WordPress’ effective censors

Ooh, I hate spammers.

The WordPress blog software has a nifty little feature called the Dashboard: a page in the administration section that will contact the wonderful internets and download WordPress related news. Actually, all it does is slow down my accessing the administration interface for a few seconds every time I try to log in.

Today I broke the mold and actually went ahead and read what was so important that my enjoyment of this blog should be interrupted. The most recent item was a call for help; Matt Mullenweg himself asking people to contribute to the development of this blog’s underlying software.

I have often thought about doing just that, and although I think WordPress is great, I still have many ideas on how it could be made even better. There is just an eensy-teensy little problem: Matt Mullenweg is a filthy little spamming scumbag.

So I followed the link to the item with the idea of writing a comment that said that I would be glad to help as soon as the spammers got kicked out. I wrote on the talk page of the linked wiki, because the blog posting that contained the original item lacked a comments section:


I would love to help out with WordPress development, but the problem I have with that is that WordPress is run by a spamming scumbag. So please repeat any requests for help as soon as Matt Mullenweg has been kicked out of the project, and I will gladly comply.

Within minutes, my comment was deleted and my account blocked. The reason given? “Unprofessional comments.” A note said I could get the account unblocked by contacting the administrator who had blocked it, a Michael Hancock, it appears, but of course without giving me any contact data.

Unaware that only professionals are allowed to use the WordPress wiki, I posted the following at Hancock’s blog, the address of which was suggested somewhere on his wiki page:

Hi there,

I see you blocked me from posting at the WordPress codex, stating as reason: “unprofessional comments”.

When trying to edit a page, it is suggested that I contact you. Without of course giving actual contact data, because that would probably be too easy. Feeling a little hostile?

Anyway, I do not know what was “unprofessional” about my comment, nor that there was a requirements for all comments to a FOSS project (presumably also open to non-professionals) to be professional at all times.

Please enlighten me what is defined as “professional” at the WordPress codex, so that I can work hard to get the ban lifted?

Well, I posted it there a few minutes ago, and my question has already been deleted while writing this entry.

The WordPress codex administrators could have simply berated me for the presumably inappropriate tone of my message (although it is hard to guess what is appropriate with spammer friends), and could have asked me to rephrase what I wrote in such a manner that people would actually want to read it, and consider the merits of its message.

So I was writing this just in case the blocking of my account was an indication that the WordPress community is just hard at accepting criticism.Which I did not consider very likely, but at least this Hancock person seems to be having a problem with dissenting voices.

Admittedly, my comment was slightly inflammatory; I could have written my message without resorting to name calling. But when it comes to spammers, I find it hard to keep a cool head. I think name calling is the least their supporters should expect.

Apparently spammers can dish it out, but cannot take it.

Exhibition of legal threats

If you ever wanted to know what legal threats over copyright infringement look like, The Pirate Bay, a Swedish Bittorrent tracker, has built up a nice collection of them and is exhibiting them. (I wrote about the early days of this exhibition before.)

BUMA/Stemra and Royal Dutch Horeca in tiff over “rights-free” music

The Royal Dutch Horeca (Koninklijke Horeca Nederland, abbreviated to KHN; most links in this entry lead to Dutch web pages) has purchased many hours of music for its members; bars, restaurants, et cetera. This is instrumental music intended for background use, muzak. In doing so they landed themselves in hot water with BUMA (often called BUMA/Stemra), an organisation whose sole purpose is to collect levies from people and organisations who play music in public. BUMA believes that although KHN has bought the rights from the rights holders, KHN still owes BUMA money for playing the music. (Which BUMA presumably would then be paying back after subtracting a modest fee for its own services and those of ms. Britney Spears.)

In The Netherlands, copying and publication are two distinct acts recognized by the law that are the sole province of the copyright holder (usually the publisher, sometimes an author or his heirs). However, getting permission from each copyright holder for all of these acts, sometimes thousands a day for a single person or location, can be quite daunting. This is why most countries that subscribe to rigid copyright laws have some system in place where acts of publication or copying can be performed without the copyright holder’s permission, but with payment.

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Film released in theatre and on TV, DVD at the same time

Not sure what the hubhub is all about… I have not only seen films being released simultaneously in theatres and on TV before–decades ago–, but I have even seen films released first on TV, to only get a theatrical release after it had proven itself through ratings. (Bluebird is an example of the latter.) And like this one, they were typically arthouse films.

But the discussion in the article is interesting, because it is about Hollywood blockbusters. Directors warning that their flicks are art, and producers warning that we should not lose “the communal moviegoing experience”.

