Explanation of EdenFantasys linking practice

Fred Petrenko Fred Petrenko
Dear contributors,

I want to address recent concerns about EdenFantasys' linking practices.
I am talking about multiple links placed on our website by thousands of contributors: reviewers, forum participants, manufacturers and general users.

Thousands of users post daily on EdenFantasys. These are posts on the forum, reviews, commentaries, personal profiles and today we even opened up our video platform EdenTube. This is all user-generated content (UGC) which requires special handling to assure our website is not damaged with malicious software that could compromise our commerce operations, credit card security compliance procedures, and overall could shut down the website.

It is a common practice on all user-driven websites, including giants like Facebook, MySpace, Yelp or any of the others. You read from time to time about disastrous outbreaks of trojans – virus software – inserted this way into platforms. When it is detected that the posted content contains scripting, linking or other coding symbols beside just alphanumeric characters, the standard coding procedure is to raise a security alert flag. Then there are two ways to handle this: a program can erase / delete all coding from the content or encapsulate it into a separate module that won't be able to interfere with the rest of the website.
EdenFantasys uses high efficient and the most advanced Web 2.0 technologies like AJAX with DotNET and JQuery frameworks to handle this technical problem. As a matter of fact, our server logs detect over 1,000 daily attempts to insert malicious software on all available user-submit forms. These technologies allow us to be a safe and reliable place.

Some helpful examples include these sites, which do the same JavaScript-based encapsulation:

CNN: link
USA TODAY: link
Gizmodo: link
LifeHacker: link
Dead Spin: link
Io9: link
Kotaku: link
Jalopnik: link
Celebitchy: link
The indy Channel: link

Those are just a few of the millions of sites who utilize this linking practice as means for protection of user-generated content on interactive platforms.

All linking within SexIs Magazine, on contributor profiles, and elsewhere on EF have always been encapsulated. This allows us to be able to display all of the content instantly without pre-moderation and to share traffic with our contributors.

If there is anyone here whose promise was not met, please contact us and we’ll address the problem immediately. We all appreciate your patience here. The allegations made by a few individuals are misguided, misinformed and surely confusing to most people. This is the stuff of highly experienced programmers and it is easy to twist such information out of context. I wanted to address it here for your reassurance. We care deeply about our community, and as you can see, this is another way we endeavor to make Eden a safe place to play and shop.

Eden is my greatest passion, watching this community grow and seeing people interact with each other on so many levels has been a dream come true. There is no other place like this, and I truly feel that we have the best community out there. We are looking forward to even better times and more exciting features in the future. Thank you to every person who has made Eden such a special and welcoming place!
05/20/2010
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~LaUr3n~ ~LaUr3n~
Thank you Fred. I was one of the confused as you mentioned. I appreciate you taking the time to clear up my confusion as well as others I'm sure.
05/20/2010
Melen Melen
Quote:
Originally posted by Fred Petrenko
Dear contributors,I want to address recent concerns about EdenFantasys' linking practices.I am talking about multiple links placed on our website by thousands of contributors: reviewers, forum participants, manufacturers and general ... More
Hello,

The links in the above post are not handled the same way as other sites, such as CNN or USAToday. I realize this is probably not a malicious thing at all, and people need to calm down while everyone works on getting on the same page.

From a technical standpoint, anything that would scrape the HTML of this page will not see links for CNN, USAToday or any of the given examples. If you view the source of this web page, you'll see those links are actually just HTML "span"s. There are no "a" tags with the actual link in it, therefore I'm fairly sure a search engine wouldn't register the destination links at all.

Conversely, the link for EdenTube is an "a" tag and is correct. I will try to put examples here, but the comment system may filter some characters out.

I will change all greater-than and less-than signs to periods, so I apologize for how messy this will look.

Link for CNN in the above post (retrieved by viewing the page source):

CNN: .span class="linklike" ID="EFLink_43232_4b83f 5".link./span.

There is no link and no "a" tag. Conversely, the EdenTube link looks like so:

.a href="video.edenfantas ys.com/".EdenTube./a.

(I removed the http portion of the above link in the hopes the comment system wont convert it to an actual link so everyone can see).

The EdenTube link will be available for anything looking at the page source. The other links, such as those for CNN, will not be.

Popping over to CNN.com, where their entertainment section links off to EW, you'll see that they do not handle links in the same way:

.a target="_blank" href="link recap: 'American Idol' ./a.

Once again, I've removed the http from the URL in the hopes that the comment system doesn't turn it into a link.

It's tough to give an explanation in a comment system, so if there's any confusion please let me know and I'll explain further.

