Media Watching by proxy

October 2nd, 2010 § 9 comments

Here’s a good site for all you

Isty-who? I hear you ask.

Istyosty is a proxy service that seems to be dedicated to providing a way to read the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Express, but nothing else, without giving the papers the hits.

This is what they say, it might explain it a bit better…


This site was set up after reading this. I thought it would be more fair to the statistics if only people who actually liked the daily mail appeared as a “hit” on the site. We are a proxy service enabling users to view that particular site without necessarily visiting it. Pages are cached here for a few days so many hits on a particular story will only count as one initial hit on that website (until the page is re-cached). Hits to the homepage however, are updated every few hours to keep it reasonably current. This system has the added advantage of providing anonymity from their invasive tracking and the advertisements from companies that should know better (we strip the ads, referer information and the javascript by default).

… and they say it’s legal.

So, if you’re linking to one of these three rags and and don’t want to increase their hits, because as far as they and their advertisers are concerned every hit is an approving hit, use an Istyosty link.

(They’re also on Twitter –

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§ 9 Responses to Media Watching by proxy"

  • septicisle says:

    Beyond stupid, for an obvious reason. I would have thought that letting the Mail’s website workers know what others think of them through referrals to critical websites/twatter profiles would have been a good thing?

    • sim-o says:

      Good point.
      A case of swings and roundabouts, I think.

      Do you think the website workers don’t already know?

      Is the Mail bothered about who links to them or what people think? I don’t think so.

      Is a reduction in their visitor stats gonna reduce the value in their adverts and stuff? Probably, although admittedly, it would take bucket load of people to produce that affect.

      • septicisle says:

        Nowhere near enough people are ever going to use it to have an impact. It’s more about personal purity and vanity it seems; urgh, actually visiting the Daily Mail website? Only way to genuinely hurt the Mail is through not buying it as websites still don’t either make a profit or anywhere near enough of one, and I don’t think anyone who’d use this would be purchasing the paper in the first place.

  • Sim-O says:

    I see your point, and maybe there is a bit of vanity but if one doesn’t buy the paper anyway then this is the online equvalent of finding it on the bus – You get to read it and be disgusted without racking up another sale of it.

  • istyosty says:

    Hi thanks for noticing the site. In response to the comments here misunderstanding the purpose of my site:

    The mail’s site has recently overtaken the Guardian’s as the most read UK newspaper website. They DO make a LOT of money from their advertising contracts (they do vast amounts of tracking and targeted advertising on their visitors including which other sites they visit, what they buy on those sites, how long they spend on those sites etc and can therefore target their ads very successfully (much like facebook). This means they can sell their ads at a premium to the brands appearing on their site (and each ad is charged by amount of impressions not the amount of clickthroughs). Preventing the javascript that enables this tracking and preventing the ads from loading stops impressions/cash being generated (literally every hit counts as cash in the bank) and stops the Mail learning about where and why it’s visitors are coming from.

    The tracking and analytics they use (along with their VERY savvy webmaster’s SEO skills) allow them to fully exploit ANYTHING that will bring hits to the site (well over a million unique visitors to the site reading many ad-infested pages and providing info on their likes/dislikes/browsing habits generates nearly as much as selling a full newspaper but costs almost nothing in production costs). Visiting istyosty stops them learning (in all but one case – when the page is first accessed) that you’ve even looked at their site at all (all hits after the first go to the cached page so NEVER hit the DM site).

    Bloggers and others directly linking to the mail’s site also provide greater weight to the mail’s search engine ranking meaning they will appear higher up in Google (and other search engine’s) search results the more they are linked to. It is irrelevant whether the link is approving or not of the article at the end of it, but their most inflammatory articles WILL generate more comment from bloggers/twitter/facebook and therefore improve their ranking. This will generate more hits on their site and increase their revenue from ads and allow them to track more visitors.

    Even just a few people using istyosty does have an affect (so far for every page viewed on istyosty I’m seeing around 300 or so hits that the mail will never know about), but a vast amount using it could change the vile output of the paper (or at least prevent it making as much money online).

