Direct linkers are, quite frankly, the bane of the Internet. They claim images and other multimedia as their own when it’s clearly not, and use up your bandwidth. This is not such a big deal if you’ve got hundreds of gigabytes of bandwidth to spare, but those unlucky people who’ve only got a few megabytes end up losing access to their web pages for half a month at a time with sucky “Bandwidth exceeded” notices plastered all over the place — or worse, extra charges added to their account that they didn’t need.
Most people combat this problem with .htaccess rules, or by continuously replacing images with porn or nasty lime green messages to put people off. The problem with this is that it puts other people at risk — harmless, innocent children don’t need to see tubgirl plastered all over the place, and those who direct link in forums/etc could put the owners at risk for inadvertently displaying pornographic content.
Once upon a time I’d have done the same: “stop f’ing using my bandwidth” signs and the like. It wasn’t until a few years back I realised how pointless that is, because I was STILL wasting bandwidth. It wasn’t until yesterday that I realised how much potential traffic I was wasting too.
Several years ago I owned a freebies site — graphics, buttons, avatars, templates and cursors. My cursors were quite popular, and I actively encouraged people to direct-link to them. Now, however, the cursors are gone, but people are still direct-linking and they’re filling my logs with 404 messages. Yesterday, in an attempt to curb this log-filling, I created a single cursor with the words “cursor from jemjabella.com” across it (jemjabella.co.uk was too long). It wasn’t until I got up this morning that I noticed my hits had spiked with an additional 200-300 unique hits, all visitors from sites that have been direct-linking my cursors. I’ve also seen a rise in ‘page’ views to, but that’s caused by people just loading the cursor in their browser..
Why didn’t I think of this years ago? Replace images and ‘stolen’ multimedia with a simple message stating where the stuff is from. The cursors are tiny and use next to no bandwidth, and I get a few hundred free hits. It’s a win-win situation.