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  1. #1
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    using afsrc=1
    Their are many people here analyising the pros and cons of the encryption list and I wanted to throw out a couple things on the table you should consider.

    1) A general recomendation is to add afsrc=1 to the end of the URL. This is "suposidly" only needed for people that use a database interface to build and execute a link at run time. The afsrc is a concept that became about as part of the befree proposal. I'm not going to tell you it's good or it's bad but has anybody thought that this is just another form of identity?

    The parasites can use this parameter as a means of tracking not only your site but also a specific link from your site!

    While I'm not really "paranoid" over the issue I do have a technology background and I'm very aware that the parasites are not stupid and they want to mazimize technology to improve their ability to compete and make as much money as possible to be viewed as "a viable and valuable source" merchants can and should use to improve sales.

    With that in mind, I'm willing to bet the parasites have much better knowledge of our sites statistics then we ourself do. We see where we are getting sales but thats only part of the picture - we do not see what sales are redirected. The parasites can make a better estimate of your performance levels than us because they know how much is being redirected! They can also just as easily know what "specific links" are the most redirected from our site and what links are the least likely to convert into a sale.

    Now it's speculative if this information is presently stored much less if it even used but..... If you were in the parasites shoes would you be capturing the information and possibly planning on using it at some point in the future for use? I would!

    OK - with that in mind, would the afsrc parameter (or the exclusion list for that matter) make it easier for a parasite to gather this information? I say yes and between the two of them together, it makes it much easier.

    If they (the parasites) don't have either of these, they can likely log information and build it much more slowly (as clicks are encountered and redirection occurs). With a domain name and link identifiers, they can prescan a page and know exactly what id's are and are not getting clicked on and they can more reliably determine the overall performance of their redirects and the information they establis as clicks are record to links and sites.

    The potential for abuse is astounding here in my opinion. They would be able to target the most profitable sites and even the most profitable areas of your site and you the web owner - never knows a thing. Now ask me why I'm against the idea and don't like it.


    OK what are your other options?

    Well there has been several other references made around it but of course most affiliates will not talk about it because they fear - "the short term solution" may get fixed by the parasites and then it wont be of any value to them to use. Here goes.

    Another method to protect yourself is to frame your links. As I've already noted in other posts, the basic premise parasites operate by is watching the domain / URL being placed in the browser (which is why the exclusion list is not secure - because when the program Haiko has tells them "its a match" all they have to do is look in the browser (which they already do) and the domain name is right there.) How does framing help and how dow I do it?

    Framing basically hides the browser address from the parasite. Right now, The topmoxie clients are looking for only the domain name for one of their clients and the not specifically at thre affiliates domain. IE: They come to abc.com which has affiliate links - they can't overwrite a link until they know its a partner link so they watch the browser. The user clicks on xyz.com affiliate link and xyz.com enters the browser - they recognize that xyz is in their affiliate program and then cause a redirect back to the network that causes another cookie to overwrite yours. Thats it! If a sale is made, the company reads the cookie and guess who gets credit for the sale.

    By framing, the parasite "currently" never sees xyz.com in the browser. Heres an example:

    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Frameset//EN"
    "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/frameset.dtd">
    HTML // NEEDS BRACKETS
    HEAD // NEEDS BRACKETS
    TITLEYour site in partnership with: XYZ.com/TITLE
    /HEAD // NEEDS BRACKETS
    FRAMESET rows="100%" // NEEDS BRACKETS
    FRAME src="http://www.qksrv.net/click-.........THE NETWORK LINK INFOMATION GOES HERE"> <img src="http://www.qksrv.net/image-............. image link info goes here" width="1" height="1" border="0"
    /FRAMESET
    NOFRAMES
    <P>Sorry, you're browser is not able to display frames, click
    a href="http://www.qksrv.net/click-..LINK INFO GOES HERE....." >here</a> <img src="http://www.qksrv.net/image-...INFO GOES HERE........"
    to go to XYZ.COM.
    /NOFRAMES // brakets removed
    /FRAMESET // brakets removed
    /HTML // brackets removed


    // Note that // indicates a comment and should not be in the final file.


    The example is greatly modified due to I'm not sure just how much HTML is being allowed in a post but the examples have been used mentioned various times with little or no comment. After entering the above information (and put in valid affiliate link information) save it as
    my_xzy.html


    To finish off the example, you simply put a link into your program where the user currently clicks the affiliate link and have it call my_xyz.html

    Try one and see what happens. In particular, watch the title bar and the url shown in the browser as you navigate xyz.com - notice anything? AhHa - thats why the TopMoxie parasites cant redirect on you. They don't see what they are looking for.

