Thursday, March 24, 2005

I've been a Bad Boy (I guess)

Click here for AmazonI recently posted a note on the    J o e l    o n    S o f t w a r e   forum, an online gathering place of various eclectic -- and usually enlightening -- personalities. Think of Slashdot without the incessant flame wars.

I had answered a question about Digital River, the large software fulfillment house. One of the participants had asked about DR's reputation and commission rates. I responded as follows:

Digital River consists of many software fulfillment brands. Check out Digibuy for example: it's a DR property, handles fulfillment, and takes about 13% of your list price.

RegNow is another one - it has a pretty popular affiliate program where download sites are incented to list you through a piece of the action.

But you shouldn't ever have to pay anything over 15-18%...

The next day, when I checked the thread from the office, I noticed my message didn't exist. Had it been deleted? Apparently. If so, I wondered why it had earned this relatively rare distinction.

When I returned home, the mystery deepened. From the original browser -- the one I'd used to post the message -- the message still appeared in the thread, even after a page reload. Now I was more confused than Yogi Berra visiting CERN.

As an experiment, I posted a response to another thread. Odd. This one 'stuck' - meaning it was visible not only to my own browser, but also to external browsers (how could I tell? I use a series of proxies for... uhm... "testing" purposes). When I commanded other physical machines to retrieve the pages in question, they told me that:

  • the original message I'd posted didn't exist to the outside world... it only existed on my browser and the internal confines of some JOS discussion database

  • the second, test message I'd posted did exist... it was visible from all browsers

  • As a third test, I posted a new topic - a question. Once I checked my proxies, I discovered that this message, like the first, had been relegated to message purgatory. It was only visible from the original browser that I'd used to post the message. Elsewhere, it didn't exist.

    Bugs in the discussion board system? Or have I been a bad boy and had my home IP address "blacklisted"? I have no idea, but it's either an interesting technical anomaly or a pretty cool security feature, depending upon the answer. Although it would be nice to know what earned the black-listing.

    Update: the moderator(s) at JOS completely destroyed this message (which was cross-posted there as a question) and the several answers it had garnered. Methinks I angered someone there, though I have no idea what did it. Here's a list of my posts... if you can find one that's offensive, let me know.

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