random #25: Internet intrigue! What have I wrought?

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 08-21-2009 03:19 AM 3161 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 24: list of favorite woodworkers Part 25 of random series Part 26: Burl Wood... "Nutz" :( »

What a day I’m having!

Okay, so September of last year I was gearing up to buy a band saw. I liked the Craftsman 18” Wood/Metal deal for $1300 (and eventually got that one). Above the picture on the saw’s page were clickable, hierarchical categories, something like “Power Tools > Saws > Band Saws.” You could click on each to go to broader categories – pretty standard. I noticed in the address bar that these category names were echoed in the URL as variable names. On a whim, I modified them in the URL and resubmitted the page, and it worked. My new categorizations showed up. I posted my modified link for my friends on another site to show them which saw I wanted, and they all laughed at the categories, and that was that. Here's a screencap, with the parts I was screwing with highlighted (warning: vulgar language :)

Last night, someone here at LJs asked me which band saw I had, so I typed “craftsman saw” in my address bar and as Firefox does, it showed me the most relevant, previously-visited links. I saw “Craftsman 18-Inch Wood / Metal etc” and clicked that one, copied the link, and commented back to the LJ commenter. Only then did I realize that the spaces in my vulgarities – which I had forgotten all about, and didn’t intend to post here – had broken LJs’ markdown, so what I had commented was a link to the page, followed by a broken stream of swearing. I couldn’t edit it. I slapped my forehead and commented again explaining the humorous situation, and apologizing for any unintended offense.

Then I thought I’d post that to – a user-submitted news site from which I’ve gathered LJs a few members recently (woodworkers there who didn’t know about LJs). My submission is here, and the headline I posted used to go to my modified Craftsman saw page at Sears’ site, though it is now broken. It’s broken, because the smarty-pants nerds at reddit had a field day with my link, trying everything from SQL injections (which would let them modify Sears’ inventory, etc – thankfully these attempts all failed outright), to getting code to run through the site (also, thankfully failed attempts). And naturally, they made many more tweaked titles, including changing grilling machines to be baby grilling machines, and listing computers as “Porn Enablers.” This was funny (nerds can have quite twisted senses of humor), but worse was that Sears’ site, to alleviate many requests coming in, will cache pages, such that people coming in from non-tweaked URLs – i.e. the public – would start seeing our goofball headings. Major headslap.

Some folks from reddit used Sears’ live online support to have chats wherein they pranked them by asking questions like “How far can this thing launch babies?” for a baby carrier modified to now be called a baby launching device, and each was appropriately met with bewildered and horrified tech representatives. I started at this point to wonder what the fallout would be from my harmless little game. Was I going to end up arrested?

Soon my post, which had amassed nearly 1300 upvotes (very high for the site – most popular things are in the 10s, or low-to-mid hundreds), and which was sitting at #2 in the list on the front page (stories move up by popularity and upvotes, and down as these things wane) disappeared entirely from anything but a direct link to it. I was #2, then gone. I made a new post to ask if I’d been censored, and one of the site admins came in to comment that yes, he had been forced to take it down. Apparently Sears’ lawyers were on the phone all morning with Conde Nast’s lawyers (CN owns reddit), and forced them to remove my post from the front page. So my new post – asking about the censorship was on track for #1 with a bullet. It was #37 front page, comments pouring in (nerds are often very opposed to and outspoken against censorship). I refreshed. It was #12, many more comments listed. I refreshed again. GONE! Censored again!

I know the guys running reddit hate censorship, but what can you do when you have Sears and Conde Nast level lawyers on your back? So soon the links were all breaking. People at Sears were scrambling to turn off caching of links, and to even remove items! That’s right, I can’t even find my $1300 saw on anymore. Direct searches don’t list it! Removing the junk from the modified URL and resubmitting just brings you to a dead page. This seems a bit of an overreaction to me. I get the grilling machine thing, but what woodworker wouldn’t want a manly saw that proclaimed its dominance with a little bit of proud swearing? ;)

Well, then it got worse. TMZ picked up the story, and last I checked there were 140 comments there, most of which believed this was all started by a disgruntled former employee. Then Fox was on it from there :(

I’m kind of thankful that pretty much everyone is crediting the wrong sites and people for this internet mischief. I don’t want it all to crash down on me! I’m just a silly goofball. I can’t do jail time! As fun as it’s been to keep up with this all day, I think I’m going to go hide under my workbench. Don’t tell anyone you saw me.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

13 comments so far

View hypnos's profile


28 posts in 4770 days

#1 posted 08-21-2009 03:48 AM

As a fellow redditor I’d be happy to start your legal defense fund;)
Seriously though, good luck – people do stuff like this all the time but not so publicly. Hopefully sears will have a good sense of humor, and bad publicity is better than no publicity. Their web traffic went up – maybe a few people bought big f*ing band saws?

