This is a first… ‘bloggers’ objecting to deeplinks

Posted by Tim Ireland at May 1, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

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.


  1. Justin says

    Oh, how they must have hugged themselves with glee at such a fiendish solution.Still, makes a change from the all whining, poor-me emails they sent that I'm not allowed to publish.

  2. Piers says

    Simplest thing to do would be to just use firefox and turn off javascript… Ha foiled!

  3. Mike Rouse says

    Why do people need to share their email address before being able to comment here? Is TypeKey authentication not enough?Also, why is this blog so badly designed? Was it done by a child?

  4. Manic says

    Hello, Mike. Welcome to Bloggerheads. To answer your questions:1. So I have a fair chance of knowing who you are before you are allowed to publish information on my website (or, at the very least, if you are trying to hide who you are).2. No. (See above.)3. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.4. Was yours?[Edit – Ah, no… I see it wasn't. On it, you advertise yourself as a Website Designer]PS – Please do try to keep your comments on-topic in future.

  5. Mike Rouse says

    Thanks for the link, much appreciated.

  6. Manic says

    You're… er… welcome.You didn't notice there was already one there? Under your name?

  7. Dave Cole says

    Dizzy's website refers you to from if you link from this site

  8. Manic says

    Oh, FFS… he really doesn't have a clue, does he? Post updated.

  9. davblog says

    No Linking Allowed

    The clue to the usefulness of the world wide web is in its name. It's a web. You click on…

  10. septicisle says

    First class prick here, feeling that this sort of skulduggery certainly isn't indicative of prickishness.

  11. goatchurch says

    Can you reset the referrer value so it appears that he is getting links from page3?It's not like politics– liars don't have an advantage when it comes to writing code.

  12. dizzy says


  13. Manic says

    Pfft! Dizzy, you've been thinking about this all afternoon and evening, and that's the best you can do? You'll be wanting a refund from Spirit Of The Staircase & Co.Re: goatchurch and other 'workaround' comments/input (here and elsewhere)… I don't want to go there, and I shouldn't have to go there. That's kind of the whole point.

  14. dizzy says

    Actually I have a life, and went out, it was great.

  15. dizzy says

    Incidentally Lassie, in case you don't see it, your claim on Tygerland that "has tits" is bollocks. You won't find a single nipple on the default page that people are redirected too. You're either blind or a liar and I don't think you're blind.

  16. Manic says

    Ah, so it took you all afternoon, all evening, a few beers, *and* input from other people, and that was still the best you could do?Dizzy, Page 3 is a well-known brand. Everyone knows that it's all about boobs. As far as any 'over the shoulder' or passing glance goes, it does not pass the work-safe test… even if there aren't any nipples on the default page. Another example in the hope that you might grasp this… there are no nipples on the default page of, either.Happy to debate that point further, but can we please get to the part where you (and Iain Dale and Paul Staines) thought it was a clever idea to bypass one of the fundamental things that makes a weblog a weblog? After all, the whole point of the exercise (as shown by the original configuration that Dale is still using) was to foul up any use of evidence via permalinks. It was only later that you started messing with hyperlinks in general.PS – Dizzy, we have already been through this… screaming "I meant to do that!" does not undo an own goal:

