I’ve noticed a lot of Internet users are really, really dumb. I personally refer to this as the “untelligence level quotient,” as in “my, this is a very untelligent question.” I’ve been reminded of this issue lately by two separate things: my site logs, and the NaBloPoMo* forums. Really, I think that the issue of stupidity is larger than the Internet, but the Internet provides some glaring examples of how idiotic people can be.
I recently noted that my site logs reflected a sudden jump in hotlinking, which I found extremely irritating. For those of you who don’t know what hotlinking is, it refers to making a direct link to content on someone else’s site. In other words, someone could directly link to an image hosted on my site to embed the image in a post on their blog. This means that they get to use my bandwidth for free to host the image; and most people who hotlink don’t credit the authors of the work they are stealing, either. If you’re still confused, here’s a handy tutorial on hotlinking.
I think that most people hotlink because they are stupid, not because they are malicious, but there’s no excuse for this practice. By hotlinking, you eat up someone else’s bandwidth and you steal their own original content. There are tons of free filesharing services; if you really want to use an image taken by someone else, ask their permission, download the image to your hard drive, and then upload it to a photo sharing service like Flickr. When you want to embed the image on your site, link to your very own Flickr file and use your own darn bandwidth allowance.
People who hotlink to material on my site now get an unpleasant surprise, although I’m not nearly as malicious as some people who loathe hotlinking. New bloggers tend to hotlink a lot, because they don’t really understand what they’re doing. I think that companies which produce blogging software could help to cut down on the practice by offering a brief tutorial in etiquette which includes a discussion of hotlinking and why it’s not nice.
In terms of the NaBloPoMo forums, I’m sorry, but I just have to rant. I keep seeing the same stupid questions, over and over again. All of these questions are answered in the FAQ, and all of them have been repeatedly answered by patient people in the forum. I am all for helping people out, especially when they are exploring new things, but people need to learn to read directions. The NaBloPoMo directions are very clear. There should be no confusion, and yet I repeatedly see variations on the following questions:
Q: “Do I really need to post every day?/I missed a day, do I still count as a participant?”
A. Yes./No. Here’s the quote from the front page of the NaBloPoMo site: “By the way, ‘every day’ means Saturday and Sunday, too. Hence the above reference to ‘cheating.’ Not that you would.” People who skip days can keep up with the challenge, if they want, but they are not eligible for prizes, or credit as participants.
Q: “Does my blog need to be on Ning or can it be on my own site?”
A: You can post on your own site, or on Ning, or on both. Please stop asking this stupid question over and over and over again when the answer, again, is on the FRONT PAGE: “You can do your posting here, you can do it on your blog, or you can cross-post in both places, it’s completely up to you.”
Q: “I can make scheduled posts, right? Or backdate my posts?”
A: No, that would be cheating. See above.
Q: “How do I get my blog entries to show up on Ning?”
A: As I have repeatedly pointed out, Ning has a field for people to enter RSS feeds from their sites. It is in the left hand column of your user profile page.
There are plenty of valid questions in the forums from people who are new, or confused, like “what kind of blogging software do you recommend,” or “how do I do x or y in my blog.” I like helping people with questions like these because while the answers seem obvious to people who are experienced, it can be confusing for new bloggers. And I’m all about helping people, not insulting them when they ask for assistance.
But for Pete’s sake, people, learn to read. So many stupid questions could be answered by actually reading FAQs and informational pages on websites, and you just look like an idiot every time you ask a dumb, obvious question. Idiots, you’re bringing the internet intelligence level down. Please, restore my faith in humanity by using your brains once in a while.
I cannot believe that this many people are actually this stupid. It’s just not possible.
*NaBloPoMowha? For those of you who aren’t aware of this, I am participating in National Blog Posting Month. There’s a website for NaBloPoMo which is hosted on Ning, a social networking site. Ning includes forums, profile pages, and other features which let participants communicate with each other. Have I mentioned that I hate Ning? Because I do. Yet, I still use it. I am a hypocrite.