-- David P., Kansas City

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1142 posts in 5322 days

#2 posted 08-21-2009 03:56 AM

HA! Gary, I saw this on reddit and had hours of fun with it!

This was my addition.

I can’t belive Sears got them to yank the post though. You my friend are a legend.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View jcsterling's profile


476 posts in 4916 days

#3 posted 08-21-2009 04:03 AM

oops. Clean up all the big ^%$^%#@ dust bunnies under the workbench while you’re under there.

-- John , Central PA , on facebook:!/pages/JC-Sterling-fine-furniture/104430802928776

View PurpLev's profile


8653 posts in 4980 days

#4 posted 08-21-2009 04:10 AM

thats just awesome…. LOL

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4672 days

#5 posted 08-21-2009 04:18 AM

you should go to MsdebbieP ’s
whos famous ,let me get your autograph site ,
and sign in .

and here we thought you
were looking for dead trees to save !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 4566 days

#6 posted 08-21-2009 05:18 AM

LMFAO… this is by far the funniest thing I’ve read today :)

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 4570 days

#7 posted 08-21-2009 05:33 AM

here are some more, they are all over the net…. LMAO





-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 4566 days

#8 posted 08-21-2009 06:20 AM

Wow, you made snopes, that is impressive :)

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4713 days

#9 posted 08-21-2009 06:55 AM

hypnos – Thanks! I might need it yet. And of course, I actually did by that BFBS! I credit coming back to my own link and seeing those exciting words has having helped warm me to the idea. Maybe I should start a swearing tool company. I bet there’s a huge swatch right across America of people who throw down some money for a large tool they can swear about in polite company.

Damian – I saw that one earlier while trolling my own posts. Nicely done!

John – Will do! It looks like a different guy – who posted in my thread with a different joke change – is getting most of the press. Maybe he can be my fall-guy.

david – Always on the lookout for trees, but on the days when nothing falls, I cause havoc on the internet… apparently.

Jimi – That’s the best part about this. Yes, I inadvertently made Sears scramble around like fools, but everywhere I’ve found news about this, everyone is having a great laugh. Makes me wonder how many people laughed, then remembered they needed something from Sears and went and ordered it. I’m actually sore from laughing about everything I’ve read all day. I’m going to sleep soundly tonight, guilt-free :)

Alonso – Good finds! The Snopes one kills me. I can’t believe I’m on that site. Actually, that guy who’s baby grill got way more press than my profanity-laden band saw made the site. Again, he’ll be my fall-guy for when this goes south on me.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View iozl's profile


52 posts in 5131 days

#10 posted 08-21-2009 07:08 AM

I glanced at my Reddit home page early tonight wondering what was up with that Sears business as the top story. I never would have guessed that it would all be explained by reading LJ’s – that’s hilarious and awesome at the same time!

(BTW – I have been wanting to ask this, but are you actually Zach Galifianakis using ‘Gary’ as a pseudonym? This comedic interlude would certainly suggest so…)

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4713 days

#11 posted 08-22-2009 04:48 AM

iozl – Quite a fallout today on reddit, no? I’ve stayed pretty clear of it.

And yes, I might actually be ZG. Even my mother couldn’t get over how much we resemble one another when she saw him on a billboard for The Hangover. She made me drive by it when she visited me and said “There, that guy. You look exactly like him.” I laughed pretty hard. Every friend I have has at some point brought it up, and my coworkers are urging me to go to one of his comedy shows here in LA to get pics with him. I’m tempted to show up to one and get up on stage before he appears and see if I can pull off pretending to be him. I’ll have to work on some material first :)

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View ryno101's profile


388 posts in 4996 days

#12 posted 08-23-2009 02:24 AM

I can’t believe you made Snopes… Dude… You’re SO my hero!

-- Ryno

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4713 days

#13 posted 08-23-2009 02:31 AM

Thanks, Ryno. Every once in awhile I do something crazy on the internet and become famous for a day or two :)

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

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