No, We Were Not Hacked

A commenter took us down.

Someone who shall be nameless enabled comment notification (you get an e-mail every time there’s a comment) and then decided she didn’t want the e-mails and so marked them as spam over and over and over . . . 

Our web host shut us down because it thought we were a spam site.

That meant that Mollie had to deal with the web host, who was rightly protecting the net, while trying to get the commenter to stop marking e-mails as spam.  She lost a good chunk of her weekend because of this, and of course, we lost the blog for the better part of two days.  So comment notification has now been disabled.  

The only information of yours we store on here are your e-mails/ISPs so you can comment without waiting for approval, and of course, we don’t sell the e-mail list, so no worries about the shut-down on your end.  On our end, we’re still fuming and trying to make sure it never happens again.  Please, if you’re having a problem with e-mails from this site, which you shouldn’t have because we never send any, LET US KNOW.  Don’t mark them as spam unless you want Argh to go under again.


79 thoughts on “No, We Were Not Hacked

  1. I thought it was just me! I thought I must have said something wrong….

    I was going to blame the Ambien! (ha).


    Thank you, Mollie and Jenny, for all of your work that you do for us.

    1. Go for it.
      “Her blog remained just out of reach, its bosom heaving softly in the wet summer eve.”

  2. Yikes! Thanks to both of you for not just throwing up your hands and deciding to give it up. Dealing with web hosts has always sent chills down my spine and my blood pressure soaring. Yay to Mollie!

  3. Wow. So sorry for you all and a big thank you to Mollie. Just delete them or unsubscribe.

  4. I was also worried that I had done something wrong to get banned from your site. Did I stay too long reading the “good book Thursday” site? Did I not comment enough? Or too much? Did I not read every post and someone was watching ?? It is so easy to take the blame when one has been raised by a mother who is ” the queen of guilting”! I am so relieved and thankful that I did nothing wrong-this time {says mother in my head} and that you are back!

    1. The only way you’d get banned from this site is doing a Roseanne in the comments, and even then I just yank the comment and have a short, friendly conversation in private e-mail. We’ve never banned anybody from this site because people here are just good people. Sometimes newcomers take a while to absorb the idea of discussion not argument and respect for other’s ideas, but usually one polite e-mail does the trick.

  5. I wondered what had happened. I am more of a lurker but I do check in daily. Thank you to you and Mollie for all of your hard work. Any fans of the IT Crowd? A really excellent British comedy about Info tech.

      1. Ha. My husband works in IT and they have a poster of that up in the IT office. And I bet that’s quite popular amongst IT workers. That and the follow-up “Are you sure it’s turned on at the wall?” Solves most people’s IT problems, apparently. 🙂

  6. Thank you Mollie, I tried twice and kept getting the 403 message. I would miss my daily argh checks.

  7. I sometimes really wish that folks who don’t know how to use the internet AND aren’t willing to learn would just stay off the internet. I totally understand not knowing, just not the refusing to learn the rules of the road, so to speak. I became extra-aware last year that what’s so intuitive to those who’ve been using technology for a while, isn’t necessarily that intuitive. I got a smartphone about a year ago, after never having had one before that, and I studied the user manual and figured out apps and the like, but I didn’t actually make any calls on it, since it was just for travel. So, it wasn’t until I was out of town, waiting for a phone call from the airport ride service, that I found out that I didn’t know how to answer the phone! I kept trying to tap the flashing thing instead of swiping, and nothing happened! Somehow, we connected, and I got home, and then I googled how to answer a smartphone. Seriously. And then I practiced by calling myself with the land line. I felt like an idiot doing it, but it worked.

    1. Haha, you are not alone. Phone ringing madly and I was hitting the screen and shouting at it. In the end I answered it accidentally – took me a while to figure out what I’d done.

    2. I know. I hated my phone for years–it was too small, it was too hard to use–and then with the new one it just clicked. I can see why people get obsessed with them, now that I know how to do things on it (and most of the things are just intuitive).

