May 01, 2002
How Clueless Are Journalists?

Instapundit writes:

JOURNALISTS WITHOUT A CLUE: An apparently endlessly continuing series. The Dallas Morning News is threatening to sue a site called unless it quits linking to individual articles and starts linking only to the paper's front page.

Instapundit goes on to give two reasons why it's stupid not to allow deep links. He's absolutely right. But what kind of technological moron thinks you have to sue to prevent deep linkage? If that's what you want to do, it's easy and totally legal. All you have to do is move your stuff from one directory to another every now and then, updating your internal links to match. If today's stories are all in a subdirectory called '20020501', change it to '2002/05/01' tomorrow and 'May2002/01' the next day. As long as you don't screw up and give two directories the same name, and as long as you put the linked information into the new directories before uploading the files that link to them, the change will be invisible to readers who enter your site 'through the front door', but external links will be rendered useless. It's still a stupid way to alienate readers (and potential readers), but you can save a bundle on lawyer's fees, and avoid the possibility of a countersuit, by doing the alienating yourself.

Update: (5:45 PM)

Instapundit has now linked to a Slashdot discussion of methods for preventing deep linking. It appears that knowledgable users have several sophisticated methods to choose from, all way beyond my level of expertise. I think it's interesting that even a tiro like myself, who knows only HTML, and not all of that, can think of a method that the Dallas Morning News and its ace webmeisters apparently can't . Of course, my method could be evaded, since linkers could always look for changed addresses through the main DMN site and then update their links to match. But the DMN would have the advantage of (a) time (linkers would always be one step behind, losing users who tired of the intermittent linkage) and (b) numbers (moving one article would break the links from any number of linkers). Few, if any, linkers would want to bother with the extra work. To judge from the responses, it looks as if the methods proposed on Slashdot are not foolproof, either.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 01, 2002 12:08 PM