Perhaps that is why this could succeed. Sure, fifty years from now we will lament the loss of rowdy teenagers, back-row sex, shouting, beer-spraying, mobile phones going off, cramped seats, extortionary food-prices, half-hour commercials, et cetera. But I for one would not mind exploring more intimate forms of “the communal moviegoing experience”. After all, if you can view the film from the comfort of your home theatre, it’s going to take a bit more convincing to lure you to that other theatre. The cinema better shape up.

(Through Brian Flemming.)

Man, a million years from now

Although I expect to live to see 150, looking a million years ahead is a bit of a stretch even for me. Nevertheless, in the late 1800s it seems to have been quite the sport to do exactly that. (Well, maybe not.)

HG Wells predicted that after a million years, man will have evolved to a creature that is all brain, and little else, swimming in liquid food to sustain himself.

A writer for The St. Louis Republic on the other hand predicted that man will shrink considerably, and dumb down to match. This process, apparently, will start around the year 3000!

[a drawing from Punch]
Future man swimming in pepsine. Source: Punch.

(Hm, I suddenly realize that my colouring is quite caucasiocentric. Here’s how I determined the colour: I looked at my hand. Here’s how I determined the colour of the liquid food: I Google Imaged for pepsine. Not that pepsine is blue, but I found enough evidence to make sure my swimming-pool blue wasn’t entirely impossible.)

On dedications

Herbert George Wells is having trouble writing a book. The book itself is a trifling affair, since it is going to be published by a company that firmly believes in the power of leaf-gold inlays and the accentuating effect of deserts-full of white-space. In other words, the book should write itself.

But the dedication has him stumped. Having tried several approaches, he hits upon the following:

I think it was “X.L.’s” book, Aut Diabolus aut Nihil, that set me upon another line. There is, after all, your reader to consider in these matters, your average middle-class person to impress in some way. They say the creature is a snob, and absolutely devoid of any tinge of humour, and I must confess that I more than half believe it. At any rate, it was that persuasion inspired—

To the Countess of X.,
In Memory of Many Happy Days.

I know no Countess of X., as a matter of fact, but if the public is such an ass as to think better of my work for the suspicion, I do not care how soon I incur it.

Source: Certain Personal Matters by H. G. Wells. I quoted from this book earlier, when it had not been published yet at Project Gutenberg. Via Logiston.

My reply to the EC’s digital libraries plans

I just sent in my reply to the EC’s working paper on Digital Libraries. I was one hour late, so I fear the comfy chair.

“I look forward to killing you soon”

The new “goodbye” from UPC’s support staff? Why not Ask a Ninja!

(Through Rocketboom.)

Firefox to become “spyware” agent?

The Firefox developers have added support for a non-W3 attribute that allows webmasters to “spy” on you. This is already possible using cookies, redirects and JavaScript; the developers added the feature in order to reduce overhead that slows down the web browsing experience.

I have not yet made up my mind as to whether this ping attribute is desirable. It reminds me of giving methadon to heroin addicts (in order to ween them of the latter drug); a method that is debated up to this day. The idea that the developers have is that we, the web surfers, are going to get cheated anyway, so why not make the experience slighty less unpleasant for us?

I wrote the following as a comment at the blog entry that announced the feature:

The reasoning some folks employ here seems to be that if other folks do bad things, they themselves should be able to introduce entirely new bad things. The famous arms manufacturer argument: Firefox doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people. I hope I do not have to explain what’s wrong with that argument. (In case I do: think BLINK.)

If you decide to implement a feature according to spec, one would expect you to implement the entire feature, which includes the GUI. People who click links may keep an eye on the status bar because they have gotten used to getting a raw deal on the web (this should provide you with a hint about the importance of knowing what a click means!), so the status bar seems the logical location for any feedback on the type of link you’re clicking. But the address that typically appears in the status bar is situational knowledge; whereas the fact that a link leads to multiple addresses is functional knowledge, and should probably be part of the rendering of the link text or object itself.

Anyway, it is good to see that you are working on an advanced hypertext experience. Does this mean you are going to implement (or already have implemented) fat links too?


Desperately needing to reinstall the entire system, I decided to do a double back-up of all my data, just to make sure nothing vital gets lost. One back-up of important data to CD-ROM, another of most of my data to a second, smaller hard disk.

I have an old pc, and an old old old pc, which had an old old hard disk. The web is full of advice for the case that you wish to put an old old hard disk (what “they” call “new”) into an old old old pc (what “they” call “old”), and aeons ago when I installed the then new Western Digital Caviar 6GB hard drive and disk into my 486DX, that advice came in handy. But now when I wanted to put that drive into my Pentium II, advice came not at all.

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