So what's up with the name of this ring, you ask? Is there no limit to the number of times I wish to hear somebody cry out the name "Joseph Dunphy"? Does my egotism know no boundaries?

Answer: No it doesn't, because the null set has no boundary. (Rim shot, math joke of the day told, his status as a nerd firmly established, Joseph Dunphy reclines back and basks in the imaginary applause). It really isn't there. I find myself having to start this ring because the search engines are behaving strangely, and so the tail has ended up wagging the dog, as it so often does online.

I touch on this on another site, but without naming names I'll give you the broad outlines of the story, with the moral that if you're looking for somebody who has repeatedly had far too much faith in the sanity and integrity of his fellow human being, I, Joseph Dunphy, am your man. Somebody, who shall remain unnamed here on this site, bothered me one night with a series of bizarre messages, bizarre even by Internet standards. I told her to go away, and soon found that she and her friends were bearing false witness against me, their online neighbor. As one might guess, the spirit of the ten commandments was not going to be honored. Finding that I was being unfairly portrayed as an ogre by people who were lying about past events, and that rumors were being spread far and wide throughout an Internet community that both I and the interesting person that I was hearing from both belonged to, I made use of a strategy that I had found very effective at saving me a lot of time in the past, since about the time I first started finding myself tangling with a few trolls and their respective fan clubs. I wrote up a page chronicling the whole incident, and then documented it with copies of the messages which had been sent.

Every word I wrote was scrupulously accurate, documented at length, and presented without spin. I just told it how it was. The response of some of the offending parties was to write in to my webspace provider with demonstrably meritless libel complaints. I still had the original letters, and offered to send copies of them with headers included by attachment, and gave my primary ISP permission to check the logs of my e-mail coming and going, to verify that this was the mail that had been exchanged. To my amazement and disgust, I discovered that my webspace provider was unwilling to examine the evidence. Access to the pages in question was blocked.

Freedom means nothing if we don't let ourselves occasionally take a stand on our own behalves on principle. To not be allowed to defend oneself against false accusations is outrageous, and so is being censored without just cause, and I was not going to let somebody do that to me. I went over to a really cool provider named "Newsguy", discussed the situation with them, and found them to be very professional and pleasant to do business with. They've been that way ever since, and I recommend them without reservation. Starting with a relocation of the blocked pages to my new site, I then began the process of relocating to a new server, at a provider which was a lot more serious about respecting the freedom of expression of its customers than my old one had turned out to be, all hip posturing to the contrary notwithstanding. I put in links to the new location, and looked forward to completing the move.

As that was a few years ago, you can probably guess just how far forward I'd have had to look to see an end in sight. One search engine in particular was giving me a hard time, and that hard time soon seemed to have a visible impact on all of the other search engines. This really made no sense. At the time I was moving my rebuttal site from my old provider to Newsguy, it was the exact same site, only on a far more reliable and ad-free paid provider instead of on a free provider, and that's supposed to be a good thing. Since then, if anything, it's become a noticably better site under any imaginable standard, and yet its search engine rankings remain far from recovery. Why would that be? Because remember, "Joseph Dunphy" = "much too trusting".

Not that I've ever been under the impression that people would generally be noble or honest, but I've underestimated their willingness to be capricious. I found that in the one search engine that was giving me trouble, even though I had replaced pages at the old location with pages that were nothing more than "this page has relocated" notices with links present to the new locations of the respective pages, the old locations continued to be listed in the search results and the new locations weren't showing up. To this day, years later, even if you search for my webpage looking under my own name, "Joseph Dunphy", a search that obviously should turn up Joseph Dunphy's site - and did, prior to relocation - one barely finds it showing up at all. When it is even listed, it appears so far back (#96 in one search) that it might as well not be there at all. The frivolous complaint that forced me to move remains the gift that keeps on giving because one of the search engines just couldn't be bothered to make sure that its listings updated properly when people found that they had to relocate their sites.

As I've said probably far too many times before, this is what is wrong with making an industry overdependent on free services - those working end up with no concept of who it is that they're supposed to be working for, and the level of professionalism that results is absurdly low. I went to the search engine's site, looking for answers, and found a contact address for tech support. I wrote, and never heard back from them, not even two years later. They plainly didn't care about their jobs, and didn't need to, because their company had evolved into some kind of monopoly, with almost every other search engine being powered by them. Monopolies tend to be arrogant, as do sysops, and these guys were no exception to either rule.

