Help Gizmo Solve a Weird Puzzle

Something seriously weird is happening to Gizmo's Freeware and I can't work out the cause so I'm asking you for some help to help solve this mystery.

On the 21st of March the bounce rate for the Gizmo's Freeware site jumped overnight from its usual low rate to nearly 80%.  The bounce rate is basically the percentage of people who visit the site and click out straight away. An 80% rate is just crazy high.

The usual cause for this kind of thing is the site server running slow so people just can't be bothered waiting for the page to load and so they click out.  But that doesn't stack up as our server has been running fast and certainly the site has been loading fast for me and our editors.

When I look at the stats the problem is not browser specific or country specific - it is across the board.  As I said, this is a real mystery.

How You Can Help Gizmo

Could you please post a comment below if you have noticed anything strange when you've accessed the Gizmo's Freeware site for the last 10 days or so.  For example:

Has the site been running slow?

Has the site looked messed up in your browser?

Have you had a security alert of any kind?

Maybe Links in our RSS feed or newsletter don't work.

Just let me know if you have noticed anything strange at all. Any clue you give may hold the key to this mystery.



PS If you don't mind could you please leave your country location and browser name/version in you comments. This may help.


Our grateful thanks to everyone for responding with ideas we can now follow up. Please keep the comments coming. Because of the sheer volume it just hasn't been possible to acknowledge every one and what responses have been left soon become buried themselves. Rest assured that all of your suggestions will be followed through and Gizmo will post the result of our investigations here as soon as we are able to reach a conclusion.








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by Bob on 5. May 2011 - 8:35  (71449)

I was just wondering whether this could have anything to do with the release of Firefox 4 on March 22nd (roughly "overnight", give or take a dateline). In particular, might it have something to do with the way FF4 handles live bookmarks?

However, looking at Alexa I do find it hard to locate any particular one off spike.

by Sterling in Phoenix (not verified) on 27. April 2011 - 6:08  (70999)

This may or may not be the issue...

When browsing using Chrome or Firefox or IE8 I occasionally get the following error:

Error 324 (net::ERR_EMPTY_RESPONSE): The server closed the connection without sending any data

This error does not seem to occur in a reproducible way but I have seen it appear several times in the past 3 weeks while browsing

Suggestions include some kind of winsock fix(?) or clearing the history and cache on the browser. None of these have made a difference in this issue and thus far, only has produced the error on my computer.

Good Hunting,

by PCdozer (not verified) on 10. April 2011 - 6:14  (69884)

I imagine most has been covered so I'm not going to re-suggest it all but here is a link with some explanations.

You likely already know these but it may be worth a read. May kick off some other idea.

by MidnightCowboy on 10. April 2011 - 6:50  (69886)

Thanks for the link :)

by Incognito (not verified) on 7. April 2011 - 12:19  (69631)

Website looks okay. (Browser: Chrome. Location: Lebanon)

by Gazzer (not verified) on 7. April 2011 - 6:46  (69605)

Your RSS feed has a link in the top right labelled Gizmo's Freeware that says it links back to your original site but instead links back to the same page you are viewing.

My normal reaction to this was to exit and find your original site via a bookmark.

Running Firefox 4.0 on WindowsXP sp3 New Zealand

by DannyM. (not verified) on 6. April 2011 - 16:24  (69577)

If you have some of the IP address that bounced, pleae run a check to see if any are ZOMBIES.
You can test them here:,,
.. to name a few.
There's a chance that your site was hit by a distributed zombie attack.

Thank you for your outstanding advice and service.
Danny M.

by MIB (not verified) on 6. April 2011 - 3:19  (69555)

XP sp3 USA {midwest} Fire Fox 4
Would re-posting{sharing with a forum} your links be causing this?
Your site is fine, as far as I can tell.

by hubjf on 5. April 2011 - 7:04  (69490)

Hello from France !

I haven't noticed any slow down or trouble.

Please keep us informed of what you've found (or not) !

Thanks for all,


France, Win 7 64bits, Firefox 4.

by TonyE (not verified) on 4. April 2011 - 13:15  (69430)

I've got RSS feeds of Technibble and Anandtech via customized Yahoo home page. Links I click on in either come up in 'My Yahoo Reader.' Very often when I click on a link there is no content, just the word 'fail.' After which I immediately click out. This seems to happen mostly early in the morning; otherwise there's no pattern. All links may 'fail,' one may fail repeatedly while others work, etc.

Is this helpful at all?

by bitzero (not verified) on 4. April 2011 - 9:20  (69422)

would not have known there was a problem! same great service & great finds. many thanks, please keep it up....

by Tortuga (not verified) on 4. April 2011 - 4:51  (69417)

Have not experienced any problems.
Visit almost everyday.

