Silicon Valley Sleuth reported this morning how several stories about Google buying Sun suspiciously made it to the front page of These "baseless rumours" were all submitted and promoted by a small group of Digg members that seemed to be working together.

I found this story through Digg itself, where it was posted on the front page. It later mysteriously disappeared from Digg though, and a URL search indicated that the story was since marked as "buried".

The Digg Blog says the following about this burying feature:

Digg now allows logged in users to bury stories as 'inaccurate'. Once enough people bury the story, it is removed from the queue and the following banner is displayed at the top:

No banner is displayed though, which makes me wonder if it was buried because enough people marked it as inaccurate (the same people who were promoting these Google+Sun stories maybe?) or whether an admin removed it in an effort to hide how easily Digg can be manipulated. There's currently an update on Silicon Valley Sleuth stating that it seems unlikely the Digg system was actually manipulated in this case, but this update wasn't there when the story was buried, and also doesn't make the theoretical possibility of this happening any less likely.

Due to the automated nature of Digg (which uses user-votes to determine how prominently to display a story) it certainly seems possible for a group of people to get together and promote stories in order to get them onto the coveted front page, while at the same time burying stories they don't like. Worse than that, what would stop someone from automating this process and creating a couple hundred accounts for this purpose? To reduce suspicion, these accounts could digg random stories from time to time, or even undigg stories once they've made it to the front page.

If this is not going on already, I predict it will soon. Compared to the trouble BlogSpammers are going through in order to game sites like Google, DayPop or Blogdex, gaming Digg seems relatively easy. While Digg claims to have ways to prevent manipulation, one can't help but wonder whether it's enough, and I'm sure there are plenty of spammers out there just dying to beat the system...

where scammers live, their victims blog about it and digg their story, and lynchmobs form that barrage the vendor with prank calls, emails, faxes, ddos attacks and poor online ratings.

All without anyone verifying whether there's any truth to the original story of course...

UPDATE: Ed Lopez, owner of PriceRitePhoto sent an apology letter to Thomas Hawk. The next day, Howard Baker, a manager with PriceRitePhoto, says they suffered "millions of dollars" worth of damages, are talking to their attorneys, and will probably be taking legal action.

My hosting company ran into some issues this weekend that, besides causing a two day outage for both my blog and for, also potentially caused some email to get lost. If you sent me anything on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you may need to resend it - I'm not sure how much is lost for good and how much will be redelivered later :-(

Also, if anyone has any positive experiences with hosting a 50+ Gb/month site at a reasonable price (I currently only pay $17/month), please let me know. This wasn't the first outage I've had, nor do I expect it to be the last. Maybe it's time to move on.

update: looks like my hosting company still has some issues to be worked out; I can't send any emails through outlook for getting some weird "503 valid RCPT command must precede DATA" error (though sending through the web-based interface seems to work fine), and for some reason my movable type install is not showing any of your comments. Comments have not been lost though, as I can see them through the MT admin interface, and am also getting the email notifications (i'm actually getting those twice now... weird) - I just need to figure out why it's not rebuilding the pages correctly...

update 2: email issue has been fixed - for some reason I had to use some outlook setting that wasn't needed before their servers crashed... now all I need is to figure out what's going on with MT...

update 3: turned out that all comments were in a pending status and needed to be manually approved (the email notifications conveniently failed to mention this though). My MT-Blacklist was setup to only force moderation on old posts, but since the crash-recovery it now seems to force it on new ones as well. Oh well - I'm long overdue for an upgrade to MT 3.2 + SpamLookup anyway; guess it's time to stop procrastinating (but not tonight).