    3. When I first got a flip phone (10 years ago), it took me a while to set up voice mail. My first message: From my son: Hey, you figured out how to set up your voice mail. Let’s hope you know how to check it.” 🙂

      And then I finally got a smart phone in July. I would call my Mom (73, but she was crazy for gadgets, and always got whatever new smart phone that came out), and ask her how to do something. It tickled her to no end. When she was in ICU, she was using her phone for as long as she was able to.

    4. Yeah, but it’s more they don’t want to learn. Because the Internet is now a human right. For all. Someone get the balloons and cake, please.

      I think it’s more some people are nasty and cowards and use the Internet as a way to be mean and horrid.

      To me, obviously we can all get angry about a comment/person/opinion, but this thing is a lovely tool where if you get mad you can step back. Have a tea, cake, whiskey, I don’t know. Whatever you need to get your brain less fighty. And then you can step back in and use to to try and communicate in a way it can be difficult to do so in real life.

      I guess I don’t get the nasty bully/troll people, and those who don’t understand the delete button that’s helpfully provided with their email provider.

        1. you are a nicer person than me. Although I always try and be measured and thoughtful in online conversations.

    5. You are my people. I just got a smartphone in November. I still sometimes accidentally call someone rather than text them…

    6. Been there, done that. I had to google how to answer my first smartphone. Luckily, it was my husband calling and he was highly amused.

  8. Oh, I saw the first line about being notified and was horrified, but I know I’ve never marked any argh notifications as SPAM so I breathed again.

    BTW, my phone sometimes wants to be swiped and sometimes tapped. Maybe different kinds of calls? I don’t know but it does keep life interesting.

    1. It wasn’t you.
      I didn’t mean to make everybody here paranoid. IT WASN’T YOU, whoever you are.

        1. As long as you don’t mark e-mails from here as spam, you’re good.
          And you shouldn’t be getting e-mails unless you opted in to notifications which have now been stopped altogether, I think.
          So really, no worries.

    2. If the call comes in while your phone is locked, you swipe. If when unlocked, tap. At least this is how it is for iphones.

  9. A profound “thank you,” hardworking, indefatigable Molly. Heartfelt, too; thus the space Argh Ink occupies in my life.

    SPAM!?! Where’s my hand-slapping ruler?

  10. Whew, it sure ist a relief to find out that it wasn’t my fault – since the new European data security regulations came into effect last week, you never know what might happen …

    At least now I can send you the link to the New York Times romance reading suggestions:

    I already got started on the new Eloisa James because I have committed myself to reading some historicals, but up to now, it doesn’t really convince me. Too much dialogue (who would’ve thunk I’d ever say that in my life), too little action. But I’m not finished yet. We’ll see.

  11. Hahahaha. I’m not laughing at your “hacked” website. That’s the giddy, slightly hysterical, relieved laughter of someone who actually thought that they’d been blocked from your website.

    1. I know, that’s bad language in that block notice. It was more that the website was blocked from you to protect you.

  12. I just want you to know that I am on thec3rd go round of all your books 🙂
    I LOVE your style…thanks for making me smile 🙂

    1. Sounds like me! I am doing research and reading a few books that are honestly terrible. In order to avoid absorbing their style into mine, I keep reading Maybe This Time’s first two chapters as a palate cleanser. Then, I read the first three or four chapters of The Cinderella Deal. Then, I take notes.

      Also, glad things are back to normal. Thanks Mollie! I love that you are behind-the-scenes fixing things.

  13. Oh my goodness! I thought I’d said something wrong, or something someone had taken offence at (or…you know, just been annoying), and then I got all embarrassed, and also sad I couldn’t apologise.

    I was also the kid that if my name was on the bulletin board at school I immediately feared I’d been caught. I’m not sure at what, because I was a well-behaved child, but, I’ll be the one with the alibi and convicted of axe murder when the murderer will be on video but get away with it because…me.

    That never happened.

    Anywhoo, glad you’re back. Sorry for all the hassle both you and Mollie had to go through. It is why we can’t have nice things, but I’m glad you came back, both as a writer and a reader.

    I spend so much time writing and editing that my pleasure reads are now interrupted by unintended mind-edits. So I choose carefully who I read within the genre I write in. And other areas.

    You’re one of the great ones.

