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May 31, 2006

The Absolute Write diaspora: caches and contributions
Posted by Teresa at 03:06 AM *

See my previous post on this ongoing crisis.

Here’s the latest:

AW’s former hosting service, JC-Hosting/TotalWeb International Net Consulting of Nashville, TN, is being bizarrely intransigent about restoring AW’s databases to their owner, Jenna Glatzer. They’ve now blown off three deadlines for returning the databases. There are lawyers. It’s an ugly situation.

Jenna’s asking for help:

I’m sorry I have to ask. But I have to ask. This is now a full week with almost no site income, and bills piling up all over the place. Once again today, JC-Hosting missed their deadline and their lawyer made no contact with ours.

We remain committed to getting back our property (our databases) and it appears we will have to take legal action to do so. In the meantime, along with the help of some wonderful volunteers and some wonderful paid staff, I’m going to begin rebuilding the forums from the Google cache pages.

If you are able to help with a donation, I would appreciate it immensely. This is the Paypal button:

(The Paypal button is on Jenna’s site. Go there to interact with it.)

If you’d prefer to send a check or money order, the address is:

Absolute Write
PO Box 621
Islip, NY 11751

Thank you again for the tremendous moral support throughout this ordeal. Your words have meant so much not only to me, but to Charlie and Amy and our amazing moderators, who all care deeply about the site and the people who hang around it.

Meanwhile, over at the Absolute Write Refugee Camp, the AW community in exile has begun a project: recovering as much of the AW message base as possible from online caches. It’s discussed in the comment thread of my previous post, here and here. More to the point:
Basic instructions on how to search for one AW page at a time

Coordinating lists of what’s been grabbed so far and what still needs to be grabbed, here and here.

Shweta’s Perl Script, and instructions on how to use it.

The overall area for the Google Cache Project.

Act quickly. Caches expire.

Anyone else who’s kept a stash of AW text should go talk to the coordination thread.

We’re looking for a database angel.

Paging Lisa Spangenberg, paging Lisa Spangenberg, please note this comment.

The Mighty Dawno, she of the Sparkly Ears, has put up a CafePress site in support of Absolute Write.

Finally, HapiSofi opines in correspondence that:

The truly predatory con-artist agents and publishers couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present. AW was the biggest repository of ground-level information about them on the Internet.

Credit and thanks to Jim Macdonald, Roger Carlson, Shweta, Lori (Birol), and Dawno: Never give up, never surrender.
Comments on The Absolute Write diaspora: caches and contributions:
#1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Guys, give me corrections and additions as they come up, and I'll incorporate them into the main entry as quickly as I can.

#2 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:07 PM:

For the life of me, I can't understand why JC-Hosting refuses to return the database. Would it really be so difficult for them to retain a copy of it? James Cordray said he wanted to keep it as evidence of something or other, but why does he refuse to return at least a copy?

I wonder if he's holding out for a promise that he won't be sued, or some kind of apology.

The forums are Jenna's property, aren't they?

#3 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:09 PM:

comment thread of my previous post, here and here. More to the point:

Bad link on the second "here"

Sincerely,
BadLinkGuy

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:13 PM:

As far as I know, none of the AW contingent knows why JC Hosting is holding onto it either. I can't improve on the adjective I've already used: it's a bizarre and ugly situation.

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:40 PM:

I hope that links to Jenna's plea, and copies of her Paypal button, spread out across the blogosphere the way the links to the Twenty Worst list did.

(And if folks can find it in their hearts and pockets to send some cash to AW that wouldn't hurt either. The sound you hear is popping champagne corks in Boca Raton, Florida, and Frederick, Maryland.)

#6 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:44 PM:

I've already posted a link on my livejournal.

#7 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Thanks, Teresa.

#8 ::: CaoPaux ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Thank you, Teresa. May your editing pencil never go dull.

#9 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:11 PM:

My guess is, and this is pure speculation that is being pulled out of the part of me that sits on my chair, that when these folks panicked and took down the site, they just deleted it. Now they have a feeling that maybe that was a bad idea, and they're stonewalling. They had some techs try to recover the data, and they can't, and they're not saying anything because their laywer told them to keep quiet and ride it out, rather than admit to anything.

Just a guess, and I hope I'm wrong.

#10 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:25 PM:

I'd have to agree with Sean, though I hope I'm wrong too.

#11 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Thank you Teresa for all the wonderful support you are offering here. Especially for listing all the efforts in support of Absolute Write.

As for the CafePress store, more stuff to come - I have a whole bunch of sparkly elves working overtime on the graphics for new better stuffs.

I would like to use the 20 Agents list on one (or more) of the products - is there anyone here who can contact Victoria or Ann for me about that permission?

(shouldn't be doing this at work...)

#12 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:40 PM:

Can Google and the like be contacted directly for help in retriving all the cache info? Is it possible to ask them to set it aside as it were?

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:48 PM:

Google? No idea.

Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss have joint weblog. Victoria has a website of her own. So does Ann. You can write directly to Victoria at victoria@victoriastrauss.com, and to Ann at accrispin@accrispin.com.

Go ahead. They're very nice.

#14 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:50 PM:

It really breaks my heart that this happened. That uncle Jim's thread was pure gold. I'm paypaling now.

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:57 PM:

Sean? That was my thought when I heard that they'd blown off the first deadline. I've been trying hard not to think that, because it would be such a boneheaded piece of careless vandalism; but when a kid tells you three times they're going to turn in an assignment, and they have an excuse all three times, you have to figure it doesn't exist.

#16 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:57 PM:

Not sure if they've been looking @ archive.org, but their caches are meant to be permanent. It's not responding for me right now, but it's worth looking there if it ever returns any data:

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://absolutewrite.com

#17 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:58 PM:

Google won't help directly; I've already tried asking as a Google consultant.

What AW Water Cooler (the forum) will need in order to deal with all the thousands of cached files is a programmer with parsing skills in a scripting language -- my first thought is Perl, but Ruby or PHP might work -- to This person needs to write several scripts. First a script that:

A. Removes the Google signature text
Chunks the information into separate "records," one for each post, and then each record into the data for the "fields" and puts this into a new delimited file. This would need to match the vBulletin schema, since vBulletin is the forum software
B. Second, a script that goes through the parsed delimited file and inserts the various chunks into the MySQL table, where the data goes.

Assuming I'm not insane, and that this is even viable, and that Jenna decides to go this route.

So if you've got skills like that, please post in this thread, or email me and I'll make sure someone with power authority and wits gets the note.

I should add that this is pro bono, but I suspect would make a nice c.v. entry and I'd be willing to do what I could to make your career flourish.

#18 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Eric, Wayback archives fixed pages. The AW message boards were dynamic. There'll be some AW material there, but the majority of it won't have been saved.

#19 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:22 PM:

I though archive.org was a bit more comprehensive than just static. Not that I can check now though.

As for the scripting bits, it shouldn't be too hard to pull out the post information in a semi structured manner, since all the posts have html ids that correspond to the database post id. (e.g., the post in in a table with an id="post#####", the content in a div with id=post_message_#####, and so on with poster, date posted, and quoting.

The bigggest tricks would be to tidy up the html to produce something that would load into an xml parser and to make sure that all of the forum posts were in the same template. I think htmltidy could probably do the first, and the second might be ok if all the cached pages are from the same template design.

I'd be willing to spend some time on that.

eric

#20 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Unmitigated bizarreness. The cynic in me says they're holding back for assurances of some kind. Given the reaction here, I can imagine JC Hosting has been flooded with angry emails and phone calls. Would someone in the business of hosting really just delete a database? I can't fathom it.

I think we need a corollary to the rule: Nothing on the Internet disappears:

Corollary1: Unless someone does something stupid.
Corollary2: But it hides in a billion places.

#21 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:36 PM:

"A. Removes the Google signature text
Chunks the information into separate "records," one for each post, and then each record into the data for the "fields" and puts this into a new delimited file. This would need to match the vBulletin schema, since vBulletin is the forum software
B. Second, a script that goes through the parsed delimited file and inserts the various chunks into the MySQL table, where the data goes."

I suppose as follows:

Use Google API to get all cached pages, tops out at a certain number of requests but if we get a number of IDs we can go ahead and get all the pages.

I don't have much experience running MySql, I've installed it before and updated tables, converted from legacy encodings to UTF-8 and similar things but it is not my cup of tea. But if someone can provide SQL statements that will work with MySql I can get it to work.

But there may well be others in this community more suitable to this task than me, my main employement is as a specialist in markup technologies for the Danish Government, providing help in the National UBL Ebusiness project, somewhat different stuff.

Contact me through the email rasmussen.bryan at Gmail.com since the bry@itnisk.com one is an old one I still use in the comments so as to provide continuity.

#22 ::: bonniers ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:48 PM:

Posted at Forward Motion, and on my LJ.

#23 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:51 PM:

The only thought worse than they deleted it would be they're hacking and editing it.

#24 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:59 PM:

Not only Google but Yahoo info as well. Some files that are no longer avaliable at Google can be found on Yahoo and vice versa.

I know enough HTML to do a basic cleaning of the files I retreived before I send them to whoever is going to recreate the forums but I won't dare to go near programming something like what we need here. ;)

In case those incompetenties actually deleted the data, can Jenna sue them for recompensation? It won't replace the lost data of course, but it could help her to pay for new hosting, a professional programmer and such.

#25 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:09 PM:

Donation made, and yet another post on my LJ detailing the saga. I don't think I've ever posted on AW, but I've lurked there for years and found it very useful. I want it back.

#26 ::: Roger J Carlson ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:26 PM:

I am in AWE at the job the Absolute Refugees have done in rescuing AW from the jaws of Google oblivion. This is not a technologically oriented community. Oh sure, some of us are techno-geeks in our day jobs, but the majority are not. And yet they have bent to the task with a will that is inspiring to watch. They've stepped up, learned things they thought they'd never learn and done things they could never have imagined doing.

It makes my contribution of setting up the AW Refugee Camp trivial by comparison.

I know of other on-line communities that would have shrugged their shoulders and wandered over to Writers.net to see what was going on there. But not this crew. It says volumes about their commitment to Jenna and the Absolute Write community. People who disparage this as a "lovefest" have no idea how right they are.

I wish I could name everyone involved. I know I'd inevitably miss some. But I just want to send you all a huge THANK YOU!

#27 ::: DJT ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:38 PM:

TW said: The only thought worse than they deleted it would be they're hacking and editing it.

I considered this too – but that would be incredibly stupid. Time stamps, admin logs, etc that’s a lot of data to be “fixing” to hide any tampering. And of course, there are now copies of pages on so many different machines across the planet . . . well, it would just be foolish to try and edit pages to prove they were justified in pulling the site. They can’t be that dumb – can they?

-DJT

#28 ::: Peggy ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:56 PM:

bryan said: Use Google API to get all cached pages, tops out at a certain number of requests but if we get a number of IDs we can go ahead and get all the pages.

There are directions here (Windows or Mac OSX) for running a perl script to automatically download pages from the Google and Yahoo caches.

It only allows about 1000 pages to be downloaded at a time, so it would be great if more people were doing it.

#29 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:02 PM:

They can’t be that dumb – can they?

Hm, wasn't it Einstein who said there were two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, though he wasn't sure about the universe?

#30 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:03 PM:

DJT, we can only hope they are not that dumb/underhanded. But if they were smart this never would have happend in the first place right? Most likly is that they are trying to wait it out. Ride out the storm till it blows over from some one giving up.

I just had this mental image of IT guys doing what office mangers in desperation of being caught do; shred papers or pack them to home for adjustment. As the husband who works in security points out, people do strange and stupid things in panic that makes them more likly to get caught.

#31 ::: Cathy C ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:05 PM:

AW loyalists should be pleased to learn that I have, along with several other TERRIFIC volunteers, salvaged over 400 individual threads on the Bewares & Backgrounds Check forum. Those who are regulars there know that not only scammer publishers and agents show up in B&BC--there are many, MANY legit companies who have glowing recommendations and discussions of their current needs. (But yes, I made sure I cached the scam threads first...hate to lose those! :) )

I was reminded today on another site that AW isn't merely the sum of its database, but a community of individuals whose collective knowledge CAN easily rebuild the data from scratch--if necessary. We hope it won't be necessary and the database will be restored to Jenna intact.

I've already made my donation to the rebuild fund, and have linked it on my blog and website. We're grateful for anyone who chooses to donate, since many authors are indeed of the "starving" variety.

Thanks and see you again soon at the new, IMPROVED AW!

Cathy C
AW Romance Moderator

#32 ::: Jackie Kessler ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Thanks for keeping the faith, Teresa! Already blogged about this. I have serious PayPal issues, but my check is going in the mail tonight. And continued thanks to Mac, Roger, Cathy, Lori, Charlie, Dawno, Kira, Jim and everyone working feverishly to rebuild.

#33 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:15 PM:

It's easy to imagine an incompetent admin going to a terminal in a panic and typing "DELETE ALL".

It's less easy to imagine that they also went through every single one of their backups for the last few years and deleted those, as well.

Assuming, of course, that they had backups. Which may be assuming too much.

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:19 PM:

T.W.: "The only thought worse than they deleted it would be they're hacking and editing it."

Granted that we have yet to see evidence that there's a lower limit to these people's cluelessness, you'd have to be unbelievably stupid to think you could edit posts on a board for aspiring writers and have it go unnoticed.

I know my own writing like a sheep knows its lamb. It wouldn't take much at all -- one or two bits of misplaced punctuation, an alien word choice, a grammatical error I'd never make -- to tell me it had been tampered with. Multiply that by several thousand writers, and you see the impossibility of such a scheme.

On saved bits: I'm hoping people will come forward who've been archiving "Learn Writing with Uncle Jim" for their own use.

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:25 PM:

MikeB, I've been wondering about that. It seems likely to me that they flew into a stupid panic over Barbara Bauer's threats, and might have deleted the databases -- but what kind of responsible hosting site could have failed to keep backups, and backups of backups?

I take no pleasure in the observation, but these guys may have ruined themselves professionally. Who would want to do business with a site that had no more sense than to let themselves be stampeded by one foulmouthed slag of an agent, dumped a client's data, and turned out to not be keeping proper backkups? I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole.

#36 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:26 PM:

Lisa, have you asked at the vBulletin modding community?

