The Twelve Mile Circle is about Geography, Geo-Oddities, Travel and the sharing of thoughts and ideas. Would it be ethical to ban 1.3 billion readers — nearly 20% of the world’s population — for the sins of a minuscule few?
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China has become my website’s bane of existence. Internet Protocol addresses geo-locating to various points in China deliver a nonstop barrage of trouble. I’m required to maintain complete vigilance in order to hold a constant toxic seepage of digital garbage at bay, and provide you with the most enjoyable reading environment.
- I’ve installed a script that blocks at least 98% of bot-generated junk comments, and I practice absolute comment moderation to catch those few that make it through the gauntlet.
- I trash all attempts at link-backs unless I can determine they’ve linked to me for legitimate reasons.
- I deal with image and bandwidth thieves harshly and swiftly.
- I block individual IP’s when I notice a pattern of abuse.
I have no tolerance for unscrupulous people who lie, steal and cheat, hoping to grab a quick buck exploiting the hard work of others, and hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet. You won’t see spam disguised as comments on the Twelve Mile Circle. You also don’t see the level of effort required behind-the-scenes to keep it that way, but it’s significant.
I’ve noticed a massive up-swell, a veritable firestorm of crap over the last couple of months like nothing I’ve experienced in the fifteen years I’ve created web content. It’s all focused, as far as I can tell, on ways to game Google PageRank scores using external links. Very few false positives make it through my initial script hurdle. Nonetheless 2% of "thousands-per-week" is still an annoying amount to weed through by hand in a comment moderation queue.
I’m not sure if it’s a single organized effort or if it’s an entrepreneurial black-hat spam king peddling bot software to thousands of ignorant wanna-be’s. It doesn’t seem particularly sophisticated, and in fact it seems to be rather ham-fisted and brute-forced so I’m guess the latter. All I know is that you, as loyal readers, probably don’t want to slog through thousands of comments that look like these actual word-for-word entries I’ve tagged as inappropriate in just the last couple of days.
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They typically include embedded links for websites peddling shoes, clothing, SEO services, video games, bootleg software, and um… items of a more personal nature. The digital trail leads back to China, nine times out of ten.
Is it fair to punish the residents of an entire nation? I recognize that this is a citizenry already struggling within the confines of the Great Firewall of China. It seems downright cruel to compound their situation by placing additional restrictions upon them. Surely there has to be a few Chinese geo-geeks with a decent grasp of English who would enjoy following the Twelve Mile Circle.
Yet, I have little evidence of actual Chinese visitors while I’ve experienced thousands of instances of unethical behavior each month this summer. I’ve just about reached my limit of this contemptible behavior. It’s not an indictment of the Chinese people but of the greedy criminal gangs that use their nation as a safe harbor.
It’s insanely simply to ban a nation from a website. There are plenty of Internet sites that will generate a list of Chinese IP ranges that I can drop it into an .htaccess file, and take care of the entire problem in about five minutes. That’s not the issue.
I understand that this isn’t like Google trying to figure out whether to pull out of China. It’s my tiny little, insignificant blog. The world isn’t going to change regardless of what I do. However I still struggle with the moral dilemma of whether it would be right or defensible to impose the Death Penalty.
I’d be interested to hear if others have wrestled with this issue and whether you found alternate approaches to a total ban or reconciled your concerns and made a final decision. "Curious to determine what all you intellectuals have to say about this."