Posted by Tim Ireland at January 19, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Too much?

UPDATE (00:50) – First threat of the entire exchange just came in… so I guess (*gasp*) we are dealing with bullies here.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 18, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

UPDATE – Well. Said.: Netiquette is, ultimately, about playing fair with your readers and those who comment on your work, and censorship, in blogging terms, includes not only outright suppression of opinions but also breaches of netiquette that restrict or take away from your readers things like the right of reply and also the misuse of your control over your blog, as its owner, to suppress or protect yourself from valid and legitimate criticism.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 18, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement


Well, I can’t say I’m surprised….

Guido Fawkes: Guido himself is basically simultaneously bored by, but amused that the blog boycott / de-link call has so spectacularly badly backfired, with hits up again to a new month and year high at 18,463 page views yesterday.

Backfired? ‘Spectacularly badly’, no less? This passage (and the rest of the entry) stinks of spin and ‘perception is reality’ crap to me. Classic games of a politician… and I thought Guido hated politicians.

In the past few days, Guido has tried to rev me, you and his audience up in a way that he knows is detrimental… just so he can save face and maybe have a bit of fun at the same time (or, at the very least, give the impression that he’s having fun… nothing is allowed to dent that Fonz-like exterior, nossir; it’s tougher than Tony Blair’s Teflon):

Ministry of Truth – Celebrity ‘Big’ Blogger? Big Deal: No, as I say, there’s much more fun to be had in watching Tim and Guido go at it – well sort of go at it, as Guido seems to be doing an awful lot of wimping out.

A few people have noticed this but explained it away as ‘Guido being Guido’. Well, they’re right and they’re wrong… I don’t think they quite grasp what Guido is yet:

The big development yesterday was this clumsy attempt to censor the image of Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines) that was published in the original post.

Given Guido’s well-established position on people who seek to hide their shenanigans from the public with cowardly, bullying threats of legal action, it doesn’t matter if Guido initiated this wah-wah-cease-and-desist or not (he was CCed on the emails from the ‘owner’ of the photo, BTW), because he still came out of it looking like a bloody fool.

Advantage, Guido? I beg to differ. The ‘bold hero’ was offered the coward’s way out and took it like a shot.

Expanding on the behaviour of the ‘owner’ of the photo; she went on to accuse me of theft and worse on other peoples’ weblogs!

Here’s an exchange at Tim Worstall’s place and here’s Stuart Bruce, wisely nudging the brakes.

Meanwhile, Guido sits back and chuckles quietly to himself on a job well done, and seeks to escalate matters further – no matter what the cost to his web-chums.

If he’s not behind the action, he’s certainly not doing anything to reel it in (and it’s the ‘owner’ of the photo who needs protecting here… from herself).

This leads me to the primary point I wanted to make about what Guido and his comment-policy generates (on his site and others).

There have been many straw-men arguments from the (primarily anonymous) people firmly in Guido’s corner, but mostly there has been a lot of deeply personal abuse. There has also been a repeated attempt – championed by Guido – to misrepresent my arguments and cast me as some sort of blog fascist.

Sorry, but I’m not having it.

The abuse, I can take. But if you’ve been watching and wincing, I’d like you to bear with me on an expanded repeat of this thought:

Put yourself in the position of a minor blogger, councillor or MP who has been libelled by Guido or perhaps bullied by the people who hang out in his comments and are busily becoming bolder by the day. Do you have 5 grand lying around and time to pursue it? (Or, perhaps, are you willing to employ the services of the only outfit who handle libel cases on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis; Carter Ruck?)

Now put yourself in the position of a minor blogger, councillor or MP who has been almost-libelled by Guido or perhaps bullied by the people who hang out in his comments and are busily becoming bolder by the day (say, if you’re the victim of the repeated hinting smears in comments that Guido is in the habit of not deleting). If you pursue via the means that most bloggers deem fair and acceptable, Guido will delete your comments. Persist, and the anonymongrels will rubbish you far and wide. Try to find out exactly what Guido is up to with his skewed comments policy, and he’ll call you a spammer.

Not a lot of new players could stand up to this kind of attack. Even if they could manage it emotionally, it would be near-to-impossible to manage in a practical sense, as they would not have the network that is required to produce any kind of organic defence (against the type of attack that is usually made up of 100% astro-turf)

The result would be a new branding forever attached to your site; the perception becomes reality… and all because some anonymous bastards have learned that they can gang together and restrict someone’s freedom of speech under the fucking banner of freedom of speech!