XP SP2 & SP3
W7 Home
Primarily FF 3.6.16, but also Chrome 10

Thanks to *all* who make this site so great & indispensable!

by Jack007a (not verified) on 4. April 2011 - 2:32  (69413)

Australia, Firefox3.6 , Win7 64bit.

Did you look into IGoogle Gadget?
Your site works fine here while your Gadget used to work fine on my IGoogle page it is now very slow and few times I get a timeout error.

by CTY (not verified) on 3. April 2011 - 22:21  (69407)

Any chance the bounces are some weird bug in the new version of Firefox? Most Firefox users I know have been upgrading right around the same time you have seen your spike in bounces... Just a thought, sorry if it has already been suggested.

No problems noted here-- USA/Windows7-64Bit/Firefox4

by Hanro (not verified) on 3. April 2011 - 13:00  (69401)

Use the site every other day with no problems what so ever.
Keep up the good work.

South Africa

by Joshua Foreman (not verified) on 2. April 2011 - 22:09  (69379)

no problems at all using K-meleon 1.5.4 running on Windows XP SP2

yeah, I know; I need to get around to installing SP3


by air3lemental (not verified) on 2. April 2011 - 21:09  (69378)

Just a wild guess... Perhaps a lot of people are trying the internet functionality by visiting your site? Since it is the site they visit the most? I myself have tried the internet function on ipads and other devices that are on display and the site I would always visit is gizmo.

May be lame, but since it came to mind I thought I should mention it.

by DOD (not verified) on 2. April 2011 - 17:27  (69374)

California, USA, Windows 7, Time Warner Cable, AOL: I haven't noticed a bounce problem, but occasionally, I will find your newsletter in my Spam box, where I dutifully click "this is not spam" and retrieve it. Occasionally, links from your newsletter will not work, but I haven't noticed it more frequently than my other experience on AOL, as distinguished from Chrome, Firefox, or IE.

by Ponch (not verified) on 2. April 2011 - 5:50  (69361)

United States XP SP3 Internet Explorer. For the last three weeks I have some sites running slow and problems always link to aol software when this happens. Nothing wrong with the sites when aol is fixed. Have other browsers and and all are the same.

by MaxCruz (not verified) on 2. April 2011 - 3:33  (69356)

Gizmos request was (paraphrased): Please post a comment if you HAVE noticed anything strange when you've accessed the Gizmo's Freeware site.


It would have been nice to see one page with potential problems identified, rather than "No problems from Indonesia", or "All ok in the Netherlands"...

I thought Gizmo readers were smarter than that.

by Byron (not verified) on 3. April 2011 - 6:35  (69392)

@ MaxCruz I am going to try your theory out ,If anyone asks me if i have a problem with (choose topic)and I do not I just won't answer. The word pedantic springs to mind . Byron ;-0

by MaxCruz (not verified) on 4. April 2011 - 2:41  (69415)

Byron, I re-read your statement and I have one point of contention. Gizmo didn't ask us us if we had a problem. If that were the case, all replies would have been acceptable. He asked if we DID have a problem, to reply. This is significantly different. It's not about being pedantic. I just don't think people comprehend what they read, or think before they speak (or type). Cheers!

by MaxCruz (not verified) on 4. April 2011 - 2:20  (69412)

Byron, exactly!

by MidnightCowboy on 2. April 2011 - 6:59  (69362)

Whilst this was the original intention, we've found seeing these comments ("OK" or otherwise) from all over the world quite a sobering experience. It's reminded us just how global and diverse the Gizmo community is. The mods have been sorting through the posts and anything which might be relevant has been copy/pasted into our closed forum.

Many thanks once again for all the feedback :)

by chris p (not verified) on 6. April 2011 - 11:56  (69568)

Actually I've found it all interesting, regardless of content. It's probably unrealistic to expect people to stick to the agenda - and in any case it doesn't really matter too much. It's all fun.

Also, the suggestions from those who do *not* have a problem are just as useful (for other purposes) as ones that detail possible issues. This site is all about ideas and feedback, and we need more not less. Another problem is we are understaffed (as there's no money in it) so all assistance is appreciated.


by Dave G. (not verified) on 2. April 2011 - 2:42  (69351)

USA running Windows 7 (64 bit) and Chrome 10

No problems noticed.

Good luck solving the problem. Love the site.

by Womanchief (not verified) on 2. April 2011 - 1:06  (69348)


by garth on 2. April 2011 - 1:20  (69349)

Nope, not an April fool's joke:)

by keeptrak (not verified) on 1. April 2011 - 21:27  (69336)

Tried your site with four different browsers, all under XP SP3. No problems whatsoever.

by RayT (not verified) on 1. April 2011 - 21:23  (69335)

Love the site, have been referencing it for years. Can't recall if I ever signed up for e-mails, tho. Started getting a daily e-mail on Mar 4, 2011.
Have noticed the site seems to have more fresh content--keep up the good work!

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