F.A.Q. : The Site

Staff Only
Edit Page

Is your site Commercial?

No. Absolutely not.

Having said that, we do offer links to Amazon.Com and pass the affiliate ID of our ISP. They (our ISP) collects a small comission, as some sort of partial recompense for the free hosting that they give us.

This absolutely does not affect our reviewing of any item. If you have a look through our book reviews, you'll find that we give poor web ratings to many books, and there is no correlation between the presence of an Amazon referral link and the quality of the rating.

We strive to reference every Spider-Man book and comic ever produced. If it is present on Amazon, we link to it. The staff reviewing the books receive no reward for giving a better or worse review.

We do frequently link to commercial sites, especially from our News page. Often we quote press releases or provide other information about special promotions. We do this purely out of good will, and purely on good faith. We do not purport to have evaluated any products or services. We never receive any commission ever from companies for whom we provide this publicity. Never. We frequently receive offers of comissions, and decline them without exception.

We do occasionally receive advance copies of books to review, or receive samples of products for the purpose of review. This doesn't happen very often, and we always mention it when it does so that you can consider it as a factor when you evaluate our reviews.

Can we place an advertisement on your site?

No. Absolutely not.

Would SpiderFan like to be our affiliate site?

Probably not. We have a wonderful affiliate relationship with ComicBoards. Other than that, we're very happy being totally independent.

So thanks, but no thanks. We don't want to become a sister site, or run a shared promotion to boost traffic. We don't want to link to you in return for a share of revenue. We definitely don't want to run your banner ads or other marketing material.

We do appreciate the sentiment. But we don't need to complicate our lives.

We wish you all the best with your commercial or affiliated site venture. If you want us to link to your site, see the following F.A.Q.

Would SpiderFan like to swap banners with my site?

Thanks, but the answer is still no.

I guess you haven't noticed yet, but we don't actually have any banners or ads on our site. It's just not something we do. SpiderFan doesn't need to post banners on anybody elses site. If people are looking for Spidey stuff that we have, Google will send them our way. We don't need to advertise.

But don't give up just yet. Check out the following F.A.Q. question. Maybe we can do something for you.

Will SpiderFan please add a link to my site?

Sure, we'll add you to our Links Page, assuming of course that you meet the criteria of our Linking Policy.

If you fall into one of the categories of sites that we link to, then kindly email Steve Christensen and give him the details:

  1. Your URL
  2. The Name of your site.
  3. What category you belong to.

Please note, we will not add any banners or graphics for links.

Do similar sites exist for other characters?

The internet is full of fan web-sites about Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, Mashed Potato Boy, etc. You name it, there's a ton of info out there on the subject.

Folks sometimes ask us to point them at similar sites on other topics. That's kind of like stepping into an paint shop and saying "This is a really nice paint shop you've got there. I need you to help me find a florist shop that's as good as this paint shop. The kindest thing they will do is let you borrow their Yellow Pages and a telephone.

Of course, when we do stumble across other related sites, we put them in our Links Page. Check it out, there are some great Marvel sites in there, plus a few other Spidey-style pages that we really like.

But really, if you're searching for a Green Hornet site that has in depth reviews and a massively detailed cross-referenced database like SpiderFan, then you really need to figure out how to use Google, 'cos we're really not going to do that for you.

How did you create this web site?

The site started in 1993. I had Internet access at work, and I saw that this cool new technology might have a bit of a future. I created a website, basically so I could learn about CGI, HTML, and all those brand new things. Learn by doing, that's me.

The web-site started as "The Marvel On-Line Quiz Site", but gradually became Spidey-Specific, and much broader in content than just a few on-line quizzes.

After a year or two, I started getting offers of help - many of which I accepted. We now have a pool of around 30 part-time staff, of which 15 or so seem to be active contributors at any given time.

Nearly all of the site text content is now stored in a PostgreSQL database. A web-based application allows staff to create and edit the reviews, items, articles held within that database.

Whenever a change is made to the HTML content, or a new image is uploaded, then a powerful, custom Perl script performs a rebuild of any affected pages. This produces static HTML content which can be served very efficiently indeed, which means the production server has very low CPU requirements for hosting the site.

The database and working "development" copy of the site is held on the development/build machine which resides in my study in New Zealand. Overnight every 24 hours, the development copy of the site is synchronized to the production U.S. server which is hosted courtesy of ComicBoards.

How come all the JPG images are broken on SpiderFan?

They're not. Just because you see little boxes with "X" in them doesn't mean that it's Spiderfan that's broken. Most likely, you've configured something so that SpiderFan thinks those images are being used on somebody else's website. So it's blocking them deliberately.

First, you have to understand what "deep linking" is. That's when other sites (i.e. not SpiderFan) directly reference an image that lives on the SpiderFan site. Why would they do that? Well, by referencing our images, the website gets the advantage of offering you the image, but they don't have to pay for the network traffic when you download that image.

