The Dubious Distinction Awards are not awarded by me, per se. Rather they recognize and announce one webmaster's bestowal of dubious distinction on another unsuspecting site. Like when a teen sex site links to your homepage because there's a picture of your 14 year old daughter there. I guess it's safe to call this Webmaster's revenge.
If you know an apparent recipient of this unfortunate honour, let me know. Please post your submission via the Contact Form. Don't forget to include the URLs of both pages, and state your case for recognition. Acknowledged recipients of the award can display The Dewbies logo (design underway--for now just use text).
ANNOUNCED: April 28, 1997
What is the sincerest form of flattery?
The three inaugural bestowers of the Dubious Distinction Award, adroitly coopt the intended message of the target pages. Clever, if this is the intended affect.
"Crude" best describes the method behind today's bestowal.
- Presenter: seattle.htm
- And the Dewbie goes to: Chief Seattle References &
Chief Seattle Speech § The Smith Text
Prakash Arumugam's page sub-titled "The great environmentalist chief Seattle's letter" (now long departed) presents one example of many interpretations of words attributed to Chief Seattle and supplies a index of links to other Seattle resources, (one of which appears on my pages). He headers this index with the title A few references to Chief Seattle. My own Chief Seattle References page is subtitled, curiously enough, A few references to Chief Seattle.
The first nine links on Parkash Arumugam's page come directly from my index, eight of them in the same order they appear on my page, all nine stripped of their annotations, all link titles verbatim reproductions of mine. A tenth, transposes words from the original annotation to create the name of the link. Arumugam apparently downloaded the original HTML file from my site and re-edited it to fit his format. In the course of his editing he deleted all but one reference to work on found on my site, (where several significant references can be found) and appended several new references not found on my page (his only original work).
The "Chief Seattle References" page resulted from many days of effort--emailing, web crawling and research--spread over a period of two years after my first encounter with Chief Seattle in 1994. In the summer of 1996, it was the most comprehensive Chief Seattle resource available on the net. A proud achievement.
Arumugam usurped that effort in a matter of minutes, claiming it as his own. Surfers following the one link to my page, might follow links there bringing them to my index. Without any other insight, they might think I am the plagiarist.
Having your work reprinted without credit is bad enough. However, stripping the annotations in the index and deleting links to supporting material on my own pages really got me boiling. I worded the annotations carefully, using them to expand and clarify, but also to acknowledge my sources. After stealing my work, and my voice, Arumugam set about diminishing its value. Adding insult to injury, he not only failed to acknowledge my effort, but failed also to acknowledge the efforts of others that preceeded me. This is far worse than the three inaugural transgressions below. At least in those cases I have the opportunity to raise my voice.
I am not flattered.
ANNOUNCED: April 27, 1997
Having just moved this entire website to its present home, I had reason to do a little egosurfing (searching around the net for links to your own page). I figured I'd announce the move and also give webmasters, who'd kindly acknowledged my work, an opportunity to update their links before the temporary redirection pages are taken down in a few months. Little did I know the scale of the project I was getting into. There are hundreds of pages on the net pointing to one or another of the hundreds of pages in my site. I feel like Sally Field, "You like me! You really, really like me!"
Well, OK, so a couple hundred links to your website ain't quite an Oscar, but it's pleasant enough. And I am quite flattered by the implicit kudos some excellent sites have bestowed on me with their links. For example, the MIT Press Bookstore - MIT Authors - Noam Chomsky page (no longer existing) points to to a few References to Noam Chomsky. Oooooohh!
Still, any jubilation is mitigated by the discovery of a few sites which I'm less than thrilled to learn have come up with a reason to reference my efforts. Without further ado...the inaugural bestowers of the Dubious Distinction award.
- Presenter: The World Sex Guide - Prostitution around the World
- And the Dewbie goes to: TAT Seeks Internet Porn Cleanup
OK. This is one of those droll, recursive things. After returning from SE Asia in 1995, I reprint an article, TAT Seeks Internet Porn Cleanup, from a Bangkok English-language daily on my brand-new website . The article describes the actions taken by the Thai government against some sod incorrectly identified as the author of the above, somewhat infamous, prostitution FAQ. (The victim does maintain a website dedicated to sex-touring the world, highlighting the widely exploited Thai sex-industry--but he's not the author of the FAQ, just one of the resources it points to.)
Now, sometime later, the FAQ links to my article about the FAQ, which in turn makes my article another sex-FAQ resource. The net's odd that way. But so is life.
Like the FAQ author, I'm no fan of Thailand's laughable public denouncements of the sex industry while it tacitly allows to continue bringing in hordes of sex-tourists. But I'm no fan of the men who exploit that industry either, particularly when inadequate local controls allow them to perform overseas what amounts to child abuse--or rape--back in their home countries. It makes me bristle that these men are visiting my website to giggle amongst themselves over the antics of a duplicitous, internet naive, Thai government and press.
Canada, among other nations, has begun prosecuting these individuals on their return home. While there are civil-libertarian concerns over extra-territorial application of our nation's laws to travelling citizens, I applaud Canada's action--I find it hypocritical when societies allow their members to behave criminally outside their own back yard. If we as nations and societies are perturbed by conditions we perceive as inhumane in so many places around the world, and if wish to pressure other nations and societies into changing their ways, we should at least prohibit members of our own society from exploiting the existing conditions there. We should be part of the solution rather than tacit participants in the problem.