Thankfully, I don’t need to go very far for an example of this, as Guido and his comment-crowd have proved my point for me.

There is a distinct difference between presenting a differing point of view and drowning out someone else’s point of view – particularly if you are one person or a small team posing as a crowd.

If you have been bullied in this way will know exactly what I’m talking about, and you will know how readily someone who is trying to censor you in this way will scream ‘censorship’ if you so much as question their ‘right’ to abuse the system and/or treat a fellow human being this way.

Those of you who know what I’ve been up to these past few years will know that I helped make a lot of firsts happen in political blogging, and I am still doing things right now that won’t be done on a widespread basis for at least a few years. Call me self-important if you like, but I’ve learned quite a few things in the process; stuff that even most ‘experts’ don’t know about the long-term political use of weblogs.

[Sidebar: One of these ‘experts’ should be aware that I stopped giving him free advice a long time ago, for two reasons; I was sick of hearing my words coming out of his mouth, and because it became clearer by the day that he didn’t personally believe in any of the values he was parroting, I became quite comfortable with the idea of just watching and waiting for the day when he falls flat on his face. Amusingly, there’s someone who has played a role in this recent drama who should agree with me on this.]

So… let’s get down to it…

I make no excuses for wanting this to reach as wide an audience as possible:

If you value freedom of speech, and the way weblogs currently enable it, you will want to ask yourselves the following questions:

– Have the mainstream players in the political and business arena shown respect for the blogging ethos, or (perhaps wary, often utter) contempt?

– Does a growing culture of anonymity restrict or enable anonymous bullying and astro-turfing? (Keeping in mind that even an anonymous blogger can be bullied or drowned out.)

– Would you voluntarily forgo some measure of your anonymity if you knew it could stem the tide of complete bastards who wish to abuse a culture of anonymity?

Finally, this:

– If any of the above strikes a chord with you, would you include someone like Guido on your blogroll (especially when his website’s format/policy is nothing like that of a genuine weblog)?

Guido may be busy pretending that all is well and refusing any kind of change (not even the minute-long operation of ‘time and date’ timestamps option that would have allowed him to leave the field sidelines with some dignity), but there’s a lot that has changed in the past few days that can’t do a damn thing about… and it was his (in)action that led to these changes.

(Oh, and Guido? I’m particularly enjoying the fresh spin that casts you as the hapless victim of a nefarious scheme to spam/censor you. A bold and inspired move, considering the circumstances.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 18, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

The following is the full text from an email I sent this evening to someone from the ‘other’ side after the many developments following this post. A small level of detail has been changed to protect the identity of the recipient, but it’s pretty much unedited.

I’m going to post it as an intro to a peace-offering that I hope will keep the shouting down to a dull roar:


I promised a considered reply:

Any escalation following the first post has primarily been the result of Guido playing to the audience instead of addressing the issues I’ve raised (yet somehow I’m the attention-whore) – *and* he knows what they get like when he revs them up in this way . The way he and his audience have reacted proves many of the points I raised.

He’s also a committed political arsonist and has said so himself; he wants to ‘fuck them all’. That’s his mission and he said as much to me directly.

You may think that’s a good thing, but it’s my opinion that the way he is influencing the growth/direction of political weblogs will simply make life easier for the complete and utter bastards of this world. Not just right-wing, or left-wing or corner-ring, but bastards of every shade there is. ‘He who shouts loudest wins the argument’? Fuck that.

Working to dampen his fire is not an attempt at destruction, it’s to attempt to minimise damage… and fixing the overall problem will involve a lot of effort from a lot of people – not just Guido. That’s why the wider debate is so important (see ‘on fucking Guido’ below). If you have a poke around, you’ll see a few comments/posts of mine on the subject of free speech, and you can find the most recent one here:

I’m not psychic, but I do (and have done) a lot of things in political blogging that no-one has done before, so please excuse me for moments like this when I think I can see just a *bit* further into the future than most (and/or that my paying a lot of attention to the past counts for something):

Rest assured when I tell you that – if we keep down this path (and Guido’s not responsible for it alone; there are plenty of people out there greedily or lazily championing him as the acme of blogging) – the next General Election will involve a compromising mess for all concerned… including any nearby bystanders. Even trolling will lose its appeal, as every fucker will be at it. There will also be a few firsts, things that I refuse to discuss with anyone, as I can only increase the risks of it happening by releasing the ideas (two of them are just waiting to be plucked off the shelf and could be put into action at any time… one of them might even turn up during the upcoming council elections, because it’s That Easy To Do).