    Using this method (which some/most merchants don't openly allow) can be used to protect your links for however long it takes for TopMoxie to get around and figure out a way to overcome this.

    You have to pick and choose yourself what protection "if any" you will use and the up and downside to each one of them.

    In making that desision though, you really should have all known options of protection available to you. Pick Carefully!
    Last edited by MichaelColey; November 5th, 2005 at 09:29 AM. Reason: Changed affsrc to afsrc

  2. #2
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    Well, I have no interest in participating in this renewed ABW parasite debate, but I got two quick notes to the above post:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by happypoon:
    1) A general recomendation is to add afsrc=1 to the end of the URL.
    ...
    The parasites can use this parameter as a means of tracking not only your site but also a specific link from your site!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Any page with a standard qksrv.net link could be tracked by parasites. This afsrc link you're talking about doesn't make tracking any easier or more likely.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by happypoon:
    Another method to protect yourself is to frame your links.
    ...
    Framing basically hides the browser address from the parasite.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    If you want to sink like a stone in the search engines, please use frames. Google in particular handles frames badly.


    edit: clarifying frames
    -- Less is more --

    [This message was edited by Cellophane on January 22, 2003 at 07:21 PM.]
    Last edited by MichaelColey; November 5th, 2005 at 09:30 AM. Reason: Changed affsrc to afsrc

  3. #3
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>If you want to sink like a stone in the search engines, please use frames. Google in particular handles frames badly.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    If you just use frames on your outbound links, does it matter what google does? Of course, you would not want to frame your site, but an outbound link, who cares if google has a problem with the frame while your page is opening up a merchant since the frame page is not part of your site, its not really indexed by google anyway??

    http://www.ahugedeal.com

  4. #4
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    I frame my outbound links, works great.

    Refuse To Lose - Chuck D

  5. #5
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Will this protect DB sites poon?

  6. #6
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    I dont see why it wouldn't - if they code the merchant_site.html file and have the link point to it, it should work perfectly.

    If the user is familiar with database technology and a little bit of programming, there is no reason why they wouldn't have a simple generator to build to link pages that do the framing as well.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador CrazyGuy's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TrustNo1:
    I frame my outbound links, works great.

    Refuse To Lose - Chuck D<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Can I just check what you guys mean - you mean you send the click to your own script/whatever with the affiliate link (ultimate destination) passed as a ?parameter, then that script builds a frameset containing the URL the shopper wants?

    Are you Crazy?

  8. #8
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    FYI: I don't use actual database access on my site(s) but perhaps someone who does can provide the verification.

    Where I use datafeeds, the generator I've built uses template files along with other information to control the look and feel of what is generated and builds separate and distinct html files (based on queries I define) that can be #included by a higher level page as a "part" or could be a complete page. Bottom line is I generate static html files that are uploaded to my servers instead of worrying about dhtml considerations and how to not get penalized by google.

  9. #9
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    You build a separate html page that does the framing as noted in the example for each link to the merchant.

    You static page or database script would link the page your built and not directly with the link you got from the network.

    Does that answer your question?

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador CrazyGuy's Avatar
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    OK - I understand.

    I just never thought about making a separate page for each link. But then I'm too lazy these days to make the original links - why would I make an extra page too.

    The code below is a simple perl script that takes any url and puts it in a basic frameset. So you only need this once, rather than setting up a page for each framed link.

    I've tested it with 2 examples:

    1) type-in overstock.com
    2) gocollect private program links

    ... both of which are reliable ebates bait.

    ebates didn't pop-up or redirect in either case.

    Save the code as (say) goto.pl in your cgi-bin directory and chmod it to 755.

    Use it by linking to:

    http://www.mydomain.com/cgi-bin/goto.../link.whatever

    or in other words, the script URL + ? + the URL (without http://) you want to send the shopper to.

    As always, please test and assure yourself it does what you want. Also, my frame code may not be 100% pure. It could be easily modified to (for example) put the merchant name in the title bar.