#37 ::: Jeremiah Gladstone ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:32 PM:

Does anyone know what they did from the evidence?

#38 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:32 PM:

I know basic perl. But I don't know nothing about no database stuff or html stripping or whatnot. Sorry. I did forward the request to a perl monger list I'm on with a meager reward for free pizza for everyone at the next meeting. Maybe there's a wizard on that list who can script something up in a couple minutes. Don't know.

Out of curiosity, just how big is this database, anyway? gigs? hundreds of gigs?

#39 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:55 PM:

"The only thought worse than they deleted it would be they're hacking and editing it."

I would assume that would be a copyright violation unless the TOS says they own the content of anyone they host. If AW stuff showed up under that doppleganger site by the guy's wife, I'd record it and sic a lawyer on them.

#40 ::: Matthew Wayne Selznick ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:57 PM:

If Absolute Write needs a new hosting service, even in the short term, please contact me. I may be able to help.

Wish I could do something about the database...! The whole thing just reinforces the need for Absolute Write to exist.

#41 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:11 PM:

The database is a couple of gigs.

I'm collecting all the offers to help, and forwarding to People With Authority.

We really do appreciate this folks.

#42 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:13 PM:

"Backkups" is a word of great organic beauty. Also not a little terror.

#43 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:16 PM:

The good news is that we've reconstructed the Uncle Jim thread almost in it's entirety--there may be a page or two of the very recent stuff that's missing, but that's it.

We've had a cadre of volunteers finding stuff like Jaws' and HapiSofi's posts, specifically--there are others, but these names just for example--so that they aren't lost.

The Bewares and Background Check stuff we've pulled from the Google-MSM-Yahoo caches, and can reconstruct very nearly in it's entirety.

My deepest and most humble thanks to all the members and volunteers who pitched in and donated hours and disk space to amassing this stuff.

#44 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:17 PM:

Jenna chose HostGator as AW's new host. Charlie (ChunkyC-the admin) is behind a curtain now hammering the basic structure into place.

#45 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:27 PM:

I'm not always good at expressing my appreciation and affection for individuals, but I am just overwhelmed by the amount of support for AW. You guys are just... You're what keeps me believing that there is hope for the human race.

#46 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:36 PM:

Did you guys find someone to parse the cached pages and stuff them into a database? I don't have the knowhow, but I posted a message to some perl wizards trying to beg some help. If you don't need them, I'll let them know.

#47 ::: Zen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:43 PM:

Preface: this isn't meant to be inflammatory but is a real question from someone that backs everything up a million times if it's important to me...

Why do people post things on the internet that are important to them and not save a copy locally for themselves? Is this a trait that commonly follows writers or just commonly follows everyone and I'm just oblivious?

I mean yeah, the hosting and database all went poof for a really crappy reason (though granted a believeable one, ISPs drop people for stupider reasons). The data, though, should not be in question one way or another imho. They should allow it to be copied over and change whatever their normal rate is for data transfer and that could be that.

The reality is that the site could have poofed altogether without any word at all for any number of reasons. The hosting company could have folded, they could have wiped the databases accidentally or "accidentally", or whatever.

Maybe it's a perspective thing but it just seems really, really weird to me that posting to a site was somehow a "safe" place to keep what's obviously a prized possession.

#48 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:51 PM:

Zen

Those are reasonable questions, but AW was largely a labor of love, and it grew very very quickly from a pet project with volunteer labor to something ginormous with some high end technical requirements. It was very much a labor of love; most people didn't even realize there was a database, or that it could be backed up, never mind individual posts.

These are naive users, not professisonals, not support people.

Posting is a not trivial thing, for a lot of people. They're not sure, really, where the posts, "are" or "go" and a backup wouldn't occur to them.

#49 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:55 PM:

Zen, I understand your question--and I don't think you were inflammatory.

Part of it, I suspect, is that people don't think of what they are writing impromptu as all that significant. Then perhaps it turns out rather better than they'd realized, especially in the more creative forums.

I've had a number of letters from grieving poets, for example, whose stuff may well be completely lost--and they'd meant to go and save it for further polishing, but the forums went down so fast that they didn't have the notice or the opportunity to do so.

When there are months or years worth of those accumulated posts, and someone says, "Gee, that stuff is valuable" you might think about backing it up, but it seems pretty safe where it is, really. Frex, I back up a lot of stuff to gmail, because my little nifty keychain gadget is smarter than me.

In terms of the years of accumulated research and correspondence in the Bewares and Background Check forum; that's not really possible to recreate, solo. It's a group effort involving hours and hours of work, stored in one place.

Part of it, too, is that the host is supposed to be doing back ups. That's basic. So the idea that the host would hold our data hostage--it just never occurred to any of us.

Does that sort of answer your question?

#50 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:57 PM:

Greg, and OG, thanks for the vBulletin modders heads up and passing on the request.

We've had some super offers from ML folk, willing to help. I'm passing them on.

It occurs to me that the volunteers in question work as a group; there are at least two separate tasks, one the parsing and cleaning, and then the filling of the database, but that's not a decision for me to make.

Thanks again.

#51 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:00 PM:

Hey Gang,
I've been keeping tabs on what's going on...I've been to the camp, but didn't register or post. I'm actually getting work done while AW is down. This whole thing is a big 'ol mess, and some of the PA people are happy (one in particular, who feels this is a 'breath of fresh air')... so we need to get back on the horse. I trust Jenna and Charlie will have us back up to operating speed soon. I posted about this on both blogs a few days ago.

Although, reading those PA forums makes me depressed.

Party on! Back to revisions.

#52 ::: Matt ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Zen:

I agree with you regarding the personal writing placed in the poetry forum and the share your work forum. But not with everything else.

Most of this stuff only has a value when it exists in its entirety. The Uncle Jim's Writing thread, for example. Who would bother to back up the three sentence question they asked? Or the two-sentence answer? The real value comes from the group of posts... The whole thing which I only posted in a couple times is more valuable than any book on writing I've ever seen.

Maybe I should've saved it. Honestly, the thought never entered my brain. I'm glad to hear others have.

#53 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:04 PM:

Yeah, Zen has a point there. And it occured to me that most of my blogposts are originals with no backup. *sigh*

I wonder if some techno savvie here has an idea how to save some 200 posts on Blogger in a more elegant way than going to the edit function and copy the code of every single one. BTW I have webspace where I could save it.

#54 ::: Scribhneoir ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:05 PM:

The good news is that we've reconstructed the Uncle Jim thread almost in it's entirety--there may be a page or two of the very recent stuff that's missing, but that's it.

I think we're only missing the very last page -- which consisted of posts made the weekend before the plug was pulled. It appears the UJ thread was last cached on 5/19, so I haven't been able to find that one, but I was able to find everything from the end of my Word doc (which ended on March 1) through the second to last page.

And lest the three stooges at PA start celebrating the demise of the Neverending NEPAT -- I've got lots and lots of pages saved and I'm going after more.

#55 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:17 PM:

Oh crap...backing up my blog posts.

::color drains from face::

#56 ::: Zen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:19 PM:

Hrm, ok that was a perspective I hadn't thought of. I can see the value in those forums like question and answer threads. No, I would never think of backing those up locally either and they are likely an amazing resource. The aggregate is really where it's at, yes.

Not saving personal stuff, there's probably a "no, no" on both sides...but I agree you don't always know what you have until you've lost it and you don't always realize something is worth saving until later.

Having read JC's explanation (I always try to believe both sides) I think the real villain here is Steph, unfortunatly. She "handled" everything with JC who obviously has hurt feelings, not so much over this particular issue, but over the site as a whole and all of the exceptions and free bandwidth and fixes it was getting. He wrote almost as much about them getting free stuff as the issue at hand.

When Steph suddenly stopped interceding on the site's behalf things went to hell. The site owner obviously didn't know what she didn't know and replied crossly to an already irked-at-AW JC...and...well...boom...

:(

#57 ::: Matt ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:25 PM:

Hey, this thread and the earlier one were just BoingBoinged.

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/05/31/antipublishingscam_s.html

I was farked a month ago, and I got 65,000 hits in one day. I understand BB gets more hits than Fark.

#58 ::: Zen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:25 PM:

Gabriele - I haven't tried this on a blogging site but there exist various free programs for "harvesting" websites. They are often used for creating mirrors and copies without having direct access to the backend of the site.

Basically it recreates a website (or just one folder or tree of a website) in a folder on your computer. You can then open it in your browser right from the folder as if you were online.

Does anyone have a link to a non-spamware free one? It's been so long since I've had one that I don't know what's out there anymore.

#59 ::: Zen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:32 PM:

I appologize for being spammy but I just remembered one I used a long time ago: HTTrack

It's available on www.download.com

Please don't take this as an endorsement though, it's been years since I used it and it could be full of spamware or something in it's current version. It also may or may not work for a blog site, no idea, but I bet it would. Just make sure to tell it not to follow external links (or you will store everything you ever linked to!)

When I had used the program it was very functional but wasn't amazingly user friendly, you had to know what you were doing, but I did so...it worked. I don't know if they have made improvements. Can't hurt to try it though I suppose.

#60 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:39 PM:

If you're on Windows there are utilities for doing a bulk download of blogger and LJ posts for backup purposes. I have yet to see something similar for Mac--though one of the Windows utilities is actually a Perl script so it might not be much of an issue to use Xcode to make it a Mac application.

If you use Blogger and post to your domain, you should regularly archive the various files; being lazy, I just create a zip archive and burn it to cd then email myself at gmail.

MovableType actually has detailed instructions for making a proper backup of the underlying data, so Everything is restored.

I do that, and email myself and burn a cd.

#61 ::: Jenna Glatzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:41 PM:

Thank you all so very, very, very much. We're now on day 8 of the "hostage crisis," and I'm fairly certain I'd have lost my mind were it not for the truckloads of support along the way. Thank you for believing in the site's purpose, and for all the offers of help, and for being patient with me.

We are working behind the scenes to get the forums structure back in place, and assemble all the cached pages (there are tons) and figure out how to integrate them.

#62 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:42 PM:

I've been BoingBoinged before. Let's just say it's visible on the graphed version of the site statistics for the month. Getting linked to by Neil Gaiman is likewise visible from orbit. I've been told by lower-traffic sites that getting linked to by ML shows up as a big spike in their numbers. It's all relative. We're all part of the great trading economy of Interesting Stuff.

#63 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:43 PM:

The check is in the mail.

Meanwhile, a cure that is worse than many diseases: sufficiently skilled people (which do not include me) can retrieve chunks of text off a hard drive. Law enforcement agencies do it, and so do the we-recover-your-data-for-$$$ companies that advertise in the back of computer magazines. Someone who's desperate for a particular piece might try that.

Good luck, all.

#64 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:43 PM:

Site harvesters:
httrack, open source? 2nd link is to downloadable exe that doesn't need to be "installed" also available here. You just put it somewhere and double click on it. No registry edits, extra shortcuts, etc.

webreaper, closed source, slightly easier to use, no longer adware.

I have never checked webreaper for spyware/viruses, but I always assumed that it was clean. YMMV

You may need a zip utility like 7-zip to unzip one or more of these.

-r.

#65 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:46 PM:

Backups. My forum is smaller than AW, a little less than a gig of data, and it's too large for phpMyAdmin to create a dump from. phpMyAdmin was the only access to the database one former host provided. I spent a day creating sql dumps in 15 000-post chunks to get the data out when they gave me notice. There's no way I could have spent that kind of time to do backups on a weekly basis.

Now that I have shell access to my database, making backups is a start-and-forget procedure, and I do backup regularly. But there are a lot of forum admins out there who don't know how to make backups, especially now that "one-click installs" that have become so popular. I've walked several through the basics of making backups in phpMyAdmin.

Gabriele, Blogger has instructions on one of their help pages. A site ripper is also a good suggestion. HTTrack is a freeware (GPL) ripper.

#66 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:47 PM:

update
Webreaper interfaces with Internet Exploder to use cookies, etc, so if you have crippled, er, limited the security settings on IE, it may not work well. (On my computer, not at all.)

-r.

#67 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Hmm. I had a link to the Blogger help page in my last post, but it was considered "questionable content". A google for "blogger export" should get you there.

#68 ::: Perks ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:50 PM:

This just in from Birol -

The time has come to stop retrieving cached threads and
start organizing what we have. At this point, we don't know exactly
what has
been recovered, but due to the Perl script so generously donated by
Shweta,
and the efforts of multiple individuals, we know there will be some
duplication.

In order to keep everyone on the same page and moving
forward, we're asking all Cachers to stop searching for new threads to
recover at Midnight Eastern time tonight.

Stand by for additional information about where and how to
send the threads that have been recovered.

Thanks again to everyone for all your efforts in this.


~Lori

#69 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:53 PM:

I've been told by lower-traffic sites that getting linked to by ML shows up as a big spike in their numbers.

Yes, it does. The mods at my board thought we were under a DOS attack when you Particled one of our Attack of the Mary Sue stories.

#70 ::: Sheryl Nantus ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 08:04 PM:

it just boggles the mind that the hosting company has NO regard for the legal implications here... if nothing else, blowing off Jenna's lawyer for the THIRD time is going to not go well if this does go to trial in the future.

I hate to say it, but I agree with some previous posters when they suggested that the database may have just been deleted out of malice/ignorance. And they're afraid to offer their backup copies (if they have them) because it'll show that they did maliciously delete the entire database without warning and certainly without any thought to the legality involved.

as for the individuals involved, well... suffice it to say that they'll never "work in this town again" with their recent actions being documented across the Net.

AW will survive and be even better than before - and will keep tweaking those who seek to scam authors and warn people away from PublishAmerica and their ilk...

:)

#71 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 08:23 PM:

Instructions for Blogger "export" here. It's not as simple as some of the other tools make it, but it's doable.

When I write a post for my blog I use Notepad (Editpad, actually, but they're virtually the same) and then c&p into the entry form in Movable Type. That way I have a not-always-perfect but reconstructable copy of the published blog.

#72 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 08:25 PM:

For Windows users who want to back up their LiveJournals, I understand ljarchive is a good program. I can't create a link from here, I'm afraid, but you should be able to google it.

For Macintosh users (like me) xjournal has backup capabilities, along with a bunch of other bells and whistles.

