Welcome, Sickos

by Kieran Healy on July 25, 2005

Over the past few hours we’ve had a little trouble with the server — apologies to our readers: it should be fixed now. In the course of trying to diagnose and repair the problem, I was looking through our log files and I noticed some search queries that made me feel a bit queasy. About a year ago, Belle wrote a post called “The La Perla Exception”:https://crookedtimber.org/2004/04/02/the-la-perla-exception/, which discussed the legal problems associated with drawing a line between pictures of naked children (e.g., canonical baby-in-the-bath-with-rubber-ducky photos) and child pornography. Just in the past 24 hours or so, we’ve had eleven hits on that page via google. According to “GeoBytes”:http://www.geobytes.com/IpLocator.htm, the originating IPs for these searches were in places as various as Bangalore, Chennai (also in India), Rio De Janeiro, Burnaby (in British Columbia), Oscoda (Michigan), Cabot (Arkansas), Bridgeport (Connecticut) and Tampa (Florida). Of these searches, two appeared legitimate — “debate+child+pornography” and “what+constitutes+child+porn.” The rest were queries like “European+Child+nudity+pictures”, “child+models+nude” (several variants of that one), and “small+girls(12-15+years)+sex+pics.” Because the La Perla post is so old, I’ve no reason to think this trickle of sewage isn’t typical. The searches represent just under one percent of referrals to CT from distinct google queries in 24 hours. That’s pretty low, I suppose. But, then again, it’s not as if Crooked Timber has much in the way of content that would attract pedophiles. Imagine what many other sites — never mind Google itself — must be seeing.



William Sjostrom 07.26.05 at 3:00 am

Sadly, welcome to the club. Every time I write about any topic like this, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to avoid language that attracts these people. It is very hard to do. As a big site, you presumable attract more of these people. You have my sympathies.


DDD 07.26.05 at 4:58 am

You could try Google’s nofollow tags:



Edit the HTML for the relevant posts by adding nofollow tags.

Place the bulk of the relevant posts “under the tab” so that Google can still go into your archives but won’t index the offending text.

That should work.


diddy 07.26.05 at 9:06 am

Or you could try not compounding the problem by putting all of the search terms together at the same link. Or, better yet, don’t acknowledge pernicious or degrading search terms at all. (That temptation has been awfully hard for a lot of bloggers to resist.)


KCinDC 07.26.05 at 9:30 am

It seems to me you’re doing your part by cluttering up the search results with stuff that the sickos aren’t looking for, thus hindering their quest. And of course this post will temporarily distract them as well.


Jim Harrison 07.26.05 at 11:10 am

Since keeping fans of child pornography from your site won’t change their behavior and certainly doesn’t make children any safer, why does it matter whether they Google you or not? Do you fear some magic sort of contagion?


Elf M. Sternberg 07.26.05 at 11:19 am

There’s not much you can do about it. I’ll unabashedly confess to writing porn, have my own little erotica website, and some of the things I find in my search engine results scare me. What makes those people think they’ll find what they want?

The only thing those results point out to me is just how many of those kinds of people there are.


Scott Eric Kaufman 07.26.05 at 1:13 pm

I agree that cluttering the signal-to-noise ratio’s a satisfying thought: “Sure, I’m completely and utterly powerless to actually do anything to stop the traffic in child pornography, but at the very least I can contribute to the general frustration of the people who view it.”

That said, when I look at my site referrals, I more often that not do a series of double-takes. My blog’s called Acephalous, and I frequently find hits from searches like “sexy+women+acephalous” or “taliban+acephalous” or, well, you catch my drift. (Though it does hearten my that the majority of my Google referrals are for “nostalgie de la boue.”)

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