ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Freedom, Justice and a Disturbingly Gaping Ass —

I’ll be nice and warn you that this essay links to disturbing images. That is, THIS ENTRY LINKS TO VERY DISTURBING IMAGES SO IF YOU LIKE EVERYTHING TO BE A VARIATION OF KITTENS LICKING EACH OTHERS EARS YOU ARE GOING TO THE WRONG PLACE. PLEASE GLIDE ALONG QUIETLY TO THE NEXT OR PREVIOUS WEBLOG ENTRIES WHERE YOU WILL BE A MUCH HAPPIER PERSON.

Everyone gone? OK, good.

I mentioned in a previous entry about the happy-go-lucky adventure of the massive downloading of a single image on textfiles.com, one of a cheery Grim Reaper holding a glowing hourglass. It was quite popular, and I talked about the situation where I had seen downloading of this image go from nothing before April 2006 and it had quickly unseated all other comers by a factor of 100 to become the most downloaded file out of the millions in the textfiles.com family of websites. This was, I mused, some sort of payback for when I was a youth and a leech, and so I let it go. Incredulity was the order of the day in the comments, with a few people speculating that since my website doesn’t know where the source of my files always are, I might in fact be considered compelled to do this sort of charity work to atone. Others thought that I was brave to allow hotlinking at all.

Both, it turned out, were wrong. Idly sitting around during the holiday season, I went to go check how that popular ol’ Grim Reaper image was doing. The answer: very very well for Mr. Reaper. Not so well for Jason’s bandwidth.

I said that in September of 2006 he was downloaded 212,000 times. For the month of December, he was downloaded 401,000 times. This was going to get a lot worse, I could see that immediately.

The problem wasn’t just academic anymore, either. You see, I’ve been lucky enough to host with a number of good providers over the years, who have treated me well, and eventually I have outgrown them. When that happens, there’s a mad scramble to find new hosting and I have to often host it locally, to the detriment of everyone. Additionally, I am scrambling for the privilege of spending lots of my own money. While this is all fine with me, the “service” I am doing by allowing the hot-linking of images by Myspace is really no service at all.

Myspace is roughly the 4th most visited English language website, according to reports. It is owned by News Corporation. News Corporation is fucking huge. My dad used to work for News Corporation, so I am very appreciative of that but not to the point of happily whistling a tune while they bleed my generous hosting company’s connection dry. Everything, you see, has limits. I hope it’s not like hearing there’s scant evidence of Tooth Fairies to know that I have some of my own.

So, sleepy with egg nog and considering what to do next, I decided I would replace the image.

Initially, I thought an ad for Notacon or Blockparty or the documentary would be good. But the fact is, the vectors just don’t line up. People who are on Myspace are hardly going to be swayed by an ad for something one way or another, and it felt icky.

So I goatse’d them.

If you don’t know what I mean by “Goatse”, then let me go on the record, right now, as saying this is just what Wikipedia is good for. You can go and read up on the history of what “Goatse” is. If you don’t have the time or patience and yet still don’t know what I mean, let me say that it is a disturbing image of a gentleman (it is clear he is a fellow) using almost yoga-like skills to display the eye-watering sight of the inside of his own rectum. If that sounds horrible, it is. It is truly, truly horrible.

This is interesting on its own levels; I don’t know why we didn’t think this through in the early stages of Internet, but the fact is so obvious that to hear it makes you think you always knew it: the pipes can back up sewage. The same open door that gives you a world of knowledge and communication is also a piping hot shit-gun of horror. Like looking to see if a rifle is loaded by peering down the barrel, your screen can turn from a breathtaking visage of insight into a Gatling Gun of mind-scarring infinity-pain within the literal blink of an eye.

Or, as they say: ONCE YOU CLICK, YOU CANNOT UNCLICK.

If you are truly fine with this, then go ahead: See what I replaced the Grim Reaper with.

Anyway, on with the show.

Assuming you find the idea of some errant myspace numbnut faced with a gaping ass entertaining, then you will become first giggly, and then fall aside laughing to know that within an hour I had “goatse’d” 400 people.