#73 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 08:26 PM:

I have only been lurking, wasn't a part of Absolute Write (but after reading everything about what's happened I really want to join!), and just wanted to add my sincerest sympathies for what's happened. I really feel for all of you who are hanging and waiting to see whether you've lost a ton of irreplaceable written work.

I frequent a 30-GB board chock full of fictional writing. Two weeks before this, it was nearly lost in a "webhost migration" wherein the new hosts had bought out the old one, and decided they wanted to move 7500 servers from the west coast to the east coast - by physically removing hard drives from one end, shipping them through the mail, then plugging them back in. Without advance notice to anyone, without any kind of migration plan in place to coordinate it, apparently without making backups of anything beforehand, and with no hardware prepared to receive it on the other end. I bet most people can imagine from there what kind of nightmare ensued.

We were in the dark about the whereabouts of our website's hard drive for almost two weeks. We got very lucky when it turned up inexplicably plugged into someone else's server, and that Someone Else was kind enough to return the data. They could've decided to just reformat the disk and not say anything, but they were very kind.

The moral of the stories (both mine and yours) is that one should never trust online servers to do the right thing. There will probably always be incompetent, neglectful, and outright malicious people who can and will do all sorts of mean things to other people's data.

http://www.webhostingtalk.com/ is a good place to look for those sorts of stories (and the one I described occurred as part of a still-continuing saga here).

#74 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 08:28 PM:

Thanks everyone for the tips. I don't think Blogger will act the way a certain webhost did, but better safe than sorry, all my travel and writing posts are on the fly, the only stuff I've backed up are a few academic ones.

The Blogger export seems rather complicated - not as in 'I'm too stupid to understand' but as in 'through the backdoor and the kitchen into the main hall'. I'll have a look at httrack - thanks for the warning about webreaper, it would surely mess with my high security settings.

I've got a Europa Domain now and the next days I'll look how to get my blog, forum and website into that one to begin with. The moment I'm going to have a decent income again, I'll also rent a server of my own from 1&1 Germany.

#75 ::: Charlie ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 08:33 PM:

Once again, thank you all so much for your support and the work you are doing on our behalf. My piddling efforts pale next to yours. The new forum is now ready for any data the cache-crew has recovered. We'll soon know just how much we can restore.

It won't be long before we reopen the doors, kids. Hang in there a little longer....

Charlie

PS -- software manuals make poor pillows. ;)

#76 ::: Kent Brewster ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 09:16 PM:

Speculations took this exact same hit in February and survived. It sounds like you're well on the way to recovery, but I'd still be happy to help out any way I can. My contact information in the SFWA directory is current, so please call me if you need me.

#77 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 09:38 PM:

Gabriele Campbell says

Yeah, Zen has a point there. And it occured to me that most of my blogposts are originals with no backup. *sigh*

I wonder if some techno savvie here has an idea how to save some 200 posts on Blogger in a more elegant way than going to the edit function and copy the code of every single one. BTW I have webspace where I could save it.

I'm in a similar position with my own blogs. I posted about 500 entries in my AOL Journal before the Fall 2005 exodus from same, only a few of which I had on my hard drive (and those weren't saved in any consistent place or format). I tried to copy them into Blogger, but it's horrendously time-consuming. Seven months later, most of my blogged essays, poems, etc. exist only online. Only the fiction is saved on my hard drive, and not all of that.

I can only imagine what a nightmare it would be for an individual to try to save a local copy of even one forum on an ongoing basis. One tends to assume the data will still be there next time, without such heroic measures.

#78 ::: E A Killpack ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 09:38 PM:

I have a filthy head cold and am not quite able to follow the updates here, but my partner is a Perl/PHP/database dude who just got laid off, and is willing to volunteer if scripting services are still needed. kmactane at gothpunk dot com will reach him; resume site at gothpunk dot com /~kmactane.

I had him look at Lisa Spangenberg's post at: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007593.html#128104
and he says this is well within his capabilities. Please email if he can help; I'm too woozy to follow posts here.

#79 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 09:44 PM:

For backing up LiveJournals, there's always LJBook (http://lulu.ljbook.com/ ) -- you can make a .pdf file of your LiveJournal and keep that on your hard drive, or go through Lulu.com from there to get a hardcopy version.

#80 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 09:52 PM:

Birol and Perks: Roger that. Will stop at 22:00 Mountain.

#81 ::: Damien Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 09:56 PM:

Everyone's doing so much to bring the forums back. I've taken these last few days to write and catch up, so that when the forums DO come back, I'll have plenty of time to read, lurk, and catch up.

The Uncle Jim thread is one of the most valuable I've ever seen, on any message board, anywhere. Thank goodness that's been saved.

All of us are sending positive thoughts to AW, and Jenna.

I'm off to back up my data now.

D.R.

#82 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 10:07 PM:

On a different note, are there others procrastinating by clicking on names of people who wrote interesting posts here to find out if they have interesting blogs? Considering the fact that some people whom I've never seen before have commented on my blog *waves hi and welcome* I suppose I'm not the only one. ;)

Bad writer, no cookies.

Speaking about legal matters, I better get Horatius Ravilla before the treason court in Rome and go on with my NiP. *grin*

#83 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 10:11 PM:

Paging Lisa Spangenberg, please note E A Killpack's comment. Thank you. And you too, EAK.

#84 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 11:01 PM:

Thanks TNH; You should know I watch ML like a hawk, especially now.

I've been in contact. I'm passing all such offers of help along, up the food chain.

The offers and support are really appreciated. I take a great deal of joy in the fact that the "neutral" net, the Internet as it should be, is fighting back against the other, newer form of the Internet, the one where the DMCA as a poorly conceived but dangerous law, particularly in terms of its use by scam agents and less than comptetent ISPs.

#85 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 11:42 PM:

Gabriele:

Here's the way I back up on Blogger (easier than copying all the posts from Edit one by one). Every month of your blog is backed up into an archive page, e.g. "http://lostfort.blogspot.com/2005_05_01_lostfort_archive.html".

Just open the pages month by month in the web browser of your choice and save the complete web page. I've tried it with Firefox in Windows and Linux. In both operating systems, Firefox saves a separate directory with the images on the page if you choose "Save As..." and then "Web Page (complete)" as the format in the next dialog box. Then you can open the page from your hard drive, images and all (useful for my wife, who has a family photo blog). There are also options to save as HTML-only or text, but the pages are probably so small that you might as well just save the whole thing.

You'll have to save once for every month your blog has been in existence (so that might take a while), but after you've done it once, on the first of each month, just save the archive page for the just-completed month before, and you're done.

Not as automatic as a site ripper, but much better than handling every individual post.

To decide where to keep the archives you save, take a leaf from Linus Torvalds: "(Only wimps use tape backup: _real_ men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)"

#86 ::: Sean D. Schaffer ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 11:42 PM:

It's good to see so much going on with the caching. I only wish I could have thought to do more. I only got one thread and was only able to give a small donation. I realize it was good to do so, but there's so much more I wish I knew to do.

If this (heaven forbid!) ever happens again, I hope to be somewhat more prepared to help out than I was able to this time.

Still, it is good to know that so much has been done to save such a valuable writer's resource. As a member of AW, and not a mod, I thank you all as well for your help. Were it not for the site in question, I would not have known where to land when I found out the truth about the company that had my book at the time.

I owe a great deal to my fellow writers. The encouragement and help I have received is worth more than gold to me. I hope someday I might be able to do something to, in some small way, pay back those who have been so kind to me.


#87 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 11:52 PM:

Dan,
thanks, that should work. I have my blog only since May 2005 so there isn't too much to archive.

#88 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Thank you, everyone, who said kind things about the "Learn Writing" thread.

I've put together two pages:

Books for Writers and Book and Movie Recommendations from Learn Writing with Uncle Jim.

These are both Amazon affiliate stores, with the commissions going to Absolute Write. Please feel free to link to them, and even more free to buy stuff from them.

#89 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:23 AM:

The Book and Movie Recommendations link should be http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/UncleJim.html, right?

#90 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:27 AM:

Yes, that's the URL.

Let's see:

Here's from a review of Absolute Write:

The real gem of the AW site is the Water Cooler, or community forum. Here, you can ask questions and get advice from beginning and professional writers of all sorts. There are separate forums for freelancers, screenwriters, children's writers, short fiction writers, novelists, business and copy writers, trade publication writers, poets, song writers, and many more. They are even running a version of American Idol called Absolute Idol -- great fun and a real challenge for those writers who have made it this far!

Novelists will find a real treat in the thread called "Learn Writing with Uncle Jim." Bestselling science fiction/fantasy writer James D. Macdonald started the thread in 2003 to help aspiring novelists learn the trade. The thread has well over 4,000 posts, a separate "undiluted" thread that contains the "meat" of the main thread, and now an index to the topics discussed. Uncle Jim introduces some unconventional theories like "positional chess as a plotting tool" and "all novels are romances." If you're in a hurry, use the index! But the entire thread is well worth a leisurely read over the course of a few weeks or months.

Website Review

#91 ::: Robotech_Master ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:39 AM:

Working for a small webhost as I do (basically, it's just me and my boss), and admittedly not knowing the whole story, I do have some sympathies for JC. The amount of bandwidth that the community was apparently using seems quite excessive for a BBS community from my experience, but never having visited Absolute Write I don't know what might have been causing it. If they're a small hosting service, they probably have to pay through the nose for extra bandwidth, and the whole thing was costing them money--plus it was leaving fewer resources left over for everyone else who hosts with them.

I'm also a bit less than sympathetic to AW if it's true that they were even indirectly inciting a mailbombing attack on someone--even a scammer. I take a dim view of denial-of-service attacks of any sort; they end up causing far too much collateral damage.

I do think JC should return the database, but he's probably afflicted with legal-deer-in-the-headlights syndrome, afraid that if he returns it he could be open to liability from Bauer suing him or something, so he feels like the safest thing is to do nothing at all until he has some better idea of what's going on.

#92 ::: Robotech_Master ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:45 AM:

Oh, and one more thing...

Typically, webhosts have some sort of "archive manager" function as part of their control panel, which will let you download your own total site backups, independent of any backups that the ISP operator may or may not keep.

If your site contains important, irreplaceable stuff, it's a good idea to use this at least once a week. Once (if) they get their stuff back and get set up on HostGator, it would probably be a good idea for AW to do this at least once a week from now on.

#93 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:48 AM:

There was no incidement to a mailbombing attack, and as far as I know no such attack took place. Bauer has a long history of making bizarre and baseless claims and threats. When you look up "cartooney" in the dictionary you see her picture.

She has, subsequently, earned herself a googlebombing.

The usual thing that hosts do when they find someone is soaking up bandwidth is to charge them more money.

#94 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 01:27 AM:

Robotech_Master:

Hoping this doesn't sound too snarky, but if you are running a small webhosting company, it would be a good idea to figure out now how you will deal with a really successful customer. If you are charging the right rates, and are on the ball, it should be a no-brainer: you charge them based on their usage, you upgrade your connections, you upgrade your servers, and everybody's happy.
,
If you can't afford to upgrade when one of your customers gets really popular, then you don't have a sustainable business model. (Also if JCWebhosting routinely waived the normal charges for AW, as they claim, then they had a problem with their business practices - and they can not reasonably blame their customer for that.)

If you're wondering why I feel qualified to pontificate, I used to run an ISP which offered web hosting among other services. We didn't end up a big national provider, but we never lost money on it either.

#95 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 01:34 AM:

The usual thing that hosts do when they find someone is soaking up bandwidth is to charge them more money.

ISPs usually warn the customer in advance that the threshhold is nigh. And you'll note that the ISP's bizarre screed points out that they repeatedly chose not to alert the site that bandwidth was creeping up.

Generally they issue a formal warning, and ask for more money. Money that I feel sure Jenna would have come up with, somehow. She's pretty reasonable.

They can even put a throttle on the port; even I know how to do that, and I'm a Medievalist, not a network engineer.

In any case, ISPs don't hold on to the user's files. Especially when it would take fifteen minutes, tops, to image the 2 gig, verify the image, and burn it to a DVD.

Yeah, I timed it.

It takes me about eighteen minutes to pull a drive and seal the enclosure. I'm not coordinated, so I'd expect better time from someone professional.

Real ISPs don't keep indicating that they will provide access to the data, and then not provide access. The former ISP has done this.

The former ISP has no excuse for keeping the data--data which would allow Absolute Write to actually generate income from the members and content, given the presence of ads and the donations of members. For crying out loud, they could copy the data and still "keep" it.

So now, we're trying to reconstitute the database, but more importantly, to retain the community, and the whole thing will involved lawyers. Lawyers, who, for all their virtues, are expensive, and take a lot longer to do anything than it would take to just copy the damn drive.

#96 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 01:40 AM:

They need marriage counselling. Hubby said AW should pay extra for exceeding bandwidth, Stephanie said no, let's be nice to them - at least that's how I read his convoluted post on the other thread.

But probably they're the type who couldn't run a bar if it's situated between a brothel and a porn theatre, as we say here. :)

#97 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 02:01 AM:

Robotech_Master commented:

Working for a small webhost as I do (basically, it's just me and my boss), and admittedly not knowing the whole story, I do have some sympathies for JC. The amount of bandwidth that the community was apparently using seems quite excessive for a BBS community from my experience, but never having visited Absolute Write I don't know what might have been causing it. If they're a small hosting service, they probably have to pay through the nose for extra bandwidth, and the whole thing was costing them money--plus it was leaving fewer resources left over for everyone else who hosts with them.

Boingboing is currently linking to this post from JC about AW. I certainly have sympathies for him - I've had the 'fun' of being in a variety of similar situations[0].

James D. Macdonald followed up with:
There was no incidement to a mailbombing attack, and as far as I know no such attack took place. Bauer has a long history of making bizarre and baseless claims and threats. When you look up "cartooney" in the dictionary you see her picture.

I suspect that what he's talking about is actually massive amounts of email and phone calls in -his- direction, complaining about AW being taken offline. Despite not having been planned, if even 1% of the people tracking the AW situation took it into their heads to send email or call, that's a pile of IO to deal with (and good odds that some of it is unreasonable and/or abusive). In fact, from what JC writes, it sounds like there's been a raft of ... antisocial activity ... in the direction of JC Hosting[1].

The usual thing that hosts do when they find someone is soaking up bandwidth is to charge them more money.

