Precondition failed

A couple of readers have gotten an error message like this when they try to access my blog:

Precondition Failed

We’re sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for / on this server.

We have established rules for access to this server, and any person or robot that violates these rules will be unable to access this site.

And then it goes on to list some suggestions on how to fix things. You can blame spammers if you get this message because it comes from an anti-spam plugin Bad Behavior. Spambots usually don’t follow the correct protocols when accessing a website, because it is less work for them that way. BB stops spambots by blocking access to this site by software that does not behave correctly. It also temporarily block all access from the same IP address. It even blocked me the other day.

However the paranoids at Climate Audit concluded that when BB blocked John A that I had deliberately blocked his access because I was somehow afraid of him. This is, by itself, ludicrous. After making this howler about entropy, John A fled from any discussion about his error to the safety of Climate Audit where McIntyre covers for his mistake by deleting any mention of it. Anyway, after I explained how BB had blocked him, John A responded not with a correction and an apology but with this:

I note that Lambert has continued lying and blaming me. Yes, just straight lies. I wasn’t blocked by a “spambot”, or anything like it, because a spambot doesn’t block by setting rules at the level of the Web server itself. Those rules must have been deliberately set by someone not a million miles from Lambert’s office.

This is clearly wrong since the message cam from Bad Bahavior and not the web server. When I showed them this they just came up with a new bogus theory (I had blocked him using robots.txt) of how I had deliberately blocked John A. Eventually they came up with an unfalsifiable theory, though Steve McIntyre generously allowed that it wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Incidentally, Climate Audit runs Bad Behavior as well, so if you get the precondition failed message or some other such message from their blog I guess you can conclude that they blocked you on purpose.

Update: In comments, the author of Bad Behavior points out that Climate Audit is running a rather old version of Bad Behavior. That means that at the time they were accusing me of lying because the “Precondition Failed” message couldn’t have come from a plugin, they were actually running the very plugin that issued the message. Of course they have never mentioned that they were using Bad Behavior themselves.


  1. #1 IO ERROR
    November 18, 2005

    Oh, what fun! This is definitely the most interesting drama related to the use of Bad Behavior I’ve ever seen. Keep me up to date.

    I also note that Climate Audit seems to be running a quite old version. :)

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