Within two days it was 25,000. Twenty five thousand.

We are now up to nearly a hundred thousand viewings of this file in its new ass-o-rama version. I am sure that through libraries, schools, colleges, cubicles, offices, warehouses, the sound of someone’s throat reflexively making a sound not unlike “Uuuuaaaaaghhhghh” has filled the air. The amount of time lost in horrified stares and frantic jabs at the keyboard and mouse to get away, far away must be into the realm of hours by now. Maybe days! Days of slack-jawed horrified faces staring into a big square eyeball. I don’t know, that gets a chortle out of me. I’m easily entertained.

But after the initial thought of this Towering Tidal Wave of Tweener Terror, I started to consider how it had gotten to be so bad in the first place.

And this is where it gets interesting.

Any entity interested in what is called “market share” must eventually expand out into regions of people far outside those would normally patronize that entity. Not to ensure survival, but to ensure growth – which eventually supplants survival as a metric of health. An excellent example of this is air travel: whereas the original passengers on a plane in the first decade of air travel had a reasonably good chance of knowing how to operate that plane (the pilot and his passenger, two air enthusasts trying out a new machine), we are now at the point that we can have 300 individuals inside a jet and less than a handful could possibly operate the thing. That is, less than 1% of the people inside a machine, whose lives depend on that machine and who are paying to use that machine, have any idea how to make it work. This is, ultimately, fine: air travel is very safe and we have lots of safeguards in place so that generally the whole shebang doesn’t explode. Still, you cross a line and the trends will be for even more people packed into an airplane, not less.

This isn’t evil, per se… it’s just how this whole growth thing works. And eventually, this came to the Internet. As college students were dumped onto Internet connections, they faced, essentially, a sea of pilots; people trained to operate the craft who followed some levels of lore and rulesets to keep things running smoothly, if jarringly Libertarian. As these college students flooded the gates around the month of September, they would eventually get assimilated into the Way of Things by a month or two, or sulk away and watch things from afar. Either way, it kind of worked.

And then America On-Line dumped everybody onto the Internet at once. This phenomenon was so marked in Internet history that it even has a name: The September that Never Ended.

There’s a story from that time, which I love to tell, which will have meaning in this entry shortly. Someone put up a webpage about America Online, criticizing the company and the service it provided. It advocated untoward behavior on AOL and generally represented a typical “slam site”, which I myself have been known to take part in from time to time. After the time that AOL was fully loosed on the Internet and sending people willy-nilly around, this site got a letter that I think really underlines the problem with this sort of culture class. An AOL moderator, that is, a guy whose job is to look for troublemakers on the AOL service, contacted this webmastrer, and told him he was violating the AOL terms of service and to cease his website immediately. As far as this mop-head was concerned, AOL now “owned” the Internet and anyone on it, even someone running a site not in any way connected with the AOL service (except in discussing them) was under its jurisdiction. The webmaster did the logical thing: he posted the letter for all to see, garnering ridicule and some thoughtful chuckles.

Myspace, and sites like it, also have to take a tactic similar to the airlines. The somewhat large barrier-to-entry of hosting a website has already been reduced a great deal, but social websites remove it entirely; you only need an e-mail address to be able to host and provide content. And now the whole part where you have to learn enough HTML to be able to make it render in a browser is wiped clean. It is possible, very possible, to go from Tweener at Hot Topic to Webmistress of the Dark and Foreboding Webpage of Sin without ever using a single bracket.

Is this bad? On the one hand, people who would never have had a voice before are given one. On the other, that voice is occasionally droning, illiterate, and borderline schizophrenic. And multiplied by tens of thousands. However, Myspace (and News Corporation) has market share, and that’s the primary goal of the whole activity.

Part of hosting a website is providing the content. While it’s possible to use the internal templates to at least indicate what hobbies you have and whether you like to smoke. folks are naturally inclined to upload pictures, change the color of the background, and add design schemes that make Holly Hobbie look like Prada. To help them, a little cottage industry of templates are now around so that instead of making that huge step into markup languages, patrons can simply copy and paste designs into their own pages.

