The increasing absurdity of link removal requests


Since Google has generally disrupted anything resembling a stable search algorithm, half-assed SEOs are scrambling to undo a large part of all the half-assed SEO work done in the last few years. If you run any kind of user-driven website like Pligg or the common web forums, your inbox has probably been receiving quite a few of these link removal requests lately. The worst part is, website owners and their SEO contractors are sending out requests that the owners and contractors originally spent time and money acquiring in the first place! So basically, they’re spamming your sites, then spamming your inbox two years later with a polite request to remove the spam.

At least, you’d hope it would at least be polite.

The most absurd link removal request I’ve received yet comes as a threat:

I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by “website name” its agents, or the law. Therefore, this letter is an official notification to effect removal of the detected infringement listed in this letter.

I further declare under penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of copyright holder and that the information in this letter is accurate.

Failing to do, so will result in a legal action against you / your company.


Basically, some guy in Australia is threatening to sue me unless I take down a link that the website he’s representing originally created of its own accord! Without naming names, it looks like this guy is pretty active, because he’s emailed me at least twice now, for seemingly unrelated sites. He must have a “consulting” agency that bills big bucks to suckers in exchange for sending out a form email with an empty legal threat.

And an empty threat it is, indeed. No court that I know of, anywhere in the world, has held that linking to legal content is ever illegal. You cannot stop someone from linking to that which you have published publicly, and you can’t get a court to force a link down. If someone’s threatening a legal action from half way across the world, don’t let them influence you in the slightest.

Now, with that said, I’m starting to think that it is probably time for the Pligg sites to come down. I’ve learned a lot from working with them, like: how to manage server stability with a large database file; how to modify complex template and install less than intuitive addons; but most of all, that most people who think they’re SEOs are really just spammers, and even if you give them a perfect place to spam they can’t even be bothered to stay on topic or categorize their posts. Then, after a few years of spamming up your directories and forums, they turn around and act like you harmed them in some way.

Yeah, you’re welcome.

Anyway, a large part of the spam problem was limited to server resources. When you got a bloated database, it was hard to clean up the junk because everything ran so slowly. Maybe in a few years, with faster servers and more advanced spam filtering software, I’ll give it another shot. For now, I’m thinking that the absurdity of the link removal fad, and the general bad behavior of users, is a major roadblock to effectively utilizing crowd-based link aggregators below a significant critical-mass of user-base. Large sites with lots of moderators and a corporate-backed budget can pull it off, but the home-brew version is probably still a few years out.

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