This is a first… ‘bloggers’ objecting to deeplinks

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
3:19 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Over the past few months (see this category page if you’re new here) I’ve made a number of claims about ‘lead bloggers’ Iain Dale and Paul Staines here at Bloggerheads, at Guido 2.0 and, more recently, at Iain Dale’s Dairy.

I have repeatedly backed these claims with evidence, and quite often the evidence was easy enough to come by… it was hosted at either site and all I had to do was provide a hyperlink to it. (Meanwhile, if either of these ‘bloggers’ or the associated bullies saw fit to respond to any case made, they did so without affording their readers the simple courtesy of a hyperlink to that case.)

An example of how important hyperlinks are to a case can easily be seen in three recent posts (1, 2, 3) about their approach to John Hirst.

Now, Iain Dale and Paul Staines seek to undermine this normally straightforward process with the following JavaScript that is now installed on all pages of their respective websites (please note that their code shows that – despite what Iain and Paul would have others think – I’ve become a very high priority to them):

Basically, if you follow any permalink from anywhere at (which includes Guido 2.0), or at Iain Dale’s Dairy (hosted at, you will be redirected to the front page of the related site… and away from any evidence that Iain Dale and Paul Staines would rather you didn’t take a closer look at.

(There are ways to work around this, but in the meantime, because Iain and Paul are such sensitive souls, you will need to right-click on any deep/permalinks to their website, copy them, and paste them directly into the address bar of a new browser tab or window.)

This really is rather childish behaviour… it’s also extremely antisocial and not at all in keeping with the core principles of blogging: – On Permalinks and Paradigms: But why did it take off? What was so important about the permalink? It may seem like a trivial piece of functionality now, but it was effectively the device that turned weblogs from an ease-of-publishing phenomenon into a conversational mess of overlapping communities. For the first time it became relatively easy to gesture directly at a highly specific post on someone else’s site and talk about it. Discussion emerged. Chat emerged. And – as a result – friendships emerged or became more entrenched. The permalink was the first – and most successful – attempt to build bridges between weblogs. It existed way before Trackback and I think it’s been more fundamental to our development as a culture than comments… Not only that, it added history to weblogs as well – before you’d link to a site’s front page if you wanted to reference something they were talking about – that link would become worthless within days, but that didn’t matter because your own content was equally disposable. The creation of the permalink built-in memory – links that worked and remained consistent over time, conversations that could be archived and retraced later. The permalink stopped all weblog conversations being like that guy in Memento…

Normally it’s only ivory-tower corporate types who start refusing/fouling inbound links:
EFF – EFF Warns ABC to Back Off Blogger
The Register – Apple sues itself in the foot (again)

Now Britain’s self-proclaimed blogging champions are at it… and have configured their redirections to target the two sites that are regularly critical of them. If you become regularly critical of either or both sites, then you’re sure to join the list too.

This was, I suspect, a gift to Iain and Paul from Dizzy (one of their lead bullies), who was first to introduce this kiddy-fix and is the only member of their little gang who boasts any technical skills.

It may have seemed clever at the time, but it’s not very smart.

Can you imagine the fuss these so-called bloggers would make if code like this were introduced at the Downing Street website? I can almost hear the mocking laughter now. Dale and Staines would be the first to declare it to be proof that they had got under the government’s skin… and that they clearly had something to hide.

UPDATE – Dizzy confirms he was behind the introduction of this kiddy-tech and includes his most common trademark… a thinly-veiled threat: “Now, I must get back to reading up on Movable Type and how insecure it is.”

UPDATE – Unity offers some thoughts and a possible workaround. Of course, the simplest way forward for all concerned would be for Dale and Staines to admit that perhaps they shouldn’t have listened to Dizzy when he came up with this ‘clever’ ploy that so drastically undermined their credibility (with minimal effort).

UPDATE – See comments. In a further breach of the kind of trust that’s essential to blogging, Dizzy has now amended his code so any link to his site from this one or Iain Dale’s Dairy redirects to… in other words, any new visitor who happens across a post about Dizzy on this site will be forcibly and unexpectedly redirected to a NSFW website. He’s excelling himself today… and appears to be so drunk on the technical side of what he’s achieved that he is blind to the cultural side.

UPDATE (6pm) – Paul Staines has done a ‘monkey do’ and configured his site to redirect all links from or to any page on his website ( to (as Tygerland puts it, with; “No warning. No heads-up about being ‘not safe for work’. Nothing.”) – despite my pointing out here that the NSFW thing is going to be a major issue for people even if the redirects in general are not. Gotta love that devil-may-care attitude.

UPDATE (2nd May) – A comment I made over at Unity’s site that’s worth repeating here:

I’m especially amused that:

a) Dale and Staines went for this in the first place (thereby proving a lot of what I’ve been saying).

b) Knowing that that were willing to do this, that they didn’t have the brains to think of this themselves.

c) Staines visibly followed Dizzy on the stunt, thereby proving that he didn’t have the wit to think of that himself.

d) They didn’t opt for (c) sooner… as they may have got away with this on the basis that it was ‘funny’ and not a clumsy attempt to censor undesirable input. They pissed away a lot of potential for misdirection there.

UPDATE – Would you like to see what Iain Dale has to say for himself? You would? Oh, jolly good! Here you go… don’t expect much.

UPDATE (3rd May) – Many thanks for the offers and suggestions regarding workarounds, but I’m not going to use any for the following reasons:

a) The ability to hyperlink to individual entries and comments on other websites is a cornerstone of blogging, and it’s not something I wish to toy with as a matter of principle.

b) Regardless, most workarounds involve code and redirections that place an unfair burden on readers and/or service providers, and the introduction of any of these would certainly lead to their working around that workaround and my working around that workaround and so on and so forth. A futile escalation would result.

c) Dale and Staines have yet to realise how stupid and cowardly this makes them look.

There’s the NSFW issue to deal with, of course… so I’ve made the following banner that links to this post and appears on every relevant page likely to carry a link to Dale or Staines.

This allows me to alert readers to Paul Staines’ NSFW redirection and highlight a clear (and dual) example of Dale and Staines having no regard for the principles of weblogs and no respect for the web users who read them.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… thanks to the many wonders of honesty and transparency I can afford to say “Bring it on!” and they can’t.

The cant’s.

UPDATE – Paul Staines has finally grown up just enough to drop the redirection to… he now redirects visitors to this Wikipedia entry.

UPDATE (14 May) – Paul Staines is now redirecting users to his t-shirt shop (the good one, not the evil one).

UPDATE (2 June) – Iain Dale has now removed the redirection code. Staines persists.

About Tim Ireland

Tim is the sole author of Bloggerheads.
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