Finally, it needs to be recognised that Guido has his way of running my blog, and this is the way that I run my blog. I see stuff that I care about, and I act on it as openly and as honestly as I can. My balls have been on the table for quite some time now. I’ve gotten used to the breeze.



PS – If you want to talk about taking things personally/seriously… if this were really a personal matter and I simply wanted to ‘get’ Guido, I could have fucked him easily with No. 11 alone. Or, if I didn’t believe in all the things I’ve said, I could easily have set up my own sock-puppet(s), infiltrated the regulars and quietly dropped Guido in it at the most opportune moment (there are several ways to do this that I know of).

Now, I’m pretty sure that Guido is not going to take up my ongoing offer of ‘right of reply’ for a number of reasons, not all of which implicate him on any specific charge I’ve laid against him.

I also remain concerned about the effect Guido is having on the blogosphere. Nothing about that has changed. I stand by what I’ve posted, here and elsewhere (not including the elsewheres where you neither know me to be here nor there).

However… I think we have reached a stage where people are talking about the wider issues… and, for now, that is enough for me.

OK, so much for the line I’m trying to draw… now back to you:

A lot depends on what Guido does after he reads this, and lot depends on what you do after you read this:

If you’re keen to address any/all points or claim that I’ve put Guido in an impossible position*, then feel free to do so. If you’re keen to call me names, taunt me with empty jibes about jealousy or ‘out’ my hamster, then I wish you luck (he’s staying right where he is).

[*Sidebar: This is a link to a comment from an anonymous user using the comment features on Paul Linford’s blog. Paul is on the fence, and – unsurprisingly – ends up with one of the few posts on this subject that edged toward mainstream media today… but if I don’t say this, someone else will, and they’ll probably be a dick about it; Paul, please think about setting your comment timestamps to show the time and date of any given comment. The more of us who do it, the better. Ta.]

[MINI-UPDATE: Which is exactly what Paul has done. Top stuff!]

But I would much rather move on and discuss matters like:

– The importance of anonymity on an individual basis balanced with the crippling effect it can have your weblog and blogs in general if anonymity becomes too commonplace.

– The importance of securing and building under your own domain name.

– Our status as a community, the way we conduct ourselves, its impact on our community, and its impacton the communities we live in when we walk away from our computers.

– Erm… now’s not the time for a really, really long list; but there’s a reason for all of this, and if you’ve talked to me recently or if you’ve been reading Bloggerheads within the past few months, you’ll know what that reason is**. There’ll be a lot of this as part of that… if that’s your thing.

[**Sidebar: Sorry it’s late. Beta-testing soon. Promise.]

So… here we go… a peace offering… and because there are wider issues here, I’m going to start off reeeeal gentle-like…

To Guido and all users of Blogger:

If you have a Blogger weblog, I’d like you to seriously consider doing the following (if you haven’t already);

a) Introduce comment timestamps that show both the time and date of a comment
b) Email Blogger Support about this disgraceful state of affairs

To Guido:

Hey, mate… your call. I’d really appreciate you doing the above, and it will be taken as a genuine sign of good faith. If you also introduce trackbacks/backlinks (even on a trial basis) or, alternatively, have a quiet word with Iain Dale to tone it down with the ‘ideal blogger’ bullshit (when you will be the first to admit that what most bloggers consider fair you couldn’t give a tuppeny-stuff about), then you’ll find I’ll become a great deal calmer… but I still don’t buy the concept of letting a tide wash over me***.

[***Sidebar: Private ‘joke’.]

To Guido:

Well, what more can I say? I’d love you to turn comment registration on, but we both know that this is going to cut down on comments. Even then, any old fool can sign up for a Blogger account and use an empty weblog as their base, but there are legal advantages to this extra filter that I’m sure you’re already aware of. Have a ponder on it… and the type of comments currently going live that put your ongoing income at risk no matter what the hell I say about it. Don’t think for a second that they add anything to your blog; just a glance around recent reactions for and against what I’ve said shows how many people find you entertaining, but the comments distasteful.

I’d like to think that that’s pretty open and fair. Depending on how Guido reacts, I’m even open to the idea of moderating the original post in a way that makes it clear that ideas have been exchanged, my position has been moderated and/or an agreement or sorts has been reached***.

