Secrets In Websites II

Presidential Campaign Analysis

My analysis of DNC and RNC websites as part of “Secrets In Websites” early in the year was (surprisingly) a rather popular topic, so I thought I’d do a little analysis of the popular presidential candidates for the geeks who found that interesting. It’s a little long as there are quite a few candidates out there.

It’s an interesting analysis but I wouldn’t base much on it. I don’t know if a candidates use of open source vs. a proprietary vendor says anything about their positions on patents, copyrights, DRM, net neutrality, or not. I do however think the content and depth of their site says a little bit about how they view the internet as an effective medium to reach potential voters.

I decided to take the time to do the research simply because it’s interesting to see high profile uses of technology, especially open source and I know I’m not the only one.

This is accurate as of Nov 24, 2007 (see “Data Collection” below for more info).

Disclaimer:If you post a comment that’s beyond the technical scope of this post, it will be deleted. This isn’t a politics site, and I don’t have the patience or time for it. My blog, my rules. No exceptions.

This is just a list of data I collected as described at the bottom of the page. This site is not an endorsement for or against any candidate or party by myself or my employer.

Democrats

Backend

Candidate Platform Framework/Frontend
Hillary Clinton Microsoft-IIS/6.0 ASP.NET Unknown
John Edwards Apache on Unknown Arcos for CMS.
Barack Obama PWS/1.1.29 (please tell me that’s not Personal Web Server!) PHP
Joe Biden Zope/(Zope 2.7.8-final, python 2.3.5, linux2) ZServer/1.1 ?Python?/PHP
Chris Dodd Apache/2.2.3 (Debian) PHP/5.2.0-8+etch7  PHP (looks like Drupal)
Mike Gravel Apache/2 on Unknown PHP (looks like Drupal)
Dennis Kucinich Apache/2.0.52 (Red Hat) PHP/5.0.4
Bill Richardson Zope/(Zope 2.7.8-final, python 2.3.6, linux2) ZServer/1.1 PHP (looks like Drupal)

Front End

Candidate Markup Layout Charset HTTP Compression Syndication Format
Hillary Clinton HTML4 Trans CSS UTF-8 No. ATOM
John Edwards HTML4 Trans CSS UTF-8 No RSS2
Barack Obama HTML4 Trans CSS ISO-8859-1 Yes
Joe Biden XHTML Trans CSS UTF-8 No RSS2 via (not via <link/>).
Chris Dodd XHTML Trans CSS UTF-8 No RSS2
Mike Gravel XHTML Trans Mostly table based layout ISO-8859-1 Yes
Dennis Kucinich XHTML Trans Mostly CSS based ISO-8859-1 No
Bill Richardson XHTML Trans CSS ISO-8859-1 Yes RSS2

Etc

Candidate Analytics Notable Library Usage Other Notes
Hillary Clinton Google Analytics in the <head/>. Prototype (commented out), SWFObject.
John Edwards Google Analytics on the bottom of the page. Prototype Interestingly, John Edwards has a rather prominent note about the use of  Creative Commons Licensing in the footer.  The only candidate to do so.
Barack Obama Google Analytics on the bottom of the page.
Joe Biden Sitemeter on the bottom of the page. SWFObject
Chris Dodd Google Analytics in the head of the page. jQuery Chris Dodd seems to be part of the whole “drop the ‘www'” campaign.  The only site that insists on redirecting to the non www url.
Mike Gravel
Dennis Kucinich
Bill Richardson Google Analytics on the bottom of the page. Prototype, SWFObject

Republicans

Backend

Candidate Platform Framework/Frontend
Rudy Guliani Apache/2.0.52 (CentOS) PHP/5.1.6 (CakePHP)
John McCain Microsoft-IIS/6.0 ASP.NET
Mitt Romney Apache/2.0.52 (Red Hat)
Fred Thompson Microsoft-IIS/6.0 ASP.NET/PHP/
WordPress (with podpress plugin)
Mike Huckabee Microsoft-IIS/6.0 ASP.NET/ColdFusion
Duncan Hunter Microsoft-IIS/6.0 ASP.NET
Tom Tancredo Apache/2.0.52 (Red Hat) PHP/5.2.1
TypePad (Blog)
Ron Paul Apache/2.0.52 (Red Hat) PHP/5.2.5 (MoonPHP)