    I am a professional web dev during the day so I do know what I’m talking about – analytics is everything and if they cannot learn about who’s reading their articles, where their coming from or what’s popular then they lose value.

    Also, we now proxy other tabloids for the same reasons.

    Anyway, thanks again for the writeup :)


  • septicisle says:

    In other words, using an Adblocker has more or less exactly the same effect and is much easier. Not linking to the actual article regardless of the effect it has on Google is frankly just stupid – how often does your cache update the page, considering they often update their articles repeatedly and there’s always more comments coming in? The idea that doing this could somehow change the “vile output” of the paper is so ridiculous as to be fantastical – as said above, it’s still the paper that makes the money, not the websites – the Guardian’s website only broke even once I believe.

    Still, if it makes you Twitter cunts feel better about yourselves by not directly linking to the Mail then go ahead, I’m sure Paul Dacre must be quaking in his boots.

  • istyosty says:

    No, an adblocker by default does not strip ALL the javascript or prevent the analytics or tracking present on the mail’s site (Ghostery on Firefox does a pretty good job of nullifying the tracking but you’d need Noscript to filter everything).
    However, even you don’t seem to know about those addons so the average user I would guess isn’t using them.

    The reason the Guardian struggles to run ad-supported is because they are not the most visited UK newspaper website (the mail is) and their demographic actually DOES understand what an ad-blocker is and uses much more than the EDL or BNP does when jacking off to the racism in the mail.

    My cache updates the main home pages every 3 hours (if it receives a hit) and the cached articles are stored for 3 days. The site has been running publicly for about 2 weeks with only word of mouth advertising and currently is serving around 2000 cached articles per day. Not really enough to break their revenue model just yet, but enough to prevent a lot of impressions and stop a lot of analytics being gathered. I’m not at all bothered about viewing the comments and neither are my users – the point is to link to the article itself, if someone wants to join in the “discussion” on the mail site then the mail deserves that hit.

    I’m more interested though in the paper only receiving hits from people that actually like what they’re reading rather than them writing a cheap “Using facebook means you’re a cunt” article then watching the hits from FB roll in.

    Obviously you’re struggling to understand how something can work at all if it isn’t instantly successful, but that’s your choice. A lot of other people seem to think the project is worthwhile and I tend to agree. Anything which in any way prevents the mail’s narrative becoming (even more) accepted as mainstream opinion must be good.

    Do you think Liberal Conspiracy, or any other blog (obsolete maybe?) that has ever criticised the mail shouldn’t have bothered because Paul Dacre didn’t “quake in his boots”?

  • septicisle says:

    Actually I use both Adblock Plus and NoScript, but since as you say the “average user” isn’t using them that seems to be beside the point.

    The Guardian only broke even when it was the most visited UK newspaper website also. And surprise, the Mail only hopes to turn a profit next year:

    In any case, unless I’m misunderstanding you your site is in fact completely useless from a “media-watchery” point of view if the articles only stay cached and viewable for three days when blog posts and the links within them need to be there permanently. It is therefore exactly as I first described it: a vanity project for those who don’t want to visit the horrid actual Mail website, once you strip away this advertising and tracking bullshit justification.

    I’m not struggling to see how something can work if it isn’t instantly successful: it’s that it doesn’t have the first chance of being successful at all within the aims as you describe them. The point about constructive (or even non-constructive blog criticism) is that it does have an effect on the Mail and its journalists when it transcends its niche, as it has done on occasion. In the last major speech Dacre made he mentioned bloggers and their criticisms of the Press Complaints Commission. The last thing he’s going to mention is your site which has no use whatsoever to anyone once a link is more than 3 days old.

  • istyosty says:

    Wrong again I’m afraid.

    Each article is cached for 3 days before being regenerated when visited. Therefore it does it’s job perfectly.

    Eg. I visit a mail article through istyosty. the page is then cached and I’m given a short URL to that page which I then link to from my blog. Visitors to the short link see only my cached page for 3 days, after which, the next hit to the short URL regenerates the cached page for another 3 days.

    If that link is visited by the entire population of the earth in those 6 days, the mail will see 2 hits on it’s website.

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