diamond geezer

 Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Earlier this week this blog got shorter. You probably didn't notice.

I received an email out of the blue from Blogger informing me that they'd unpublished one of my posts.
Your post titled '' was flagged to us for review. We have determined that it violates our guidelines and have unpublished the URL http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/2003/05/big-brother-where-are-they-now-with.html, making it unavailable to blog readers.
I've never had a post unpublished before, nor knowingly violated any guidelines, so this came as a bit of a surprise. Also the post in question was from May 2003, which seemed a very long time ago to be suddenly getting het up about.
Why was your blog post unpublished?
Your content has violated our malware and viruses policy. Please follow the community guidelines link in this email to learn more.
I don't knowingly link to malware or viruses, so I deduced that one of the sites I once linked to must have faded away and been replaced by something much more malicious. 19 years on, that's actually quite likely.

The offending post was a smorgasbord of weblinks relating to the popular Channel 4 programme Big Brother. This may not be what you'd prefer to read about on the blog today but 2003 was a different world, not least because posts back then were often just a smorgasbord of weblinks.

The post was only 11 lines long but contained 31 different links, each of which I had to check until I found the gribbly one. In fact I checked all of them just in case more than one was gribbly, and what a lot of linkrot I found.
• 12 of the 31 webpages have completely vanished.
• 9 sites still exist but the specific webpage has long gone.
• 4 of the webpages still exist (all from the BBC or The Guardian).
• 6 sites have been replaced by a completely different webpage.
It was one of these last six where the problem was, a replacement page so virus-ridden that my browser refused to take me there. And unexpectedly, of all the celeb-ridden backlinks in the post the one causing the problem was the link to the Teabagbin.

The Teabagbin was the brainchild of Dean and Stuart from Big Brother 2. It was grey and plastic with a hinged lid for dropping your teabags through and I bought mine from Robert Dyas and I swore by it. Eventually the spring broke so I merely swore at it, and then it went in the actual bin.

A couple of years later I received an email from the actual Stuart saying he and Dean had started making them again and there was a new URL, teabagbin.co.uk. We had an eveningsworth of email conversation about how much BestMate's mum loved her Teabagbin and how many units they'd sold and it was a bit of fanboy moment. I never went back and updated the URL because that would have been successful marketing, but I should have done because it was that original URL which, almost two decades later, would trigger my first Blogger unpublishing.
If you are interested in republishing the post, please update the content to adhere to Blogger's community guidelines. Once the content is updated, you may republish it. This will trigger a review of the post.
I don't like gaps in my archive so I decided to amend the post. I could have deleted all 31 weblinks to be on the safe side or I could have deleted just the gribbly one, but instead I chose to replace it with a contemporary alternative. The acclaimed early-2000s weblog A Nice Cup Of Tea And A Sit Down had published a post about the Teabagbin so I linked to that instead, pressed republish and hoped for the best.

Within the hour someone at Blogger emailed me and said they'd reinstated the post, hurrah, and this had returned my archive to the full complement of 9422 posts.

Later that afternoon they emailed me again to say they'd unpublished another post because it linked to the teabagbin, this time from 2005, so I went through the rigmarole again and got it reinstated. Then they got stroppy about a 2006 post mentioning Uncle the fictional elephant, whose fansite had since been taken over by something nasty, and later that evening they found a 2008 Uncle post which was causing more substantial issues. It was like someone (or something) was going through my archives sequentially to find the gribbly links, reporting them to Blogger and getting them taken down.

All these posts have now been republished minus the offending links, which is nice because it suggests Blogger has a fast and fair turnaround on dodgy content issues. But it also flags up future risks for the blog in that numerous posts could be unpublished in the future, indeed two decades of persistent linkrot suggests it's highly likely they will be. Thus far it's only a teabagbin and a fictional elephant causing problems, but loads of things I've linked to in the past might one day become unwitting pathways to virus-ridden hellsites. Look a bit more carefully and they probably already are.

No I'm not going back through all my past posts to check them all. This blog is now in its 240th month which means I've published almost ten thousand posts containing several hundred thousand links. I can't possibly police them all. Readers who delve back into millennial archives should always be a bit careful what they click on.

If Blogger finds more gribbly links I can always act, but one day I may not be here to do so in which case my archives could slowly wither away. I published a risk log last year outlining the multitude of ways this blog could unintentionally go wrong, or become unreadable, or even vanish, and it seems I need to add historic malicious weblinks to that list. I shall be more careful how I throw my teabags away in future.

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