    === copy from line below ====================
    #!/usr/bin/perl
    print "Content-type: text/html\n\n";
    $destination=$ENV{'QUERY_STRING'};
    print qq~
    &lt;HTML&gt;
    &lt;HEAD&gt;
    &lt;TITLE&gt;My Domain in association with Merchant&lt;/TITLE&gt;
    &lt;/HEAD&gt;
    &lt;FRAMESET ROWS=0,* FRAMESPACING=0 BORDER=0 FRAMEBORDER="NO"&gt;
    &lt;FRAME SRC="" NAME="noframe" SCROLLING="NO"&gt;
    &lt;FRAME SRC="http://$destination" NAME="destination_frame" SCROLLING="AUTO"&gt;
    &lt;/FRAMESET&gt;
    &lt;NOFRAMES&gt;
    &lt;body&gt;
    &lt;P&gt;Your browser does not support frames.&lt;/P&gt;
    &lt;P&gt;Click &lt;A HREF="http://$destination"&gt;Here&lt;/A&gt; and I'll take my chances.&lt;/P&gt;
    &lt;body&gt;
    &lt;/NOFRAMES&gt;
    &lt;/HTML&gt;
    ~;
    1;=== copy from line above ====================

    Are you Crazy?

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Nova's Avatar
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    we are all working extra extra hard to protect our livelihood from scums and we are not being heard but only few Merchants that stand by and know how business really work that will last longer!

    I always have this question in my mind since I found out about parasites!


    What is it that they offer to these Merchants that Honest affiliates cant?

    I know that other Affiliate (The Honest One!)are very successfull and brings huge value to merchants.

    Users look for products in the internet and you will see allot of us in the list! But I don't see much of Ebates or others that use the parasite tactics!

    So how come they get the better treatment than any of us that do give huge traffic to Merchants and if you add all of us giving them customer that would or could be a lifelong buyers is mistreated?

    Why do they need this scums?

    What is behind all this parasite deals and what is the cut?

    Maybe I am wrong in my assumption but we do work harder than this parasites and we are being treated like we don't count, even we give values to them!

    Can someone pls tell me how can this be right and not being fixed?

    I accept the fact that if I don't succeed in this business it's because it's not for me!

    But when I know I can compete in the right way
    and have the chance to make enough to live by and then knowing that my hardwork is being undermine from some lazy knowledgeble person on Technology is really sad!

    If I can make a living in this business in an ethical way without undrmining others hard work(not make millions of dollars, just enough to support my family!) without alot of education or knowledge about Computer (But by God I am learning every day and getting better )
    Why can't this pro tech do the same without taking someones hardwork?

    MY 2cents.

    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-)

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador CrazyGuy's Avatar
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    Does every practical thread about technology, tactics, techniques, solutions (partial, flawed or otherwise) have to become "why do these terrible people do this too us. we're good and they're bad and we really shouldn't have to deal with this" ?

    There is absolutely 0 value in approaching this as a moral issue. It's debatable if there's an absolute moral right and wrong in life - there sure ain't in business.

    I am interested to know if anyone uses the code above in a situation they know would otherwise redirect their traffic.



    Are you Crazy?

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Nova's Avatar
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    Okay sorry I shut up and not ask why?

    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-)

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador CrazyGuy's Avatar
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    Nova - now you made me feel all horrible and rude

    What I should have said is: sometimes on this subject emotions run high and it doesn't seem "fair" and it's good to vent your frustrations - and there are many times and threads on ABW where that's the right thing to do.

    But probably no-one is ever going to make this "fair" and it's hard to explain why that should be unless you accept the basic premise of business competition. So I suggest we have to work on as many different fronts as possible to do practical (technical, legal, contractual, etc) things to minimize or remove the impact on each of us personally. If we work as a group with the common purpose of minimizing the impact on each of us personally, then we also take on a strength that is greater than the sum of it's parts - without pretending we are doing anything for some great or common good.

    This thread (I suggest) is an example of that. Technical discussions about how solutions work - and some code that everyone can try out if they want to. It took me a few minutes to put the little frame script together and I did it because I could see how I'll use it. It doesn't damage me if others find a use for it, so I post it here.

    At a human level I admire the high morality of those who cannot fathom the unfairness of this "parasite" situation - and I respect your/their right to lead their lives by those high principles. But you must be prepared to accept the impact that will have on your business and you simply can't have it both ways.

    The balanced view - I suggest - is to behave according to your own moral code while taking every possible practical precaution to protect you and yours from the immorality of others.

    Are you Crazy?

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Nova's Avatar
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    Crazyguy,

    You didn't sound rude.

    I understand you perfectly.