Still holding onto what I now sometimes consider a mystifying faith in the sense of professionalism to be expected out of that search engine's staff, I looked through their site some more, and saw something that maybe should have sent up a red flag, the moment I saw it. In their FAQ section, they mentioned the very problem that I was having with the old, generally dead location still being listed, even after my old provider went down for so long that many were sure that it was out of business. Other search engines weren't doing this, so obviously the problem could have been fixed, but, again, these guys just wouldn't be bothered. In retrospect, I find myself thinking that should have told me just how much faith to have in anything I heard from them, but perhaps that's 20-20 hindsight. I was just not used to the concept of somebody not doing his well-paid professional job, and still being paid for it. Maybe had I been more aware of the practice of buying stock as a fashion statement, thus undercutting the entire logic of market discipline because attitude is just so darned hip ... but I digress. Which is a Joe Dunphy kind of thing to do, so I guess I should be proud of it, because I'm doing my own thing? OK, I'll get back to the subject.

My thought at the time was the one that most of us were raised to have: "it's their machiniery, and they would know". What I got told was that I should put a redirect to the new location at the old location. As I discovered, that was remarkably bad advice. What seems to happen when you do that is that the spider, on landing on the old location, gets bounced to the new one, and it doesn't know that it is at the new url, with the result that the search engine thinks that the material at the new location is really at the old location. Sure enough, checking the cache for the old location of the relocated pages, I was finding what was at the new location. This wasn't a matter of the cache updating slowly, because during this period I have upgraded to a faster modem and the use of a graphical browser, allowing me to move beyond the bare bones look of the original site. Those fonts and colors and graphics had never been present at the old location, and indeed, wouldn't even be located anywhere on that site for some time to come.

"Now what?", I found myself wondering, seeing that following the advice given by the search engine's staff itself was counterproductive. I read more of their site, and found that what they wanted to see was evidence that the old site was gone. Apparently, even having a forwarding page, something that were search engines out of the picture would be considered a common courtesy extended to somebody following an old link, was unacceptable, being considered a survival of the site, judging by what was being seen in those results, well over a year after the relocation. So, resigned to the unreasonability of the people I was dealing with, I took out the forwarding pages. Occasionally, not extremely often, I would send an e-mail to the staff, asking for the clarification that never came, and explaining the problems that following the advice on their site was leading to. What I found was that following the suggestion that deleting the old pages was the best thing to do of all, was a truly disastrous choice. My site started dropping like a rock in the search results for all search engines, the moment that I did that. Oh, and much to my infinite amusement, I found that the search engine that I had jumped through so many hoops for decided to deal with the problem of their advice proving to be bad by blackballing my site. Maybe. The stonewalling continued, leaving me in a position in which, while genuinely defamatory content was being effectively promoted by the search engines, rebuttals posted for the sake of defending my own reputation were being buried, effectively making a few of the search engines parties to libel at my expense, and all because I had been forced to move in response to a trumped up charge, one that would absolutely would never have stood up in court. This seemed less than completely fair all around, especially given the fact that defending against a frivolous action by the nutcase from New York wouldn't have cost my old provider a cent. An indemnification clause was written right into the terms of service, and I had already pledged to honor it and a number of financially established family members had pledged to help me out should my meager financial assets prove inadequate to meet court costs.

Believe it or not, that whole story provides the answer to the question of why this ring exists, somewhat indirectly. I was never given any explanation for the blackballing. Perhaps it was the staff trying to sweep its foul-ups under the rug. Perhaps they just decided they didn't like Newsguy. I don't know and will probably never find out. What I ended up doing was deciding that since somebody at that engine had something against that new site, whatever that might be, that I'd just take some of the pages that I wanted to have seen and create partial mirrors to the Halls of Eternal Disbelief on which copies of those pages would appear, on servers or at locations that the search engine staff didn't have some semi-mysterious personal issue with. What mattered to me was that my side of the story be heard. Having done that, I then decided that I might as well put the rest of each site to an interesting use, giving each its own theme. What had been a single site had, due to the bizarre and illogical circumstances, started evolving into a more diffuse form, all but becoming a webring in its own right. I decided that I might as well formalize what had become a de facto reality, making a gift to myself and to anybody visiting my site out of what I was forced to do for the most stupid of reasons, especially because then (and even now) finding my pages can be difficult. This way, when somebody find one, he easily find the other - and that is why there is a Joseph Dunphy ring. Are you as rivetted as I was during all of this? Sorry to hear it, but you did ask.

What would you like to do, next? The third option is for returning to one of the rings of which this ring, itself, is a member. Yes, these are links.

surf the version at the world of webring ...... wander the ringsurf version of the ring

return to your ring