It reads as though the two business partners had a failure to agree over what was 'reasonable' in terms of charges - and communication problems with AW on top of that, resulting in more money not being charged[2].

Cynically, some of this is a very familiar story that comes down to a failure to set clear bounds and expectations in a business context resulting in drama, hurt feelings and misery.

From the way that JC's posted, I'd suspect that he feels like he's been badly taken advantage of by a bunch of scammers - rather the way most of the AW audience feel about Bauer, in fact - and Bauer's complaints came as confirmation that he was dealing with a bunch of scammers who were out to screw him over.

It's late, but if there's interest, I can try and write up what I've run into before from the service provider/hosting side of things. It's never black and white *sigh*

[0] Hosting can be a really horrible business, to put it politely - and very often, the hosting provider ends up damn'd however they slice it.
[1] ... and no matter how annoying they might be, trying to hack them, deface personal websites, call repeatedly, email abusively, complain to upstream providers, listing sites as pink or black ... all of these things don't contribute towards a good end solution. Beyond that, when they're strongly associated with one (former) customer, it's hard to be in any respect reasonable[3].
[2] ... although that sounds like there's some business partner issues going on as well.
[3] Yes, as said, I've done time in that industry.

#98 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 02:12 AM:

The Cachers were asked to stop searching for data at midnight eastern time Wednesday evening. The questions that naturally followed were: What do you want us to do with it? Where can we send it?

I’m still in the process of clarifying the answers for you. Basically, what we’re going to ask you to do is name the files in a certain format, to make it easy for us to identify them, and then e-mail them to a specified gmail account. I should have those details for you soon.

If you want to continue searching the caches, you may, but as the eighth day of our exile from AW ends, we realize there is a point where we have to redirect our efforts from the recovery of data to the installation of the data that was recovered. We will never be able to find it all. I’ve already tapped a couple of people on the shoulder and asked if they would mind helping with the next phase of the project. In typical AWer fashion they answered, “Yes. What do you need?”

You people are simply amazing.

~Lori

#99 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 02:20 AM:

Xeger, I do not believe you will find where anyone with any authority at AW has condoned any hacking attempts or defacing of any online property owned by JC Hosting. Have these events occurred? I am not aware of them if they did. We also did not ask or encourage individuals to call or e-mail JC Hosting or their representatives. What we have said time and time again is that it is a legal matter and to please not to anything which might reflect poorly on Jenna, AW, or interfere with Jenna's legal efforts to recover the data which should have been returned to us as a matter of course.

#100 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 02:35 AM:

My partner, who is much techno-geekier than I am, wonders if the following scenario would be of use:

1) Find out JC Hosting gets *their* connectivity from -- their upstream provider.

2) Someone, or several someones, who have lost intellectual property as a result of this debacle notify the upstream provider that *they* have a DMCA complaint against JC Hosting -- that these people have effectively stolen copyrighted material which belongs to them.

That's the thing about tools... they can be used by the good guys too.

Yow. This company is out of Nashville? Nashville has an active SF club, including several writers. Has anyone talked to them to make sure they've heard about this?

#101 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:27 AM:

From the way that JC's posted, I'd suspect that he feels like he's been badly taken advantage of by a bunch of scammers - rather the way most of the AW audience feel about Bauer, in fact - and Bauer's complaints came as confirmation that he was dealing with a bunch of scammers who were out to screw him over.

Three things to note; both "partners" of the hosting company, where partner should be interpreted as a subsitute for spouse, were active members of the Absolute Write forum.

Secondly: It's not hard to find a great deal of verification about Babara's tactics, which really are more aptly described as "scam" then the actions of an agent (since agents a: don't charge, b: sell books to actual consumer publishers, c: make money for their clients and from their clients).

Thirdly, anyone who caves to a phone call from an overtly emotional caller without a follow-up in the form of a cease-and-desist letter on actual papere, or at least a simulcrum of such . . . well, that's inept if not down right stupid.

#102 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:30 AM:

Whatever happens next is likely to be expensive. Please go to the link to Jenna's blog, and make a donation. Even if you've never been to AW.

http://jennaglatzer.blogspot.com/2006/05/need-help.html

#103 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 04:02 AM:

I find myself wondering. We have all these IT industry qualifications and the technical skills; Microsoft Cewrtified Network Thingummmy and all the rest.

Do any of these cover what might be called professional standards: what your responsibilities are to keep data safe and secure.

I get the impression that we have rather more statute law on that, here in Europe, but the story-so-far leaves me thinking that, whatever JC Hosting did, they don't have that grounding in such responsibilities.

So what certificates should a customer, or employer, be looking for in the USA?

#104 ::: Jackie Kessler ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 05:25 AM:

My husband mentioned the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that's all about defending people's digital rights. They have lawyers who do pro bono work -- and especially given how Barbara Bauer mentioned the DMCA (which was a fallacy on her part), this legal situation may be right up their alley. Maybe Jenna et al. could give them a shout, see if they can help, gratis?

#105 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 06:31 AM:

Robotech_Master:

Typically, webhosts have some sort of "archive manager" function as part of their control panel, which will let you download your own total site backups, independent of any backups that the ISP operator may or may not keep.

I refer you back to my earlier comment about those "archive managers" and their inability to handle large sites. By far the most common interface for databases is phpMyAdmin, which I have never seen set up to cope with anything larger than a few hundred KB. My database when I inherited my site a couple of years ago was around 500KB, and it was already too large for phpMyAdmin to create a dump from.

The parts of AW that were likely maintained by FTP appear to be intact. AW's 2GB database would have taken considerable time and more than a little tech savvy to back up via phpMyAdmin. (I'm assuming the former host followed the usual standard of not allowing shell access to the database. Even with shell, they would not have been able to create a dump in an hour.)

#106 ::: Anatoly ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 06:55 AM:

I was never a regular at AW, but I read some threads there, and they were invaluable, especially the Uncle Jim thread.

I don't know which possibility is more infuriating - that the hosting company is so blatantly incompetent as to lose or delete the databases without backup, or that they are so evil (and stupid) as to have the databases and withhold them from the site owners.

I understand from the above that some people are working on the reconstruction of Google-cached data. I'm a perl wizard, and will gladly help with that; if there's any need still - please contact me.

Best of luck to AW and its community.

#107 ::: JCC ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 07:16 AM:

and no matter how annoying they might be, trying to hack them, deface personal websites, call repeatedly, email abusively, complain to upstream providers, listing sites as pink or black ... all of these things don't contribute towards a good end solution.

I agree wholeheartedly. However, do you have evidence that anyone did anything like this in this case? As near as I can tell, the most that happened was a bunch of people called or e-mailed them once each. This wasn't coordinated. It was just a lot of people who all missed a favorite web site. In at least in the one case, the response she received (for her one piece of e-mail) made her feel like she was about to be sued. (It's in one of the comments on the other Absolute Write thread on this blog.) I understand how he can feel threatened by this, but it's quite a leap to assume that anyone responsible for AW was responsible for some sort of attack on him.

Yes, I understand that all you are doing is taking JamesC at his word, but understand his word has shifted as time has gone on. e.g., he, at first, claimed that Barbara Bauer had nothing to do with the shut down. Now, of course, he claims that she does. For someone who claims that the database is intact, he is behaving rather oddly. Ignoring requests from lawyers does not contribute to a good end solution.

This, oddly, ties into another thread on Making Light. We seem to have the notion these days that to be truly balanced and objective, we must treat all sources of information with equal validity. Thus, we get "he said, she said" journalism. The problem is that all sources of information are not equally valid. JamesC has already demonstrably lied on the record. So unless he points out specific, verifiable examples of AW having violated their TOS or AUP and having been informed of this as per their policy (i.e., cases where Stephanie made the problem go away without involving Jenna don't count) and he can show exactly how he was spammed or which websites were vandalized, I'm not incline to treat what he says with much validity. (In any case, he doesn't actually talk about vandalized web sites. He talks about spammed websites.)

(OTOH, the charges from the other side are that he took down the AW web site and he is holding the data hostage. Both of these have been more than adequately substantiated by now. In terms of credibility, the two sides aren't even close to equal. Actually, if I take him at his word about what happened, the person, IMHO, I think is the source of his problems in this case is not Jenna, but Stephanie, who seems to have, perhaps unintentionally, kept Jenna in the dark about the issues JC Hosting had with AW.)

In this case, where we have Jenna et al. working to reach a good end solution and we have a web hosting company who has done nothing but make unsubstantiated charges, hold data, which by their own service agreement they do not own, hostage, and remain, as near as I can tell, uncooperative in reaching any solution, I know where my sympathies lie. (This isn't to say that I think JC Hosting is operating out of malice. If I had to guess, and it's only a guess, I'd they JC Hosting is operating out of fear induced paralysis.)

I guess it's a reflection of this modern era just exactly how much sys admin experience we have among this blog's readers. The clear lesson from this is definitely off-site back ups.

Actually, if the AW database is large enough, you guys might want to consider running master and slave database servers so that you can do live backups. i.e., the slave replicates the master, then you can take the slave off-line to backup, and then replicate the changes made to the master in the mean when the slave comes back up. (There may be better ways of doing this. But replicating the database and then backing that up is essentially what I did the last time I needed to do live backups of very large databases. It wasn't mySQL though.)

#108 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 07:40 AM:

JCC wrote: (In any case, he doesn't actually talk about vandalized web sites. He talks about spammed websites.)

I suspect that when James says websites were spammed, he means unflattering comments were posted in the comments section of Stephanie's blog. Recall that James indicated, in the "Absolute Write is gone" thread, that posing a weblink to his screed was spamming. One gets the distinct impression that James doesn't know what "spam" is.(1)

(1) This is not something that inspires confidence in one's hosting company, to say the least.

#109 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 07:51 AM:

JamesC, in fact, is a frigging liar.

If he had the balls to come back here and actually answer Jim Macdonald's questions honestly, everyone would damned well know him for the liar and the piss-ant he is.

#110 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 08:30 AM:

JC's enormous list of excuses is... interesting. I'm reminded of what security expert Gavin de Becker says about "too many details":

When people are telling the truth, they don't feel doubted, so they don't feel the need for additional support in the form of details. When people lie, however, even if what they say sounds credible to you, it doesn't sound credible to them, so they keep talking. [de Becker, The Gift of Fear]

However they may try to justify it, JC Hosting broke at least four fundamental rules of engineering:

You must not hide technical, financial, or legal difficulties from your customers, but rather disclose them as soon as they appear on the radar, for many problems can be avoided if you see them coming in advance.

You must take the side of your customers as long as they remain your customers;

If you need to get rid of a problem customer, you must be as courteous as possible: give them warning, help them transfer their business to someone else, and try not to give them any further reason to hate your guts;

And you must remember that the customer's property belongs to them.

People who don't have grace under pressure need to get out of the webhosting business. I suspect that JC Hosting is about to follow this rule.

#111 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 08:41 AM:

Robotech, Xeger, my ability to feel sympathy for JC Hosting is severely limited, for several causes. The biggest one is that even now, nobody from the AW contingent has any idea what JC Hosting wants. They don't have to talk to abusive or upset people. They just have to talk, period. They're refusing to do it.

I'm sure AW was taking up a lot of bandwidth. It had grown into a very lively online community of about seven thousand members. That didn't happen overnight. If it was overtaxing JC Hosting, there were plain and obvious ways to work out the problem. JC Hosting could have told them to find another hosting service. They could have set a limit on how much bandwidth AW could take up, and let AW decide whether to go or stay. They could have charged AW more, and used the additional income to upgrade their own operation. It's the same set of choices any supplier has when they find they have a fast-growing customer taking up the lion's share of their capacity.

Letting the stresses build up, not raising AW's rates, and then blowing up and effectively destroying the site while setting up a competing site of their own is not a reasonable way to handle anything.

They got a nasty phone call from Barbara Bauer? No kidding. She phoned a highly placed corporate official in my own organization and tried to get me fired. She once told an AOL discussion area that they owed her a billion dollars for mentioning her name. She's threatened cartooney lawsuits against any number of individuals and websites. You two have worked for ISPs and I haven't, so you'll have to tell me whether I'm right about this, but I'm guessing that occasional outbursts of weird threats, and accusations and counter-accusations, are a predictable feature of the business.

Barbara Bauer's an agent, so of course she's always had her e-mail address up on her own website. Meanwhile, you're net-savvy guys. You tell me: If some harpy you've never heard of before were to phone your ISP to squawk about how she's received spam after someone briefly posted her e-mail address in the depths of a multithreaded online discussion, and therefore the customer that runs that site is a spammer, and therefore your ISP is going to get put on every blacklist in the world ... would you have fallen for it?

Would you have believed that posting an e-mail address that was sent to you unprompted was a gross violation of copyright?

Barbara Bauer is a professional con artist who preys on aspiring writers, taking them for large sums of money. I don't think it's appropriate to equate her with an online bulletin board that's having communications problems with its hosting site.

I'm not aware of any mailbombing campaigns. To the best of my knowledge, what's happened is that JC Hosting has grievously distressed several thousand writers. If JC Hosting can't make the connection between doing that, and getting inundated with e-mail, surface mail, and phone calls, they can't be thinking about it very hard.

#112 ::: Aruna ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 08:44 AM:

To quote from JamesC's post:

"...I say this because there has never been any official agreement between Mr. Wagner and JC-Hosting that he was turning over this account to Ms. Glatzer but that is just one infraction of our original agreement. Which by the way means that Mr. Wagner could request that all the software data bases and anything else tied to this account be given over to him (including all the legal issues that will be tacked along with the expenses) or I could just delete the entire site as an abandoned account (well I am a cold hearted business man but not that cold hearted yet). "

The last words do give me hope.

#113 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 08:45 AM:

JamesC, in fact, is a frigging liar.

MacAllister, that is far more polite than how I've phrased it. I've worked in software for over twenty-five years, and I've never seen anything quite so unprofessional.

#114 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 09:03 AM:

"bryan said: 'Use Google API to get all cached pages, tops out at a certain number of requests but if we get a number of IDs we can go ahead and get all the pages.'

There are directions here (Windows or Mac OSX) for running a perl script to automatically download pages from the Google and Yahoo caches.