    I am just frustrated about the issue.

    using the afsrc I think is better than the list proposal.

    migth not work 100% but IMO I would rather not get 100% sulotion to the problem but at least we have a better chance in this than working with parasites.

    I know how the business works ( I had work as a customer service) and each company has their own way to win the consumer, but I don't think the business they run has employ a thief and send them to steal!
    lol...

    I understand your point and I appologize :-)

    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-)
    Last edited by MichaelColey; November 5th, 2005 at 09:31 AM. Reason: Changed affsrc to afsrc

  16. #16
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    This solution looks great,with only one problem that I can think of...
    Will the buyers still buy if they see in the address field our site's addresses and not the merchant site?

  17. #17
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Well, I'm still plowing on along trying to catch up on the 4,000+ posts made in the couple of days I was gone. Glad things were quiet around here.

    Since I've never used framing (either for my site or my outbound links), I'm pretty much a framing illiterate. So I have a couple of questions.

    1. Has anyone done any extensive testing using this method to see how effectively the method works? I see where Nova said for her, even if it's not 100% she feels more comfortable with it than the list. Others may well hold that same view, however others may not. Just wondering if anyone has hard data on the effectiveness from testing so that folks can make an informed decision.

    2. Along those same lines, I see 2 different ways to achieve framing in just this post. I don't know how many more ways you might be able to do this. So again has anyone done any extensive testing to see if one method is or is not more effective than another one?

    3. Also what are the issues with framing and browser compatability? What are the effects does this have with your visitors surfing experience? I remember seeing something in another post discussing something about framing and browser versions and something about the cookies. I just can't find the post now. Probably in a thread titled something completely unrelated. LOL. I do know that the original version of ebates used framing itself. But it didn't work (or they didn't want it to work that way) for IE 6.0, and the redirects for IE 6.0 didn't use framing and this was distinction was achieved through a javascript call in the ebates pop ups. So I'm wondering what all that is about.

    4. I see in many merchant's TOS clauses precluding the use of framing. I've never understood why that was in there (again I've never used framing). However, I do know that some very high traffic sites have utilized this type of coding for quite some time. I'm wondering does anyone who has utilized framing of their outbound links have any feedback if they've ever experienced any problems from merchants regarding this. I've always assumed the clause was in there because of something not so cool that an affiliate might do with frames that a merchant might consider fraud. Or that it might effect their stats in some way. Whatever the reason, has anyone ever experienced problems from a merchant because it is a violation of their TOS? Maybe some feedback from merchant's would be helpful.

    Also feedback from the networks on this one would be nice. What will be their stance if an issue arises with a merchant who decides they want to dump an affiliate or reverse commissions because the framing technique was used in order to protect their site from link hijacking? Will the networks stand beside the affiliate and actively help to educate and resolve the issue with the merchant? Are the networks possibly reconsidering this clause in TOS's in light that it may be a way to protect sites?

    5. Since the title of the thread is afscr=1..... Has anyone implemented this coding widespread across their site(s) and done testing with it? I'm still trying to figure out exactly what this bit of coding is also. Maybe an explanation from someone at a network. Is this not coding implemented by the network(s) that basically was agreed upon by the networks and software companies that flags links in such a way that the links can be detected by the exclusions added to updated programs? Yes, no? Is it anything more than that?

    I know that when I first found about the afsrc coding I tried it on a handful of different types of links. Very limited testing. I found that on the first click through on a link, my browser appeared to choke on the coding with it stalling out. This happened on 30-40% of the initial clicks. If I closed the browser window and then clicked through to the same link again, it seemed to parse just fine. Again, this was very, very limited testing. So I'm wondering if anyone has tested more extensively with different browsers and different types of links appended with the code and what results they are seeing.

    Anyone who has factual information about the points above (not speculation), I would appreciate the input. I'm sure others would also. It's pretty obvious that in the short-term picture there is no solution that everyone is just in love with. Any truly knowledgable responses will be appreciated so that I can evaluate all the different options that are available and try to reach a reasoned decision as to what might work best for me as a short-term solution.

    Man I hate having to do the weighing of the pros and con thing.

    Keep Your Hands Off My Cookies

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Nova's Avatar
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    Very very good question BLFH

    This thread need to keep going to get realiable answer.
    :-)

    Anybody?

    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-)

  19. #19
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    I did a search for afsrc=1 and I found this from back in September.

