Whacking G****e back - The Snow In The Summer or So-So

10 May 2008
Pools panel verdict: no-score draw

Sometimes, on the very rare occasion, there is something of minor value in spam. So it was with one that plopped through our inbox recently from someone who was trying to sell us snake oil search-engine optimisation:

We can guarantee you top ten positions in G****e, or your money back [...]
The number of incoming G****e links: 0

Two thoughts arose. First, given that we already have an optimal position in G****e, why should we pay these people one new penny. And second, hey, we have an optimal position in G****e. Our main aim, of disrupting G****e's operation to a point that its index becomes clearly less useful, is complete.

For instance, a search for John Major's mistress on Clusty recently returned our feature article in top place, ahead of the column from Steve Platt of the New Statesman, and a re-print of an interview with Ms Latimer. Run the same search through Scroogle, and we're nowhere. The single most useful article (as determined by Clusty, it's not just us blowing our own trumpet) about Clare Latimer is invisible to G****e's remaining few users.

It's from this point that we review the discussion on Mr. GB's blog about our position against G****e from a couple of weeks ago. Snape's Babe wrote,

Iain Weaver is a lovely bloke

[blushes] Thank you, a great compliment, especially considering the source.

I find myself unable to read his blog so often due to his weird locking system and stuff that I have taken the RSS feed off my list in frustration.

To put it bluntly, this Should Not Be Happening, and it is regrettable that Ms Babe did not alert us to the problems. All links from places that are not the unmentionable advertising brokerage (or blatant spam engines) should be honoured without error.

If it's any comfort, we've beefed up our error tracking, and put in some more meaningful error pages. Not that anyone should see the latter, causing the former to be redundant, but Stuff Happens.

Mr. GB added

Only he doesn't trust OpenID either, thus you need to register with him...

This deserves a similar explanation some other time. In ten words: DNS spoofing; single point of failure; almost impossible to repudiate.

Edit: The Trouble with YADIS was published on 25 June.

Andrew Hickey says,

Not allowing incoming links from some sites defeats the whole purpose of the web, the open access to information.

Mr. Hickey is right that the web is about the information being interesting, not the computers. However, G****e is not about the information, it's about repurposing other people's work so that it can profit. So far as G****e is concerned, it's not about the information, but the advertising. We find that to be a greater breach of Berners-Lee's philosophy, made worse by its ubiquity, and by society's unquestioning acceptance. If anyone is to profit from our website, it should be us.

Unfortunately, Google's power appears to be essentially an emergent phenomenon, and there's not much you can do about it short of reprogramming everyone's brain.

We seem to recall hearing much the same about the inevitable rise of communism, and Labour being completely unelectable. G****e is the dominant player at the moment, probably because it epitomises the vulture capitalism that's defined the last couple of decades. Now is not the end of history.

Google is still the best search engine around

We disagree, for reasons we've explained above. It's not just the relatively obscure topic of Miss Latimer; a search on Clusty for the world's worst interviewer, Kay Burley, puts Inner Brat's petition at number 4; G****e has it down at 11.

Finally, Fox Fire Fey asked the rhetorical question,

is that supposed to accomplish anything other than annoy people using Google?

...as though doing so were a bad thing. We regret causing inconvenience; G****e has no regrets about profiting from other people's work.

In summary

The first part of our campaign has finished: G****e is now demonstrably less useful than it would be were it indexing our site, and does not feature any links to us. We can therefore reduce the aggressive re-directs in our campaign. With effect from 3 May, the following rules have been in effect:

The readme file has been amended.

We still believe that G****e is a fundamentally evil project, and that those who continue working for it are - at the very best - acting in an ethically poor manner.

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