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Ninnies and Nannies = stopbadware

Ellen S. Wilds [PersonRank 0]

Saturday, June 28, 2008
11 years ago2,339 views

This is the second time that my otherwise harmless educational research site has been blocked by stopbadware.org. Last time – upon my request for a review – they found NOTHING WRONG. They couldn't even explain WHY my site was blocked in the first place. Further I received no apology and saw no public retraction.

And here we are again – same site, same materials, same warning and the same damage to my academic reputation and credibility. Those who have been directed to my site in search of information (some of it unique to my page) have been waved off by the warning and will never return. I am lucky to have friends who know me well enough to tell me that my site has been blocked – again – and that I have to go through the rigamarole to reinstate my site.

Stopbadware.org blocks sites without oversight or regard for damage done to benign sites. Nor do they make any attempt to contact the website's owner to warn of problems. They seemingly do no research and block without warning or redress. I consider that sloppy, unprofessional, as well as intrusive and damaging. I think the phrase "hysterical fear-mongering" could be applied here as well.

A cynical mind might be inclined to think that they WANT to find lots of sites to block in order to increase their hit scores and to impress on the impressionable the great need for their "service." A litigious mind might be thinking of suing for defamation of character. If Google is going to continue its association with these vigilante net-nannies (net-ninnies?) then they should be expecting some backlash from those of us who have been harmed by these over-zealous efforts.

I suggest some changes:

(1) While a webpage is not a person entitle to "innocence until guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt" a webpage is a reflection of a person. Since damage can be done to one's reputation by such a block, the onus is on stopbadware.org to prove that the site is harmful rather than on the site's owners to prove that it is benign. They need oversight and review BEFORE blocking a site, thus erring on the side of caution rather than acting like internet vigilantes.

(2) When a site comes to stopbadware.org's attention that they make reasonable attempts to contact the site's owner – keeping in mind that their first email attempt is likely to be deleted as spam by the same protective software that they are touting.

(3) That they specify EXACTLY why a site should be blocked and give the owner a chance to answer or recode as need be – keeping in mind that many of us who code pages are not uber-geeks.

(4) That if the problem is on a site that another site links to but is not responsible for, that they go after the site with the problem and not all the ones connected to it in the way that the web is so web-like.

(5) If careful research and efforts to contact a site's creator still results in blocking a benign site, Google posts a retraction and apology to the site, removing the stigma; that a list be kept of sites formerly blocked and reinstated so that if the warning pops up again stopbadware.org will know that those sites are probably still benign, and should take even more time to exonerate rather than just slapping on the tar and feathers without a second thought.

I think we can all agree that the internet is a wonderful tool, for research, for entertainment and for business. Those who feel they have a responsibility for taking charge of the cyberspace community should act in a responsible and professional manner. I expect nothing less of myself, and feel that it is right to demand the same of others.

JohnMu [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Hi Ellen

I would encourage you to start a thread about this in the Google Webmaster Help Groups (and please include your URL so that we can see what is happening). In the time I have been here at Google, I have not yet seen a false-positive regarding malware tagging, so I would encourage you to take a good look at your site (and let others do the same) to figure out where it could be coming from.

It is very important to us that users of our search engine can trust the URLs that we present to them – therefore we try to react very quickly when we spot issues with malware. In many cases, malware is not placed maliciously by the webmaster, so we try to help where we can. Webmaster Tools can help you a bit & give you a chance to submit a review request, the groups can help you to find and fix any issues that might be involved.

Hope to see you there :) [and sorry, Philipp, for moving the discussion about the details, but it's easier for us to keep track there]

John

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

John, a thread in which particular newsgroup hierarchy within
groups.google.com/group/Google ...

• Google Webmaster Help
• Crawling, indexing, and ranking
• Google webmaster tools
• Sitemap Protocol
• Suggestions & feature requests – webmaster-related only, please
• Random chit-chat ?

Ellen: be sure to post that direct-thread-uri here, once discussion there is under way. Your complaint is of general concern even to us who haven't been burned by such scaremongers. Me, I have difficulties even reaching, never mind explaining to "WebKnight Shield" site adms, that blocking direct accesses to/ refreshes of one frame in a frameset IS NOT SYNONYMOUS with "spammer-like activity."

JohnMu [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Ianf, I think a thread could reasonably opened in almost any of the subgroups (perhaps with the exception of Sitemaps and chit-chat).

I think it's important that we look at the details (the site's URL), because it's hard to discuss the issue of false-positives in general without being sure that it's a real problem.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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