Front End

Candidate Markup CSS Charset HTTP Compression Syndication Format
Rudy Guliani XHTML Strict CSS layout UTF-8 No. RDF (FeedCreator 1.7.2)
John McCain XHTML (NO DOCTYPE) CSS ISO-8859-1 Yes RSS2
Mitt Romney XHTML Trans CSS ISO-8859-1 No RSS2
Fred Thompson XHTML Trans CSS UTF-8 No RSS2 (via feedburner)
Mike Huckabee XHTML Transitional / CSS layout UTF-8 No RSS2
Duncan Hunter XHTML (No Doctype) CSS ISO-8859-1 No
Tom Tancredo XHTML Trans CSS ISO-8859-1 No Atom (found on blog)
Ron Paul XHTML Trans CSS UTF-8 No Atom /RSS (on blog with atom first)

Etc

Candidate Analytics Notable Library Usage Other Notes
Rudy Guliani Google Analytics and Quantcast on the bottom of the page. Prototype, Scriptaculous Interestingly has a Mobile CSS on the home page.  Also no real “blog” since the blog mostly seems to point to other places.
John McCain Hitbox on the bottom of the page. Seems to have markup generated with Dreamweaver.  See notes below on that.  Also seems to be using a page scraper to static cache the home page as “PageScraperService” is seen on the bottom.
Mitt Romney Omniture on the bottom of the page. mootools See notes below about analytics
Fred Thompson Google Analytics (strangely loaded via SSL) in the head of the page. JW FLV PLAYER
Mike Huckabee Google Analytics on the bottom of the page. SWFObject, Prototype.js, Scriptaculous
Duncan Hunter ypSlideOutMenu Seems to have markup generated with Dreamweaver.  See notes below on that.
Tom Tancredo Google Analytics and Quantcast on the bottom of the page. Prototype, Scriptaculous
Ron Paul Google Analytics on the bottom of the page. Unobtrusive Flash Objects, Simple AJAX Code-Kit

Notes

Dreamweaver: Surprisingly, there are a few sites in the mix that seem to have been made with Dreamweaver. The telltale sign is the following code:

function MM_swapImgRestore() { //v3.0
}

Analytics: I included this because I found it particularly interesting. For a few reasons:

  • Some use free services like Google Analytics (boy does Google know a lot about all the candidates traffic), some go open (Quantcast) and some apparently use server logs only.
  • Positioning of the analytics code in the footer, which ensures a pageview means the entire page loaded, vs. the top where it’s possible a pageview is counted and a full page didn’t load but shows intent better. Both practices are common on the web, it’s a matter of preference.
  • Some I saw even used Quantcast. This was very interesting as they give a fair amount of data regarding the traffic. For example Rudy Giuliani‘s traffic is currently:

    fairly wealthy, more educated, slightly more female than male crowd.

  • Most sites included a privacy policy, though a few were either hard to find or don’t exist. I didn’t think this was worth including in my breakdown.

Data collection method: The data for this blog post was mostly done on the evening of November 24, 2007 by myself. The character set was however Firefox 2.0.0.x interprets the page. HTML validation was checked by submitting to the W3C validator. All other analysis was done by eye. Some things were a little bit of a judgment call, such as CSS layout. I didn’t generally penalize if a table was used, it depends how it was used, and the context. I viewed source on all of them, and spent some time looking around while collecting data. I didn’t view every page on every site, since that would drive me insane. Most of the data is based on the homepages unless otherwise specified.

Hope you enjoyed my web analysis

69 thoughts on “Secrets In Websites II

  1. Hmm, another comment not directly related the article.
    I’m annoyed by some pages that promote non-IE browsers. Instead of positively checking if IE is used, and ocmplain if it is, they check for FF and complains (Shows a switch message) if it FF is not being used. For me as an Opera user that is annoying.

    If you wonder, Opera stopped identifying itself as IE some years ago, so it’s not that. But when it happens, I can of course ues mask as FF, and all is fine.

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  9. I saw the little wordpress smilie on one of my blogs and couldn’t figure out what in the hell it was or where it came from … let alone how to move it. At least now I don’t think I’m quite as crazy 😛

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  11. Oops, i meant to say “!– Delicious Delicacies for bots… humans just ignore ;-). –!”, the tag messed it up.

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