Spoofing Browser Agents

I mentioned yesterday that the only way to use Lexis-Nexis with Mozilla is to “spoof” your browser agent, to pretend to be Netscape. Dan’s Web Tips has an interesting article describing the problems with spoofed user agents. He makes a very good point: certain websites only allow Internet Explorer (or maybe IE and Netscape), so in order to get in, you have to pretend to be using one of those browsers. The site administrators see that everyone trying to access their site is using IE, and so they get the impression they’re not excluded anyone. The result is a vicious circle where alternative browser marketshare is underestimated because of the unreliability of user agent strings, and site administrators don’t think they need to fix anything.