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Opposites Attract: Vice And Religion Draw Heavy Web Traffic

Web tracking firm Jupiter Media Metrix found that religion and gambling were popular sites in December.
Vice and religion were popular among Web surfers in December. Among the new sites to break the 500,000-unique-visitors mark were those focused on spiritual growth and gambling, according to site tracker Jupiter Media Metrix.

Sites offering spiritual advice have been a recurring theme among new sites over recent months, the research firm says. The big winners in December were Interviewwithgod.com, which offers movies titled, Interview With Jesus, The Lord's Prayer, and God Is Light, and Greatday.com, which provides daily motivational passages with titles like, "Convince Yourself," "Happy New Everything," and "Fear This?" The sites garnered 617,000 and 511,000 unique visitors, respectively. "These types of sites are getting a lot of viral growth--people passing them on through instant messaging and E-mail," says Jupiter analyst Billy Pidgeon.

Appealing to a different side of human behavior was Gambleup.com, a search engine that helped 904,000 surfers find gambling or gaming sites. While he doesn't know why Gambleup attracted so many visitors, Pidgeon says there has been an increase in the number of gaming and gambling sites, probably riding on the popularity of promotional sweepstakes offered by sites that gather visitors' personal data to sell to spamming companies and direct marketers. Pop-up windows are a popular way of taking people to gambling sites.

Other portal and search sites attracted enough visitors to warrant tracking by Jupiter. Netster.com, which provides search and portal features to people redirected to the site after mistyping a URL, got 3 million visitors; Pluckie.com, a search engine that has users nominate listings, drew 878,000 surfers; and Spanish-language portal Ubbi.com attracted 569,000 visitors.

As expected, holiday-related sites were also popular newcomers in December. Noradsanta.com, the Santa-tracking site of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, was among the most popular in the category with 1.6 million visitors looking for Saint Nick.

While the numbers may be interesting, Pidgeon cautioned against trying to draw any social trends from Jupiter's Web numbers. "It's somewhat futile to track social trends among Internet users," he says. "People behave differently when they're anonymous. They sometimes behave better and other times worse than in real life."

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