"My First (And Worst) Web Prank"


If Miss Cellania is not the blogger who’s skewing those Blogger Income figures, then it must be Jason Kottke (or ‘jason kottke’ as he is sometimes pretentiously referred to). Although he has always kept advertising on his blog to a minimum (for most of the time that minimum being none). After all, his site address is kottke.org, although I’m still not sure if he chose the .org TLD because (a) he didn’t intend to make any money off this ‘weblogging’ thing or (b) he wanted to stand out from the .com bloggers and be extra-cool or (c) he just ticked off the wrong box while registering his domain.

Anyway, the kottke may be the one blogger who has hit that perfect ‘sweet spot’ of on-line communications where he doesn’t try to be terribly interesting or authoritative himself, but what he writes about and links to is. And he’s been doing it regularly since 1998, which is longer than I’ve been doing it irregularly.

Yes, I’m an Old Skool Blogger. I could even call myself an Original Blogstah. My first domain name was OneSwellFoop.com, which I registered in 1999 and had to abandon during one of the darkest periods of my life in 2002. (Domain squatters picked it up and still hold it today; I could get it back for $500, but I won’t give them the satisfaction. Most of my content from the time is lost, and that which was saved on archive.org has been blocked by the current owner.) I was just under the hundredth-some-odd person on the entire Web with a Weblog to call it a Weblog. I didn’t even mind shortening it to Blog even though it cost me an opportunity for alliteration (Wendell Weblog!). I made it onto the first list of links to call itself a Blogroll, the one on Cameron Barrett’s CamWorld, and I was the first blogger ever to be kicked off of it. And that was because of my first web prank.

Soon after I started blogging, a group of hacker/crackers imaginatively called “United Loan Gunmen” broke into some highly visible sites (ABC-TV, C-SPAN, AP, Drudge Report, NASDAQ, George Magazine – well maybe not so much George Magazine) and replaced their home pages with some mildly whimsical stuff. I kind of wished that I could be victimized by the well-publicized troublemakers just to get some publicity myself. So, one day, I put up a fake “hacked page” on my blog which mostly consisted of the “UGL” making critical comments about the quality of my site. It ended with the statement “We should have hacked one of the GOOD weblogs like Kottke or CamWorld”, with links to both.

Jason Kottke got a chuckle from the gag. Cam Barrett saw it as publicly suggesting that hackers attack his site (and showing them where to find it), ‘had a cow’ and banned me from his First and Most Famous Blogroll. And we all know what has happened since. Barrett drifted away from blogging, I’ve been in and out of it, and kottke moved on up from Minneapolis (the subject of some of my other bogus content) to New York City, married the jilted co-founder of Blogger in the first high-visibility “blog wedding” and is now raising a second generation of bloggers (although in blogyears he is more like a GreatGreatGreatGreatGrandpa now).

Anyway, since it has been almost 10 years, I feel it is time that I apologize… to the United Loan Gunmen for misuse of their ‘good’ name. And don’t think I didn’t notice that you guys completely dropped out of sight after I put up my hoax page and, to this day, have never been exposed or caught. You were hoping the Internet Police would turn on me and blame me for all your hacks, right? Well, you know what? Nobody (except Cam Barrett) cared. And it’s that kind of lack of impact that has been a hallmark of my blogging ever since.

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