42. Monitor visits with website
By Mark Alberstat
Personal websites are common on the Internet today. These sites contain
everything from favourite family recipes to pictures your Aunt Ida took on
her trip to the Lizzie Borden B&B and gift shop.
These websites can be a real slice of life for those who take the time to
But the people creating them are often interested in who visits them,
where the visitors are from, how they stumbled across their humble, or not
so humble, site and any thoughts they might have on the site's content.
One of the most popular ways of getting this kind of information from your
visitors is through a guest book. A wide range of guest books is available
with a variety of options, features and ease of use for both the website
owner and visitor signing in.
Guest books are small programs that either run on your website or run
remotely but display on your site, and they feature various options that
you establish. Often these programs are called scripts and can be written
in a few different programming languages.
The Internet offers several script archives, some better than others. Some
are strong in some areas of programming, others have different strengths.
There are sites that have dozens, if not hundreds, of scripts that you can
download. Some scripts are free, some are not. But all can add to your
website's ability to attract visitors and can also add some interactivity.
One caveat is that not all website-hosting companies will allow you to run
scripts on their computer because of virus and security concerns. It would
be best to find out if you can have a script before going through the
One of the most popular guest book scripts, and a freebie too, is HTML
Gear's version. HTML Gear is there to host your site (through the Lycos
network). The guest book is customizable, has privacy and screening
features, and if what they claim is true, you don't have to be an HTML
wizard to install and use it.
But you do have to join Lycos, either as a free ad-supported member or
through one of the various paid-membership options.
If you would prefer to download a script, try out Matt's Script Archive.
The scripts have good installation and configuration instructions and are
relatively easy to use if you have some basic HTML and Perl knowledge. The
compressed size of the script is small, only 8.3kb, and worth downloading
if for no other reason than to see how this programmer tackled the task of
a guest book.
One of the most interesting guest book-type programs on the web is
Bravenet's Guestmap service. This program allows visitors to add a pin to
a world map, or other pre-selected map, to show where they are from. The
pins also give a bit of info on the visitor if so desired.
Bravenet also has a traditional guest book that is not only fairly
customizable but also can play background music for your visitors to
listen to while they read over other visitors' comments.
Whether you are interested in learning where your visitors are from or
what they have to say about your site, or whether you just want to have a
bit of discussion with others, a website's guest book is an ideal way to
accomplish these goals.
With the pre-written scripts found on the Internet today, it couldn't be
easier to implement a guest book.
Some useful guest book links:
HTML Gear: www.htmlgear.lycos.com
Matt's Script Archive:
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Originally published 5 September 2004