Román Cortés

The Lack of Netiquette

1 de Febrero del 2010

NEW UPDATE 02/08/10: Please, read this post from Ajaxian.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Dion Almaer (the author of the post in Ajaxian) has personally apologized as you can see in the comments below.
Now I’m happy again. :)  Resentment is over. Thanks Dion.

In the last days I’ve been - and I am - really disappointed by Ajaxian’s lack of netiquette with me. They hotlinked the iframe of my lastest CSS experiment (the Coke can) without permission (and this is the second time they hotlink my job that way), stealing this way my bandwidth and my visitors. After I complained, they have not yet directly contacted me about it.

Well, first, what is Ajaxian? Maybe you already know it: it is a well-known, high traffic website that is usually considered a good source for web developing news and techniques.

On December, they hotlinked the effect iframe of my CSS Meninas post. They did it without even asking me, so I wrote a comment in their post asking them to write to me back. They didn’t.

I have a little rented dedicated server, and it is very limited in monthly bandwidth, cpu time and bandwidth per second. When a high traffic site like Ajaxian hotlinks me, my server starts to work to its limits, and that can easily make it go down, or I can reach my maximum allowed bandwidth. In the case of December, fortunately the server resisted that and I had no downtimes, so I just let it go and tried to forget the unrespectful/careless act from Ajaxian.

About a week ago I published the Coke can effect. Its popularity has been astounding: so much that in the first days it went, at the same time, to the frontpage of several big social news and aggregators websites. This made on January 26 my server to have hours of downtime.

On January 27, Ajaxian, again, hotlinked my content without my permission. Even if they linked me as author - and this is probably, the only correct thing they did -, since the post contained the full working effect, it was not clear enough to the users that they were not the authors of it. As a result, Smashing Magazine (probably the biggest and more important website on web design, with over 100k Twitter followers) twitted them for the effect instead of me. Also, people voted for it on StumbledUpon, getting it in the frontpage (as writing, it is in the frontpage yet, with 79k views) and re-tweeted it until making it the most twitted post of Ajaxian. All of these made them get the visitors while stealing my bandwidth. Not only that, but since the effect could be seen directly from their page, even the users who understood it was my job and not theirs did not visited my site because they had seen the effect already. This is why I think this is a way of stealing visitors too.

Data from Alexa, StumbleUpon and Topsy 

As you can see, my work doubled their traffic in the lastest days… in an already high traffic website (the Romancortes effect I might call it).

I’m mostly concerned with my bandwidth and my server stability, but, the thing is: they steal my bandwidth without permission or asking me, they steal visitors that should be mine and not theirs AND they show advertisements in their website. Since I doubled their visitors in these days with my original work and my bandwidth, should I think that they are, in fact, making money at my expenses?

Please, don’t think I’m a pro-copyright activist or something like that; I’m not. In the 99% of the cases, if you ask for permission to hotlink, or copy my content, or use my artworks or whatever, I will give it to you. But in this case, I think this has been just too much.

Ajaxian Rick Rolled

Hoping to receive a personal answer from them, I rick-rolled them. It was easy; since there were an iframe in their page pointing to the effect in my server, I had just to change content in my server. I did it in a friendly way, with some humor and trying to get their attention so they write a personal message to me. But nothing. No answer yet. They changed their post to avoid the rick-rolling and added this line: “[Edit: Fixed the hotlinking - well played Román - he Rick-rolled Us]”. That line is, in fact, for their users, but not a personal message to me. I’m thinking… how hard it could be to contact me with a personal message?

Finally, and as a conclusion, just to say that the lack of netiquette is, in fact, a lack of etiquette. The Internet medium makes the things to look ethereal as if there were not people involved there. But, we are involved, and we are people. If you do something not correct to a person in real life and the person complains, you usually will say “sorry”. Why not to do the same if the person is from Internet? Also, I believe big sites should take even more care with this. Since they are the most visited, they should try to be good examples on that. Unfortunately, it looks that it is not always this way.

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