It only allows about 1000 pages to be downloaded at a time, so it would be great if more people were doing it. "

Well no, or at least it would be highly inefficient. It would be reasonable to assume that most of what got downloaded automatically by each cacher working seperately would be highly redundant, of course redundancy is good in some things - as this thread should make clear - but not for this task.

What should be done is as follows:

Script has list of api keys, runs query, downloads cached pages until end of downloads returns (tracked by counting up to 1000)

script reaches limit of key 1, slots in key two, runs query again, starts downloading from 1001.

Pretty simple that bit. The main bit I've had problems with is checking for latency in the response, but it isn't even a problem that one could categorize as difficult.

Furthermore if I understand the idea being laid out in that thread I think it violates Google's terms of service which I do not think using the Google Api to grab explicitly cached pages does (unless, as I suspect, the script actually uses the google api), as follows:

Google Api terms http://www.google.com/apis/api_terms.html

Cache requests
http://www.google.com/apis/reference.html#1_2


The problem of getting pages that are not coming up in normal results is to complicated to address here and now, but it is most probably automatable as well.

#115 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 09:24 AM:

New items are up at OhDawno's Ebil Library and Gifts CafePress store. James Macdonald has designed the graphics for almost all of them. Thanks also to Jenna for letting me use the Absolute Write site logo and to Matt Dinniman for the Save & Support Absolute Write logo that you can find on MacAllister's blog.

Total proceeds from all sales go to support Absolute Write. They great gifts for your favorite writer. I'm guessing that a few of you around here know one or two writers...

Thank you again, from the top of my sparkly ears to the bottoms of my argyle socks and Birkenstocks clad feet, for all the support we have gotten here. Making Light has been my second favorite internet hang out since the day Neil Gaiman wrote about the Atlanta Nights sting and linked here. Making Light then pointed me to Absolute Write, where I've had the privilege to interact with the most wonderful community of brilliant, wonderful souls I could ever hope to find.

We'll be back, stronger and better than ever.

#116 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 09:25 AM:

uh, "they make great gifts..."

I are two a ritter. *sigh*

#117 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 09:58 AM:

bryan, the script jumps around the list randomly, presumably an attempt to reduce the redundancy. And since the google servers don't all serve up the same info, the more people, the more likely that someone will hit the one server that has a particular page cached.

Not that it's much of an issue any longer; I had a lot of "resource not found" returns on all three (Yahoo, Google, and MSN) on my last run.

#118 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 10:00 AM:

From Aruna:
there has never been any official agreement between Mr. Wagner and JC-Hosting that he was turning over this account to Ms. Glatzer but that is just one infraction of our original agreement. Which by the way means that Mr. Wagner could request that all the software data bases and anything else tied to this account be given over to him (including all the legal issues that will be tacked along with the expenses)

Really? Ever take mony from Ms. Glatzer? Ever take action on the account on her say-so?

These idiots deserve the coming lawpocalypse. Five will get you ten that whatever entity they operate as won't be enough to shield them, either. I'm not in the right state (nor could I really help (just yet) if it were here), but there must be local lawfen. Anyone ask Fandom Lawyers?

#119 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 10:09 AM:

"the script jumps around the list randomly, presumably an attempt to reduce the redundancy."

probable, if it's using the Google API. although then the random jumping would need to set a random number for start also, as per 2.7 of the docs http://www.google.com/apis/reference.html#2_7

If you're starting at 1 then you're just randomly getting a page from the same set of thousand results as anyone else.

'I had a lot of "resource not found" returns on all three (Yahoo, Google, and MSN) on my last run.'

have you checked if resources can be accessed physically that were not available via API?

#120 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 10:19 AM:

Okay, Cachers, I finally have the guidelines you’ve been waiting for:

Rename each file with its Thread Name and page #. The preferred format is ThreadName_page#. (For example: Page 27 of the STLiterary thread should be named as STLiterary_27.htm or STLiterary_27.txt (depending whether you saved it as htm or txt originally.)

Send recovered files to Cache.Project@gmail.com.

Each page should be a separate file.

Do NOT compress or zip files.

You may attach more than one file per e-mail.

Do not delete the files from your system. We would like you to maintain your files until after we get the data loaded. One thing we’ve learned from this is you can never have too many back-ups.

Please do not e-mail any questions to the cache project’s e-mail address. That address is strictly to receive the files you have recovered. Please direct any questions to my attention at Lori@QuoinCommunications.net.

Thank you for all your efforts.

#121 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 10:20 AM:

I'm trying to keep a straight face as I write this:

I'm from the Federal government and I'm here to help you...

I ran this situation by the agents in Investigation, and they say that everyone who had "intellectual property" on the website should contact their local FBI office, as JC Webhosting's failure to return said property (i.e. the backups) constitutes theft of said property.

At the very least, if you have a lawyer, contact them and ask what they would recommend. JC Webhosting IS breaking the law.

#122 ::: Leslie B ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 10:54 AM:

They might also consider contacting their state's law enforcement agency. Laws vary from state to state, but here a person is breaking Florida law if either the suspect or the victim is in Florida. So a Florida AW member who lost work could try contacting FDLE. Granted, intellectual property is more a Federal matter, but it's another avenue to explore.

#123 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 10:54 AM:

Whoa, that'll be great, Lori! Getting AW restored completely as a result of a raid on PC Webhosting, and Mr. and Ms. Asshole led away in handcuffs!

That should be the picture next to BB's name on the 20 worst list..."see what happens when you listen to her?"

LMAO in fiendish glee.

#124 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 11:08 AM:

Dave Bell --

Do any of these cover what might be called professional standards: what your responsibilities are to keep data safe and secure.

Great question, and one that is getting a great deal of discussion in the DBA community, especially in the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley and increasing problems with identity theft. The sad answer is that there are few explicit sets of standards yet, other than the general traditions and culture of most IT folks.

#125 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 11:09 AM:
Having read JC's explanation (I always try to believe both sides) I think the real villain here is Steph, unfortunatly. She "handled" everything with JC who obviously has hurt feelings, not so much over this particular issue, but over the site as a whole and all of the exceptions and free bandwidth and fixes it was getting. He wrote almost as much about them getting free stuff as the issue at hand.
Didn't JC's own bio material indicate that the company was hers, or at any rate both of theirs?
When people are telling the truth, they don't feel doubted, so they don't feel the need for additional support in the form of details. When people lie, however, even if what they say sounds credible to you, it doesn't sound credible to them, so they keep talking. [de Becker, The Gift of Fear]
de Becker is a useful observer, but he tends to overgeneralize. There are also good liars who know how to inspire confidence, and anxious truth-tellers who exhibit the behavior of liars.

I have my own prejudice, though, which is to doubt the account of anyone who cannot explain their position coherently. I'm not talking about bad spelling, or even the bad grammar that JC wishes us to forgive in advance; I'm talking about writing so bad that we all have to come to a sort of consensus agreement about what the hell JC is actually saying, because he isn't capable of expressing it himself. That kind of writing to me is the clear sign of a mind that is ruled not by thought but by feeling; he knows he feels wronged, and he wants to tell us why, but he can't, because if he thinks straight about it it becomes clear that he isn't the wronged party at all -- unless he resorts to lying -- so it comes out as a disconnected mess. Unfortunately, he can't be argued with, because he doesn't himself know what his story is; he is essentially responding by yelling at his accusers.

#126 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 11:26 AM:

Warning Note:

Gmail provides a lot of space for mail, but I'm having problems logging in ATM. And, with duplicates and everything there's going to be a lot of data.

So send something, see that things work, but don't rush to send everything.

#127 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 11:36 AM:

After doing a little digging around on the FBI website (www.fbi.gov), I found the Internet Crime Complaint Center:

http://www.ic3.gov/

Please feel free to go there and file your complaint...

#128 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:26 PM:
de Becker is a useful observer, but he tends to overgeneralize. There are also good liars who know how to inspire confidence, and anxious truth-tellers who exhibit the behavior of liars.

To be fair to de Becker: I've pulled his quote out of context. It was originally part of a big list of warning signs, each of which is potentially innocent on its own, and none of which was meant to be definitive.

he knows he feels wronged, and he wants to tell us why, but he can't, because if he thinks straight about it it becomes clear that he isn't the wronged party at all -- unless he resorts to lying -- so it comes out as a disconnected mess.

This is exactly right. But isn't this the dynamic that de Becker is trying to describe with his rule of thumb? A person says something, thinking it will sound reasonable... but, oops, now that he comes to say it, it sounds pretty lame! Better say something else. And so on, ad infinitum.

Should this behavior be called "lying", "lying to oneself", "anxious truth-telling", "a fishing expedition", or (as it often is in my case) "essay-writing", "handwaving", or "thinking out loud"? It depends on the context. In this case, the context is that the speaker has your data and won't give it back.

#129 ::: aries75 ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Just a note: one of the Mods on the AW Refugee Camp had this to say about the FBI complaints:

"Please don't just yet. There's a lawyer on the case, and well, the Feds might be a later resort, but they all might be a problem just yet.
For instance, all digital date seized by Feds is kept to check for DMCA and other violations.
It took a faculty member, who was not accused of any crime, but had his research on a shared server, almost a year to get his data back.
So, Please Just Not Yet."

...does this mean that the FBI would seize the data first before giving it back to AW? (assuming they got involved?) If so, then maybe the mod is right... (full thread here).

#130 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:41 PM:

Yes, it's very likely that the FBI ***WOULD*** seize the data. That was wrinkle I hadn't considered.

Let the lawyers handle this, and keep the FBI link as a last resort if all else fails.

I wonder if JC Cordray has any idea the size of the hornets' nest he's been poking with a stick?

#131 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 12:46 PM:

Claude Muncey, and Dave Bell, --

You wrote about "professional standards", etc. for the IT community. I'm going to redirect you to C. E. Petit's comments in the other thread. Quote:

...Writers are not professionals. ...There is no licensure requirement; there is no minimum educational standard; there is no disciplinary code, violations of which may lead to removal from the activity. And those are just the easy-to-discern criteria...Frankly, writers shouldn't want to be legally classed as "professionals"… because collective action by nonlicensed professionals falls afoul of antitrust law.

It may be exceptionally undesireable for all (or even some) people doing IT to be professionalized as a class. Many people on this list 'do IT' , even in the mundane sense of administering their own blogs. Do we really want more responsibilites/regulations for doing so? Particularly the "disciplinary code" bit?

I'm not trying to be antagonistic, I just wanted to short-circuit the "professionalizm" language. Professionalizing a job is only one way to gain control over people's behavior, and it isn't always the best choice.

I sincerely doubt that you (et. al.) are saying that you want to professionalize some part of the IT industry. I think it is more likely that you want clear, enforceable laws with which to whack people for irresponsible treatment of your data. Or maybe something like the URDP for quickly and cheaply adjucating data disputes.*

-r.

*personally, I'd like to see some better protections for data seizure in civil and criminal cases. I'm talking about the whole "they take your computer for their investigation" thing, which becomes really problematic if you use it to do things like pay bills, keep contact information, run your business, store your family's photographs, etc. To my knowlege there isn't a statutory requirement to give the accused a full backup of all their data, and civil forfiture laws seem to say that even if you are not guilty, they can still keep your stuff.

#132 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 01:15 PM:

Oh dear. I was so angry that I put an idiosyncratic hyphen in the word "pissant."

It seemed to make sense at the time, is my only explanation.

#133 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 01:17 PM:

the hornets' nest he's been poking with a stick?


poke poke poke.

what's that funny buzzing sound?

Maybe it will tell me if I whack it with a stick.

#134 ::: Lisa K ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 02:07 PM:

Did anyone see this at Writer's Weekly?

http://forums.writersweekly.com/viewtopic.php?t=6342

#135 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 02:48 PM:

Lisa K wrote:
Did anyone see this at Writer's Weekly?
Aargh! For all the writing sites and blogs that are supporting AW, it's still a damned shame to see some large writing sites with those "Ewww, the people are AW is so meeeean, how dare they say BB is a spammer?" attitudes. If I were a newbie and I saw a lot of people at a site I had joined talking about how terrible another site was, I'd probably avoid the other site like the plague. (OK I might visit the other site out of morbid curiosity but feel horribly guilty because all my buddies were telling me that's where the meeeean writers hang out.)

#136 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:09 PM:

::counting heads of the WW peeps saying nasty things, most of whom've incidentally been banned from AW long ago, for being idiots or worse::

Meh. I honestly don't see anyone I take terribly seriously saying anything substantive at all.

It's regrettable that Jenna's been asked not to respond, while James Cordray gets to spew his semi-coherent, mostly-fabricated excuses. It has to be very difficult, knowing that there are emails and receipts that prove James Cordray is a liar and a coward and not terribly bright about how he goes about either pursuit.

It's difficult too, no doubt, for the people who can't seem to understand that "new writer" doesn't mean "fair game" to appreciate that there are more experienced writers who make it a point of pride to help out those just starting.

Saddest of all is that after all. these. years., Angelo Hoy et al. can't tell the difference between Barbara Bauer and a real agent...

However, none of those factors alter the truth of the matter: JCHosting has behaved unprofessionally, spitefully, quite possibly illegally, and with every day that they continue to hold our databases hostage, they're only digging a deeper legal hole.

#137 ::: aries75 ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Quote: If I were a newbie and I saw a lot of people at a site I had joined talking about how terrible another site was, I'd probably avoid the other site like the plague.

Er...I'd avoid "WritersWeekly" like the plague for this reason alone:

We reserve the right to reveal your identity in the event of a complaint or legal action arising from any message posted by you. In short, if you're not willing to be identified, don't post messages about any person or firm here. If you have dealings with that person or firm, you must identify yourself to allow the firm to research the complaint before posting a rebuttal.

They demand your real name and the website of your employer in order to register - would you be willing to provide it if you knew it could handed over to a scammer known for harassment? Anonymous tiplines exist for a reason - even though they can be abused, I'd rather have that than the opposite situation (i.e. people too afraid to come forward due to fear of being harassed, thus allowing scammers to operate with impugnity).

#138 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:16 PM:

MacAllister, I'm also astonished that Angela et al. simply take at face value James'/Barbara's claim that there was libellous material in the BB thread. It was Barbara Bauer's public e-mail address, people. The one on her own website. I read Stephanie's posts on the topic myself, which is more than most of the people making those comments at WW can say.