See how our words and intentions can be twisted? See how careful we have to be with all that we publish on the web? When the surfer follows a link to a new page, they bring the context of the previous page with them. My own page manifests various meanings depending on which pages surfers are coming from. You'll read TAT seeks internet porn clean-up, and its webmaster, much differently now, after reading this page, than if you'd linked to tatporn.htm straight from the prostitution FAQ, or anywhere else. It's partly my fault for not stating my full position on the matter clearly right from the beginning. That might've given the FAQ's webmasters reason to reconsider.
- Presenter: JEN-NET INTERNET SHOPPING CENTRE - 'AESTHETICS - HAIR, SKIN, NAILS & ELECTROLYSIS' FLOOR
- And the Dewbie goes to: Magazines you'll find in the lobbies of hotels.
Well, given my comments regarding BeautyNet in Theatre Absurd I never figured myself a potential resource for the fashion/beauty industry. And yet, my ego-surfing has turned up two links. Go figure.
This first one seems to me the more cynical, but you be the judge. It links to the reprint of Cintra Wilson's Beverly Hills Ate Her Face, a scaldingly poetic rant against cosmetic surgery. Personally, I don't understand why any organisation involved with cosmetic enhancement would link to it, unless the point is that electrocuting your hair follicles and dowsing yourself in chemicals is, strictly speaking, a non-invasive aesthetic enhancement technique preferable to carving out sections of flesh, stretching the raw ends together before stitching them closed. I'm not even going to talk about liposuction...shivers.
R E T R A C T I O N :: 29 APR 97
Never be too quick with your hostilities. You see, JEN-NET runs several "Internet Shopping" pages, and their hair transplant & replacement page also links to Magazines you'll find in the lobbies of hotels. So, either they've got a wicked sense of irony or...I really have no idea.
The JEN-NET Taxi page links to my photograph of a Thai Tuk Tuk. Linking to a Tuk Tuk from a Taxi page is the kind of offbeat humour I can appreciate. Hopefully, it's the kind of humour that appreciates such a turnabout: this very page bestowed a Dewbie the very first day of its existence. I'll even give them the logo to put on their page, if they ask for it.
- Presenter: pantyhose hosiery fashion - No nonsense American Women ...................................................................................................... pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery pantyhose hosiery
- And the Dewbie goes to: Naomi Wolf References
R E T R A C T I O N :: 26 FEB 98
The No Nonsense website underwent an overhaul some time ago and the No Nonsense American Women page was a (welcome) casualty.
Enough with the pantyhose hosiery pantyhose thing already!!! SHEESH!
The title of this second fashion industry page to point my way is rather insidiously designed to exploit those web search engines which weigh keywords found in page titles more heavily than those found in the document. If you're searching for hosiery or pantyhose, this page should be at the top of the list. Clever.
I'm sure you're clear on what this website is trying to sell. The particular page in question is a somewhat useful annotated index of women who've made an impression in the world--outside the fashion industry. Once you've taken a look at the "no-nonsense women" page you'll probably realize that it has selected an unlikely set of spokes-people to help sell their product. Certainly, Naomi Wolf would not sell or lend her image to a hosiery company. And yet this hosiery company is attracting customers to itself by including her name, and a link to my a few references to Naomi Wolf page in its document.
Of course, many women interested in feminism, women of power and women of note do wear hosiery. I'll bet Naomi Wolf and Gloria Steinem have slipped on a pair or two, even if bell hooks is a bad bet (possibly explaining why she hasn't found a place among the "no-nonsense women". Not all these feminists are necessarily dead-set against hosiery. But I'll bet you none of them would appreciate their names being exploited to generate stocking sales.
This type of advertising walks a knife's edge. The "no-nonsense" label might remind you of the Virginia Slims campaign, "You've come a long way baby" which sold cigarettes to members of the women's movement by manipulating the image of 'oppressive' social mores which proscribed smoking for women. Choosing to smoke, the ads implied, was an act of realizing emancipation. More than a simple method of attracting customers via web searches, "no-nonsense" attempts to build an image that proud, powerful, successful women wear brand-x hosiery.
The company risks backlash: by potential customers who see through the ploy, and by the people whose names they invoke. In print or broadcasting, companies often become the target of civil action when using an individual's name or likeness without permission. Within the wild-west of the net, the practice of unpermitted use appears to continue unchecked.
My second problem with this page is the appearance it lends a hosiery company as a provider of content, as performing a public service. Annotated indices are dime-a-dozen. I should know, several of mine are exceedingly popular--to my continual amazement--including the Naomi Wolf page to which "no-nonsense" links. A few minutes work with one of the many meta-search engines on the net, and perhaps a few hours divided between browsing and editing yields a pretty good index that potentially generates tons of hits. The Chomsky and Foucault indices on my site consistently rate in the top-10 hit earners over the entire site. (The top hit earner? Another index page: image gallery, a huge topical list for finding images, is always #1 because so many common web searches will hit it.)
However, nearly all the content of an index page is provided through the effort of the webmasters whose work it indexes. (In the case of this no-nonsense page, they are indexing to yet another index. With my own index pages I prefer referencing pages with content.) Effort which "no-nonsense" is attempting to exploit without acquiring appropriate permission.
I reiterate. There's the potential for a consumer backlash here. Which is why I let this webmaster know the Naomi Wolf index has moved. It was tempting to ask in that email "Why don't you put naomi wolf naomi wolf naomi wolf..... in the title?"