    I’m glad I have not been banned.

    1. They REALLY need to change that placeholder screen.
      I would never ban anybody without a discussion first. Especially you (g).

  14. To the person who did it. Live and learn.

    I’ll have to think of my worst “Intel inside, id10t outside.” I know one of my friends actually responded with that when I did it! Maybe I can find it in the email archive.

  15. A big thank you to both you and Mollie for your hard work on the site. Really sorry you had to give up all that time and effort due to someone else’s laziness, but really glad you came back!!

  16. Happy to hear it was not a hacker! I was also happy to realize I didn’t blame myself for it (which is huge self-improvement on my part, yay!). I threw the blame at those sneaky little bastards digging in everywhere, sabotaging greatness just because they can. At least they had nothing to do with it this time.

    Yay for Mollie! And a slap on the fingers of Ms Spamclicker for ruining the weekend for you both.

    There’s still something fishy going on, though. On Goodreads I can see that there is/was a Happiness Sunday post…but not here on Argh. Has a spamfilter swallowed it?

    1. I just saw it! Sorry, my bad! It didn’t have a title, which meant it didn’t have a heading, which also meant my screenreader skipped it when I moved between the post topic headings. I’m n ot gonna go more technical, but I found it eventually, after moving manually between the posts. My heartfelt apologies to the spamfilter I blamed.

      1. Crap. I forgot I lost the blog before I’d put a title on it. I’m not even sure I finished it. Off to check . . .

    1. The scary part is that I can imagine myself doing something like that. I haven’t done it, but it’s been on my mind when I’ve tried unsuccessfully to unsubscribe from things. I certainly didn’t think it cause anyone problems.

      1. But if they wouldn’t let you unsubscribe, they would be spammimg you, in fact. This looks like someone who didn’t understand what is and isn’t spam – she must have just thought she was deleting stuff she wasn’t interested in.

  17. As someone who has 5700 unread emails, I’m impressed with the work ethic and fortitude. My plan today was to clean off my kitchen counter.

  18. Sometimes when I’m deleting emails from my phone, it’ll think I hit the Mark Spam/Block Sender button instead, but it always asks me if I really want to block the sender first, so it’s easy to catch. Glad you were able to get it sorted out!

  19. I wondered. I don’t check in as often as I used to, but of course I did try over the one weekend the blog was down :shrug:

    It probably never occurred to her that labeling it spam sent any kind of message to the webhost. Mostly you think of it as a message to your email provider … and that often doesn’t work as well as it should. But I think I can sympathize, actually. It sounds like a great idea for keeping up with a blog, right? Except when the blog is one that gets as many comments as Argh does sometimes.

  20. A while back, I was deleting some unread emails on my iPhone, and I accidentally moved my Facebook notification emails to my Spam folder. I hate that they are so close to each other (the Spam folder and the Trash folder). I’ve made that mistake a few times with other emails.

  21. Wow, is this something that’s well known? That marking email as spam can get a website taken down? It would never, ever have occurred to me that this could happen.

    Emails being blocked after enough of them have been marked as spam, yes (though I would have thought it would take more than one person doing the marking to have consequences outside of that one person’s account). Taking down a website is another category of consequence entirely.

    1. The new European privacy rules went into effect last week and they affect any website that has European traffic, which includes us. So things just got a lot tighter in web hosting. Which is good. And we’ve disabled notifications, so there’s no reason for anybody to ever get another e-mail from here. We should be good.

  22. Glad everything has gotten worked out! A lousy way to spend a weekend, though. Fortunately for me, I was too busy to look until you were back. Woo hoo?

    1. I check it daily, usually more than once because I’m really protective of this space, so I knew right away and texted Mollie.
      Several people e-mailed me, which was great because I could explain it to them and I really needed to explain it to somebody.
      There’s also an e-mail on this site that goes directly to Mollie.

  23. Oh, that sucks so much. I’m sorry you and Mollie had to deal with it.

    Tangentially, my favorite news source (the Guardian) is giving me a “YOU HAVE A VI-A-RUSS!” warning every time I look at something with Trump, and lately for other things. I’ve been doing a little research, and this morning for the first time I found a discussion. Apparently, people who surfed Fox News and Breitbart first noticed this sort of thing around 2016. So, some evil internet cookie is now dosing up liberal-leaning websites, it seems.