Here, then is the source of this sudden interest in my website’s artscene section; someone created a “design” that directly hotlinked to the artscene.textfiles.com website and used the image as the background. The design, by the way, is absolutely horrible, and I don’t know how anyone ever found it readable in the first place; the default font color was red, with a line through the text! This said, I’m sure I have a number of pieces of clothing that call into question my qualifications for a fashion police badge.

Soon after I converted the image from Grim Reaper to Grim Ripper, one of the thousands of people getting eye-lashed by the image saw the “textfiles.com” mention at the bottom, figured out how to mail me, and did so:

Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 21:45:40 EST
From: Motorjames1@wmconnect.com
To: jason@textfiles.com
Subject: myspace hacking

Hello. Someone is hacking into myspace profiles and claiming to be
"textfiles".com.If you are unaware of this, they are using your
web-name to be quite offensive. I thought you might like to know.
It's a pretty childish, sophmoric stunt {easily cleaned up,} but
annoying.If it happens to actually be you doing it, You should really
hope we never meet- you will end up looking worse than the photo you
have been posting-

This is a fascinating character study on several levels. First of all, there’s the immediate assumption that someone “hacked” myspace. The fact that I used the deadly spell “mv” to shift a few things around on a machine I own is not a possibility as far as Motorjames1 is concerned. Next, just to make sure all bases are covered, he threatens me. Ostensibly he is indicating he will punish me by doing something traumatic to my ass. Perhaps, however, he merely means he will do something to my face so that it will be as horrifyingly offensive as the Goatse ass. Either way, I question his diplomatic skills.

Communiques were quiet on my side for days, and I assumed that people were figuring out how to remove the image and replace it with something else, which is the “cleaning up” that motorjames1 had indicated. Nobody, it seems, was inspired to seek me out. So, I went on a little fact-finding mission of my own. Checking the referrer logs of my webserver, I found places where people were writing helpful notes to their friends to perhaps figure out how they too had been “hacked”. Granted, a lot were in the form of “WHAT T FUK WITH U BACKGROUND??????”, but the essence was clear.

Hotlinking in itself is not so bad, in my book. I certainly get people hotlinking to my textfiles and directories, skipping over my introductions and context to provide others with information that I’m hosting. I even have people link directly to images on the DIGITIZE sub-site to prove a point about catalogs or old computers or so on. But in all these cases, the hotlinking is in the course of providing knowledge. Someone is trying to inform others about a subject and my library is being utilized to share. I feel like this is right and good, and I encourage it.

But what is being done by myspace is that this data is not being used for knowledge. It’s being used as decoration. Beyond that, it’s being used for inefficient, meaningless, taste-lacking decoration, just to give someone’s poorly-written “website” a “dark feeling” by putting a visage of death on it. Maybe that’s an odd, arbitrary line to draw, but after being at the ass-end of that line, if you will, I think I have to consider drawing it.

I was idly wondering today where to go with this, whether to simply refuse to allow myspace pages to hotlink to any images whatsoever, when I received this in my inbox:

Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 20:46:11 -0800
From: HotFreeLayouts COM 
To: mailbox@textfiles.com
Subject: hardcore porn pic - take down asap please

hi, you really should take down ASAP

www.textfiles.com/artscene/mirrors/GRAPE-DEMO-ARCHIVE/graphism/rs/razorback/
razorback-the_grim_reaper.png
somebody is flodding our server with that / posting it on myspace
etc.
--
HotFreeLayouts.com Abuse Team

And here we are, back full circle. “Hotfreelayouts” is one of the sites that offers up these design templates for downloads (along with ads, of course), and these fellows, the pilots of the current generation if you will, were utterly unable to do anything about my “flod”. Or my flodding.

Consider, then, what was going on here. Myspace, a site which is being used by people who don’t know how to host or design, ends up with a gaping ass provided by a design firm which can’t understand the nature of hotlinking (or of spelling), who have written to someone who can host, design and spell but are doing so with a demand that this person take action.