[****Sidebar: To everyone saying ‘Who does he think he is?’, I’ll need to remind you that search engines are already playing a role and a lot of people will visit the original post over the coming weeks/months. I think they deserve context.]

Over to you, folks.

Cheers all.

(PS – Sorry, Dennis. It’s too late to goad me, but thanks for taking a belated interest.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 17, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

I just received what I am sure is a spontaneous and independent request to remove the image of Paul Staines from this post (the owner took the photo at a party she went to, where Guido was also in attendance).

I sourced the image from this page, where it was published under this clearly-stated Creative Commons License, but she said ‘please’, so I removed her content by inserting a fitting replacement into the finished image.

Anyone else want to complain about a ‘stolen’ image?

UPDATE – Bloody hell! Take a look at this!

UPDATE – Jackie’s on the loose in comments over here, too.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 17, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Guido, the invitation stands; no nitpicking on other people’s weblogs, no straw men, no personal-abuse-by-proxy, just you making use of the fair right of reply that has always been available. Start here. You’re already registered for comments, so it should be a doddle.

I promise to be a good boy and try not to throw it back in your face by asking you how you’re enjoying the right of reply that you yourself don’t offer… much as I’d like to.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 17, 2007

Category: Page 3 - News in Briefs

Post of the day, and no mistake:

Obsolete – Scum-watch: Feeble corrections and the whimpering of an exposed page 3 girl

I especially love the part where The Scum chide another newspaper for being ‘downmarket’.


I’m also tempted to find/download* the tape just so I can see if young Keeley chugs as enthusiastically for her boyfriend as she does for Rebekah Wade:

Here’s Keeley Hazell being shocked at the sick rants of Omar Bakri Mohammed for Rebekah Wade

Here’s Keeley Hazell bagging Clare Short for Rebekah Wade

Here’s Keeley Hazell slagging off Gordon Brown for Rebekah Wade

Here’s Keeley Hazell praising Rebekah Wade for saving a whale carcass

Remember, folks; Page 3, not unlike Guido’s blog, is just a harmless bit of fun until someone puts an eye out.

(*Please be aware that many sites discussing this tape have seen fit to issue a ‘repeated images of hairy man-ass’ warning. Oh, and for those who don’t get the headline, I offer this link to an alternative NSFW video.)

UPDATE – There’s more on the other matter and the resulting ‘cursory four-line apology’ here.

UPDATE – How PR works: 1, 2, 3

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 17, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Guido’s belated dance number comes to us a few days after the ‘boycott’ brand was first applied, rinsed and repeated – and the first thing you’ll notice is the cool, unshakeable exterior.

Too bad about the ultra-paranoid level of moderation and the ‘rebuild’ giveaway, then…

A few people have noticed that Guido did a sneaky rebuild of his blog yesterday, and there are few possible reasons for this new format (that forces you to use anchor links instead of links to individual articles, complete with inline comments), but the most likely ones are an attempt to tempt prying eyes with an alternative article or two and and effort to keep the comments one step away from the action. I suspect mostly the latter, as this measure also makes it difficult to link to specific exchanges under comments.

[MINI-UPDATE (10:36am) – Well, that didn’t take long; proper permalinks are back. Moderation is currently switched off, too. After all, it only takes a minute to change such things… just as it only takes a minute to introduce backlinks (Blogger’s version of trackback) and proper timestamps.]

If you run and hide, then bluster at how insignificant your opponent is, you do come off looking a bit silly… especially when you try to throw the resulting traffic figures back in his face, as Guido has done today.

Still, in spite of Guido’s ‘logical’ claim that I’m violating my own ‘boycott’… again, I’m going to ask you to watch, learn and make up your own minds.

And a lot of you appear to be in the process of doing that; take a look at the stats Guido has published and compare the recent ‘page load’ to ‘visitor’ ratio to earlier data and I’m sure you’ll be able to work out what’s going on.

While we’re waiting for Guido to be a big boy and drop by to address maybe one issue that he hasn’t invented or carefully skewed in his favour on other weblogs (see below), I’m happy to entertain any discussion on the subject of self-regulation… and I’ll even lead with an example:

One thing Guido did yesterday was make a series of single (flawed, if not false) counter-claims under comments on other people’s weblogs (on those rare occasions when he didn’t have other people doing his dirty work for him). Examples of this can be seen here, here and here.

I had to address these comments in a limited way, as it’s simply not the done thing for two bloggers to battle it out in the comments of someone else’s weblog.

