deddynoer: ALEXA INTERNET
Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com that is best known for operating a website that provides information on web traffic to other websites.
Operations and history
Alexa Internet was founded in 1996 by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat in an effort to solve the internet search problem by tracking user decisions and using that data to aid future searches. From the company’s early website in 1999:
Alexa Internet was created from a novel vision. A vision of navigation that learns and improves over time with the collective participation of its users. We all experience the gaps in navigating and finding information on the Internet as it is used today–frustrating keyword searches that turn up hundreds or thousands of web pages and sites, very few of which are of any interest. What if we, as a community of users, could effortlessly pool our collective experience and add human intelligence to navigation? What if we could fill in those gaps? It is a radical concept and it is our goal to make it real, and we invite you to join us in this effort. What we are doing can change the way we use the Internet forever. The Alexa service is the first Internet software product that learns from people. This intelligent navigation service provides a continuous source of relevant recommendations of where to go next on the Web.
The company’s name was chosen in homage to the Library of Alexandria,drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world to the potential for the internet if the search problem could be solved. The company offered a toolbar that gave Internet users guidance on where to go next, based on the traffic patterns of its user community. Alexa also offered context for each site visited: to whom it was registered, how many pages it had, how many other sites pointed to it, and how frequently it was updated. The company’s premises are in Building 37 of the Presidio of San Francisco.
The race to solve the internet search problem was decisively won by Google with their much simpler backrub approach. But Alexa still had a lot to offer. Their approach to intelligent navigation included the archiving of webpages as they were crawled. This database served as the basis for the creation of the Internet Archive (also located in the Presidio) and its Wayback Machine. Alexa continues to supply the Internet Archive with web crawls.
In 1999, Alexa was acquired by Amazon.com for about $250 million in Amazon stock as the company transitioned away from its original vision of providing an intelligent search solution. Alexa began a partnership with Google in spring 2002, and with the Open Directory Project in January 2003. Live Search replaced Google as a provider of search results in May 2006.In September 2006, they began using their own Search Platform to serve results. In December 2006, they released Alexa Image Search. Built in-house, it is the first major application to be built on their Web Platform.
Alexa also provides “site info” for the A9.com search engine.
In December 2005, Alexa opened its extensive search index and web-crawling facilities to third party programs through a comprehensive set of web services and APIs. These could be used, for instance, to construct vertical search engines that could run on Alexa’s own servers or elsewhere. Uniquely, their Web Search Platform gives developers access to their raw crawl data. In May 2007, Alexa changed their API to require comparisons be limited to 3 sites, reduced size embedded graphs be shown using Flash, and mandatory embedded BritePic ads.
In April 2007, Alexa v. Hornbaker was filed to stop trademark infringement by the statsaholic service. In the lawsuit, Alexa alleges that Hornbaker is stealing traffic graphs for profit, and that the primary purpose of his site is to display graphs that are generated by Alexa’s servers. Hornbaker removed the term Alexa from his service name on March 19, 2007.Nevertheless, it should be noted that Alexa expressly grants permission to refer its data in third-party work subject to suitable credits.
On November 27, 2008, Amazon announced that Alexa Web Search was no longer accepting new customers, and the service would be deprecated or discontinued for existing customers on January 26, 2009.
Concerns over Alexa rank information and the Alexa Toolbar
Alexa ranks sites based on visits from users of its Alexa Toolbar for Internet Explorer and from integrated sidebars in Mozilla and Netscape. In addition to their own statusbar extension, Sparky (released July 2007), there are several third-party extensions for Mozilla Firefox:
* SearchStatus shows Google PageRank and Alexa TrafficRank
* About This Site Firefox plug-in that shows metadata from Alexa TrafficRank.
There is some controversy over how representative Alexa’s user base is of typical Internet behavior. If Alexa’s user base is a fair statistical sample of the Internet user population (e.g., a random sample of sufficient size), Alexa’s ranking should be quite accurate. In reality, not much is known about the sample and possible sampling biases. Alexa itself notes several examples.A known source of bias is the self-selecting, opt-in nature of Alexa traffic tracking software installation, but the significance of this bias on rankings is not reported.
On April 16, 2008 many users reported dramatic shifts in their Alexa rankings. Alexa confirmed this later in the day with an announcement that they had released the “New Alexa Ranking System” claiming that they now take into account more data sources.
The Alexa toolbar is regarded by many vendors as spyware. Symantec classifies the toolbar as Trackware. McAfee Site Advisor rates the Alexa website as yellow with a warning, “In our tests, we found downloads on this site that some people consider adware, spyware or other potentially unwanted programs,” and the site has 67 user ratings of “Adware, spyware, or viruses” as of July 2, 2008. The toolbar is detected by McAfee as Adware-Alexa, a “Potentially Unwanted Program”. Many other security vendors also detect and remove Alexa software.