And this, my friends, is ass.


2008 Update: Since this weblog entry was first written, it has easily become the most popular entry in the weblog’s history, with hundreds visiting it years later. If this is the first time you’ve read it, be sure to read the related postings:

The Ass-Termath
Goatse II: The Widening
The February Goat Update
Goatse Metrics


Categorised as: textfiles.com

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234 Comments

  1. bleeber says:

    Awesome job, but I have a geek question:

    Which caused more traffic,hotlinking death or this story being dugg?

  2. rdm says:

    It is at once a relief and a dread that the BOFH nature is alive and well.

    Well done.

    And I pray that I never become an object of your ire.

    -R

  3. John says:

    do take down motorjames’ email address, sporto. he just tryin’ to make sense of the world. if you’re saying hotfreelayouts hyperlinked your image and the new layout was immensely popular, that’s amusing. it’s not clear how your image impacted hotfreelayouts servers, unless they proxy bits or something.

  4. Megatron says:

    Well done, man. Well done.

  5. vernes says:

    I remember still dailing into bbs’s.

    And I hope your prank will be used in many, many articles about hotlinking.

  6. Naruki says:

    Analogy for explaining hotlinking to a court:

    Imagine you find a hole drilled into your bathroom wall, presenting a fine view of your shower to anyone peering in from the sidewalk outside.

    You go out to the sidewalk and find that some entrepreneur, drill in hand, is advertising the rights to come view this “free porn” to an extremely busy lunchtime crowd. Thousands of people are peering in.

    So you tape a picture of goatse over the hole.

    And now a lot of “concerned citizens” are complaining about your actions.

  7. Alex says:

    Excellent prank! Something for me to remember should I ever put something useful on my site and have it hotlinked all over the Internet.

    Back at Uni I had problems with people hotlinking to various sub-pages which were only supposed to be viewed via a PHP include and were moved around quite a lot. Eventually I got sick of idiots whining about dead links and just installed a goatse 404 page.

    Given that I have a bot to look for dead links, the only reason for getting that 404 is an outdated hotlink. It does of course get disabled when I change the page structure.

  8. Hans says:

    It is, indeed, still September. Thank you for taking this humorous action as well as writing about it.

  9. Eric says:

    You made my day. WELL DONE!

  10. x-f says:

    Holy flerking schnitt, Batman!
    Great story.
    My website has been hotlinked from MySpace too.
    Unfortunately I wasn’t that creative as you are. But the next time.. :>

  11. kip says:

    fuck’n hell my eyes hurt, get a fuck’n CSS up in here that doesn’t burn. dipshit

  12. Douglas says:

    Ahaha Good job man. Wonder what they would do if you put the lemon party image in it’s place.

  13. Kyle says:

    I had this exact same thing happen to me (but on a lesser scale) and I intensely debated doing the very same thing you did. I ended up using this image.

    I “blogged about it and got emails from the people using it similar to yours. The seemingly willful ignorance of some people is amazing.

  14. Frago says:

    That’s some serious pwn@ge there dude! I’m sure the self appointed geeks @ HotFreeLayouts have sh!t their pants!! I cant imagine that buissness is as good as it was before your image swap! Serves them right!

    If you ever need to explain this to a jury… try this:

    I had a huge diamond on display in my computer. Some d!ckweeds came and stole the whole display! These a-holes were sneaking it out and using it in their display as their diamond!! I found out my diamond was no longer secure, so I changed the diamond for a fake! They stole the fake. The world is in an uproar because they SHOWED the fake and got caught!!

  15. Thanks fot the great writing man!

  16. Yakwhacker says:

    Amazing. Inspiring. Awesome.

  17. Willow says:

    No tubgirl?

  18. wishfulthoinker says:

    People. People!!! peeepppllleee!!!

    you missed a new word being added to the lexicon today.

    “eye-lashed”. I’m stealing it and claiming it for my own. I hotlinked to textfiles.com and all my users got eye-lashed by goatse.

