Bear with me – I don’t know how much you understand about all this, so I’m probably going to start at a level far too basic. Feel free to skim until you hit the stuff you wanted.
Internet Providers and Internet Provider Numbers (IP#’s)
In order to get onto the net, most people pay money to an Internet Provider (like AOL) for a connection. Each of these services has assigned to them blocks of numbers that they can in turn assign to the people who connect to the Net through them. These are called, appropriately enough, Internet Provider Numbers, or IP#’s. Where ever you go on the net, your IP# identifies who you are to whomever you exchange information with. IP#’s can show up on e-mails (if you use hotmail, you can see the IP# of the person who sent you the email if you go to “additional options”, then “mail display settings”, and then check “advanced”). Even if you don’t see the IP# anywhere, the sites you visit can read your number, which is what site meters do to collect information about the people who visit a site.
Static IP#’s versus Dynamic IP#’s
Your IP# may or may not change each time you log into the web. Some providers assign what is called a “static” IP# to their subscribers. This means that each time you log onto the web, you get the same number time after time. There are advantages to this (for example, if you have more than one computer using the same internet connection and need to use a router). Other providers will assign you a different number from the same block of numbers each time you sign on. This means that your number will be close to the same every time, but the last digits in it may vary by a bit.
“Why is she telling me all this?” thinks writergirl at this point
That’s the key to understanding what you see when you check your hits on Dear Diary. Here’s what part of my hit screen has on it at the moment:
The “host” column shows the IP# of the person who visited you or shows information about who the person’s Internet Provider is. For example, “184.108.40.206” is an actual IP#, and gateway.sunybroome.edu is an Internet Provider. I don’t know why Dear Diary sometimes shows one, and sometimes the other, but that’s the way it seems to work. There are usually also a fair number of hits in “Pending Lookup”, which I am also not sure how to interpret.
So what good is all this then?
Not all that much, except to give you a general idea of how many people hit your diary over the course of a day. There are ways to obtain more information though. You can install a site meter in your diary. A popular one used here (and the one I have on my own site) is at Site Meter. This is not the only free site meter on the web, but since it’s the one I use, it’s the one I’m most familiar with, so I’ll use this as an example.
The advantage Site Meter has over Dear Diary’s meter is that it keeps track of the last hundred visits, in the order that people visited. If you pay attention to your site, you can eventually get an idea of who some of the IP’s belong to, because you can match the time the person visited (captured by site meter) with the time the person left you a comment (which should be approximately the same time you get a notification of comment on your email queue).
So what else are IP#’s good for?
Glad you asked. You can get some limited information about the person by looking up their IP# through a WHOIS search. For example, For example, one of my more favorite diarists would visit my diary under the IP# 220.127.116.11. By going to Combat Spam and using their WHOIS IP# look up, I see that 18.104.22.168 has the following information connected to it:
IP whois of 22.214.171.124
ipw: Connecting to server: whois.arin.net:43
ipw: Query: net 126.96.36.199
McMurdo Station, Antarctica – US Antarctic Program (NET-MCMURDO-NET)
61 Inverness Drive East Suite 300 Englewood, CO 80112
Attn Information Systems Manager Technology, CO Development
Netblock: 188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206
Operations, Network (NO146-ARIN) firstname.lastname@example.org
(303) 790-8606 (FAX) (303) 790-9130
Domain System inverse mapping provided by:
Record last updated on 18-Feb-2002.
Database last updated on 25-Feb-2002 20:01:06 EDT.
The ARIN Registration Services Host contains ONLY Internet
Network Information: Networks, ASN’s, and related POC’s.
Please use the whois server at rs.internic.net for DOMAIN related
Information and whois.nic.mil for NIPRNET Information.
This tells me that this diarist was posting from McMurdo Station in Antarctica! (Welcome back to the States, by the way, Bob!) You can get general location of most people by looking up their IP#’s that way. You can also find out who their Internet Provider is, and sometimes even get a phone number and contact name for the Provider. This isn’t going to do you much good for your diary, but it sure comes in handy for some site administrators who have to deal with spammers and people who are using the net illegally.
How do I get a Site Meter?
Well, if you go to Site Meter, you’ll see a place towards the bottom of the page that says Sign Up. You fill out the application, and when you submit the information they give you your password and the html code you’ll need to cut and paste the site meter into your diary.
Most people put the site meter into their footer, but you can put it in the header, or paste it into the text each day you update your diary (which would be a major pain in the ass). Don’t forget to put the code in your Index page and your Welcome page as well. The site meter will only record hits for those pages that the html code appears on.
You will notice that your site meter will show a lot less hits per day than the Dear Diary meter does. I have no explanation for that – it’s one of those things I keep meaning to ask Steve or Matt about but never seem to get around to.
For far more detailed information, you can try:
What is an IP address?
Lycos Top 40 Questions: What is an IP address? (has some good links at the bottom)
Free Stuff Center’s list of free site meters on the web (remember, you can put as many site meters on your page as you want, so you can test run a bunch to see which one you like best)
C-Tech Computers Site Meter Freebies (even more free site meters to choose from)
Hope this helps, writergirl.