You may have broken this rule in the past, but I’m sure you’re aware of it. Some people call it ‘etiquette’, but it’s one of the self-regulatory measures that already exist (and basically stop the whole thing from falling apart or descending into farce).

What Guido likes to do is take advantage of these rules while showing little regard for them himself; Guido’s attempt to downplay or rubbish singular points (or invent single issues that he then goes on to rubbish) on other people’s weblogs is one example of this, and the way he manipulates feedback on his site (via a misleading policy, deliberately restricted format and a near-to-fanatical level of moderation) is another.

Another thing Guido likes to do is misrepresent his opponent’s position before charging in with a ready-made rebuttal. Surprise, surprise, this is just was his sock-puppets and anonymongrels are busy doing, too; even if it’s not Guido wearing many clever disguises, it cements the point I raised about Guido being a poor role model for bloggers. (FFS, I’ve touched some nerves before, but this is the first time anyone has ever tried to cast me as a willing tool of New Labour. ‘Peter Hitchens’ has even slipped his chain and started charging around trying to convince people that the now-classic Teens page is a genuine attempt to reach da yoof. It’s not, BTW.)

But Guido’s favourite trick by far is repeated use of the false dichotomy.

If he challenges someone about unknown funding and the untoward changes to agenda that might result and you dare to point out that he himself cannot boast the same level of transparency, he will ask; “Err, who do you think is funding Guido? And why? Lizards? Halliburton? The Illuminati*?” If you try to raise a point about the need for bloggers to look at the way things are going and consider the wisdom of revisiting the subject of self-regulation, he will brand you ‘Blog Brother**’… or perhaps ‘Yog Brother’ (waves).

(*As any fool knows, the Illuminati are lizards. From outer space. I suspect Guido is trying to throw us off the scent.)
(*Please excuse me for being privately amused that it took Paul two days and a long night in the pub to come up with this.)

In short, Paul Staines is the kind of person who will, without hesitation and with stupefying regularity, use your own values as a weapon against you… often in the most dishonest and misleading way possible.

Like it or not, we as bloggers have formed a number of small communities that tie together as one big community, and already share a number of self-regulatory values. Guido has no respect for those values, and has shown – especially in the last few days – how willing he is to exploit them… which is why it is so very, very stupid to herald him as a good example of a blogger, as it’s part of the reason why the existing self-regulatory values continue to decay at an alarming rate.

Perhaps this is why Iain Dale happily chatted about Monday’s post on Fox News Lite after it was raised as the lead ‘blog of the week’, but failed to find the time to mention it on his own weblog.

[Sidebar: Pot, meet kettle.]

After all, the feedback aspect of 18DoughtyStreet is far more tightly controlled than that usually enabled and allowed by the blog format that Iain such is a fearless champion of.

Is he worried that someone will point out that his guide to political blogging highlights Guido as an excellent example of the ‘open and honest’ aspect of blogging when it is anything but open and honest?

“Interact with your readers, respond to their comments, accept their revisions,” that’s what Iain pushed forward using Guido as his ideal model. It’s perfectly clear that Guido does not do this – so, yes, I suspect that Iain is concerned that he’ll come across looking like a hypocrite or a fool.

As for the charge that I take myself (or blogging) far too seriously, I’ll simply raise my hand and say ‘Guilty as charged!’

Somebody has to take things seriously, otherwise nothing gets built… and with this arsonist on the loose (and others praising arson as the ideal), there’s a lot of building to do.

(PS – The left is boring. The right is far more exciting… and they have snazzier uniforms. It would be unseemly of me to point to things I have produced/written that are far more entertaining than this Bit Of Necessary, so instead what I think I’ll do is privately message my supporters so they can invade other weblogs and sing my praises and/or fight my battles for me. That’s the way this whole open networking thing works, right?)

UPDATE (2:40pm) – I’ve just turned down an invitation to debate this with Guido on a podcast. So far Guido has shown no interest in engaging in an actual, honest debate on the level terms provided by most weblogs, so I wasn’t convinced that he would conduct himself fairly in a recorded debate. Amusingly, Guido insisted on going ‘uncut head-to-head’, but refused (again) to engage in a debate via the comments function on my site (there’s ‘no right of reply’ on his) on the basis that he was “not interested in boosting Tim’s traffic.” Pfft! And he calls me big-headed.

UPDATE (2:52pm) – Pardon me for being coy about the people who invited us… no need for that now.