    That was a heck of an eyelashing we got when tubgirl showed us her special ‘talent’

    Motorjames1@wmconnect.com, tubgirl sends you her regards

  19. garfunkle says:

    SO where is the original file? I saw a preview of it on google images, and it looks awesome.

  20. commodorejohn says:

    Sir, you are my new hero.

  21. deejay says:

    A couple years ago some wannabe goth chickie used a Byzantine Chant mp3 I had made as her MySpace background sound. I used an Apache rule to redirect to a MIDI file of the Macarena.

    As of last month nobody is accessing it anymore.

  22. boxd says:

    i literally have tears in my eyes. thank you for entertaining me and damn you for providing the avenue to see that ghASStly image again.

    haha

    =P

    – boxd

  23. nahtass says:

    Well then…

    Nice job. I applaud you for standing up to myspace. I am so glad I read your story instead of going there tonight.

    Indeed, since originally introduced to Goatse by frisky programing co-workers, I am now using this word as a reference to “pulling it out of your/my ass”.

    Often I find myself performing a verbal equivalent.

    As a tribute to the power of vulgarity I am considering adding goatse to my spell check dictionary.

    Still undecided.

    –Nahtass

  24. KageSpartan says:

    Nice one… I would probably have used Tubgirl myself, but that… That rocked. Nice to see Hotlinkers and Image Thieves get their asses ripped open every once in awhile.HotFreeLayouts should keep their mitts off the Bandwidth of others, and start using their own. It’s only fair, y’now. Way to pwn them, man.

  25. Ace42 says:

    While I try to avoid hotlinking wherever possible, it does raise the question of “netiquette”. If you see an amusing stand-alone image (and the Internet is probably 90% people creating ‘amusing’ images) in a thread, do you “hotlink” it to a forum, and risk ruining someone’s bandwidth if it becomes insanely popular, or copy and host it yourself only to then be accused of “stealing” it? They created it to be “seen” obviously, and if it’s cached then it won’t be downloaded more than people will see it (thus it’s being downloaded by the same number of people, roughly, as would have taken up the bandwidth if you’d merely given them a home-page hypertext link to follow to the picture). On the other hand, it is perpetually being viewed by everyone who checks the thread it’s in, whether they want to see the picture (and take up the bandwidth) or not.

    Where does the “stealing” it / “Hot Linking” it / “forgetting” about it lines lie?

    At what point do you go “If it’s going to waste so much bandwidth, and cause so much grief hunting up the current hoster (who has possibly ripped it from somewhere else themself) to ask permission to rehost it for an off-the-cuff forum post, I won’t even bother” ?

    And is there any justification in saying “I wasn’t passing it off as mine, people were free to check the URL and visit the home site if it piqued an interest in its original context” ?

    I mean, clearly there is no excuse for inconsideracy or theft, on the other hand material is posted to the internet for the purpose of it being viewed, and hotlinking and IMG tags are a purpose built method for doing so, and how much cause is there for complaint when people end up doing so, especially given the invisible “tech-wizardy” methods for simply denying access without embarrassing someone who may simply be naively trying to disseminate material they think the creator / hoster would be glad to have interest generated in…

    Thoughts?

  26. Ace42 says:

    A bit of a post script here, surely an IMG tagged hotlink to an image is superior to a hypertext link, at least from the “viewers” perspective, in that a single text link in an “image” thread could easily be mistaken for spam advertising, even if the image is “on topic”, whereas the picture’s content (and thus relevence) can easily be seen if tagged.

    Although, of course, the flipside is the bandwidth issue, etc.

  27. Havok says:

    I did a similar thing when i found that a jpop mp3 someone had sent me on irc and that i had left on my shell account was being linked from several free mp3 sites and then many profiles on various social networking sites.. i replaced the mp3 with a small low bit rated GG Allin punk song called “assfucking”

  28. Daniel says:

    me too.

  29. Jasonsan says:

    That’s one of the greatest Internet pranks I’ve heard of in a long time. Thank you.

  30. anonymous says:

    I’d have used a picture of hitler

  31. Joe Zimmer says:

    Damn… Goatse in 2007? Oh come on, maybe it’s new for the MySpace kids but you should have some creativity!

