In September 2009, for example, [the German Press Agency] DPA ran a story that a German rap group, the Berlin Boys, had mounted a suicide attack on a small town called Bluewater in the United States. The story was backed up by the group’s Internet site, the KVPK television news site and a page in Wikipedia. It was later discovered that neither the town, nor the group, nor the television company existed. DPA called a press conference to apologise.
Jose Antonio Vargas did approach us with this idea some time ago, and I worked with him on the story for some weeks, with the intention of running it in Outlook. In the end, a decision was made here to pass on it. I’m delighted that the author found such a great home for the piece in the Sunday Magazine at The Times — certainly a fine second choice after The Washington Post Outlook section.
Message from Carlos Lozada, the editor of The Washington Post’s “Outlook” section to Chris Suellentrop, Story Editor, The New York Times Magazine, regarding the publication of Pulitzer-Winner Jose Antonio Vargas’ coming out story as an illegal immigrant in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.
Chris Seullentrap, New York Times, My (Legal) Editor’s Dream.
Background Part 01: A core piece of Search Engine Optimization magic is to have human readable titles in your URL. For example: mySite.com/man-barks-at-moon/ rather than mySite.com/120984/.
Background Part 02: Older content management systems use the SEO unfriendly numbered system but organizations have implemented hacks to get around this.
Background Part 03: England’s Independent is one such organization. They’ve put a human readable title before a series of numbers that actually identify the article. Key point here though is that the readable part of the URL serves no purpose except for SEO. That is, if you change the words, the numbers still bring you to the correct article.
So why does this matter?
Because yesterday, a clever nutter turned this URL of a non-story about Kate Middleton
into a viral piece of media criticism:
Soon, many were passing along this new URL and the paper’s editor tried to respond.
Both URLs bring you to the same story. As a matter of fact, you can change any of the words before the “2269573” at the end and you’ll end up at the non-story. And, to keep things consistent, you can do this with any URL on Independent.co.uk that ends with a string of numbers.
So, as many consider the value of news games, and how to implement news games, here’s one paper that stumbled upon one quite unwittingly.
Slight Update: While the above still works, the Independent implemented a script today so that “faked” URLs work but transform back to what the paper intended.
I’ve commented before that I’m amazed at how fast bad information travels on the internet, but this morning it got pretty ridiculous.
Looks like WikiLeaks was the subject of a DOS attack last night, and their DNS provider who was everyDNS.net and not easyDNS, took the website down.
I’m not sure who the Pulitzer candidate was who started it, but somebody wrote that WikiLeaks had been taken down by us, easyDNS. By the time I woke up this morning I was inundated with emails and comments.
The incorrect info rippled through twitter like a zombie horde…
…It demonstrates the mob mentality in action: that people are far too ready to jump on a witch hunt, but point out their errors and very few, if any will own up to their mistakes. Throughout the morning we’ve been busily out there setting the record straight: not one so-called “internet journalist” or dipshit blogger has issued a simple “mea culpa” on this, or retweeted a clarification.