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Blogrolling Hack Illustrates Need for Decentralization

Posted November 17, 2003 by Matt Mullenweg. Filed under Development.

This morning it seems that sites who manage their blogrolls using blogrolling.com’s service had their links hijacked, every link being replaced by one to “Laura’s Blog” which predictably redirects to a porn site. As painful and unfortunate as this is, I think it illustrates an important point that as a weblogging community we should be heading away from centralization as a rule, not flocking to every free or low-cost centralized service that pops up.

To me one of the greatest things about weblogs is that they shift power and control away from monolithic organizations and into the hands of users, where it is ultimately more secure. I have a friend who lost three years of her writing when a free online journal service decided to fold and delete everyone’s entries. I know people who hardly use email because their hotmail or yahoo addresses are flooded with so much spam as to make them useless. People who don’t host their own comments have their discussion at the mercy of some third party provider of varying reliability. Many of you reading this had your blogrolls hijacked this morning. In the weblog world blogroll links represent a web of trust — you freely giving a piece of your credibility to another site as a gift to that site and your audience. Today that trust was betrayed for many people.

This isn’t meant to criticize the fine people behind blogrolling.com at all. Realistically, anyone can be hacked and most people have been at some point. However the principle of the matter is that this shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place; it shouldn’t have rocked the weblog world like it did. How to change? Host your blogroll yourself. This is why WordPress’ links feature offers weblogs.com XML support, an unlimited number of blogrolls and links, OPML import (so you don’t have to re-enter all your links), and a handy bookmarklet — all for free. Even if you don’t use WordPress, please at least consider moving to a decentralized method of managing your blogroll.

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  1. Many good points, Matt. Would it be hard to release the link-handling parts of WordPress as a separate stand-alone “blogroll” package which people can use instead of a centralized hosted service like Blogrolling?

    Comment from Chris Burkhardt on November 17, 2003

  2. Matt, a short aside, Laura’s Blog is a personal blog run by herself and her husband. There are however, numerous “blogs” that spoof links as javascript redirects to porn sites. Those, on the other hand, are plain old terrible.

    Comment from OF Jay on November 17, 2003

  3. Yeah, someone commented to me today that my links weren’t working and that there was one link all the way down. Now I know why. Lol.

    Comment from Zach on November 18, 2003

  4. Interesting info as many others in this website.
    I find often usefull articles here.
    keep it going. thanks.

    Comment from Rose, Birthday Flowers Admin on September 9, 2004

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