#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:17 PM:

Oh dear. I was so angry that I put an idiosyncratic hyphen in the word "pissant."

I assumed it was the 'n' that was superfluous, not the hyphen. Idiosyncratic, yes, but perfectly clear in meaning!

#140 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:26 PM:

This does the fun half of the job.

How it works: it takes a google cache of a bulletin board page of Absolute write on standard in. It appends to output.txt a set of tab-delimited lines. Each line consists of:

post id, post title (assuming I'm right about how titles work), post date, the user id of the user who posted it, said poster's name, and the body of the post).

I don't do proprietary software, so someone else gets to figure out how to import this into vbulletin.

I haven't tested this much. It will spit out error messages if it can't parse something. If this happens, let me know. Attach to your message (a) the exact input you are giving, (b) the google cache URL where you got that input, (c) the messages the script outputs.

#141 ::: d ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:47 PM:

I see that someone mentioned the Electronic Frontier Foundation upstream and want to reiterate that I think they would be very helpful to involve in this.

#142 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:57 PM:

Pretty much the only squawking about AW unfairness is coming from Publish America writers, and especially Shelagh Watkins, who's been banned from AW more than once.

#143 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 04:01 PM:

Just to be quickly clear - I don't know whether JC is lying or telling the truth or somewhere in the middle - and all else aside, he's clearly got issues with how he runs his business.

Completely separate from the issue at hand, I -do- know that being innundated with email and phone calls about a site that you host[0] is a pain in the keister - even if it stems from the good intentions of several thousand people.

tnh writes:
Meanwhile, you're net-savvy guys. You tell me: If some harpy you've never heard of before were to phone your ISP to squawk about how she's received spam after someone briefly posted her e-mail address in the depths of a multithreaded online discussion, and therefore the customer that runs that site is a spammer, and therefore your ISP is going to get put on every blacklist in the world ... would you have fallen for it?

Well - in the end of the world I inhabit, there tend to be a variety of responses, ranging from (also content dependant):

1) Warn the customer to take down the offending content, and consider the issue closed once the content is removed.
2) Block the content immediately, and require justification from the customer to restore access.
3) Do nothing.
4) Ignore the complaint.
5) Terminate the customer.
6) Insist on a formal process including a written complaint.
7) Investigate the complaint as well as do one-or-more of the above.

A lot depends on how serious the problem can be made to sound - if you called up and said there was kidde porn[1] on the servers, I'd expect that you'd get a very different reaction from calling up and complaining that one of the servers had a picture of a cup of water.

Similarly, if you called up and said that there was a denial of service attack[2] orginating on my servers, that's something that merits immediate investigation and resolution.

Generally good practice does imply disabling access to the content, rather than removing it, until a resolution is obtained.

Similarly, good practice also implies having a documented and understood process for dealing with complaints and issues[3].

[0] Whether that site is good, bad or their own worst enemy.
[1] I apologize - it's awfully close to invoking a variant of Godwins law.
[2] ... which could be somebodies broken script sending out a zillion pieces of email to the same place.
[3] ... something which seems to have been long since established as being a problem for JC, and really points back to larger business process issues.

#144 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 04:12 PM:

Thinking about this a bit more, perhaps I should be absolutely clear that I've been on the side of the apparently villainous[0] service provider before, receiving heaps of abuse from users of a site that we hosted.

I think the whole situation with JC and AW stinks, and makes a canonical example for written contracts and clear expectations[1] - and I can only hope that things will be resolved reasonably (although it seems unfortunately unlikely)

[0] ... although not at all of the particularly tawdry nature of this issue.
[1] ... and at another remove, keeping business strictly separate from everything else

#145 ::: Lisa K ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 04:13 PM:

It seems to me Angela Hoy has an axe to grind. She appears to be holding a grudge so I'd take her ramblings for what they're worth. She obviously doesn't like Jenna.

Publishing the emails was just mean spirited.

As for the group at Writer's Weekly...yawn.

#146 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 04:31 PM:

The funny thing about Writer's Weekly is that they've had similar run-ins with Barbara Bauer themselves.

Wherein she invoiced the Writer's Weekly owner for 1 billion dollars.

#147 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 05:48 PM:

I suppose she figured it's easier money than selling manuscripts to publishers, Lisa.

Although, it doesn't seem to be working out all that well for her.

heh.

#148 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Cachers, a quick change of plans, just send your files to, as is, to Cache.Project@gmail.com. Don't worry about renaming them.

#149 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Lori, can you send me that corpus of files so that I can work on improving my extractor? Or am I unknowingly duplicating someone else's work on that?

#150 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 05:58 PM:

Are you kidding? I'm not going anywhere near that gmail account. It frightens me.

(Seriously, I'll ask those who are getting their hands messy reviewing the data if they can forward them to you. What's your e-mail addy?)

#151 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 06:58 PM:

Our technical needs have been met. Thanks so much to all those who volunteered.

#152 ::: g-clef ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 06:58 PM:

Is there still a need for any DB/parsing work? It's sounding like that's under control, but it isn't totally clear. If you still need help, let me know...I've done stuff like this before (though, not with this Bulletin Board system), so it shouldn't be that hard.

#153 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 07:16 PM:

g-clef, thank you so much for your offer. I do think we've got this covered, unless something drastically changes.

I'm completely stunned, amazed, and overwhelmed at the outpouring of generosity and compassion here and all over the blogosphere. People have volunteered time, energy, skills, and money all to help get AW up and running again.

You're quite fabulous, all of you. Thank you.

#154 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 09:11 PM:

Lisa Spangenberg says,

The funny thing about Writer's Weekly is that they've had similar run-ins with Barbara Bauer themselves.

Wherein she invoiced the Writer's Weekly owner for 1 billion dollars.

Yes, that seems like an odd disconnect. When Bauer demanded the billion dollars for a mere mention of her agency's name in a question about fees, Hoy quite rightly pointed out that there was nothing illegal about what was posted. If this was clear in the context of the Writer's Weekly case, how is it less so in the AW case, aside from JC's largely irrelevant (with respect to Bauer) remarks? And how can one reasonably construe the person making such ridiculous demands as an innocent victim of AW's dastardly deed? I have to wonder whether Hoy sympathizes with JC partly because she was recently made nervous by the same complainant over the same general issue.

#155 ::: PS ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 09:36 PM:

If this was clear in the context of the Writer's Weekly case, how is it less so in the AW case, aside from JC's largely irrelevant (with respect to Bauer) remarks? And how can one reasonably construe the person making such ridiculous demands as an innocent victim of AW's dastardly deed?

I'm sure they all recieve legal notices and threats often. Hoy changed the format of her site because she got tired of spending thousands in legal fees to respond to these people.

I think the question is how did AW respond to BB's threat? Didn't it happen behind the scenes? Something happened to escalate the situation. Unless she did try to call all the ISPs and just happened to strike gold with AW's.

#156 ::: Truth ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 10:04 PM:

Coming in very late and extremely fuzzed on cold medication, but put together an entry for my livejournal with links to your previous post and this one, repeating the call for help and for funds for Jenna and AW.

I feel terrible that I didn't stumble upon this until today when a search for AW led me to post from last week. When I'm more coherent I'll see if I can figure out if there's anything specific I can do to help save spread the word.

#157 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 11:55 PM:

The story grows longer legs:

TechSearch Blog

#158 ::: Indigo Black ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 12:20 AM:

Well Stephanie finally gives her two cents about the whole situation.

Stephanie Cordray

In her last comment she claims the site would have become available today as it was a new month. I guess she's trying to say that they merely turned the site off (due to bandwidth overage) and not deleted it completely. I wonder if they are competing with each other to see who can shovel it out the fastest.

#159 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 12:39 AM:

If that's the case where is the standard bandwidth exceded site unavailable check back later message.
TskTsk.

#160 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 12:54 AM:

Initially, the error claimed that the site had been "suspended"; the "excess bandwidth" message was up later, presumably after a some sort of reptilian thought-process.

Honestly, just doing cross-checks between the stories of the "partners" is a dyslogistic nightmare.

#161 ::: Shweta ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 02:46 AM:

I have to admit my first reaction to being told that I got a mention on Making Light was *squeeee!*

But my second -- which is why I'm posting -- was "wuh-oh". The "Shweta's perl script" mentioned isn't mine. It's a canned script that my husband modified. I just kind of organized.

Just wanted to set the record straight on that (admittedly minor) point!

#162 ::: Shweta ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 02:55 AM:

Nathaniel (my husband) points out that the people who wrote the canned script can be credited here:
http://www.cs.odu.edu/~fmccown/research/lazy/warrick.html

Just to cite sources properly.

#163 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 09:21 AM:

James D. Macdonald wrote:
The story grows longer legs:
TechSearch Blog

Note that Stephanie has replied in the comments. She begins with the following gem:

I suggest you get the facts before you put something like this in print. It might ruin your credibility. We did not suspend the site citing the DMCA. Not once was it ever mentioned on our side. The owner's site was suspended because of:
She then goes on to list the "new" set of complaints about AW.

Hum! That doesn't sound like what we were told. I wonder what actually happened!

-r.

#164 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 10:18 AM:

If you're going to be a fiction writer, Stephanie, you need to:

  • Master the art of a coherent narrative; no part should contradict another, all should be internally coherent.
  • Even in "secondary worlds," or network operations, the principles of physics, the basic truths that govern existence, receipts, credit card invoices, email,—all of these must be taken into account when constructing your narrative.
  • Characters, like customers, are not responsible for your poor business decisions. Don't blame them for your incompetence.
  • Your characters too must be believable; remember that one of the signs of an unreliable narrator is one whose story contradicts (internal consistency again) or who is repeatedly shown to be out of alignment with reality or the stories told by the unreliable character's own supporting characters.
#165 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 11:38 AM:

It probably doesn't need to be asked, but, given the different versions of the stories that Stephanie and James are giving every day, are people saving them all?

#166 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 12:32 PM:

Cachers, if you recovered any of the threads or posts from the Barbara Bauer thread in B&BC, could you send just those threads to macallisterstone@yahoo.com? All other cached data should go to Cache.Project@gmail.com, but the Barbara Bauer threads need to go to MacAllister.

Thanks.

~Lori

#167 ::: Lisa K ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 12:47 PM:

"Er...I'd avoid "WritersWeekly" like the plague for this reason alone"


Just cancelled my membership.

#168 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 01:20 PM:

J&S are doing a lot of the backpeddle dance. Oh well at least they are dancing together rather than alone.

#169 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 01:35 PM:

I know everyone is very anxious to get back into AW. The data is being loaded now. Everyone can help us by not hitting refresh and not trying to log in, as all the attempts to peek in are slowing the technical processes down.

Before we reopen the forums, we have to check the data. We will let everyone know when we're back up.

Thanks much.

~Lori (who is just as excited and impatient as everyone else)

#170 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 03:58 PM:

J&S are doing a lot of the backpeddle dance. Oh well at least they are dancing together rather than alone.

I'm not so sure. They've contradicted each other quite prettily those last days. Won't make for a good Tango.

#171 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 04:08 PM:

Please continue to stay away from AW. The database has been loaded, but it's slightly "ill" right now. As MacAllister said, "who could blame the poor thing after spending nine days stuck alone in the dark...."

Scott is running down the problem now. Keep your fingers crossed people.

#172 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 04:42 PM:

Everyone, could you do me a favor? Any time you see JamesC or Stephanie comment on this affair, please get a screenshot or grab the source of the page.

Thanks.

#173 ::: Indigo Black ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 05:36 PM:

Will do James. Just let us know where to send it.

#174 ::: Jean Marie ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 06:47 PM:

Jim, hope you already got a screen shot of JamesC's drivel since he deleted it. Already. Guess he thought it was bs, too. His homepage manifesto is what I'm referring to.

#175 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 07:41 PM:

I'm a board member of a small charity and I offered to host the auction pictures on my then-site and as soon as the bandwidth went over my limit, I had email from the host. I emailed them right back and had them up it for the month we did auctions. In the end, since it was just for the charity pictures, they didn't even charge me for the extra bandwidth.

(I can't recommend them now, they were bought out by idiots and I've moved my domain.)

#176 ::: Damien Roth ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 10:20 PM:

Mr. Macdonald,

I've taken screenshots of every comment that I've read so far. I'm sure you already have copies, but if you need them, feel free to e-mail me at damienroth(at)sbcglobal(dot)net.

Glad to see the forums were up today...at least a little bit.

D.R.

#177 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 10:22 PM:

More "Support AW" Cafepress items:

http://www.cafepress.com/jasontudor/1491720

"I took the pledge" tee-shirts and pins; each item has a $2 markup, with the proceeds going to AW.

#178 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 10:33 PM:

... and now that I've actually managed to catch up with the other thread, all that I can say is "Ewwww, ICK, Nasty!".

I'd like to revise my earlier take to "theoretical sympathy, ruined immediately by practical actions". Ew.

#179 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 12:14 AM:

Damien Roth, thank you. Please hold on to those for now, and we'll get in touch with you as soon as we're able.

#180 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 12:16 AM:

Argh. Indigo Black, that was meant to be addressed to you, too.

#181 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 04:14 AM:

At 11:15PM Eastern time, Jenna reopened the forums.

Approximately 400 users signed on.

It stayed open for 9 minutes then went down.

We're currently working on stabilizing things.

Look for more information some time tomorrow.

#182 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 04:32 AM:

Okay, I need some quick advice. Fat chance at 4:13 AM Eastern, but morning is soon enough.

Over on Wikipedia, the Barbara Bauer article survived the nomination for deletion. Its content was fairly stable for a couple of days. Today, the reference to James Cordray (with a link to his initial explanation) was removed. The Talk page for the article offered this explanation:

The incident with JC Cordray hosting is in litigation and should not be included until verification is final. MY [3]

I've been wondering whether that's a sufficient reason to delete text that isn't really factually disputed:

James Cordray, manager of JC Hosting, the ISP which took down prominent writer's community "Absolute Write" after complaints made by Bauer, explains the reason why they did so.

Note that the sentence decribes a sequence of events, not cause and effect.

A few minutes ago I did a mouseover on the link attached to the Talk page explanation. It leads to Mrk Yrk. I'm not interested in picking a fight with him or anyone, but from a dispassionate, ridiculously unbiased point of view, is it proper to leave out this part of the story on the basis of litigation? After all, it's not as if there isn't a lot of web chatter on the subject, most of it a lot more committed to one side or the other than this statement of fact. (If anything, the attached link should have this ML entry to counter it.)

