Stop SOPA and PIPA

As many of you very well know, January 18 was the anti-SOPA/PIPA Blackout Day, a day during which thousands of websites and blogs went dark in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, both of which would effectively impose censorship throughout the world wide web. Some of the larger sites which participated in the blackout included Wikipedia, WordPress, Tumblr, Flickr, and Reddit, though smaller sites (including my friend Marisa’s Needles and Sins) also joined in the fray. The blackout has been called the biggest online protest in history. (And it looks like we may have to do it all again thanks to the proposed international trade agreement known as ACTA.)

Initially, I was not going to participate. I mean, why should I? Sure, my site had been getting a decent amount of traffic, but my going dark would have nowhere near the same impact as that of, say, Wikipedia. Still, after a bit of thought, I decided to throw my lot in with the other protesters and I set up a simple landing page with “Stop SOPA & PIPA” signage and a graphic of the iconic Guy Fawkes mask.

But that wasn’t enough for me. My blog hadn’t truly gone “dark” like so many others. So I poked around Google in search of something that would help me demonstrate my solidarity with this noble cause. I found something called SOPA Strike, a plug-in created by Phil Nelson that promised to “automatically redirect all users of your blog to the homepage … [it] automatically adds your blog name and URL to a list of protestors which will be featured on the website.”

Well, ho, ho! This was exactly what I was looking for. I installed and activated the plug-in and, whaddaya know, it worked like a charm. Seeing as the strike was an all-day affair, after activating SOPA Strike, I didn’t bother to check on my blog for the remainder of the day. I went out, had some drinks (too many drinks, in fact), and didn’t even remember my journey back home.

The next morning, I awoke in my bed completely naked and disheveled. Remembering I’d activated the SOPA Strike plug-in, I attempted to access my dashboard so I could deactivate and remove the plug-in. By then I already knew we’d won. Congressmen had been pulling support from the proposed bills all the previous day, including Florida senator Marco Rubio, who was one of PIPA’s co-sponsors.

Alas, upon trying to access my dashboard, I was greeted with a white screen and a simple phrase:

You do not have permission to access this page.

Say what, now?

This was no simple 404 error—I was locked out of my own fucking blog.

I wasn’t the only one having issues with this. A quick search on the support forums produced these complaints:

Phil Nelson Ruined Other People's Sites As Well

I didn’t panic right away, though. I simply went through my back-end, via my web host’s control panel, and deleted the plug-in. All should’ve been well, right?


I still got the same error message. After contacting my web host and spending an hour on the phone with tech support, I was informed that numerous tables had been damaged by the plug-in. They vowed to do everything they could to fix the damaged tables and restore my blog to its former glory. When I got a call half an hour later from a very apologetic support technician saying there was nothing they could do, I wanted to squeeze Phil Nelson’s little neck until his eye popped out of their sockets.

My blog was done-zo. Posts and files were hopelessly corrupted and lost. No backup restoration was fixing this issue. Of course, I was mad as fuck and I complained to anyone who would listen. Of course, Phil did not (nor has he made any subsequent attempt to) address the issue, but whatever. He’s reputed to be a nice guy, one who “does nice work,” as someone on the support boards said, but his lack of response paints him as a grade-A jackass in my book. My buddy Brian asked if I thought this was malicious on Phil’s part, to which I responded, “No, the kid just wrote some shitty code.”

And now, here we are, five days later. I’ve got to start from scratch. But you know, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe I needed to reboot my blog. Maybe this will spur a whole new set of fresh ideas and fresh posts and fresh writing. Maybe this will cause more of my Dear Readers to get involved and comment and share. Maybe this is the dawn of a new age.

Okay, I didn’t mean to get all Eckhart Tolle on you. But the way things have been going lately, it seems I’m definitely experiencing a renaissance, a period of new beginnings. Maybe that plug-in destroyed my site so I could make it even better this go round.

In any case, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I assure you, future posts won’t (necessarily) be this long. And I appreciate my readers for sticking with me through this brief adjustment and realignment period. Just know one thing: I won’t be installing any bunk-ass plug-ins any time soon.

Be cool.


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