Okay, I’m the webmaster for Working to Halt Online Abuse. And we provide link banners for people who want to link to the site. We don’t approach anyone about linking, we don’t do reciprocal links—they’re just available.

When I first took over the site a couple of years ago, I looked over the stats and found that an incredible number of sites were linking to us and pulling the link banner from our server. I wouldn’t like that in any case, but we rely on donated server space and bandwidth, so it was of even more concern to me.

First I tried being nice. I contacted the owners of the sites and asked that they store the graphic on their own servers. I got a few responses, and about half of those were very negative. The other half were polite and changed their sites.

But that still left us with lots of sites continuing to link that what, and it continued to get on my nerves. It’s a small file, yes—but a small file loaded repeatedly on hundreds of sites adds up.

I did a total redesign of the site around that time, too, and most of the file and directory names changed. Because there had been so many changes, we had a script running that notified me of any 404 errors on the site. And I was getting an email every time a visitor hit one of the bandwidth-stealing sites and tried to load the banner graphic. That was truly annoying.

So I changed the way the graphics were loaded, using a script designed specifically to stop bandwidth theft. I get an email alerting me to when a site tries it, and generally, I’ll only see one or two messages from any site before the webmaster realizes that yes, I truly mean it when I say “you can’t link to the graphic on our server.” (Please don’t consider this a challenge—I don’t think anyone has found a way around it and would prefer to keep it that way.)

But yesterday some guy who does websites for hockey players spent all day, and I do mean ALL DAY, trying to find a way around it. I mean, the danged sites he was making were already so graphic-intensive that I cannot really see why he didn’t just save the banner to his server in the first place and load it there. He must have the space. But no, apparently he took it as a challenge. And from about 7 am until well after 6 pm, he kept on trying different ways to call the banner from our server.

I finally sent him an email, saying simply that we appreciate his desire to link to us, but that I would really appreciate it if he’d just call the file from his server and be done with it. I think I spooked him. He decided that Big Brother was out there or something. But he did, finally, stop.

But why did it take him all day?

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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