If I believed everything I read on the Internet about myself, I would probably do the decent thing and my quietus make. Without going into detail, because some of it is frankly libellous, I am described by some as a Very Bad Person (VBP). The Usual Suspects on the far Right are, to understate the matter somewhat, critical of every atom of my being. There are even one or two fausses-progressistes in the mix, claiming that I advocate violence against women and defend abusive male police officers. A couple of dim bulbs have denounced me as anti-choice on abortion. No doubt my strong sympathies for white supremacy and Benjamin Netanyahu will be exposed any day now.
But I must admit that the following did catch me by surprise.
Ever hear of the so-called “Web of Trust?” Neither had I. But a friend gently drew my attention to it. It’s a website security add-on, but it’s driven by reader ratings. Hence (despite its own claims) it is highly vulnerable to freeping.
How do I know? Dawg’s Blawg is considered a “low confidence” site, and those who use the add-on will see a yellow warning sign by my URL. My place is apparently unsafe for children, and untrustworthy. Oddly enough, I score very low on vendor reliability too, which may be because I’m not selling anything, and on privacy to boot. The explanation for these ratings is even more bewildering.
But two of the comments that people have left there indicate what is going on. The Usual Suspects, it seems, are up to their usual tricks.
This apparently began a couple of months back. I can’t say I’ve noticed a significant drop in my traffic, which remains pretty respectable, but I suppose there is always the potential for that. I wouldn’t urge readers to flock over there to rectify matters, by the way—that just helps to validate a foolish process. Regulars here know precisely how ludicrous all of this is, and that is sufficient for me.
The main thing is the lessons one can learn from this.
First, there are those, mostly but not entirely on the Right, who are too cowardly to engage in direct debate or honest disagreement, but who will seize any opportunity to play their cloak-and-dagger dirty tricks from a safe, anonymous distance. On the national stage, it’s robocalls and phantom poll booths (I thank Chet Scoville for that felicitous phrase). On a personal level it’s whispering campaigns and blacklisting and vicious anonymous comments.
Secondly, the Internet is what it is, but there are always new shoals in those uncharted waters, and no one can avoid all of them unless they abandon ship. In my case, that ain’t gonna happen, and I’ll let little-known Canadian poet Kenneth Leslie sum up my feelings on this score:
I sail by stubborn stars, let rocks take heed, and should I sink … then sinking be my creed!
Heh. Trust me on this.
UPDATE: Commenter Godel Noodle objects that it’s the WOT rating, not my site, that is labelled “low confidence.” Here is the WOT statement: “This site’s rating has low confidence. Please leave your rating.” While somewhat ambiguous, I concede that the commenter is likely right on this point. But given the overall negative context, I doubt I’m the only reader who would stumble over this.