  17. dizzy says

    hahahaha.. yes you got me, I was out discussing strategy for responding to Tim ireland with Bernie Rhodes and Glen matlock at the after party! :rolleyes:…The original configuration was not about fouling up use of evidence, it was about annoying you and maintaining the derisory inbound traffic you send, oh Great One! Don't you get it yet? Everything you've done in your post, everything you've said, was known, was predicted. You're so utterly predicyable I almost pity you, but then I start to laugh again. The fact that there are so many stupidly easy workarounds, the fact that is such a noddy bit of code even you, the great Guru, could write it, explains all there is to know. Had I had access to the apache config I would've done it with mod_rewrite instead.. after all.. hacking webservers is what I do for a living (ooohhh… he used the word hacking.. it must mean he's going to break into something! – or perhaps it only means that to people who claim to be web gurus but are actually cluvoids). Oh yes, and actually, I was redirecting to Page 3 all day Saturday and Sunday but you didn't notice (presumably because you do actually a life away from your keyboard (sometimes))Now as for this crap about the "fundamental thing that makes a weblog a weblog", get off you're high fucking moral crusade horse. It's a website you prat. A website with a guestbook script tagged on a content management interface so that stupid people don't need to know HTML. It's not special. The blogsphere doesn't exist, only the Internet does.At the end of the day, you got played again….. mate. Of course, you'll never believe that, you'll always believe that my reactions and comments are me trying dig myself out of a hole. This is because you have a blinkered view of thinking added into the fact that you don't know me very well. I've told you before, I'm a mischievous cunt, maybe next time I wind you up (and there will be a next time) you might get it.

  18. Manic says

    Tch. Such a lot of effort for such a little biscuit."everything you've said, was known, was predicted"This would have been more impressive had you actually predicted it somewhere"The fact that there are so many stupidly easy workarounds"One workaround leads to another, to another, to another… were you predicting that I would 'fall for this', too?"I was redirecting to Page 3 all day Saturday and Sunday but you didn't notice"And I should be visiting your page every day because…? Besides, I think you're telling porkies here."Now as for this crap about the 'fundamental thing that makes a weblog aweblog', get off you're high fucking moral crusade horse."Permalinks are a defining aspect of weblogs; they enable interaction on an item-by-item basis. Conversations emerge. If there weren't something about this that appealed to human beings, those still muddling through life on would still be on Geocities. As for the "It's not a religion!" argument you appear to be leaning towards……… I would remind you that physics isn't a religion, either… but it still has fundamental principles."The blogsphere doesn't exist"We're all imaginary, then?"you'll always believe that my reactions and commentsare me trying dig myself out of a hole"That's because, dear boy, you appear to have problems understanding some of the fundamental principles of trolling.

  19. dizzy says

    *yawn*It's the Internet.. only pricks in marketing with their pseudo-intellectualism think otherwise.

  20. Manic says

    It's only fire, a wheel, an internal combustion engine… only pricks in marketing with their pseudo-intellectualism think otherwise.Yes, I see your point.

  21. dizzy says

    btw, what exactly would be the point of writing down all predictions for the result of a wind up? It would defeat the object. Stop talking bollocks and get back in your kennel.

  22. Manic says

    Well, you could have dropped a subtle (and reliably time-stamped) message into Usenet… but, then again, no-one would be able to see it because none of us exist.

  23. Sim-O says

    Being the technoplank that I am, I can't get trackback to work, so I'm gonna drop a link here:…Thanx[MOD: Duplicate removed. Original link tidied.]

  24. Manic says

    There you go, Sim-O. Fixed.PS – I would like to note for the record that the last time I deleted a duplicate comment (along with a comment relating to that duplicate comment), Paul Staines screamed; "Look! He deletes comments, too!"Bless.

  25. Justin says

    What I want to know is, does Iain Dale pay Dizzy to be his rebuttal unit? Or does Dizzy's sense of obsequious self-satisfaction power his laptop or something?

  26. Paul Linford says

    Dizzy, you are right to say that the blogosphere does not exist as a technological entity, for the reasons you describe. But I would contend that it does exist as an online community. The fact that you are having this discussion with Tim – someone you presumably have nothing whatever else in common with – is surely proof of that.

  27. Will E says

    Who cares??!!! I went to the "category page" mentioned and the sheer number of articles about Guido/Dale smack of OCD.The bottom line is – this site is terrible. It's poorly presented and attractive only to obsessives. I am by no means a member of the blogging "community" and I'm bored by the above. What I do know is that whatever you say about Guido/ Iain Dale, they are a good read. Guido may speak a pile of crap sometimes, but at least he's got a sense of humour! More than can be said for this site.

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