Deep linking an image is called "leeching". It's basically "stealing". Worse - it's like stealing a car, then coming back each week to steal petrol too! Sites that leech steel content and bandwidth. We don't like that. So we have a mechanism in place that blocks that.

The way this mechanism works is that whenever you load an image, we insist that the image is embedded in a SpiderFan web page, and NOT in somebody elses web-site. In technical terms, that means that we insist that the "Referrer" header on any http image request is from the SpiderFan domain. Whenever your browser (IE or FireFix or whatever) makes a request for an image, it passes the Referrer header to say what web page the request came from.

It is possible for some sites to use the Referrer header somewhat like a cookie, so they can track which sites you visit. They can't identify you, but they can say "Oh, some guy visited site A, then B, then C." I guess they use it for high-level marketing purposes. It doesn't really bother me, but some people don't like it.

So that's why there are a number of ways that you can disable the Referrer header.

  1. Some FireFox extensions that allow you toE.g. "refspoof", "Stealthier". You can manually do it in FireFox by entering the URL "about:config" and setting the the FireFix configuration parameter "network.http.sendRefererHeader" to a value other than "2".
  2. Some firewall software such as Norton Internet Security and Norton Personal Firewall have options to disable referral headers. With Norton I believe that under "Privacy Control -> Configure -> Advanced" you can request that referer headers be sent to some websites, but not others.

If you have done any of the above, you are slightly more protected. But the good news ends there. Anything that blocks the Referrer header from being correctly sent will stop you from being shown any of the JPG images on SpiderFan. Instead you will get a "403 - Forbidden" error.

A better solution if you want to stop being tracked like that is to swap to using FireFox and install the wonderful FireFox extension AdBlock. If you configure it properly it will not only stop you being tracked, but will also make pages load faster!

Why isn't (Spider-Lizard, Doppelganger, etc.) in the costumes section?

Because at the moment, it's just a costumes section. It doesn't include clones, evil transformations, mystical or bio-genetic transformations or cross-mutations, etc. Just costumes! Yes, we will probably get around to adding these, but everything takes time.

We know about the gap, and we appreciate your input. What we would really appreciate is somebody with a vast knowledge of Spider-Man, an experience in HTML, a scanner, and plenty of spare time to actually do all that stuff for us! If that's you, then for goodness' sake Mail Me.

Where's the Variant Covers for (Spidey Appearance in XYZ)?

Some time around the middle of 2010, Marvel's Variant Covers went completely out of control. In a desperate attempt to retain our sanity and our financial solvency, as of July 2010 we only list variant covers for core Spider-Man (and Spider-Woman and Spider-Girl) titles.

For a complete list of what is included and not included in the Spider-Fan comics database, please read our Comic Inclusion Guidelines.

Why don't you review (comic X, villain Y, etc.)?

So you've got a great idea for a new feature, comic review, favourite villain or ally we should have on the site? Well, it may surprise you, but we already have plenty of our own great ideas that we sadly can't seem to find the time to make happen!

If you have a great idea, then you're welcome to Mail Me - but you'll get a far more enthusiastic response if you're also offering the time and resources to help put the idea into practice.

And yes, we know that Blade, Captain America, <insert whoever> is missing from the Spidey Friends page. Thanks!

Why don't you add the Ultimate Spider-Man Characters?

Because we just don't have time. All the staff give as much time as they can spare, and we still struggle to get PPP out each month. The characters we do have already need constant updating. Basically, if we can't do something properly, we just won't take it on.

Maybe one day, if we finish ALL the regular universe characters then we might give Ultimate a go, but for now, we're just not going to bite off more than we can chew. Sorry. Naturally, the same also goes for the MC2 universe and the 2099 universe.

Of course, we do get people writing and saying "Hey, I'll help". That's a million times better than an email just telling us how crap we are for not doing it, but it's not necessarily a perfect answer. Even if people do help, it still takes time to train people up and get them writing profiles. Then it takes time to file and categorise the profiles.

Then, the next problem is that even if somebody does get keen and write up two or three profiles before running out of steam and just dropping out of sight, we'd then be left with five Ultimate profiles out of fifty. We would get a ton of email from people pointing out all the other characters we have to do - and we've just created more work and more bad press than before!

So, if you are thinking about complaining about our lack of Ultimate/2099/MC2 profiles, then you'd better be prepared to get off yer lazy butt and actually help. And if you're going to help, it would be great if you knew a little bit about writing for a website, a bit about HTML, and most importantly if you realised that you were taking on the job of writing dozens of character profiles and were prepared to stick the job out to the end!

Well, you did ask.

What Happened to the SpiderFun comic strip?

Quite simply, I lost my artist, Heather. She just disappeared off the face of the earth, and I haven't been able to find a way to get back in contact with her. Heather, if you're out there... come back to me! Forgive me!

You can still read the old Fans : Spider-Fun comic strips from 2004-2008, but there won't be any new ones until I can find a replacement artist.