STOP! Do not drive your car because you MIGHT get into an accident!
STOP! Do not enter your home because a burglar MIGHT be in there!
STOP! Do not eat the food in this restaurant because it MIGHT be contaminated!
Silly, isn't it?
Well, that's exactly what StopBadware.org, Google.com, Firefox.com, et al., are doing on the internet! They put various notices on certain web pages warning users that the page doesn't meet their standards! Of course, users have a choice of continuing to view the page or not, but the "continue" option is usually hidden or very tiny in comparison with the "Get me outta here" or similar huge buttons.
And what are the standards set by these companies that gets some websites into trouble?
Too many links (except Google.com, of course).
Banner advertisements (which means just about every retail site, and many free web hosts).
Infinite animated images (i.e., images that run repeatedly; on one site of mine, that means a one square inch animation showing a cartoon page of a book being turned, as if someone were reading it!)
And many more, some of which webmasters wouldn't understand, much less be able to change, much less by non-computer programmers and website amateurs who use automatic templates to create their web pages, given to them by their web hosts.
You might be thinking, "What's the harm? Aren't they protecting us from potential evil?"
Never mind that by putting a "wall" between you and the website you want to visit they are, essentially, doing exactly what they claim to be targeting: Blocking the internet with the equivalent of pop-ups! According to Verisign, Inc., an international company that verifies and secures websites, as of Sept 2010, there were approx 196,000,000 websites in the world for all top-level domains (i.e., .com, .org., .net., et al., some of which you've never seen or heard!).
Yet, StopBadware.org claims that about 850,000 websites are "bad" (n.b., they claimed to have "helped" fix or white-list 125,000 of those - - even though there is no recourse for webmasters, except to beg for mercy via StopBadware.org and Google.com, et al., but they will not deign to send a personal response to the webmaster's plea - - so the number is currently less than 725,000, but let's use an even one million figure, shall we? Why not? If StopBadware.org can lie about websites' alleged malfeasance, I think that gives me license to stretch the numbers a bit!).
One million out of nearly 200 million domains are bad!
That's a mere 0.05% (i.e., .0005!) of the internet! That isn't even statistically significant (generally accepted as 5% or more)! And who are these .05% ne'er-do-well websites? Mine and my clients, for some: A friends-of-the-library website, an education-based website, and my own, personal websites! What's wrong with them? Fair question! Despite being a webmaster for over a decade, and a computer programmer for over 30 years, I have absolutely no idea! Why? Because, although StopBadware.org and Google.com list potential issues, they do nothing to contact or help webmasters trace the alleged problem(s)! I can assure you that there is nothing wrong with any of my or my clients' websites - - and, certainly, nothing that deserves to have a "warning" plastered in front of it, like the Scarlet Letter as seen above. And, even if there were something wrong with my and my clients' websites, who are StopBadware.org, et al., to tell webmasters to fix them? They are private companies, who aren't even contracted by any government! That's right: They are the equivalent of web vigilantes!
If StopBadware.org, et al., did this the right way, by creating a free or pay-for anti-malware/virus-like service for users to use on their own computers, then that would have been fine. But, they should not be allowed to malign and censor websites to the rest of the world without valid cause.
So, unless you like the notion of a virtual equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition, having your web surfing interrupted with these malware-like warnings, that are, given the above, erroneous, libelous, treading on USA Constitutional Rights of Free Speech and unfettered trade, et al., then, please, sign my petition to stop them.
For further details, please visit my blog:
P.S. For the record, recently, StopBadware.org, et al., no longer display the warning message in front of my and my clients' websites. No reason was given for this and I made no significant changes to any of those websites. Apparently, if enough people click, "This isn't an attack site" or similar, or if a certain number of days elapses, then the warning is dropped. So, let me get this straight: Websites that were alleged to be malware were targeted, and then, based on the say so of anonymous users or after some time period, that warning is dropped. However, there are 750,000 potentially innocent websites still afflicted by StopBadware.org, et al., and I want them to stop harrassing those websites, as well.