Stichting Antenna as a webhoster: An exploratory analysis of the “Antenna index”

by wb

To test the accuracy of claims about its activities as a webhoster a sample of 94 websites 
categorized by Antenna as "from Antenna" out of the “Antenna Index” was analyzed. 
Only 34 passed the test.

How accurate and truthful is the information Stichting Antenna presents on its Website? Since the projects on front-pages of foundations regularly serve marketing and self-presentational purposes, an overview can only be won by looking deeper and wider. Within its “Index” Antenna lists the wide variety of its hosting activities. Are these organizations really related to Antenna, what is their state?

Antenna stresses that this index is „under development“, but even with this disclaimer the index is besides a frontpage the most elaborated and only further information Antenna presents to the public. If „under development“ implies „outdated, unreliable, and partly false“ Antenna should state that.

Standard 5 of the ICFO requires besides „regularly“ preparation of information that the information should be comprehensive and presented in easily understood formats.

Both is not the case. Within the categories standardization is lacking. In addition, Antenna hosts in several countries. The customer base making this necessary is not evident or laid out by Antenna.

Question:

How accurate is the information Stichting Antenna gives about its hosting activities in its index?

Method

A sample of the Index was taken out of those categories in which Antenna differentiates and states explicitly by subcategorizing that the websites are „from Antenna“.

The websites were visited and the corresponding who-is information was looked up. The websites were then categorized into three classes:

  • ok (associated to Antenna by who-is, maintained)
  • defunct (Error 404, does not work, is empty, changed content completely)
  • no(is not associated to Antenna by whois) or routed (rerouted to an outside host)

It was sufficient to get an „ok“ if Antenna was named as host or provided the DNS-server. Further involvement into the development of the websites was not checked, but the majority of the websites seemed not to have been created or designed by Antenna.

We checked 94 sites named and categorized by Antenna. They represent the majority of all sites named in the “Index” of the website of Stichting Antenna under the explicit label „from“ Antenna. Multinational hosting and multiple domain names for customers (or entities of Antenna) make it difficult to assess the number of domains hosted by and customers of Antenna exactly.

For Antenna.nl the analysis tool “robtex.com” lists 140 domains using its mailserver. Analysis tools “dnsdigger.com” and “dnslist.com” list a much higher number, namely several hundred domains for each of two identified name servers. The cause of this big discrepancy cannot be explained by the author. Many customers seem to route their mail not with Antenna possibly for pricing reasons. A small sample taken indicates however that the data of “dnsdigger.com” seem reliable.

In consequence, the representativeness of the sample for sites hosted by Stichting Antenna as a whole cannot be established. The sample reflects however the presentation of Antenna on its website.

Results

The results are shown in Table 1.  For our sample overall 36.17 percent of the websites passed the criterion „ok“. The category “consumer issues“ fared best, the category “human rights” worst.

Category Sites checked

Antenna (Host, DNS)

Defunct

Not associated

Percentage ok

Index Consumentenbronnen

14

7

4

3

50,00%

Index Gezondheidsvraagstukken

18

8

5

5

44,44%

Index Mensenrechte

20

5

7

8

25,00%

Index Religie

42

14

13

15

33,33%

Sums

94

34

29

31

36,17%

Table 1: The status of websites Antenna claims to be “from” Antenna.

Interpretation

All error here should be attributed to Stichting Antenna, since adherence to Standard 5 would have made this exploratory analysis unnecessary. In fact, perfection is hard to achieve and some human error is permissible. In addition, sampling and the fact that indexes often lag a bit behind have to be considered.

However, these results indicate that false claims in the category „from Antenna“ are certainly not just isolated events. In contrast: Close to 66 percent of the sites failed. Therefore it seems warranted to say that a significant part of Antenna’s claims with regard to website hosting is not correct.

It is up to Stichting Antenna to explain the reasons which might reach from pure negligence to marketing considerations. With regard to negligence Antenna states, however, to have changed its frontpage over 500 times in the last 20 years. At least three prominent organizations are displayed as part of the portfolio which left for long: Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the Doctors without Borders.

A detailed analysis is not necessary to support the claim but also the index for users of “Antenna Cobra” is certainly not state of the art with regard to customers using or being coupled to it. In fact, the system seems to have only a few users left most likely because free open source advances outdated this licence fees oriented approach