Article copyIn the past few hours, you may have hit an error page while trying to access the site, with an ominous message that read:
Error 403First things first: your Internet Protocol (IP) address is not blacklisted, and you have not been involved in malicious or illegal activity.
We're sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for /blog/(something -- Ed)/ on this server.
Your Internet Protocol address is listed on a blacklist of addresses involved in malicious or illegal activity. See the listing below for more details on specific blacklists and removal procedures.
Your technical support key is: (some mishmash of letters and numbers -- Ed)
You can use this key to fix this problem yourself.
If you are unable to fix the problem yourself, please contact (the dissident frogman at my gmail address -- Ed) and be sure to provide the technical support key shown above.
At least, none that I know of, which is not very nice of you. I thought we were friends, and then you go off and have a bit of illegal fun without inviting me. Tosser.
That error message is admittedly a bit over the top, but beyond my reach. I would have slipped in a couple of jokes, not just that creepy and slightly threatening message, as any expert in survival will tell you how important it is to maintain a sense of humor in every potentially stressful situation — but unfortunately most software developers fail to develop said sense of humor and are usually sad, anal people (Present company of software developers excepted) without girlfriends who think just because machines can follow instruction-sets without complaining, then people should too.
They don't know people very well. Heck, they can't even have a girlfriend.
So what happened? Smart question. You must be into software development.
To make a long and annoying story short — and hopefully keep it in layman's lingo — I've setup the site with several layers of antispam defenses, as both comments and trackbacks on any blog have been declared fair game by the hordes of a*holes making millions by posting unsolicited commercial offers anywhere they can. So far, these defenses work remarkably well, to the point where I can even keep the trackback system functioning — whereas spam practically killed trackbacks on the previous version of the site, that was running Movable Type.
One of the weapons in the arsenal is an extension to Expression Engine (the publishing software that advantageously replaces the much unsatisfactory Movable Type) called "Bad Behavior" that's quite popular among Wordpress bloggers, and for a reason: it's good at silently blocking most of the spammers' crap in the background, without requiring the user's attention and intervention, while allowing you to keep your blog's functionality fully working — as already stated, I'm still using trackbacks, and I don't need to disable comments on older posts, a cheap and quick workaround to limit spam that many blogs end up using. While a few goblins make it past that layer every now and then(1), it's nothing compared to the chore of removing manually hundreds of spamming comments and trackbacks every other day, a common exercise in the old Movable Type times.
Yesterday, BB's big daddy moved his sites to a new dedicated server, and decommissioned a blacklist he (wrongly) thought wasn't in use, resulting in BB tossing false positives — i.e. identifying addresses as "bad" even though they're not — and locking some good guys (Possibly you, despite the fact that you didn't invite me. Tosser.) out of any blog running BB. An update to Bad Behavior was quickly posted, and thank to our friend Mike H who alerted me that he was "banned" from the site, I looked into the issue, nailed the problem, grabbed a copy of the update and applied it.
Meaning that if you're still locked out of the site you are 1. Not possibly reading this, which means that I can 2. Call you a tosser in total impunity.
It's worse than I first thought: I just found that Bad Behavior now manages to block Google's web crawler, AKA Googlebot. The robot that indexes pages for the Google search engine. Brilliant. What a splendid way to make yourself vanish from the Intarweb.
Bad Behavior ironically lives up to its name although not in the expected meaning, and is definitely out of here, with my boot in its bottom. Tosser.
If you're running it, I suggest you check and make sure Googlebot doesn't get the kick from Bad Behavior. If it does, you'll see the 403 error message I posted here, rather than your site.