    Yesterday, it happened with both the Guardian and the London Times (I usually never have a reason to look at the London Times, so they may have had the problem for a long time).

    I don’t know why this isn’t bigger news, or easily searchable. A free press is super-important to democracies, which run on the freedom of information. I’m sorry I didn’t know about it when it was happening to the other side of the political spectrum, but now it’s In My Back Yard, so to speak, so I care a lot.

    We are going to have to start paying for stuff, I’m afraid. Bad (or simply ignorant) people are breaking the free internet. The Golden Age is over.

      1. That’s the way to do it. I should pay for the Guardian, but it feels like there are a lot of steps, and now I’m worried about trusting them with my financial details since they can’t manage their website (I think; verdict is still out on that).

        I still have an account in the US, so maybe I should investigate some news sources that I like, and that would take a check. And send me a paper copy, I guess. I used to take the New Yorker and the Atlantic, but stopped when the Atlantic featured Britney Spears on the cover (It was a good article, but I just . . . it’s like having Felix the Cat on my bank card: not the branding I expected). And then the New Yorkers started piling up. Probably about the time I started needing reading glasses.

        It’d probably be a lot better for my mental state if all my news was in-depth and a week late.

        Anyway, I can afford the privilege, I could share the magazines, and I should start pulling my weight.

        1. I would definitely raise this with the Guardian, Micki, and let them know your deeper concerns, as described here.

          1. PS. I’m a Guardian ‘member’ or supporter, so I make an annual donation (£50 in my case) to support their journalism rather than subscribing to the paper. This also gives me ad-free access to their app, which is a bonus I appreciate. I find there’s way more than enough content there for me.

        2. I paid last year. Had no troubles. Am in SAfrica. Planning to do a payment when I’m actually flush. Or not spending up a storm on ya know, car service plan to 75000km.

    1. Micki, are you sure it’s not on your computer? Because I’m not getting it. And I’m on the Guardian fairly often.

      1. Just had another thought: I browse the Guardian website on my Mac, but most of the time I read via their app on my iPad. Micki could switch to the app if she has a tablet; I’m sure that wouldn’t have this junk. And, as you say, it may well be her computer that’s been infected with a bug.

        1. Jane, I thought about it before, and you are right. I should write to the Guardian and let them know what’s up. I’m sure they know. And they might have a good solution. A friend also suggested using the Guardian app; I’ll see if they take money orders as donations.

          Bridget, I think it’s a combo of my phone and the site; my phone probably has vulnerabilities that make it susceptible to this 28.1 percent damaged thing. I only get this kind of thing when I’m visiting The Guardian, ukulele chord sites, and that one time I visited the London Times. I don’t think the phone is actually damaged; it seems to be some sort of “malvertising” where if I clicked on the buttons they so strongly recommend I push, I’d get malware installed.

          It’s just a matter of time, though, before the bad internet people start doing worse.

          I do owe the Guardian a very nice donation, though. They’ve done great work!

  24. A long time ago, I was with a company that got acquired by Cisco.

    Six months later, Cisco sent out a brief email about choices in coffee/tea dispensers (or maybe vending machines – something food related and innocuous.)

    Six thousand employees. First someone hit reply all and then 40 people hit reply all telling the first person not to hit reply all. Then all the auto notifications of vacations & meetings kicked in – using reply all to the 40 emails about not using reply all.

    Crashed the email in about half an hour. IT was so furious you could still set them off two years later by asking them about coffee.

    That was roughly 20 years ago but it was also a company made up highly technically adapt people. The people who were building the internet as we know it.

    So yeah, sometimes you have to check what you’re doing even when you think you know what you’re doing.

  25. I missed all the drama! I check this thing too little.

    But wait, if no comment notifications, then are we just stalking our comments to see if people responded?

    1. Evidently.
      I really am sorry, but all we need is another idiot marking us as a spam to go again for a couple of days. If enough people do it, we won’t be back up.


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