  32. steven m s says:

    you sir, are my hero!

  33. Anonymous says:

    May I direct you towards: http://d1rtyf1lthy.livejournal.com/257310.html

    The more recent posts deal with the ‘repercussions’.

    Viva le goatse!

  34. Adam says:

    Sorry, but as a long time internet user, I have to say that I thing you’ve acted like an asshole.

    You put something on the web. People linked to it. Duh! That’s the fucking *point* of the web.

    If I see an image on the web and like it and think it would look good, what are my options?

    1) Copy the image to my own server and link from there.

    Or not. That’s copyright infringement and is wrong, no matter how you look at it. (Unless the image has a suitable CC license, obviously)

    2) Find contact details from the owner, and ask them if you can link to it.

    And get a “Duh! This is the web. You’re *supposed* to link to things dumbass. That’s the *point* of the web.” reply. Really, you don’t need permission to link to something on the web. The fact it’s on the web gives you implicit permission to link to it. If the owner didn’t want it linked to, they would not have put it on the web. (Apparently, there are some webmasters who don’t believe this, but they’re in the set of “non-pilots” you describe)

    3) Just link to it.

    Tell other people browsers to go fetch the image from where you got it from. Yup, that’s how the web *works*. That’s how it was *designed to work* If the owner doesn’t want other people to get the image, there are plenty of ways for them to accomplish this. Just tell your webserver not to serve resources to anyone you don’t want to serve it to. You can do this by restricting by IP address, or HTTP referer [sic], or by User-Agent if you want.

    Or if you have a problem with some of the people who link to you, *despite this being the point of the web*, you could try contacting them, pointing out how much bandwidth this is costing you, and trying to come to some form of arrangement.

    OK, I’ll agree that HotFreeLayouts (as well as any other design companies that might have used your image) have been bigger assholes than you here. And that they really *should* know better. And that they *should* have contacted you before incorporating one of your images into a design.

    But, we’re talking about you here. You could have decided to just not serve the image (404ing it) if requested with a MySpace referer.

    No, you had to go “punish”/shock/whatever a whole bunch of people who were just using the web the way it was meant to be used, taking advantage of the facilities it was designed to provide from the start, without any warning whatsoever.

    Asshole.

  35. Gernot Hassenpflug says:

    To those who complain about minors and all. Let’s not be silly and pretend the internet is simple. Where’s that “no fingerpoken” text again? As my Israeli friends say, “stupid must pay”, that’s the real world. If minors get on a computer without learning how to use it, tough shit. Each person should be responsible for what they do, and if they can’t handle that, they should not be there, simple. MySpace…puke.

  36. Kevin Mark says:

    Hehe. Maybe folks do need an intertubes drivers license? Besides, its your website, your images (unless its CC), and you can do what every $THE_BAD_WORD you want.
    Reminds me of this[0] where someone ‘hacked’ their website.
    [0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuttle,_Oklahoma

  37. Resonate says:

    Thats just excellent haha

  38. Rogue says:

    That “anonymous” comment just above here seems to be signed appropriately. He ended the message with his signature, asshole.

    I host my page on my own server and buy my bandwidth, a costly commodity.

    I had a bandwidth thief (alias Busybody which I found after following the referrer info) link to a gif on my page and use it in his macho signature file on an adult/porn forum where he posted dozens of messages with little or no content, just to display his signature. My access.log was filling with hundreds of hits on just this image… time to fight back with htaccess and a change of image.

    I first tried an animated gif with the message about bandwidth theft. It made no difference.
    Changing to a porn pic didnt work… duh it was an adult/porn forum. Oh well. I decided that I had to get his attention and make it personal.

    I created a very bright colored scrolling gif with the message [Busybody is also known as “Beagle F–ker”] and [Busybody sucks and swallows]. It worked. Hmmm (looking up a couple or three posts) hey asshole you seem to be the Busybody type, was that you? You certainly seem to feel free with use of other peoples bandwidth.

