A mystery is happening this weekend. My blog — this blog — normally gets under a hundred visitors a day. Sometimes there’s a burst of activity, frequently tied to the fact that I have a list of all the US Senators’ Twitter accounts — somebody has a hot button issue and tells everyone to come to my site to get their representative’s account. That’s very nice. But this weekend, Google has been visiting a lot. Not declaring itself to be a search engine, mind you, but clearly in an automated fashion thinly disguised as a user. Here’s what I’ve seen:
First, it’s just a huge number of visits from “different” Google users. The visits look like this:
The host is an internal Google Proxy, which tends to make me think its not a normal spider. It claims to be running IE 8 on Windows Vista (this time), with a screen resolution of 1024×768. I’m at a loss to think of any laptop that actually has that low of resolution; clearly, this is not truthful. So it must be either a bot of some sort masquerading as a user, or a virtual machine somewhere that is being scripted.
Sometimes they say they’re running Windows 7, sometimes Window XP. But always IE 8. And always with the 1024×768 screen resolution.
Another thing that’s odd is that it’s always coming from a Google search where my web site is #1 to #4ish in the ranking. But it is very unlikely that people would search for all the different things these bots are hitting.
It doesn’t look like a normal spider, but it doesn’t look like a human either. So what is it?