51:06

Bot not fully compliant with RFC 2965

Update 11/23/2011

Looks like Commission Junction needs to make their robot bot compliant. Their network quality bot was blocked by Bad Behavior.

216.34.207.6

wan.proxy1.la.vclk.net

2011-11-23 14:34:18

Header ‘Referer’ is corrupt GET /robots.txt HTTP/1.1
Referer: –
Host: iggyz.com
User-Agent: CJNetworkQuality; http://www.cj.com/networkquality
Accept: */*
Cache-Control: max-stale=0
Connection: close
X-Bluecoat-Via: 5B4E4BBFD55A2F41

209 IP’s that have been blocked today

209.19.138.106

2011-11-23 10:08:53

User-Agent was found on blacklist GET / HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Java/1.6.0_20
Host: iggyz.com
Accept: text/html, image/gif, image/jpeg, *; q=.2, */*; q=.2
Connection: close

209.19.185.102

rolleck.recoverysolutionsindia.com

2011-11-23 10:08:52

User-Agent was found on blacklist GET / HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Java/1.6.0_20
Host: iggyz.com
Accept: text/html, image/gif, image/jpeg, *; q=.2, */*; q=.2
Connection: close

209.19.183.102

rolleck.passwordrecoverysolutions.info

2011-11-23 10:08:47

User-Agent was found on blacklist GET / HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Java/1.6.0_20
Host: www.iggyz.com
Accept: text/html, image/gif, image/jpeg, *; q=.2, */*; q=.2
Connection: close

209.19.187.102

rolleck.recoverysolutionsnetwork.com

2011-11-23 10:08:46

User-Agent was found on blacklist GET / HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Java/1.6.0_20
Host: www.iggyz.com
Accept: text/html, image/gif, image/jpeg, *; q=.2, */*; q=.2
Connection: close

Those have been hitting this site rather heavy today. But they have been blocked by Bad Behavior.

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