UPDATE (3:05pm) – Tch. Guido’s out mouthing-off on other people’s weblogs again.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 16, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

‘No Comment’ on any single point raised, just an easily-digestible bit of spin (accompanied by a fair degree of personal abuse, mostly from anonymous users). Guido is acting a LOT like the politicians he claims to despise.

UPDATE (11:30): Hmm. The homophobia took longer to kick in than I expected. There are quite a few ‘Why is he wasting his time on this?’ comments popping up around the place, too. Don’t look too closely, boys and girls… you might see the strings.

UPDATE (12:00) – This is all very familiar. When I busted Anne Milton for her use of (print-version) sock-puppets, she replied with a haughty ‘no comment’ apart from a suggestion that I was an angry young man with a personal vendetta… then the virtual sock-puppets came out of the woodwork (and were eventually traced back to her activists as their shenanigans escalated).

Now, it doesn’t really matter if this current state of affairs over at Guido’s blog is the result of him inventing people, encouraging genuine people to fight his fights for him via Instant Messenger, or if this has just grown naturally out of Guido’s selfish and slack attitude to blogging principles… but it’s here and it’s being heralded by some people as the acme of blogging.

This is a gift to astro-turfers everywhere.

An online community of any type that is unregulated by any sense of community leaves itself open to abuse… and when this publishing system is abused it can just as easily be used to restrict free speech as enable it; think about all those government departments and interest groups that send their sock-puppets in to taint or direct online debates, just as an example of this at work.

UPDATE (12:26) – Guido has been popping up making comments on other blogs addressing this (which he knows doesn’t leave me much room to manoeuvre, as I’m unlikely to start hijacking other people’s websites to engage in an carefully-skewed version of an open debate that should be happening at his website or mine… this all goes back to the community aspect of blogging and the self-regulation conversation that some people would rather we didn’t have).

But, there it is, and people who know a thing or two will recognise it for what it is. Speaking of which…

BSSC: Guido can do what he likes of course but his responses to Tim’s post have been informative in their own way.

Back to the skewing; all of the ‘Guido deletes my comments’ spin is total bulldust, as Guido should have worked out by now that – over the past few weeks – I haven’t been needling… but probing (insert homo joke by ‘Peter Hitchens’ here). At the time, the exercise must have seemed awfully futile, as Guido has his blog, comments and comments policy configured in a way that makes any kind of meaningful challenge/input impossible. The funny thing is, he got so frustrated with my identifying and pushing his buttons that he pretty much invited me to do what I planned on doing all along. He also seemed quite happy to allow a variety of anonymongrels to helpfully explain the activity away as ‘New Labour attacks’ when he knew very well that it was me all along.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 16, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This is being blogged publicly instead of communicated privately for two reasons:

a) I think users of Blogger deserve to know that this loophole has been in place for some time.

b) Blogger Support has let me down badly in the past, and I’m in no mood for yet another generic reply with no follow-up.

If you’re a regular user of weblogs running via, you’re probably already aware of the following:

1. In your comments settings, you have the following choices:
– Only Registered Users (only other registered users of can leave comments)
– Only Members of this Blog (only other registered users of that are part of your group can leave comments)
– Anyone (anyone can post a comment, using any name or nickname that they wish)

Blogger screen capture

2. If your blog is set to allow ‘Anyone’ to comment, this does increase the potential number of comments you receive, but it also allows those posting comments to not only post them anonymously, but also posing as other web users (after all, all they have to do is choose ‘Other’ and enter a name and domain).

Blogger screen capture

In any system that allows for unverified comments, anybody with half a brain can claim to be Fred Nurk from – and this is just such a system. So far, nothing new and alarming…


While these types of claims to one identity or another are viewed with healthy scepticism, I fear too much trust is placed in the authenticity of comments apparently posted using a Blogger profile… because the system allows you to pose as any user of Blogger, providing that you know their Blogger name and the location of their profile (information that is easy to come by; all you have to do is copy the details from an authentic comment they’ve made).

Blogger screen capture

I’ve created a special test account where you can go and try this for yourself. Click here and go nuts.

The result is a comment posted under the name of another user of Blogger that will be widely accepted as authentic, as (if profile images aren’t being used) it appears identical to a comment made by an actual user who is logged into the system.

And it will have passed through Blogger’s own system without challenge (and yes, it works on both old and new versions of Blogger).

Try as I might, I can’t think of another major community-based website that allows non-members to pose as members within their own system.

Blogger should fix this. And fast.

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