    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Be Free, Incorporated
    August 2002

    Affiliate Exclusions in Shopping Plug-ins

    Status of this Memo

    This document specifies a set of conventions for the affiliate marketing community, and requests discussion and suggestions for improvements. Comments should be sent to proposalfeedback@befree.com. This page is hosted at http://www.befree.com/proposal.htm.

    Abstract

    This standard specifies a set of practices and protocols meant to protect the relationship between affiliate partners and the merchants with which they work. This will require cooperation among affiliates and the producers of shopping plug-ins and will result in the predictable and equitable assignment of commissions and credit.

    1. Scope

    In this document the term 'Shopping Plug-In' describes software that is installed on a user's computer and generates revenue for the software publisher through pop-up ads or by generating affiliate links for the software publisher when the user visits a site with which the software publisher has an affiliate relationship. In this document, the term 'Shopping Plug-In' refers to any software which exhibits this type of behavior.

    The problem that we will be addressing is specific to preventing the generation of pop-ups and diversion of commissions from affiliate sites by Shopping Plug-Ins.

    2. Link Exclusion

    This standard proposes a format for Shopping Plug-Ins to exclude certain classes of click-through URLs from consideration when generating a pop-up or inserting links that give affiliate credit to the Shopping Plug-In publisher.

    Shopping Plug-Ins must provide a mechanism for preventing pop-ups and claiming affiliate commissions when traffic originates from an affiliate link. Any method that achieves this end is acceptable; however, it must at least cover the cases listed in sections 2.1 and 2.2.

    2.1 Exclusion based on Domain

    Because a large number of affiliate links redirect through one of the major affiliate solution providers, an automatic exclusion MUST apply when a user clicks on a link whose click-through URL explicitly contains any of the following domains (listed alphabetically):

    o bfast.com
    o cc-dt.com
    o commission-junction.com
    o linksynergy.com
    o qksrv.net

    2.2 Exclusion based on URL Parameter

    Affiliate links can appear in forms that do not explicitly contain the domain of one of the major third party affiliate solution providers. In these cases, there needs to be an explicit way for an affiliate to signal that a link is an affiliate link.

    To achieve this end, this proposal suggests a parameter added to the click-through URL that signals an affiliate link. This parameter should be short, but unique. The proposal for the name of this parameter is 'afsrc' (Short for Affiliate Source) so an example link might look like:

    &lt;a href=http://www.affiliatesite.com/redirect?offer=12345&afsrc=1&gt;Click Here&lt;/a&gt;

    When encountering a link with a URL parameter of 'afsrc' regardless of its parameter value, the Shopping Plug-In software provider must not present a pop-up or attempt to claim affiliate credit on the destination domain.

    Copyright Notice

    Copyright (C) Be Free, Inc. (2002). All Rights Reserved. This document may be copied and distributed, but only in its entirety and this copyright notice must be included.


    http://abw.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&...511#5816025511

    Not sure if it helps or not.

    I can say this much. I changed one full page of links a couple days ago. I added the afsrc=1 to my links and my click throughs to CJ are UP. Now, it may be coincidence, so I am not jumping up and down yet. I am giving it more time.

    ~Michelle

    ****************************
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."

    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  20. #20
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    A post from Designerwiz back in December:

    We just thought we would tell you about a technique we use for services we know that try to over write the original referrer cookie.

    We add " &afsrc=1 " at the end of the affiliate referrer code. This does work on most (not all) tracker services as logging the #1 referrer rather than the second "over write" cookie.

    This can also backfire on you as well. If the customer has a previous cookie stored from a previous visit befor yours, the first referrer gets the commission.

    This does work, just monitor it close.

    DesignerWiz
    http://DesignerWiz.com

    ~Michelle

    ****************************
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."

    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  21. #21
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Found a link to an outside article the mentions it using afsrc=1

    http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt7/affil_hijack.htm

    ~Michelle

    ****************************
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."

    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador CrazyGuy's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ~Michelle:
    A post from Designerwiz back in December:

    This can also backfire on you as well. If the customer has a previous cookie stored from a previous visit befor yours, the first referrer gets the commission.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This assertion needs to be confirmed - as it is counter to how this mechanism works. For the behaviour (above) to happen, the network would have to be reading this tag and then not treating it like a regular affiliate link. That isn't why it was invented and I don't think that's what's happening. The idea is that your redirection program ignores it, the network ignores it, but the compliant "parasite" software reads it and steers clear.

    Are you Crazy?

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