#183 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 06:01 AM:

I just checked over on AW to see if the forum was up yet, and noticed that it got my correct username & number of private messages out of the database. As this *can't* have been restored from the cache grabbing project, should I assume that JC Hosting finally returned the database?

Karen -- hmm. I put that text there, so I should probably defend its existence myself, but I don't know whether there are any strict Wikipedia policies relating to ongoing litigation. I'll have a look through and see if I can find anything.

#184 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 06:46 AM:

Karen FB, I think that if there is litigation in progress one certainly needs to be careful. From what I've seen already in this thread, getting a reliable link to what JC Hosting think is like nailing jello to a tree. The Wikipedia concept of verification is also susceptible to gaming by liars and, whatever the merits of Mrk Yrk's edit, there's going to problems with finding a reliable source.

Perhaps something like this would work:

It has been alleged that a complaint by Barbara Bauer led JC Webhosting to shut down the Absolute Write website. The actions of JC Webhosting are currently the subject of litigation.

You could, I hope, give links to whatever accounts the two sides have published, which would verify that allegations have been made.

Anyway, what's the point at which something starts to be litigation. Lawyer's letters, or going to court for a writ, or what?

#185 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 08:53 AM:

No, Jules, Stephanie alluded on her blog that the site gets reset on the first of the month, but with the smaller bandwidth. So JC did nothing but let the site reload, and Charlie, Jenna and co just had to grab it.

Which it looks like they did, but are still working the bugs out.

Or something like that, I'm technologically challenged.
I actually got on once, and even posted a small message, telling someone the site wasn't up to speed yet. Now, they've got a notice saying they're working on it.

#186 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 09:25 AM:

Jules, Christine, we have the database now, but it's still not feeling well. See the "Absolute Write is gone" thread for a few details.

(EVERYONE: Please don't try logging in to AW yet. We'll give official word when we're ready for the members to come on in. Until then, it slows things down when people try to log in.)

That comment of Stephanie's is just weird. AW was somehow supposed to know that JC-Hosting forgot to lock down the data and that we could access it when the account reset? And since I have no doubt they'd have screamed blue bloody murder if we had done such a thing, what's she being all condescending for?

#187 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 10:12 AM:

Karen FB, Dave Bell, Jules,
Wikipedia is pretty useless for anything controversial. See this link for an illustration: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2005/12/16

I'll quote Tycho:

Any persistent idiot can obliterate your contributions. The fact of the matter is that all sources of information are not of equal value, and I don't know how or when it became impolitic to suggest it. In opposition to the spirit of Wikipedia, I believe there is such a thing as expertise.
The second response is: the collaborative nature of the apparatus means that the right data tends to emerge, ultimately, even if there is turmoil temporarily as dichotomous viewpoints violently intersect. To which I reply: that does not inspire confidence. In fact, it makes the whole effort even more ridiculous. What you've proposed is a kind of quantum encyclopedia, where genuine data both exists and doesn't exist depending on the precise moment I rely upon your discordant fckng mob for my information.
I can say it no better.
-r.

#188 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 11:06 AM:

In some respects Wikipedia is like Family Feud *; there's no right answer, only what the "survey sez."

* For those of you blessedly unburdened by the knowledge of American TV, Family Feud was (is?) an especially dumb game show.

#189 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 11:17 AM:

I don't entirely agree with Tycho's assessment, there, I'm afraid. Yes, using Wikipedia to get reliable information can be a bit of a dark art at times; there are many articles that are one-sided to the point of being ridiculous, and even more that give too much time to fringe ramblings (see for instance the ADHD article... still got to do something about that one). For this reason, I'd not recommend Wikipedia to those who aren't skilled in assessing the reliability of sources. But for those who are, you just realise that it's a mixture of sources and use the references to track down the (hopefully) reliable original source of the information you're looking for.

And, yes, that even works on controversial topics. As long as someone has edited the page in line with the Wikipedia guidelines[1] it does work.

And vandalism on Wikipedia rarely works. Yes, there are a few well documented occasions where a malicious change persisted for quite a while (Tycho's comments were, I believe, made in response to the most recent of these). But they are far from the norm. 99% of the time, if a page you've worked on is vandalised by someone, you'll never even notice unless you look at the page history at some point.

Sorry, I'll stop ranting now.
--
[1]: especially: provide a third-party 'reliable' source for any asserion made in the article; reliable in this context means 'published by someone independent and reputable' and generally 'not self-published', although there are exceptions to the latter rule.

#190 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 11:18 AM:

Scott H: I believe those of us in the UK may know it better as "Family Fortunes". And I'm pretty sure it's still ongoing here, even if it isn't over there. :(

#191 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 11:23 AM:

First, the board is still down. It is not yet open.

What is happening is Jenna, Charlie, and Scott are attempting to escalate use in order to see when, or if, the board goes "boom." (Gotta love those technical terms, don't you?)

First, Jenna and Charlie logged in. The board was fine, so

The supermods were introduced to the mix. There were a couple of lags, but nothing major, so

The moderators have now been added (yes, if you are a moderator, you can now log in, check on your board, and try to break things.)

There have been a couple of minor issues with the mods in, so where we go from there, I don't know. The error messages were forwarded to Scott. I'll let you know when I know anything new.

On the plus side, all the data appears to be intact and the board is getting healthier all the time.

Please continue to be patient. We'll get everyone home soon. :)

~Lori

P.S. I meant to post last night. This morning, there's lots of technical talk going on. Mainly, Scott, Lisa, and Charlie are talking and Jenna and the supermods are listening and nodding at the appropriate times. We are closing in on both a short-term fix and a long-term solution.

#192 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Jules, Christine, I think it's completely safe to say that Absolute Write is going to be fine. Things should be OK in a day or two, perhaps sooner.

#193 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 11:48 AM:

Will the Wikipedia flamage ever end? In ten years, will people still blame Jimmy Wales for despoiling Eden by inventing bias, ambiguity, propaganda, and disinformation?

The difference between Wikipedia and Site X (a definitive source of unambiguous, unbiased, spin-free, meticulously documented information on all controversial topics, compiled by dispassionate aliens who watch us from the Moon) is that Site X exists only in my imagination.

#194 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 12:12 PM:

Will the Wikipedia flamage ever end? In ten years, will people still blame Jimmy Wales for despoiling Eden by inventing bias, ambiguity, propaganda, and disinformation?

The difference between Wikipedia and Site X (a definitive source of unambiguous, unbiased, spin-free, meticulously documented information on all controversial topics, compiled by dispassionate aliens who watch us from the Moon) is that Site X exists only in my imagination.

I'm trying to branch out from bashing only Bush.


#195 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 01:15 PM:

I've been there, and the Learn Writing with Uncle Jim thread appears to be intact (though I haven't yet looked at every page to make sure).

#196 ::: Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 01:37 PM:

Anyway, what's the point at which something starts to be litigation. Lawyer's letters, or going to court for a writ, or what?
--------------
IANAL but, I believe standard for the parties directly involved is "reasonable anticipation of litigation" triggers the requirement to preserve all documents in your own possession, which includes not allowing normal destruction cycles to take place. Concept in question is "spoliation."


#197 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Will the Wikipedia flamage ever end?

The difference between Wikipedia and Site X is that Site X exists only in my imagination.

Interesting spin on things. While bashing from top-down against Mr. Wales, does miss the point, that isn't to say that wikipedia isn't due for a large overhaul.

The problem isn't the head of the beast, but a million uncoordinated legs that like to trip each other up. Wikipedia started as a completely unmanaged mob and the flaws in that approach weren't a problem when wikipedia was unknown, few people read it, and fewer people contributed to it. A tree fell in the forest, and no one heard it.

Wikipedia is still an unmanaged mob. The only difference is that now there is a second mob of admins to manage the first mob. But a mob managing a mob still breaks down into a simple unmanaged mob. I've seen contributions by phd's in a subject get gutted by moronic imbeciles who shouldn't have passed high school, and the "dispute resolution" system of wikipedia boils down to majority wins, in other words, mob rules. This becomes painfully apparent when dealing with a politically charged topic. And I wouldn't find it surprising if most experts about a topic, such as people who actually make a living doing whatever the topic is about, never contribute any significant amount of content to an article for any duration of time. When an expert comes in, they start contributing, and the mob shuts them out. 3RR doesn't care if you're a PhD or a moron. a couple of morons can keep a PhD frustrated long enough that they give up. I've seen that very thing happen on a couple of articles.

And if only to encourage mob mentality, wikipedia seems to embrace a couple of basic principles that only amplify it. Anonymity is the cornerstone of mob rule. while it's fine to allow IP address contributions, when an article is "hot" it should be stepped up to registered users only. And not users like "Sparky101". First and last names. If everyone editing an article must have their names associated with their work, then the power of anonyminity can't amplify the tendancies for mob rule. as an added bonus, sock puppets dissappear.

The other idiot-syncrocy of wikipedia is that someone somewhere seems to have started the meme that an editor's views of a topic are irrelevant, and that asking editors to state their personal position on a particular topic they are editing, is rude. If an article doesn't have problems, then that's fine. but if an article does become problematic, it is the editors who are making it problematic. And trying to sort out the various poitns of views in an article without sorting out the POV's of the editors is simply maintaining an unmanaged mob. If you want to report the various pov's of a topic, you need to know what pov's the editor's are going to bring to the table. Then if a dispute arises, you let an editor represent in the article the pov they support, and any other pov is handed to an editor who personally supports that pov. Expecting random Q. public to represent both sides of any topic fairly is just stupid.

So, two basic things (anonymous editors and not being able to bin the personal pov's of the editors) both encourage mob mentality. Not everyone succumbs to it, but when an article is hotly disputed, these two things allow the subset of people who are inclined to be mobsters to use their anonymity to control an article by simple mob rule. Then good editors leave, experts in that topic leave, and the article and wikipedia is far worse off.

Oh, that, and all admins must operate under first and last name. Giving someone power, and letting them weild it anonymously, only leads to trouble. That admins are created by majority vote isn't a sufficient safeguard. The current system basically deals with admins like a Supreme Court nominee. one majority vote is needed to get them in, and after that, they are free to roam unhindered. The wildest abuses by an admin that would get a regular user banned, almost never result in de-adminning. Which is yet another problem.

Admins need to be elected for someting like a two year term, then re-elected after that. While it takes a massive amount of energy to get someone de-adminned, a re-election approach would quickly sort out the assholes from the people who are truly trying to solve problems win-win.

(end massive rant)


#198 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 03:36 PM:

...to see when, or if, the board goes "boom." (Gotta love those technical terms, don't you?)

I am a professional software tester focusing on the non-functional side of the field. I do a lot of performance, stress and volume tests, and I can tell you that "going boom" is the technical term. It's not the one I use in test reports, but it's the one we use to describe the situation. (It's argot, not jargon, in other words.)

Just BTW.

#199 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 07:20 PM:

I can well believe that controversial Wikipedia entries are a problem, but for the vast majority of articles, the system actually seems to work very well. All it takes is someone with the knowledge and interest to get the entry up to speed, and keep an eye on it thereafter. Last week, some idiot removed the synopsis from the entry for A Wrinkle in Time, changed the name "Charles Wallace Murry" to something silly and rude, and wrote that this five-year-old character had sex with the reader's mother. By the time I saw the vandalism, it had already been fixed. Another entry I've been working with, for the tv show Route 66, is coming along nicely, as people pop in more stuff and I go in and organize it all. When nobody violently disagrees with the material, the system works.

That said, however, I do think that edits should be restricted to registered users, who can be booted if they vandalize (not just disagree, but actually post deliberately rude or erroneous material). That would cut down on the problems a bit, I think. Look at Wikipedia from AOL sometime, without being logged in as a Wikipedia User. The AOL IP I use is full of warning messages about vandalism, and at least one irked reply from some AOL member that lots and lots of people have that IP address, not all of whom do annoying and stupid things.

It might also be a good idea to put certain articles in the exclusive hands of experts, so that only an informed opinion can carry the day. The talk page on the amazing Adolf Hitler entry (the entry itself is locked) contains whines about the article being too long and detailed: in effect, too good. Phooey.

Meanwhile, I figure that keeping an eye on the Barbara Bauer article is a way I can make some small contribution to getting the information out there.

#200 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 07:35 PM:

Karen, I'm with you on the experts for some topics. I've found so much misinformation in history related entries that I didn't even bother to start correcting them. I'd never finish my novel projects that way. ;)

#201 ::: Jean Marie ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 09:23 PM:

Here's a good one-- murk yurk, I think is erasing my comments on the Bauer discussion entry! Think I'm a tad ticked! I called him on deleting the JC Hosting link as a Wiki user and then debating as a non-user keeping the link deleted. Excuse me? Ethics? Please!

So the dweeb, it's gotta be him, deletes my comments and someone elses, both of which say to keep the link. Then he posts as Marky48, which is his Wiki user name and has the audacity to say, discussion comments shouldn't be deleted!!!

I put my comments back, after finding them archived, w/ a warning, an ambigious one--whomever deleted, blah, blah, goes to mediation. Yikes!

Now, breathing. Here's the link, so you can read.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Bauer

#202 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 10:12 PM:

So the dweeb, it's gotta be him, deletes my comments and someone elses, both of which say to keep the link. Then he posts as Marky48, which is his Wiki user name and has the audacity to say, discussion comments shouldn't be deleted!!!

Yes, it was Mrk Yrk, clearly, per history. I added my deleted remark back in also, and pointed out that Yrk was the only one who did the thing he complains about there. It seems as though he's either unaware of his own actions, or, more likely, doesn't realize how easy it is to check the history and see who did what when. If anything, it may be that the system has replaced IP addresses with the username, a couple of times now. I would need to watch and take screen shots to be sure.

The next question is, is it time to put the JC-Hosting material back in the entry, or must we wait for Yrk to get bored and go away (or to do something else for which he can be righteously stomped)?

#203 ::: Jean Marie ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 10:31 PM:

Uh, Karen, I just checked, and now he's cleaned it up even more. I didn't realize it was you :)

He's added his Wiki sig to each entry and back-timed them to fit our entries. I believe that makes it "stomp" time!