That being said, I've heard nothing from EF that makes me think any of this is malicious at all. Perhaps this is just a misunderstanding.
05/20/2010
Al Bloom Al Bloom
Quote:
Originally posted by Fred Petrenko
Dear contributors,I want to address recent concerns about EdenFantasys' linking practices.I am talking about multiple links placed on our website by thousands of contributors: reviewers, forum participants, manufacturers and general ... More
Fred, you are the man!Your explanation was spot-on, and was presented in a very straight forward and understandable way that everyone can understand, even us non-techies!
05/20/2010
Melen Melen
Quote:
Originally posted by Fred Petrenko
Dear contributors,I want to address recent concerns about EdenFantasys' linking practices.I am talking about multiple links placed on our website by thousands of contributors: reviewers, forum participants, manufacturers and general ... More
I apologize for the messiness of my previous comment. I think it's just confused people more. As a general explanation, lets try this:

If you go to a page on CNN.com, such as the Entertainment page, and view the page source, you'll see that the links for each item are actually included in the page source, including off-site links such as ew.com and people.com. However, if you view the page source of this page, and search for CNN, you'll see no visible link. It's simply an HTML "span" element. There is nothing in the page source on this page that actually references "link", therefore unless I'm missing something fairly obvious, a search engine wouldn't pick those up as links at all.
05/20/2010
karlelvis karlelvis
Quote:
Originally posted by Fred Petrenko
Dear contributors,I want to address recent concerns about EdenFantasys' linking practices.I am talking about multiple links placed on our website by thousands of contributors: reviewers, forum participants, manufacturers and general ... More
Fred-

Thanks for the explanation. However, you'll see in your own post that your links to sites like Gizmodo, etc are all broken (they're not links, they're java script things that don't correctly follow linking rules).

The irony is that the sites you point to don't use your methods. This is easy to see by switching off javascript and then clicking around outbound links from your listed sites.

The bottom line is, what you're doing with links is not like what other sites are doing.

Outbound links don't represent a security risk in and of themselves; sure, they can point to malicious sites, but replacing a link with a java forwarder doesn't fix that; it only obscures it from outside spidering. The real question though is about the lack of reciprocal links as part of 'link exchange' programs. That's the one that's being asked, and you have not addressed it.

Security is important, but so it community trust, and I don't feel the questions that are being asked here are being addressed.
05/20/2010
Melen Melen
A lack of understanding of technical terms doesn't in any way nullify the point being made. The issue they are trying to resolve is an important one, and shouldn't be fluffed off as simply propaganda. I've been a sysadmin (professionally) for over 13 years now and I can vouch that the issue they're trying to prevent is a real issue (and it would affect you, being a user of the site). He's right in that this is fairly technical.

The way it's being addressed right now isn't the norm, but it's possible that isn't intentional. I haven't seen any proof that EF is intentionally trying to screw anyone out of back links. I see everyone reacting very emotionally, and I do understand that, but give the guy a chance to respond.

05/20/2010
factsandfriction factsandfriction
Couldn't EF use a serverside interstitial like Facebook does? Gives the opportunities for links to be tracked and cancelled if they're malicious, but search engine spiders would still be able to detect and crawl the links.

The links would look like http : // domain .com /out/http :// factsandfriction.blogs pot .com and would be normal anchor tags, then a script would use a 301 redirect to send the user on their merry way without them even noticing.

I think, besides a few accessibility issues, that is the only thing people are annoyed about - the lack of their page rank being upped/pages being crawled as a result of having been linked to by EF (especially if EF asked them to link in a link exchange system where it wouldn't have been a fair exchange).

I'm not convinced EF have been doing this deliberately, it was probably just how the site was set up and has always been run. It does seem like a lot of effort to go to though.
05/20/2010
Melen Melen
Quote:
Originally posted by Melen
A lack of understanding of technical terms doesn't in any way nullify the point being made. The issue they are trying to resolve is an important one, and shouldn't be fluffed off as simply propaganda. I've been a sysadmin (professionally) ... More
Please delete my first comment. It was an explanation of the technical side of this that just made things more confusing. Nuke it please.
05/20/2010
Neuron Geek Neuron Geek
I am the lead programmer here at Eden – here is my input, I hope it is helpful!

99% of modern browsers support JavaScript and it is turned on by default. On our website, we heavily use JavaScript, AJAX, JQuery Framework and XML in order to make information available faster, more secure. Most parts of our website will not work without JavaScript.

In most cases modern search engines do not understand the dynamic information, although it would be highly beneficial for us if they did, since they are missing a lot of information.

As software developers, we will continue to use JavaScript because we believe that the dynamic applications are the future of Internet and are better for our customers.

Thanks!
05/20/2010
Total posts: 10
Unique posters: 7