Whose Fault Is This? (UnGoogled Blog Day 03)

Reader “Mark” had some interesting comments about my post “What if YOU get removed from Google?”. I thought I’d take a minute to talk about his points for today’s UnGoogled blog.

So you don’t have to go back and read my post… A WordPress vulnerability was exploited on this blog and someone added text to my footer which caused Google to take my offending pages down and send me an email saying they might remain gone from google search results for 30 days or more. Here’s what I got in the comments:

Mark: “Given that this WordPress vulnerability has been known for months, it’s your fault for not watching out for it and taking precautions. Every serious business owner backs up his site daily and watches the WP dashboard for news. You can’t hang this one on Google; this one falls squarely on your head. Google doesn’t want to index infected sites. Sounds like a reasonable rule to me.”

What “Mark” is saying makes perfect sense, and is probably 100% correct. Here are my thoughts:

Mark: “Given that this WordPress vulnerability has been known for months, it’s your fault for not watching out for it and taking precautions.”

Now… I had some VERY interesting conversations based around this comment. Not with “Mark” but with people I actually know. The comments were centered around “fault”. The commenters also seemed to feel like I was upset with my 1,048 pages being removed from Google’s search results. 😀 This is one of the things that happens when you communicate via text. Inflection is lost and the context given by vocal tones and facial expressions is completely lost on the reader.

First of all, like I said in the first post, I don’t need to be listed in Google for business, and I don’t need to be listed in Google for socialization. I am a REAL PERSON with REAL FRIENDS and I do work for REAL BUSINESSES. I get work via word of mouth. I don’t approach people for work. People approach ME to see if I’m available / interested in working on their projects. The only thing I’m missing by not being listed in Google search results is the random hits I get from people surfing the web looking for generic topics such as “Dating Women in NYC” and “How To Break Up With A Girl” and “Male Birth Control Pills” etc etc etc. Who cares? As a matter of fact, I’ve already compensated for the hits I’ve lost, but that’s a topic for another day’s UnGoogled blog entry since I felt like talking about “Mark”s comments today.

Mark: “Every serious business owner backs up his site daily and watches the WP dashboard for news.”

Obviously, this is a ridiculous statement. 🙂 All you have to do is put the word “Not” in front of that sentence, since obviously only one instance negates that entire statement. So… “NOT Every serious business owner backs up his/her site daily and watches the WP dashboard for news”. Ahhhh… That’s better. Another good statement would be “Every serious business owner SHOULD back up his/her site daily and watch the WP dashboard for news”. Even THAT makes more sense. 😀

The other comments I received that weren’t posted on the blog were along the same lines… You should have known. You should have been keeping up with the update notifications. You get what you pay for (Since WordPress is free). You wouldn’t drive a car without knowing how to fix it (which is bullshit).

I found two things interesting about these comments. The first one was that I was consulting *GEEKS* for this discussion. I was talking with people who live and breathe web design. Oh, I just remembered another one! 😀 “WordPress has to constantly be updated… If you want to avoid that, use Moveable Type”. See what I mean? The people I was talking to had extremely extensive knowledge about blogs compared to mine. That’s like someone asking me about editing and my acting like they know as much about it as I do and then saying it was their fault for not knowing what I know, even though they don’t do what I do. 🙂

So, is the situation “my fault”? Sure. I’m the one that didn’t upgrade to the newest WordPress. But you know what? That makes me just like ANYBODY.ELSE. that hasn’t upgraded to the latest WordPress yet. And THAT means that ANYBODY.ELSE. in that same situation that reads what happened to my blog can get something out of it and potentially prevent the same thing from happening to them. Good. 🙂

The other interesting thing about the expectations of people “staying on top of” the current state of their blogs (whatever platform they’re on) is that the internet’s all about opportunity. It may even be about the lowest common denominator. People are SUPPOSED to be able to make web sites without being WEB DESIGN GEEKS. People are NOT supposed to drive cars unless they have a particular level of proficiency. One of the main ideas of the internet is freedom of expression and the opportunity to do things you normally wouldn’t get to do. Most people that have shows on the internet wouldn’t have made it through auditions for television shows. Should they be disallowed from acting or being videographers or musicians or editors because someone decided that they weren’t talented enough or good looking enough to be a part of the production? Nope. Similarly, there’s no REQUIREMENT for people to know all of the ins and outs of web design before they’re “allowed” to make sites for recreation, fun, entertainment OR business.

Mark: “You can’t hang this one on Google; this one falls squarely on your head.”

I don’t believe anything was “hung” on Google. Hanging it on Google would be saying “I didn’t do anything at all, and my pages disappeared from Google, and I wasn’t informed of whom I could talk to to clear this situation up”. I didn’t say that. This situation DOES bring up the point, however, that perhaps Lowest Common Denominator isn’t good enough. Maybe people who don’t care enough to bother with vigilantly defending the security of their web sites should hire people who love to do that kind of thing to do that work for them. Maybe that’s an industry for someone. 🙂 Community Website Overwatch.

The “You Get What You Pay For” point was a good one. It’s easy to forget that you’re using free software, when software’s SUPPOSED to be free. Blogger’s free. Browsers are free… Safari, Firefox, Flock… You can get FTP programs for free. There are sites like freevlog.org that SPECIFICALLY make a point of teaching people how to set up videoblogs for free. I’m sure there are services where you can pay people to handle all of this site creation, maintenance and security for you if you feel like it. So, I suppose, if you don’t want the blame to “fall squarely on your head”, hire someone else for the blame to fall on or to be vigilant about prevention.

Mark: “Google doesn’t want to index infected sites. Sounds like a reasonable rule to me.”

Yup. Sounds reasonable to me as well. 🙂 We’ll see if they’re as quick to reinstate it as they were to take it down. According to their correspondence, it could be weeks. In the meantime, I’ve been compensating for my 56.04% of missing traffic, thanks to being UnGoogled. I’ve also been contemplating my new Google Anonymity. 😀 I only met one new person last weekend, and by the time I was introduced, they had already been told about the Google situation by our mutual acquaintance. Still, it was an odd feeling, for the first time since 2006, not wondering if some random person I might run into had stumbled onto one of my posts via Google. It’s relatively liberating, actually, hehe I’m starting to get used to it.

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