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I was looking at the Google Analytics data1 for our site the other day, and I noticed something odd.

We have access to data on referral traffic. We know that:

Referral traffic is Google's method of reporting visits that came to your site from sources outside of its search engine. When someone clicks on a hyperlink to go to a new page on a different website, Analytics tracks the click as a referral visit to the second site. The originating site is called a “referrer” because it refers traffic from one place to the next. Referral traffic is one of three statistics tracked by Google Analytics. The others are Search traffic -- visits from a search engine -- and Direct traffic to a domain.

The top few referral sites are no surprise:

  1. The top site is stackoverflow.com.
  2. Next comes Reddit, with significantly fewer.
  3. Then is superuser.com

No surprise here: people are most likely to click on an HNQ from SO or SU, and Reddit has many related/linked subreddits.

The fourth referrer, however, is very strange: ratp.fr.

This site gives us nearly as many referrals as superuser.com (as of the time I checked), which is odd considering that:

The RATP Group (French: Groupe RATP), also known as the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (English: Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transports) is a state-owned public transport operator headquartered in Paris, France.

Why is a French public transportation website responsible for so many referrals?

enter image description here

1 link only available for 25K+ rep users

  • @amaranth - Well, that's how I can see it, yes. – Adamant Jul 1 '16 at 9:42
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    My guess is that it's coming through some kind of free wifi domain gateway provided by the transport network – Valorum Jul 1 '16 at 9:49
  • @Valorum - Here is a screenshot from when I saw it. Its position went down. – Adamant Jul 1 '16 at 9:51
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    @Obie2.0 - Where are the hand-drawn circles? How will we know what to look at?! – Valorum Jul 1 '16 at 9:55
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    @Valorum - If you could erase the black bar and add a circle, that would be great. – Adamant Jul 1 '16 at 9:56
  • @Valorum - Wow, the Meta site has analytics too. – Adamant Jul 1 '16 at 9:59
  • zdnet.fr/actualites/… And batanga.com/comics/4747/… may be good clues – AncientSwordRage Jul 1 '16 at 16:52
  • @AncientSwordRage - Call me thick, but how does the second link relate? – Valorum Jul 1 '16 at 20:10
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    @Valorum - The first picture comes from here, which is the SE imgur account. I doubt that counts as a referral, but it is possible, I suppose. – Adamant Jul 2 '16 at 0:07
  • @Valorum Obie2 is correct. It's also on the list. – AncientSwordRage Jul 2 '16 at 2:14
  • Never fear, the CMs (should be) here! – bleh Jul 4 '16 at 12:20
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    Ou est la gare? – Paul D. Waite Jul 11 '16 at 9:41
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I cannot provide any data but, given who the domain belongs to, this is likely to be an artefact of a WiFi network on French transit routes.

Apparently some technical specific of their groundbreaking WiFi's login portal redirects in such a way that their domain ends up as the HTTP Referer [sic] field when requests to Stack Exchange (and other sites) are made.

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    Should it worry me that a company that operates an underground train network company has wifi that's groundbreaking? – Valorum Jul 2 '16 at 16:50
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    @Valorum: *giggle* – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 2 '16 at 16:54
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    Hello Paris, welcome to stackexchange! – AncientSwordRage Jul 2 '16 at 22:45
  • Pffff, that's just awful and evil. – cat Jul 10 '16 at 17:28
  • @AncientSwordRage: It's likely that les Parisiens have been on Stack Exchange from the beginning. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 10 '16 at 22:31
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit quelle surprise. – AncientSwordRage Jul 10 '16 at 22:37

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