  39. Jake says:

    Brilliant, loved your description of the internet as a plane without pilots, it’s incredible to see how we got from point A to B, Academics and computer culture to a sea of fucktards.

  40. artem says:

    I had a bandwidth thief (alias Busybody which I found after following the referrer info) link to a gif on my page and use it in his macho signature file on an adult/porn forum where he posted dozens of messages with little or no content, just to display his signature. My access.log was filling with hundreds of hits on just this image… time to fight back with htaccess and a change of image.

  41. laura says:

    Tell other people browsers to go fetch the image from where you got it from. Yup, that’s how the web *works*. That’s how it was *designed to work* If the owner doesn’t want other people to get the image, there are plenty of ways for them to accomplish this. Just tell your webserver not to serve resources to anyone you don’t want to serve it to. You can do this by restricting by IP address, or HTTP referer [sic], or by User-Agent if you want.

  42. tramadol says:

    I created a very bright colored scrolling gif with the message [Busybody is also known as “Beagle F–ker”] and [Busybody sucks and swallows]. It worked. Hmmm (looking up a couple or three posts) hey asshole you seem to be the Busybody type, was that you? You certainly seem to feel free with use of other peoples bandwidth.

  43. tramadol says:

    I created a very bright colored scrolling gif with the message [Busybody is also known as “Beagle F–ker”] and [Busybody sucks and swallows]. It worked. Hmmm (looking up a couple or three posts) hey asshole you seem to be the Busybody type, was that you? You certainly seem to feel free with use of other peoples bandwidth.

  44. The idea of Bandwidth Theft is a construct that negates its own system. It’s like a Soviet saying, “I want to use the Socialist system and benefit from it, except for the part where it wants something from me.”

    The Internet was designed around the concept of “hotlinking” so that the same information wouldn’t have to be repeatedly uploaded. If your information is being accessed hundreds of thousands of times, you have benefited humanity far more than the few pennies it has cost you. From the standpoint of the philosophy upon which the Internet was built, you are a great success, but it apparently doesn’t feel like success to you because you judge it in antiquated monetary terms.

    Let me translate it into terms of profit and loss for you:

    Every bit of benefit you have ever received from the Internet required the underlying philosophy upon which the system was built. The philosophy is that a structure of exchange built on the human need to benefit society is vastly superior to a monetary economy. From an ethical standpoint, you can choose to be part of that philosophy or you can choose to not be part of it, but no moral standard in the world will let you profit from the same system that you actively attempt to circumvent.

    You slam Wikipedia and MySpace as if action needs to be taken to fix the internal organization of these sites, but they’re the ones embodying the base philosophy of the Internet: they post information any way they want and that information (including all public pictures) is “hotlinked” by the entire world without any consideration as to whether a particular use provided sufficient “knowledge.”

    Yours truly,
    Zephram Stark
    “If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t share.”

  45. Kit says:

    Nice nice nice. Truly you are He-Man, Master of the Internets.

    And for the “Think about the children!!! The children!!!” critics, please. Scarred for life? Are we on the same internet?  

    The internet that has 2Girls1Cup?

    Uh huh. Goatse ain’t that bad (how old were we when it first rolled around back in the day?). He was just the best man for the job.

  46. Anonymous says:

    You Win!

  47. Garrison says:

    Not sure why this got redditted so recently, but I’m glad that it did. I’d long forgotten about textfiles.com, and now I’m certain it’ll work its way back into my daily routine.

    Brilliant.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Wonder if this connects back to “anonymous” hacking some kid’s Myspace, as reported by Fox News.

    See

  49. Douglas says:

    > The Internet was designed around the concept of “hotlinking”

    Simply put: No, it wasn’t. The web (part of the Internet) was based around linking between HTML files. Hotlinking is embedding a “hot” link to an image on someone else’s web site, and pretending that it is an image on your web site. Different things.

    As for Wikipedia, they understand hotlinking, and they *don’t do it*. They go to pains to verify the copyright status of the non-hotlinked images they host. See the licensing section associated with every image on Wikipedia, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Kandinsky_white.jpg