#204 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 10:55 PM:

No, the discussion page was cleaned up by Calton, who added Mrk Yrk's sig and added a note at the top on Wiki procedure re signing comments and external links. No stomping to be done yet!

#205 ::: Jean Marie ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 10:59 PM:

My mistake, Karen, it was, Calton, who added the sigs, Yrk's back in.

Maybe you're correct in saying we should wait until he's bored before adding the link back. I'll leave that to you *g*

#206 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 11:29 PM:

controversial Wikipedia entries are a problem, but for the vast majority of articles, the system actually seems to work very well.

Yes, for non-controversial topics, it happens to work. And I generally spent my time on controversial entries trying to get both sides to agree to something. There were a couple of times when some actual expert came into one or another article, started contributing, got flak, got reverted, tried some variations, got reverted en masse, and soon left the article. Last time it happened, some editors-who-were-admins-but-not-acting-in-that-capacity were part of the mob, and that was about the time I left wikipedia. It's just not worth the wiki-ulcers.

The thing is the rules could be tweaked so that non-controversial articles could be handled the same way they are now, and for controversial articles, some minor changes to the system would alter the whole environment to dampen the mob mentality.

oh well.

#207 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 05:13 AM:

But a mob managing a mob still breaks down into a simple unmanaged mob.

Yes, perhaps it does. But I've yet to see a functioning form of human government that doesn't break down to a mob managing a mob or a dictator managing a mob managing a mob; and perhaps it's my modern-era elitism, but I think there's somewhat less awfulness in mob-managing-mob type systems than in dictator-managing-mob-managing-mob systems.

Mind you, to paraphrase T.H. White's Merlin, "I am an anarchist, like any other sensible person," but I also think government is a form of self-inflicted parenting, and humanity's on the level of a kid who's just discovered he can light people's shoelaces on fire. (I seem to remember Merlin saying something about that, too, but it's been a long time since I read that one.)

#208 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 05:18 AM:

There are some articles on Wikipedia that are brilliant. I am told by a family member (with a PhD in the topic) that the article on `Logic' is atrocious, and useless. On the other hand, one of the more specialised articles (I think on Martin Löf's Type Theory, but I'm not sure,) is brilliant. Written by a user with probably post-graduate studies in the area, and available for free.

They think that the fact that the forst article exists at all is a pity, but that the second article exists is pretty good.

#209 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 06:16 AM:

Well, parliamentary democracy boils down to a committee managing a meeting managing a mob, so maybe that's pretty good, no?

#210 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 08:27 AM:

What's a committee and what's a meeting, and how are they different from mobs?

This is a serious question. Every group-decision-making effort I've been privileged to personally see or take part in has been, IMHO, a mob. Most of them have worked less well than Wikipedia, although the principle is the same: when a dispute comes up, the control freak on one side bashes their head against the head of the control freak on the other side until they either saw down to a compromise, or one or both flounces off. The smaller committee the worse, because "one or both flounces off" is the more likely result without a certain number of neutrals with a stake in the matter, ready to argue devil's advocate or keep things from getting too ridiculous. (In most zones, Wikipedia gets enough neutrals not to go haywire. In some zones, it doesn't.) Rule structures like voting are also useful in keeping this from happening, but as we may see in action, they don't always hold up.

#211 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 09:28 AM:

The Absolute Write Water Cooler is back up and open to all.

Please drop by.

And don't forget to donate to the legal fund.

#212 ::: CaoPaux ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 12:43 PM:

*Snoopy dance*

Another huge Thanks! to Making Light for giving our fleet of dinghies a port in the storm.

#213 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 03:12 PM:

...at first I thought to myself, who's Cao calling a dingy? Then that other voice said, "Who is it that wanders around the AW forums in a sequined Minnie Mouse ears headband?"

Teresa, Patrick, and all the Making Light regulars who have supported, encouraged, and put up with us, thank you so much.

Effusively,
Dawno

#214 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 04:34 PM:

the article on `Logic' is atrocious, and useless.

If I had to guess, it is atrocious because people who have some ultra orthadox religiously motivated line of thinking want their version of reality to qualify as logical, so they fiddle with the article so they meet the definition. That, or given that it's such a common subject, that all sorts of poeple end up there, and you get kids who don't know anything about it, editing the article.

more specialised articles (I think on Martin Löf's Type Theory ... is brilliant

yeah, probably not a lot of traffic there. So drive by's can be fixed and mobs don't form. Hey, I said for small or uncontroversial topics, wikipedia's approach as it is now, is fine. It's for article's such as G.W. Bush that needs to be reserved to named/registered contributers only, and other structures put in place to keep the mobs in check.

Every group-decision-making effort I've been privileged to personally see or take part in has been, IMHO, a mob.

Well, that's unfortunate for you, really, but it isn't a required outcome. I've seen some interesting approaches to stopping flame wars that are purely structural in their approach. Rules that don't require knowing which side is "right" so that it can ban the other side, but simply rules that cause flaming to get deamplified, rather than amplified.

disemvoweling is a sort of an example. Taking out the vowels makes it hard for people to read who don't want to read it, but for folks who do, they still can. You could probably do the same with ROT13'ing a post if you wanted to. But the fact that the post is still there, means that the poster can't complain about it getting deleted. If you delete a post, it generally feeds the flames. Disemvoweling or ROT13'ing keeps the post, so it doesn't amplify the poster's reaction as much, and it makes it slightly harder to read, so people not interrested in it, don't suddenly get hooked by something and start getting involved in teh argument.

Structures like this can be put into place, rules of interaction, can be made, that directs people towards fulfilling the goal of good NPOV articles, rather than have them focus on being right, proving the other side wrong, and amplifying fights.

I've had a little bit of trainign with this sort of thing as a life coach, but it was emphasized on in-person or over-the-phone interactions. But it's the same thing. Some ways of interacting bring people down to an argument. other ways bring them up to their higher goals.

#215 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 05:03 PM:

Just an FYI, the Barbara Bauer Wikipedia article seems to have stabilized, at least for now. What it took was an outside party, a registered user with no prior involvement in this specific discussion and no apparent interest in the outcome beyond Wikipedia standards. In the description of the edit restoring the text, "Shinto" stated that a consensus had been reached, and that further deletions by a persistent minority of one would be subject to action by Wiki authorities. Amen.

#216 ::: NicoleW ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 07:55 PM:

Glad the Wiki situation seems to be working out. (Knocks on wood.)

And I just want to chime in with my thanks to Teresa and Patrick. This was the first place where I found out what actually happened to AW after it disappeared, and I really appreciate the information and the supportive posts.

#217 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2006, 06:28 AM:

Greg London says:

Well, that's unfortunate for you, really, but it isn't a required outcome.

I didn't say the outcome was always bad. As with Wikipedia, mob-style decision-making actually does work in some areas, less well in others. You seemed to be referring to "mob" as a type of system, and I grabbed that idea and ran with it.

Anyhow, I want to give a big yay! to AW being reinstated, and I mean to send a smidge of money. When I have a smidge to send.

#218 ::: slobbit ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2006, 08:37 AM:

Interesting blurb on court decisions involving a site owner's responsibility for comments posted by others within:

http://techdirt.com/articles/20060606/0323235.shtml

#219 ::: Roger J Carlson ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2006, 08:51 AM:

Repeated from previous AW thread:

Teresa,

Making Light was one of the major resources for news, information, and community for AW members during the AW Blackout. I'd just like to say thanks.

To everybody else:
SUPPORT AW's REBUILDING/LEGAL FUND!
Buy a cool button or make a PayPal donation!

--Roger

#220 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2006, 11:54 AM:

Teresa, thank you once again for hosting AW's refugees. Thank you and everyone, too, for all the support you provided us during the last two weeks. I don't think any of you will ever realize quite how much that meant to AW's recovery.

~Lori

#221 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2006, 01:27 PM:

I'm gathering various ways to donate to Absolute Write and the Water Cooler forums here Please feel free to pass the URL, link to it, or steal the html.

#222 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2006, 06:38 PM:

Just an FYI, the Barbara Bauer Wikipedia article seems to have stabilized, at least for now. What it took was an outside party, a registered user with no prior involvement in this specific discussion and no apparent interest in the outcome beyond Wikipedia standards. In the description of the edit restoring the text, "Shinto" stated that a consensus had been reached, and that further deletions by a persistent minority of one would be subject to action by Wiki authorities. Amen.

This did of course earn Shinto a totally unwarranted flame on the talk page. Is there no end to mrk yrk's incivility? The comment he made about bias in Shinto's edits made me dig up his own edit history. Which turned up this edit on Disemvoweling. (See the comments I made after I deleted it here).

BTW: Shinto has shown interest in publishing-related figures in the past, particularly Miranda Prather & her connection with PublishAmerica, so is probably not a total outsider.

Also, MrkYrk probably didn't change it again because he's aware of the wikipedia rule against making the same change three times.

#223 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2006, 07:06 PM:

BTW: Shinto has shown interest in publishing-related figures in the past, particularly Miranda Prather & her connection with PublishAmerica, so is probably not a total outsider.

Yes, so I belatedly discovered. My only prior awareness of Shinto was a "keep" vote on the Articles for Deletion page, which seemed to draw a lot of respect from other Wikipedians in the form of "per Shinto" votes.

I'm finding this whole process annoying but fascinating.

#224 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2006, 07:09 PM:

MrkYrk probably didn't change it again because he's aware of the wikipedia rule against making the same change three times.

last I heard, 3RR only meant three times in a 24 hour period. he can simply wait a day and re-edit it. Maybe the rules ahve changed.

#225 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2006, 07:16 PM:

And just what is "publish banishment," anyway, especially as practiced "by the Puritans in the 1600s," per MY?

#226 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2006, 07:22 PM:

I did get a chuckle when he invoked "the Puritans in the 1600's".

Wow, just wow.

#227 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2006, 10:46 PM:

MrkYrk probably didn't change it again
because he's aware of the wikipedia rule
against making the same change three times.

I've never been involved in Wikipedia editing,
but it's sounding a lot like Calvinball.


#228 ::: Charlie ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2006, 12:12 PM:

I just wanted to pop by one more time to thank Teresa and Patrick for letting us hang out in their house while this crisis played out. You are, and always will be, the best of neighbours. Thank you so much.

Charlie

#229 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2006, 11:23 PM:

MacAllister, it appears BB has made equal amounts of money from sending $1 Billion invoices and selling manuscripts to publishers.

#230 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2006, 11:25 PM:

Murk has re-edited the Wikipedia entry on disemvowelling, with added threats.

#231 ::: Matt D ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 01:06 AM:

I was just looking at the Barbara Bauer wiki, and it looks like Ms. Bauer herself edited her page. It's since been edited back, but if you look at the history you can read what she wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Barbara_Bauer&oldid=57613639

#232 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 01:51 AM:

Yes, Barbara Bauer does appear to have "whitewashed" her Wiki page, which Calton then reverted. The interesting part about it is that is was mostly about two books she may legitimately have placed with non-vanity publishers, one in 1987 and one circa 1991. I found the older one offered used, and the newer one on Amazon as a special order. I'm trying to figure out how to verify her connection with these books. If I can do that, then a mention of these two titles be legitimately added to the Wikipedia entry for balance. On the other hand, these two 15- and 19-year old successes in no way disprove the contention that her recent clients have not benefited from the relationship.

Oh, and I see Mrk has a new sockpuppet on this thread. I'm tired of pointing out facts in opposition to his baseless accusations, so I'll just wave cheerily. [Waves]

#233 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 04:33 AM:

I should give up predicting that this whole twisty saga will be resolved any time soon. Someone reported that the link to James Cordray's takedown explanation (the link to which Mrk objects) wasn't working. I stripped it back to just the domain name, and got a "connection refused" message. It could be

a) a glitch, soon to be resolved
b) a site that the Cordrays decided to take down themselves, perhaps because of the negative publicity, or
c) a sign that their ISP is having major technical and/or financial issues

...or something else I didn't think of.

As long as the page was there, it seemed as good a source as any for the Cordrays' narrative and interpretation of what happened between them and Barbara Bauer. I guess we'll have to wait and see what develops, and whether a different link might be more viable and appropriate at this point.

#234 ::: Matt D ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 04:38 AM:

According to the personal sites of the owners, they're shutting down
http://jccordray.com/
http://sgcordray.com/

I'm not a webmaster, but I think you can block certain referrers. For example, people coming from wikipedia or absolutewrite.com will click a link that is valid, but nothing or a different page shows up.

I'm sure if I'm wrong someone will correct me.

#235 ::: Dan Strohschein ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 07:40 AM:

Do you guys still need a developer with PHP and MySQL skills? It's been a few years on those particular technologies, but I have been coding for over 10 years. I have worked in PHP, .NET, VB, MS-SQL, MySQL, Access, etc heavily over the last ten years, and I would gladly lend a hand where it's needed.

Let me know at imcdstrohschein -at- hotmail-dot- com

May AW live on forever!

#236 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 12:30 PM:

The interesting part about it is that is was mostly about two books she may legitimately have placed with non-vanity publishers, one in 1987 and one circa 1991.

I initially thought this was probably genuine, but then I started digging into it and discovered that Father Orsini, who she described in her text at wikipedia as a "first-time author she placed with St Martin's Press" had published at least two books before she even graduated. The fact that she doesn't know her own client's prior publication history makes me less and less confident that he ever even was her client.

I'm trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, to think that maybe she'd just never bothered asking him, or had lost the details, and that this is just a sign of incompetence rather than malice. But it's hard.

#237 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 12:34 PM:

Matt D:

Yes, you can do that, but I just peeked at one of those pages and got the "We're shutting down" message. So it looks like they're actually closing.

Hopefully they'll give the rest of their customers sufficient notice. My host shut down a year or so ago and gave me a month's notice which was plenty. I lost data in the move, but that was me being clumsy.

As far as I can tell, their hosting service is a reseller, so they can be back in the web hosting business in less than a week under a different name. They can probably stay with their provider and might even be able to keep some of their customers. I wish them luck and hope thay've learned from this experience.

#238 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 09:22 PM:

Matt D., it's easy to block referers, and even easier to bypass such blocking (just copy the address, open a new browser page, and paste it in).

If I'm annoyed by someone trying that,
curl -e "referer.blocking.is.stupid" http://whatever

Maybe they read their logs.

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