  • FTP'ing many small files is sloooooow, so it's important you copy the right set (MT 3.11), instead of re-copying the existing version (MT 2.6) - oops ;-)
  • To FTP files to your server, don't ever use WS_FTP again. The damn thing steals focus on every completed file, which made it almost impossible to do anything else during a large upload - including trying to find a replacement FTP app. I remembered Scott blogging about FTP apps a while ago, and settled on Smart FTP based on the comments to that post. It sure works a whole lot better than WS_FTP (even though its "global queue" feature didn't seem to work for me).
  • To execute a cgi-script, chmod it to be executable first. I remembered this for the MT upgrade, but then forgot about it for the MT-BlackList upgrade. This made my server return some generic error-message when trying to run the MTB-upgrade script, which had me worried for a while since Jay's out this week, and I didn't want to leave my blog wide open to comment and trackback spam for a week.
  • And last but certainly not least, don't start a major upgrade like this after midnight - it's way too easy to make stupid little mistakes when you're tired and sleepy, and once you start, there's no going back.

There are by some estimates more than a million weblogs. But most of them get no visibility in search engines. Only a few "A-List" blogs get into the top search engine results for a given topic, while the majority of blogs just don't get noticed. The reason is that the smaller blogs don't have enough links pointing to them. But this posting could solve that. Let's help the smaller blogs get more visibility!

This posting is GoMeme 4.0. It is part of an experiment to see if we can create a blog posting that helps 1000's of blogs get higher rankings in Google. So far we have tried 3 earlier variations. Our first test, GoMeme 1.0, spread to nearly 740 blogs in 2.5 days. This new version 4.0 is shorter, simpler, and fits more easily into your blog.

Why are we doing this? We want to help thousands of blogs get more visibility in Google and other search engines. How does it work? Just follow the instructions below to re-post this meme in your blog and add your URL to the end of the Path List below. As the meme spreads onwards from your blog, so will your URL. Later, when your blog is indexed by search engines, they will see the links pointing to your blog from all the downstream blogs that got this via you, which will cause them to rank your blog higher in search results. Everyone in the Path List below benefits in a similar way as this meme spreads. Try it!

Instructions: Just copy this entire post and paste it into your blog. Then add your URL to the end of the path list below, and pass it on! (Make sure you add your URLs as live links or HTML code to the Path List below.)

Path List
1. Minding the Planet
2. Luke Hutteman's public virtual MemoryStream
3. (your URL goes here! But first, please copy this line and move it down to the next line for the next person).

(NOTE: Be sure you paste live links for the Path List or use HTML code.)

It was bound to happen sooner or later - after comment spam, there's now also trackback spam. With MT-BlackList's help, I just deleted about 60 spam trackbacks in a minute.

As an extra precaution on top of MT-BlackList, I had already started closing comments-threads after a couple of months. I guess I'll have to turn off the trackbacks as well.

I posted my first entry of this (then radio powered) weblog:

Ok so I tried this blogging thing before about half a year ago, but did not get any further than post #1.
Hopefully I'll do better this time.
I guess I did...

Even though I only used radio for a one month trial before switching this blog to movable type, that original radio version of my weblog actually still exists at - I wonder when they'll get around to reclaiming it...

Considering the helpful responses I got on my JB vs IDEA post, let me throw another one out there...

I'm going to setup an internal weblog here at my new job and need to decide on which tool to use. Since this will be hosted on IIS, using one of the .NET weblogging tools would make the most sense. dasBlog and .Text seem to be the front-runners and I've read nothing but positive reviews on both of them. I'm not sure how they differ though and which one would be better for my needs. I'd need a tool that

  • is easy to setup, maintain and post to
  • allows for multiple authors to a blog (or multiple single-author blogs with a common main page and rss feed)
  • supports comments and comment-rss
  • is free for commercial use (not that the company I work for is cheap or anything, but I don't feel like dealing with the paperwork for approvals, reimbursements, etc.)
Additional pluses would be things like
  • easy uploading of documents, images, etc.
  • easy customization of the look and feel of a blog
  • wysiwyg editing of blog posts in IE

I know I could just download, install and evaluate both, but I'm sure plenty of others have done that already so I'll take the lazyweb approach for now ;-)

Copyright © 2003, 2004 Luke Hutteman